Monday, September 30, 2013

Beep Beep Dolphins

Seeing dolphins is just so Kewl.  However.....back in Kansas when you are driving a car and something runs out in road in front of you (like a  squirrel, deer, cat, dog), you....
1.  Slam on the brakes - so you don't hit it.
2.  Swerve to avoid - so you don't hit it
3.  Hit and generally hurt or kill it
As dolphins swim along with us, darting this way and that, my first reaction is...."Oh kewl!"  And then immediately I think " Look out!  Be careful Mr and or Ms dolphin!  I don't want to hit you!"   Silly I know but it's just roadkill instinct after all these years.

Shallow Existence Sort of Day

Under our keel that is and we are better for it.  I thought the state of Georgia was King of the ICW thin water but with today's skinny water, it seems South Carolina may have taken the lead.  Never fear Georgia, you will still reign in the area of no-see-ems and mozzies.
First up this morning was the Ashepoo Coosaw ICW cut.  This stretch is a mess. Here's the poo on Ashepoo.  We went through 1 1/2 hours before low tide and saw numbers shallower than the chart - that was BEFORE low tide folks.  *Yeah, yeah....we should have done this on a rising tide - not possible given high tide was at something like 5:17 AM.  Anyway, I was at the helm and it is SHALLOW!!  And it's tense your shoulders shallow for quite a stretch.  I saw a depth as low as 3.9 feet!  Yes, we draw 6 ft but our depth sounder has a 3 ft offset.  So - 9 inches!  9 inches 1 1/2 hour before low tide!!  One would need to plan a picnic (as in you are going to ground and have to wait for high tide) if you were going through at low tide.  OR if say you are a 42ft southbound sailboat loaded up for the Bahamas season with enough wine and rum to sink Nelson's navy!....not to name names but (wink wink B&C).  Oh and to the jackwagon that placed the crab pot right smack in the middle of the south exit / northbound entrance to Ashepoo Coosaw Cut.....ha, ha, very funny.
There were several other thin stretches that has kept the day interesting.  Actually, it's exhausting.  But we are taking it slow in the skinny water and have not touched ground yet (knock on wood/fiberglass). On the plus side, we spotted our 6th bald eagle of the trip this morning and have been visited by many dolphins today as well.  Traffic has been minimal, with mainly locals and a few    motor cruisers heading south.  I see however that the winds may be shifting around to the east and south later this week.  Woo hoo, finally!   I guess that means more of you are finally southbound.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hilton Head to Bass Creek

After chilling for three nights and two days in Broad Creek on Hilton Head, we pulled up anchor this morning and headed north again.  YES, north - more later on this, I promise.  The wind guessed it....out of the NE but we were able to pull the white things out a couple of times.  The first was as we were headed back down Broad Creek,  Tom tossed up the stay sail just to check things out.    We doused it once we got into the sound and turned north.  Later as we crossed Port Royal Sound, we were able to sail with stay sail (again, just because doesn't get used much) and our main.  It felt SO good to be sailing....well motor sailing but still.
It's been a sunny, perfect temp day.  As we motored past Beaufort SC (BUuufort) there was a regatta of small sailing boats going on.  So fun to see.  To paraphrase my dear friend Greg...."no billionaires,  carbon fiber or helmets....just simple little boats sailing around."
There is a swing bridge across the ICW at Beaufort.  Bridges are not my fav thing.  The guidebook said this one is slow and at times breaks down so call to be sure it's working.  Great.  Tom called and since it is Sunday the bridge opens "on demand, just keep coming."  Kewl.  But when we got closer, there was no indication that it was swinging.  Tom called again.  Finally the guy stopped the traffic but then the bridge still didn't open.  Come on!  We actually had to circle around.  Finally it started to swing open so we could pass through.  Again, passing under or though bridges - not my fav.
So now we are anchored in Bass Creek just off Parrot Creek that is just off the ICW at approx mile marker 520.  There is marsh on both sides and it looks to be a good sunset.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Are Those People

Boat full of tourist
For years we would go on holiday and somehow always end up on or near the water, even if we didn't plan on being on or near water.  We would walk the docks at whatever marina, or go on a harbor cruise with tons of other people, or take a ferry out to an island with all the other tourist, and we would always spy at least one cruising sailboat with a cruising couple onboard.  They were cruising in style and taking their time, just the two of them.  None of this two hour tourist cruise with a hundred of your closes friends.  Even when we chartered in the Caribbean, we would take longing looks at the full time cruisers on their own cruising boats.   We would say to each other "One day, that will be us."
Our happy traveling home

Today it is!

