So, you got approved for Cuba, now what ? Part II of the Cuba series…plus some pics



So, the Coast Guard sent you the approval email… exciting !!! But now what ???

Don’t forget the clock is ticking and you probably only have a week, or less, before your approved departure date arrives.


Our courtesy flag flying !!


Hopefully, by the time the email arrives you will already have a Quarantine flag, a Cuban courtesy flag, a cruising guide or two, (I had read our cruising guide once or twice before we even applied) and charts. If not, you can order them here…..


Mike taking down our courtesy flag after we cleared in.


In addition, you should have an appropriate supply of spare parts, provisions and done some sort of shakedown trip to bebug any known or unknown issues you might have. You can buy food in Cuba but it’s more fun to explore and try out the local spots than to have to shop, parts would be VERY difficult….parts from the US would be almost impossible.

First things first…..start checking the weather…..this will be the most limiting factor for your passage and may force you to adjust your departure date with the USCG, so watch it closely. Before we left for Cuba we met a nice gentleman in a local Marathon bar. We overheard him say he owned a Hunter 35 (which was the same model Mike previously owned) so a boat conversation promptly erupted. He asked where we here headed and we said “Hopefully Cuba!!” He said he planned to leave for Cuba and keep going south as his boat was his only possession and he had no family to keep him in the states. Since he didn’t plan on returning he wasn’t going to bother getting a permit from the Coast Guard. He planned to leave near the end of March and we told him we would see him there.

Once we arrived in Cuba there was an extended period of moderately heavy to heavy North wind. It was so bad that the St. Pete to Havana race was almost cancelled. They delayed the start of the race by a day and a record was set in the spinnaker class for completion of the trip. That boat shaved about seven hours off the old record if that gives you any idea what the winds were like.

Once the North winds exceed 15 knots for a certain amount of time the Hemingway Marina stops allowing boats to enter or exit as it becomes quite hazardous. The entry channel is bordered by shallow rocks on either side and between the countercurrents from the Gulfstream (which at the time was very close to the north shore of Cuba) and the wind it can be difficult to avoid broaching (being turned sideways from wind and waves on the stern) and crashing into the rocks. Plus the North shore of Cuba is mostly Reef, rocks and shoals, then add to that, the depth goes from 1000′ to about 50′ in less than half a mile and it can be very dicey.

After the St. Pete racers arrived and departed the North winds again increased. We heard a story about a sailboat that had apparently exited the Gulfstream to the east of the marina channel and had attempted to work it’s way back West along the shoreline to the channel. The winds had again become pretty heavy, the swells out of the North were still very strong, the boat was unable to sail or power away and the boat was pushed up onto the Reef. Upon returning to Marathon in the Florida Keys we learned that it was the man we had met in the bar just before we left. His boat had been trapped on the Reef for a few days and then a series of heavier swells had pushed it into a deeper pocket between the outer and the inner Reef. Unfortunately, there isn’t a channel or passage out of this area so his boat was damaged and then trapped in a pocket of deep water inside the two Reef areas. We haven’t heard anymore updates but it seems his boat will be a complete loss. Even if he had insurance, American based insurance companies offer no coverage in Cuba. Until March of 2019, two companies had offered special riders for Cuba coverage but they ceased to offer that citing “declining diplomatic relations”. Just before we departed Cuba, a second boat, a catamaran enroute to Key West from Mexico, was forced into Havana harbor by rough seas and high winds and later relocated to Marina Hemingway once the winds subsided. So, it’s weather, weather, weather….and make sure your engine and drivetrain are up to the challenge should you end up with a Lee shore and need the power to make a getaway.

You hear a lot of odd stories about what to take to Cuba if you’re interested in giving gifts away. We have heard people say that “hygiene products” were popular gifts as they are difficult to obtain in Cuba….or some sort of perfumes or other toiletries for women were in demand……..we didn’t see, or hear of, that. Some of those stories also came with sort of an underlying, unseemly motive for those types of “gifts”, so avoid that.

Cuba has changed quite a bit. Cellphones and social media are common. Personal items may be slightly more expensive but are readily available. Wifi, while usually available at parks or restaurants by the hour, isn’t overly common at residences. Even at a park or other location with wifi you have to buy a wifi card and then it’s $1.50 CUC (the tourist currency) for an hour of usage. Funny side note…most Cubans pronounce it “wee-fee” so the traditional pronunciation can lead to some confused looks.

