KIVA, Houston, TX
KIVA Sailing and Cruising
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June 23- June 27

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico to the Dry Tortugas or "What color motor home do you want when we get to Key West"



Finally after 6 months of getting ready in Houston, we think we are ready to go. The final pieces have fallen together in the last days; the riggers are finished and all the canvas work has (finally) shown up. The only thing that eluded us was to have our fuel tanks cleaned. However the hurricane season was at our door, and time was running out - time to dash across the Gulf or potentially be stuck here until the fall. Also, our crew, Shaun Moore, who had been very patient with our schedule, was getting to a point where work issues were beginning to make it impossible to go with us. So on Saturday morning, away we go!

We left our slip at Watergate about nine in the morning. The day was calm and cloudy, and we motored down to Galveston after filling up with fuel. On the way down, Terri started cooking our meals for the crossing. After an hour or so, she came up from below and asks "Do you know why the bilge pump keeps coming on?". So Jan started looking around for a leak, finally figuring out that a decent flow of water was coming from far up in the bow. The only thing it could have been was a leak at the bobstay tang, just above the waterline. When the boat was at rest, there was no leak. When the boat was moving and the bow wave covered the tang, the water ran down the bilge. We had to make a decision to return to the dock or fix the problem underway and go on.

Initially, we pulled out of the Houston Ship Channel to try and fix it with some two-part epoxy. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we used 10 minute epoxy, it failed almost immediately when we started motoring (maybe the 10 minute part was about how long it lasts). So we pulled in to the yacht basin in Galveston and Terri and Shaun took a taxi to West Marine and Home Depot to buy something that would cure quickly and work underwater. We ended up using a product call "AquaMend", a two part putty which should cure in about 60 minutes (and would work underwater!). We had dinner at the dock while we waited for the putty to cure and when we started motoring from the dock, the leak was just a trickle. Looked good, so we turned south in to the jetties and continued on. (Later in Key West, when we spoke to our friend Connie in Kemah she mentioned that the leak had probably come from our small boating incident a few weeks before (a 25' MacGregor ran in to the bowsprit while we were at the dock). At the time, there appeared to be no damage. With everything going on we completely forgot about that incident.)

On the Gulf, the wind was light and on the nose (that's one of the things about sailing - the wind is always in the wrong direction your trying to sail to). We motored at about 6 knots in the safety fairway to avoid most of the rigs and rig boats. About 4 in the morning, two large cruise boats (Carnival and Royal Caribbean) passed us on our port side on their way to Galveston to drop off their passengers. All night long we are able to track the large boats on our new AIS (Automatic Identification System) which allows us to see their speed, course and even their sizes and names. What a great piece of equipment for the busy Gulf!

We continued to motor for the next few days while we kept track of our fuel. The weather continued to be fair, but the wind would not get off the nose. After about 3 days, we got into a foul current which slowed us down to about 3 to 4 knots. At the same time, the current made the Gulf much rougher with very steep, square waves. The motion became uncomfortable and every so often, the boat felt like it was being hit into a wall. Remember the fuel guy that didn't show up to clean the tanks before we left? Now with the motion and the rocking, Jan had to replace fuel filters about every 3 to 4 hours (which also required the fuel system to be bled before the engine would restart). We had 9 filters on board which we thought would keep us through the summer, but after the eighth one was installed, we started pulling old ones from the trash to try and clean them to reuse them. At that time, Jan also suggested that maybe we should starting thinking about what color motor home we were going to buying when we arrived in Florida. Lucky for us, the waves started to drop and the current went down to about 1 knot, so the tanks were not pulling up so much dirt. After about 11 filters (with one unused filter for a spare), things went back to normal.

Finally, after 6 days of motoring, we dropped anchor at the Dry Tortugas, just in front of Fort Jefferson near sunset. By the time the cocktails and snacks came out, the whole idea of buying a motor home faded into the distance like the beautiful sunset.

Kiva's nose is leaking
Duct Tape - the sailors best friend.

Dolphins playing with Kiva in the Gulf of Mexico
The dolphins help reduce the boredom.

Terri Buskop
Terri's second fish, a Wahoo. It was tasty! She had hooked a Mahi-Mahi two days before, but we lost it trying to get it on the boat.

Shaun Moore and Terri Buskop
A safe but eventful crossing.



Dolphins playing with Kiva in the Gulf of Mexico

KIVA anchored at the Dry Tortugas
Sunset at The Dry Tortugas.








Copyright © 2008 Jan Buskop