Preparing For the Bahamas

The move on to Seabreeze seems so far away, but we know it isn’t.  Getting ready to sail off is going to take a little time. One of the places we plan to spend a lot of time sailing is in  Bahamas.  Knowing this, we have to be actively preparing for the Bahamas.

Preparation Steps

We have already researched what is needed to enter into the Bahamas and to return back to the states.  There is a process you have to follow.

When entering the Bahamas you have to put up your Q or Quarantine Flag.  Usually,  you will fly the Q flag at your starboard spreaders.  You must fly this flag until the captain of the boat goes ashore and checks in.

After the ship is cleared and checked in, you can fly the courtesy Bahama flag.  This replaces the Quarantine flag.  It is called a courtesy flag.

Another flag you will want to fly is your country of origin flag.  You can fly it on a pole at the stern of the boat.  We plan on this teak flag pole.    It will fit in our fishing pole holder and match the wood already on the boat.                                                                                                                   

They recommend your country of origin flag be 1 inch wide for every foot of boat length, but this is not a regulation.  This is only a recommendation for what looks the best.

Just For Fun

When I think of the Bahamas…I think of a hammock in the sun.  We just purchased this hammock to install on the front of Seabreeze.   Dave can fish and I can get a little R&R with a good book.

I will post a picture of this installed, after our first trip of the season.  With the way the weather has been in Illinois, that could be June.

Documents Needed

When sailing to another country, be sure to take along a copy of your birth certificates, drivers license, passport, and boat documents.  You want proof of who you are.  You will also need these papers to check into the Bahamas and to re-enter the US.  I made photo copies of all these documents.  The copies are stored in our ditch bag.  If someone finds this floating out in the ocean, they will know who they are looking for.

Things to Remember

Things such as water, paper products and batteries can be very expensive in the Bahamas.  We are looking at adding a water maker.  You can’t take enough water to spend the winter.  Water in the Bahamas can be as much at 6.00 a gallon.

If you have favorite foods you can’t live without, you may want to take them with you.  Many of the American favorite foods are not available in the Bahamas.

Fuel can be a problem.  The fuel in the Bahamas is not as clean as it is in the US.  Make sure you have a filter system to strain the fuel through.  Engine problems in a foreign land can be very expensive.  Shipping for the parts can be more expensive than the parts.

Plan For The Worst

The best advice anyone can give it to prepare for the worst and celebrate when it doesn’t happen.  With that said, we have re-built our motor.  We purchased the re-build kits from Crowley Marine.  But, we didn’t only buy the kit to re-build ours.  We also purchased an extra kit to keep on board.  Your engine is not going to have an issue while parked at a marina.  You will want to have these parts available so you can fix it on the fly.  They are very inexpensive and come with detailed how-to instructions.

Our new lithium batteries are on order.  We are planning a 10 day trip around Door Country Wisconsin this June.  This will be our trial run to see how the solar and lithium battery system will hold up.   It may become necessary to add another solar panel.  This trip will help us figure out if we are in good shape for the Bahamas.


What Are We Doing To Get Ready???

Getting Ready

I know it seems strange to be working on a sailboat with 7 inches of snow falling.  But then again, it is mid April in Illinois.  That means we can go from below freezing to 70 in one day.  We are working on detailed blogs about each of these projects.  This is just a sneak preview.

  Spring in Illinois 4/14/2019

Things We Have Finished

Our motor was running great but Dave wanted to make sure we didn’t have any issue.  This is after all the original motor.  We ordered a new water pump and fuel pump kit from Crowley Marine.  They are a great place to order motor parts from. You put in your model and serial number,  it then shows you a schematic of your motor to order parts from.   Dave decided to actually order two of each.  That way we would have an extra onboard.  The kits came with detailed instructions, so anyone can do it.  The whole process took less than an hour.


The Tiller

Dave’s next project was the tiller.  Ours was old and starting to split where it was laminated.  I wanted the new curved so it didn’t hit us in the knees.  We also wanted it to match all the wood on the boat.  Dave gave the new tiller just enough of an angle that it clears our knees.  It is solid oak with a mahogany and teak oil finish.  A cover made of sunbrella,  was just what we needed to protect his beauty from the weather.

Things We Are Updating This Year.

Here is a look at a few things we have purchased or are planning to purchase for the boat.  We can’t wait to get them installed, darn weather permitting.

We are so tired of chasing after ice.  Our Orca cooler kept things cold for days but you still needed to go get ice and the ice took up so much room in the cooler.  We decided to go with an Engel Refrigerator/Freezer.  It can cool to -5 degrees.

 This should work great with our new lithium batteries from  Battle Born and our current solar charging setup.

Our new depth finder/chart plotter should also work great with the new battery system.  We purchased a swing mount  from RAM mounts.  We can push it back into the cabin and it can swing out into the cockpit. This Garmin is also Bluetooth so we can send the charts to our IPAD.  We will post pictures when we get it installed.

Safety Items We  Added

Some friends of ours had a small fire on their boat.  They are convinced the only things that prevented their little adventure from becoming a tragedy, were the items below.

 We have a fire extinguisher on board.  We bought these for ease of use and to keep back by the motor.  They put fires out really fast. On a boat that is exactly what you need.  The other item they used to get their fire out fast was a fire blanket.  These are great for battery or cooking fires also.

Current Project

Our current project is  rebuilding the rudder.  We have done a lot of reading on how it is beneficial to change the tilt of the rudder on a Macgregor.  This will help with the heeling and weather helm issues.   He moved the pivot hole about an inch forward.  We are told this makes a huge difference compared to the original design.

Dave decided we also needed to re-glass the rudder.  Here are a few pictures of before he began.  We are planning a whole blog on this project.

When Dave began looking into repairing the rudder, he found it had areas that were cracked, thin and spider cracking.    This was especially true on the side that the previous owner patched.  Dave cut out the bad area and is in the process of epoxying in a new section.  Next, he will fiberglass and gel coat  the entire rudder.  This will also fix all the nicks and chips from hitting the propeller.

To Prevent Heeling

I try really hard not to freak out when the boat really heels. Usually, I am okay to about 15%.   I am getting better each time we go out.  Screams  haven’t been heard coming from our boat in awhile.

A few things that help with heeling are a boom vane and a traveler.  We ordered the boom vane kit from Blue Water Yachts.

The boom vane keeps the boom from raising up and causing an accidental jibe.  It is great for running down wind to keep your boom flat.

The other item we are currently installing is a traveler.  I had the winter to research these expensive little items.  We decided to go with a Lewmar size 1 traveler.  With our boat,  we could have gone with a size zero to save money.   But everyone we talked to said they wished they would have spent the extra and purchased the size 1.  We ordered our traveler from Defender.  After shopping around, they had the best price. They are not sold with the lines so remember to order that as well.    We ordered red specked line for the port side and green specked line for the starboard side. In the picture they used all yellow.  You need about 25 ft of line for each side.

The traveler adjust the angle of the boom to the boat,  to prevent heeling.  This will make me a very happy sailor. The traveler also helps control and adjust the twist in the main sail.

Other Projects?

Other projects we will be working on this spring include fixing and gel coating some nicks and chips in the hull.  We purchased a bunch of gel coat supplies from Jamestown Distributors.  They came highly recommended by Andy Miller from Boatworks Today.  This is a great website with tons of how to videos.  This guy makes boat restoration look easy.

When the weather breaks, someday, we will be rebuilding our Macgregor Trailer.  Dave wants to take the boat off, sand down the trailer, and repaint it.  This will give him a chance to check for rust and repair any welds.  This is after all the original trailer.

We are planning blogs on all of these projects so check back for pictures and videos.