I asked a few people we befriended if there were any items that we, as Americans, might take for granted that were difficult to obtain in Cuba today and they said no. What we did find was that American products that don’t get imported to Cuba are interesting as a novelty. We took a few extra bottles of bourbon which we gave as gifts to some people, a case of Budweiser we traded for a case of Cristal beer and we had some baseball shirts and extra hats on board that we gave away to some of the people we met who had kids involved in baseball. They were very grateful for the gifts as they love American sports teams in Cuba.

this one’s for Barb Lienhard ….Happy Birthday !!!


There’s also a lot of talk about what kind of currency to take with you. People often exchange US dollars for Euros in the states to avoid some of the penalties charged at official outlets when exchanging US currency. Save your time and just take US dollars. You can tip in USD until you get your exchange finished. Take plenty of $5’s for the tips. Customs and Immigration won’t ask for a tip, or expect one, but the dockmaster, the electrician (who has to connect your shorepower), the agriculture officer and the health inspector will all say “the fee is $X and if you’d like to include a gift we would appreciate it”. Plenty of people laugh at them and give nothing but the goodwill was well worth the small price. We got plenty of visits from people asking if we wanted or needed anything and we saved about $300 on the stuff we bought to bring back (rum and cigars). In the next post we will tell you where to go to get the best exchange rates, pay 0 penalty AND get a better rate. Plus if you go to the right spots to eat you’ll be paying the lesser amount for food in pesos which is $1USD to $25CUP (the locals currency) as opposed to $.90 USD to $1CUC. Three of us had lunch and beers one day at a local place for $8USD.

What about the language barrier? English is taught in Cuban schools, but like any second language taught anywhere, if it goes unused it is lost.  A lot of Cubans in the marina area speak English very well.  Download an English to Spanish dictionary to your phone, buy a copy of Spanish for Cruisers and learn some key phrases.  Almost every menu is in Spanish….it helps to know what Cerdo, a chuleta and a pescadore are and how to get directions helps……We made some cheat sheets to review and assist the crew.  I had a few years of Spanish in high school and fortunately a lot of it stuck with me…comprehension is easier and after a few days I can carry out  a decent conversation.

Last, but not least, is route planning. Hopefully, you’ll have moderate east or west winds, we had light south winds, in between bouts of heavy north winds, so we ended up motoring the whole way. If you have the time, or the inclination, I would go as far West as you can before leaving the Keys. If your weather window is big enough, go to Dry Tortugas for a day or two. There’s a blog post for Dry Tortugas for any newbies.  That way you will already have made some distance to the west and then join the flow of the Gulfstream, rather than fighting it, and make your final part of the ride smoother and faster. When we left, we left from Key West and we planned to turn at N24.95.840/W082.34.186 to a course of 177 degrees T and then end up about 6 miles east of the Marina entrance, turning back along the coast outside of the Gulfstream. Once we got out there the Gulfstream was further south so we got an extra ten miles West before turning south and were able to head straight for the marina entrance avoiding the risks of the north shore arrival and subsequent westerly backtrack. The Gulfstream was VERY close to the north coast of Cuba at that time. It was about a 25 hour crossing.

Next time… to get the “hook up” in Cuba for currency exchange, tours, rum, cigars and more…….

Want to go to Cuba on your Boat? Like saving money ? Read on ……

Want to go to Cuba on your boat? Don’t want to spend $800 on a race or regatta ? How about $200 ? Here’s how….






When I initially began to research a trip to Cuba it seemed the easiest way to go was as a part of an $800 race or rally….which doesn’t include dockage or customs fees / cruising permit….so make that bill more like $1500……and I didn’t want to pay for a bunch of trophies I wouldn’t win and part of a banquet, so the “system working” part of my brain kicked in and I began to research it……

Then when I announced we were going to Cuba and a lot of people sent me messages asking “how are you doing that?” …or….”we sent paperwork in months ago and never heard anything back?” …..or…..”Did you know someone?” I began to think I discovered something……

A lot of people roll the dice and just go, but I’ve heard the horror stories if you get caught….heavy fines or vessel forfeiture, so here’s how we did it……

This information is obviously subject to revision by the USCG and is based on what I was told by representatives of the USCG…and contacts are current as of March 2019…….Your experience may vary slightly……also, it is predicated on a willingness to join the Hemingway International Yacht Club, a cost of $200 for the initial membership and about $25 a year thereafter to renew if you choose to do so. But we HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS METHOD.

Joining the Yacht Club is cool for a host of reasons…’s a few……
A) it’s the one and ONLY Yacht Club in Cuba……with a one of a kind shirt and burgee you can’t buy elsewhere.
B) you can eat and drink your fill at the club for about $20 a night for three people……
C) if you want to save the $600-$800 on US based races or regattas you have to become a member to participate in the local regatta anyway, so why not ?
D) the people at the Yacht Club are the friendliest and most pro America / sailing / yachting folks you’ll meet anywhere.
E) you get 15% off your dockage but be sure and ask for it when you pay out…that alone saved us $70
F) You will be supporting a great cause and a grassroots effort by the Cuban people to improve US and international relations and facilitate improvements to the Cuban government’s view regarding private business enterprises.

So…..Here’s the scoop on Cuba made easy……for the purposes of this post I won’t muddy the waters with ALL the ways to go to Cuba…..there are between 9-12 “license programs” at any given time that you can go under, but you only need ONE…….I’m just going to give you the easiest and fastest way to get the approval…….
If you’re a U.S. flagged boat and/or U.S. Citizen and you want to be able to return to the United States without facing massive fines you have to get permission from the U.S. Coast Guard. You and the boat can only stay two weeks. You can go on to Mexico or the Caymans without returning to the US, but overstay Cuba at your own peril.

This method involves submitting a form 3300 and a letter for each crew member describing your crew and what is called your “OFAC license”( which stands for the Office of Foreign Asset Control”) aka the reason you want to, and are allowed to, go to Cuba.

The easiest and fastest way is to go under the “Cultural exchange through sport” commonly referred to as the “participation in an amateur athletic event” which, in this instance, is a local regatta.

So, step #1 is to contact the offices the Hemingway Yacht Club at Marina Hemingway.

Here is the Commodore’s email…..his name is Juan Miguel Diaz Escrich (please don’t overuse it) and remember all email in Cuba is routed through government servers so don’t be political.



Inquire briefly what local events might be occurring during your proposed window of travel or ask for a calendar of scheduled events. Make it clear your want to join the Yacht Club upon arrival….feel free to mention us……There are usually two in April, one in May and one in June which is the annual fishing tournament not a regatta but still an athletic event. This year it was the Castillo del Morro regatta March 16 and the Torreon de Chorrera regatta March 23. Both are essentially boat parades that go from the Yacht Club and into Havana Harbor (which private vessels are strictly forbidden to enter, so that’s a treat) and a friendly race back to the Yacht Club……you will get a very cool, unique, locally made participation prize for this regatta, and you’ll probably be invited to the race banquet as a guest of the Commodore anyway, so don’t skip it. In November of 2019, the official 500th anniversary of the foundation of Havana is occurring so that would be an amazing regatta in which to participate. Pick a date and the The Commodore will send you a letterhead, stamped invitation to the regatta…..attach that to your form 3300 you print in Step #2 below.

Step #2 is to get the USCG form 3300…..

Here’s a link to the form ……

Print the form and simply fill it out by hand…..the USCG prefers fax for some reason (because it’s 1998) …..use the dates you get from the Commodore and his staff……..the form is pretty self explanatory……address …DOB…..boat description……
Use these coordinates in block #2 for where you’ll enter Cuban waters….23.18N 82.04W

Block #4 is important …..
My purpose for the voyage is “To participate in the XXXXXX regatta and subsequent boat parade, a cultural exchange through sport”

My OFAC license is “general and see attached”

My Commerce export license for this voyage is “see attached”

Step #3 is to add an OFAC letter (which stands for Office of Foreign Asset Control) for each member of the crew and describe their position aboard and the reason for going to Cuba. The rest of the language is boilerplate, so just copy and paste, changing the name, passport number etc…….. Our total application was 6 pages.

Here’s a sample of the letter……just adjust the language slightly based on whether you are the Captain or crew

John Q. Sailor
Passport #
Deckhand/Tactician/Navigator/Captain (pick one for each crew)
SV Boat
Documentation # 1111111
Home address
Phone number
Email address

TO : United States Coast Guard

My OFAC license for this voyage is provided by general license in 31 CFR 515.567(b), allowing travel to Cuba (and travel related transactions) for participation in amateur athletic competitions.
My associate and Captain of the SV NAME HERE, CAPTAIN NAME HERE is in receipt of an invitation for me from the Commodore of the Hemingway International Yacht Club (also known as the Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway de Cuba) located at the Marina Hemingway, Cuba. This invitation is for myself, him and his vessel and crew’s participation in an amateur sporting event (a sailing regatta and boat parade) being hosted by the Hemingway Yacht Club beginning REGATTA DATE HERE. I have attached a signed and stamped copy of the invitation.
Our arrival is planned for PICK A DAY THREE TO FIVE DAYS BEFIRE THE REGATTA. That will provide time to prepare for the regatta “INSERT REGATTA NAME HERE” organized by the Hemingway Yacht Club and the subsequent boat parade both of which Cuban citizens are welcome to participate and observe.
I agree to maintain records of each and every transaction related to this voyage for five years, pursuant to 31 CFR 501.601, and to furnish them upon request by the Director, Office of Foreign Asset Control, pursuant to 31 CFR 501.602.

My Commerce export license number for this voyage is provided by a rule exception, listed in 15 CFR 740.15(d)(6)(i)(c). The temporary sojourn is in connection with travel authorized by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control (see above), and under no circumstances will the vessel remain in Cuban waters for more than 14 consecutive days.


Name of crew member


You can remove crew but can’t add any after approval so put as many as you think will go and do an OFAC letter for each one.

Next..after about ten days follow up your fax with a respectful email inquiring about the status of your request to
ME1 Rodriguez is a Maritime Enforcement Officer (Petty Officer) with the USCG and is a very nice gentleman. He can give you a rough estimate if your approval date. Or call the questions number at the bottom of the form.

Once you get your approval via email all you need is a weather window……if you have to change dates, don’t do it more than once and only if absolutely necessary……

Next time……we share our hook ups for cheap CUC exchange (the tourist currency), where to go and with whom, Rum, Cigars, Tours and more……

It just raises and lowers the anchor….how complex can it be ????

It recently occurred to me that our windlass could probably use some attention.  After all, it has served us well for a few seasons and hasn’t received any TLC. Our prior boat was much smaller and didn’t have a windlass. Since I didn’t have any experience with any sort of windlass maintenance, I turned to YouTube.  Imtra, the company that manufacters the Lofrans Tigres Windlass we have, has a channel with a detailed six step maintenance tutorial.  All seven videos were a total of about 30 minutes….easy peasy, right ?

It seemed simple enough, so the next day I dove into the disassembly, cleaning and regreasing. In the far left side of the diagram, on the end, you can see the Circlips, which are small circular washer type safety stops to prevent an item on a threaded shaft from falling off if you loosen it too much or it vibrates loose. Those were missing, so I found and ordered some from Grainger.  It seemed that the end of the driveshaft had been damaged at some point and the slot for the clips was bent closed……40 minutes of filing later, the groove was fixed.

So, working our way inward, once the clutch release is spun off you can remove the outer clutch cone, lower the chain stripper out of the way by removing the aft mounting bolt, remove the chain gypsy and the inner clutch cone. Our inner clutch cone was deformed and jammed on the driveshaft.

So, our inner clutch cone wouldn’t come off.  In the video it slipped right off for cleaning, greasing and replacement, not so much in the real world.  At some point in the history of our windlass it must have had a lot of stress on the chain without a snubber line to absorb the force. It was bent and slightly split where the keystock fits into the driveshaft.  The stainless steel shaft was also slightly bulged, deformed and the keystock was bent.  So…out comes the Dremel….90 minutes of careful cutting and the clutch cone was off… ordering a new one for $74 and waiting for delivery… a new gasket for the motor housing $22….

I found a great new source for parts…. they were quick to respond and the parts arrived in two days.

Once the new inner clutch cone arrived I had to file the driveshaft to remove the bulges.  That was another hour of fitting the bronze cone, and filing and fitting, since bronze is softer than stainless it made yellow marks on the shaft where it made contact which made it easier to know where to file.

After that was greased and installed the rest went back together pretty easily with the addition of the safety clips on the driveshaft.

Next, I removed the motor housing cover.  This is held in place by two threaded rods that fit into the main body of the windlass secured by acorn, or cap nuts on the outside of the cover.  Our cover however, had a bead of caulk around the edge making it extra difficult to remove….so add forty minutes to the process…….

It appeared this caulk was necessary because the nitrile cord gasket had been installed backward and the raised edge was in the groove of the cover rather than facing outward toward the main body of the unit.  This removal process was made slightly more difficult by the proximity of the standing rigging for the staysail.  I had to loosen the acorn nuts, pry the cover loose, then remove the rods and then take the cover off at an angle and use a rubber mallet to “encourage” it.

Since the housing is aluminum and the bolts and acorn nuts are stainless the cover should have plastic “Delrin” washers to keep the metals from touching as they will interact and cause corrosion.  Those washers were also missing.

The motor housing was in good shape, the wiring was run properly under the motor and the terminals were clean and secure.   I cleaned the motor and applied a light coat of oil to inhibit corrosion.


Once it was reassembled, I tested the rope rode drum side (far right in the diagram), the manual override (where the vertical handle is) and we loaded our new, 250′ of anchor chain into the boat.


need one ?

The 30 minute videos turned into about 4 hours of actual labor and a few days of waiting for parts…boat life !!!

As an added bonus, our windlass remote control has stopped functioning in reverse mode so that’s next on the list…..

Winner winner ….Kalik beer fishing shirt….(I’m a terrible poet)

Congratulations to our most recent prize winner….and long time subscriber, Dave Uhles !!!!! Dave is an extraordinary pilot and was the best sailing student I’ve ever had the privilege to teach….what a natural !!!  He piloted the boat all day on Brookville Lake while I drank beer…..Dave likes to fly fish so I hope this shirt saves his skin from any unwanted sunburns……

Dave won this prize for correctly identifying the corresponding crew member based on our Jaws themed monogrammed custom napkins quiz on Facebook this last June.

Don’t forget to encourage friends to subscribe….any month we add ten or more subscribers we have a random prize giveaway…’s like automatically increasing your chances to win !!! And your odds are MUCH better than with the powerball.

On an unrelated note……Christmas is coming…..a lot of people use online shopping these days for that……I received a few questions on how the program we advertise in posts works …… if you use our links to access their site and you order anything or buy a video or music, or sign up for a prime or kindle trial we get a small commission and that doesn’t increase your cost at all…..I hope that helps answer any questions…..thanks !!!

AND ……

Congratulations Dave !!!!




Where should we go ?

So…we find ourselves nearing the time when we need to decide where we will go during this next cruising season.  We have a couple of choices and thought it might be fun to see what our readers thought. Keep in mind these aren’t actual navigation routes…..just general areas we would depart and arrive…..

This first route is what we did in 2016-2017… covers about 1,000 nautical miles (nm) and while we didn’t hit every Island we hit quite a few…..

This second, partially new, route covers what we did in 2015-2016 (Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas) plus adds Cuba, Isla Mujeres, and some hops down that coast that would end in Guatemala. Which is also a good place to be for hurricane season next year.

Courtesy of Google Maps

So….let us know what you think by voting below !!!! Feel free to leave some comments too !!!


A Season at the Dock ……Part 2

As we left things in the last post…..we were still at the Florida dock making repairs to the boat.  We were hoping to have the month of June to spend in the Bahamas and time was ticking down.

One of the issues we had as we were leaving the Bahamas last June, was that our refrigerator stopped cooling.  Thankfully, I had refrigeration gauges (thank you John Nihiser!!!) and a leak detector on board.  We found the source of the issue which was a leak in the copper tubing that leads from the compressor to the evaporator plate near the plate.  Our fridge box is heavily insulated, so we were able to put five blocks of ice in it and keep it at 40 degrees until we returned to Florida the following week. Quick tip…. If you want to save a lot of money on refrigeration diagnosis and repair in the long run, I strongly suggest getting the gauges and leak detector, learn how to use them and how to charge your system.


Below is a simple diagram of how refrigeration systems are laid out.  Our system runs on R-134a gas which is a commonly available coolant used in automotive air conditioning.  The compressor pressurizes the R-134a, and it becomes a liquid under this pressure and is pumped to the evaporator plate (which is the grey three sided lining inside the blue box).  Once the liquid reaches a place it can expand, in this case, inside the plate it “boils” converting back to a gas.  The boiling process allows the gas to rapidly absorb heat, in some cases lowering the temperature of the plate to around one degree Fahrenheit. The gas is then recirculated to the keel cooler ( the gold line and plate on the outside of the hull) and then back to the compressor where the process begins again.

Our system had a leak in the line at the evaporator plate.  These plates come with the tubing factory installed, so the plate and line had to be replaced as one piece.  The plates and tubing are about $495.  Fortunately, I was able to remove the old unit and replace it without professional assistance.  I did hire a local refrigeration tech to install a filter dryer and solder the lines where that filter was installed. That only cost about $80.

Next on the list was the issue with our alternator.  The alternator had begun to generate a lot of dust over the last few years.  It had also been performing oddly during our last month in the Bahamas. I had replaced the belts but it seemed that the dust situation never got any better.  I began to suspect it was an alignment issue between the alternator pulley and the main engine pulley.  It turned out that I was right and our alternator was severely out of line with the main engine pulley.

First, I pulled the alternator and took it to a local shop for a complete rebuild.  That ran about $180.  Once it was back, I bought some chromed alternator spacers that could be cut to length from Autozone and began the reinstallation process.  The alternator was set about 1.5″ too far back and it took a few trial fittings to get it right, along with replacing the mounting bolt.

The new alternator foot spacer….on the bottom of the alternator mount …..


The new alternator head spacer… the top mount with a longer mounting bolt.

While I had all the belts off I also realigned the high pressure pump for our watermaker so it was ready for test and usage in the Bahamas.

Last on our list was an issue with our wind instruments.  They were failing to display the wind speed and direction on the screen where a combination of data is usually available (water depth, windspeed, wind direction, and speed through the water) I was concerned that our sensors at the masthead had been damaged by the Ospreys that love to sit up there every chance they get.  On the day I was certain I would have to go up the mast, I decided to experiment with the display for a little while first.  To my relief and surprise, there were just some display settings that had somehow become changed and once adjusted the unit began working again…..that only took two hours of experimentation.

The I-70 display…..

I also changed our oil and filter and since I usually spill a few drops on the engine block I made this apron for the filler opening…..


Next time….we make it back to the Bahamas …..

A season at the dock…..Part I

We were hoping to make a late December getaway to the Bahamas since November was preempted by some return trips to visit and support family,  but on December 26th I was paid a visit by the kidney stone fairy.  I’m very glad we weren’t in the Bahamas as this was my first time dealing with one of these.  On the pain scale of one to ten I’d give that experience a 12…..I was told by the doctor that I had two more waiting in the wings so we thought it might be a good idea to take this opportunity to fix some things that we had been putting off while we were staying put for a while.

We had a few projects……..Our watermaker had stopped working in the Bahamas, and that required diagnosis and repair…..we had some wood work that needed repair from some very old water damage,……our alternator needed a rebuild and realignment……the adjacent engine driven, high pressure watermaker pump also needed to be realigned……our refrigerator and freezer compressor had originally been wired in the same circuit which I thought was interfering with the performance when both units tried to start up at the same time,….. our wifi range extender was on the fritz,…… our new outboard was due for it’s ten hour service and our backup, new to us, outboard needed some work as well, and our masthead wind instruments (which supply the wind speed and direction to our instruments) stopped sending data to our cockpit display for some reason and finally our refrigerator evaporator plate needed to be replaced. Keep in mind these projects were tempered by trips to the beach, happy hours and visiting friends !!!!

First a quick tutorial on watermaker function.  We take in seawater and filter it to remove any large contaminants.  Then the water is pressurized using a “low pressure” pump at about 17psi.  That pump maintains the pressure to the high pressure pump which operates at hundreds of pounds of pressure.  The water then travels through two tubular membranes (filters).  The seawater is highly pressurized and travels along the outside of the membrane and the freshwater is pushed through to the inside of the membrane “cylinder”.  That freshwater goes to our tanks and the remaining briny seawater goes overboard. Sounds simple right ? Here’s a diagram ……

Our watermaker was a two fold issue.  Our low pressure pump, which feeds the high pressure pump wasn’t moving any water.  It is an intermittent duty (i.e. 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off) pump and required a cooling coil to keep the temperature down and extend the duty cycle.  Unfortunately, the cooling coil couldn’t make 100% contact with the motor so it suffered from some efficiency issues.

I had initially assumed that the motor was burned up.  I removed the pump and was about to order a new one.  I had hoped there had been some advancement in  pump design and we could get a continuous duty pump, but apparently there haven’t been any advancements in this type of pump design.  I thought we were destined to replace the pump for $395.  As I was taking the pump to the trash, I decided to try something and I attached the leads to the battery in our van and the pump ran !! So, I found a local pump repair shop and got it rebuilt for $65…although, it took over two weeks to get the parts.

Once the pump was rebuilt I began to investigate other ways to cool the pump and extend the duty cycle.  I discovered that Shur Flo pumps makes a 5″ heat sink that fits the motors on a variety of other manufacturers pumps.  I get the feeling the motors are all made by the same company and relabeled for the “manufacturers”.  I consulted with a friend who was an aerospace engineer for ideas in cooling the pump motor and he recommended “Thermal Grease” under the heat sink.  This makes the contact between the sink and the motor housing 100% by removing air gaps and the grease has metal particles in it to transmit heat more efficiently.

I added a 138cfm cooling fan like you’d have on a large computer and fabricated a support from a PVC bus hub and a rubber reducer coupling and ended up with this …..we flushed the system and the motor was as cool as a cucumber !!!


The “woodwork” turned into tearing out 60% of our port settee and replacing the entire seat and a small section of the outboard bulkhead that separates the storage area.  I used marine grade plywood and treated it with Copper Coat which is a 9% copper solution that prevents future mold, mildew, rot and insect infestation.  I also increased the size of the access hatches so we can store dive tanks under the settee.  The biggest challenge was matching the shape of the board that was glassed into that area which would not come out in one piece…or even six !!  A lot of the outer edge had to be ground out of the fiberglass.  I took this opportunity to run some extra 0 gauge wire forward for the addition of some  electrical items down the road. I was tempted to remove the washing machine during this process, but decided we could do that later.

Next time…alternator….masthead instruments…..pump alignment….fridge/freezer…..etc….etc….etc

An interesting new product we discovered….”Sugru”

On our boat we have a lot of essential electronic equipment.  Some of these devices have remote handsets you can use to control and/or monitor the device like the Autopilot, VHF radio or windlass.  These handsets have coiled, rubber coated cables that run from the control head to the plug.

Recently, our autopilot control head cable began to deteriorate.  This was pretty concerning since our autopilot was manufactured by a European company called “Cetrek” and they have been out of business for a few years.  Since a new autopilot would be around $1500 for just the equipment, we were tying to come up with a way to repair this, and future, cables.

I found a product online called “Sugru” and it is described as a “moldable glue”.  It is billed as being waterproof (including salt water), UV resistant, flexible, electrically insulating, heat/cold resistant and shock / vibration resistant.  This was readily available on Amazon so I ordered a multi pack.  It comes in various colors but for our purposes black matches our cords.


I applied the first section as a test and in 24 hours it was fully cured and seemed to live up to it’s sales pitch.  I plan to cover the rest of the deteriorating cord and we will post an update in a few months when we can fully evaluate the wear it stands up to during our travels. I also suspect that Sugru will be a good replacement for caulking around spaces like those around our chainplate through hull openings on the deck combing which need to be recaulked every few years or they leak.  This may be a permanent fix for that issue!!!  It was a great improvement over the electrical tape wrapping I was trying to use on the cord. It was easy to use and not messy at all.

The new Sugru wrapping …..

The old, ugly, sticky tape wrapping ……

You can get some Sugru for yourself right here using this link !!!



Dolphins !!!….and we’re back up and running !!! Just in time for NYE !!!

I started this post in the Bahamas and just realized I never finished it……I had intended to make a folder of dolphin pics but this seems to be the only one I saved…..


Here’s a Dolphin in our bow wake as we were leaving Bimini……he’s so close that the shadow of our anchor in on his back…..