Adjusting to Life Underway


We have been adjusting to life underway/at anchor and enjoying it.  Today we tried out another shower system.  We hung our solar shower through the overhead hatch and used it in combination with the aft shower hose.  Just trying out various methods.  While s/v Honey Ryder has large water tanks, we still need to be very careful about our water usage so we can stay out of marina's longer.  Showers aboard mean hosing down just enough to get almost wet and then shutting the water off, lathering up and then hosing off quickly with minimal water used.  Next it was time to open Salon Caliber -aka hair cut day.  Previous hair cuts as liveaboards have been successful but those were always at the top of our dock, a stable platform with plenty of room.  Salon Caliber opened in our sun room aka cockpit enclosure (good thing too as the NE wind was blowing.  If we had not had the enclosure, I think we would have ended up with new, modern looking side cuts complements of the wind.)  Both trims turned out ok if you don't look too closely!
View of the beautiful day out our sky light in the cockpit
It's a beautiful day with sunny skies.  Not too hot and not too cool.  Just right!
Next we dinghy'd into Palmetto Bay Marina in Broad Creek on Hilton Head.  We were able to tie up the dinghy No Charge.  Then we hiked approx. 2 miles to the Publix grocery store.  It was time to get some basic fresh provisions such as milk, eggs, bread, fruits, veggies, etc...  With fully loaded backpacks and a shopping bag each, we slowly made our way back to the marina, stopping twice to rest on convenient park benches along the walking trail that parallels a busy cross island thoroughfare. 
Note on this anchorage - We are just around the first bend on the south side of the creek before the bridge.  Both Skipper Bob and Active Captain recommend this anchorage.  Neither mentioned that there is a small mooring field.  We found at least one mooring submerged during rising tide.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, we are still learning about anchoring with tidal swing.  Previously we have always swung out into whatever creek and then around when the tide changes.  Here on Broad Creek we found that we instead swung towards the creek bank and around.  I don't know if this is a function of being closer to the shoreline vs mid creek or not.  We did ok the first night.  However the next morning at low tide we did actually ground ourselves.  Nothing too bad - soft mud.  In fact, the only way I knew was that we weren't swing the rest of the way around like the other boats.  Uh-oh.  A quick check of the depth meter confirmed.  Tom raised 10-15 ft of the anchor and it was just enough to float us again and we swung on around with the tide.  It is also worth noting that there is a fair amount of traffic on this river - ferries, tourist boats and kayakers.  Some coming relatively close to our boat.  We had some small wakes and lots of chances to  Smile for the camera!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NE Wind

Skidaway Narrows Bridge
Yesterday, NE wind.  Today, NE wind.  Tomorrow?  NE Wind.  Weekend?  NE Wind.  Early next week?  NE Wind.
Hey, all you southbound're welcome!  Where are you?  Come on out.  The wind is perfect for your trip south.  But no rush as it appears the wind is never going to blow from the south again!!  Yes, we realize we are going north when most are going south.  More later on this.
*The new Skidaway Narrows Bridge is still not open yet for car traffic. 

Herb Creek Anchorage

ICW mile marker 584
Thunderbolt Marina across the marsh
When we came in yesterday afternoon it was blowing NE around 12-15.  We anchored just around the first bend in front of the private docks....but not too close.  Tom knew I wouldn't feel comfortable too close...."We're dragging down on those docks.  We are swinging and we are going to hit those docks." what he would have heard all night from me.  I am trying to get better about not freaking out in that manner and I AM doing much better but....SO we anchored just past mid channel towards the north side of the creek and were fine. 

Motoring around the corner to Tubby's Tank House for dinner was the first time leaving the boat at anchor unattended.  She did fine but it was a comfort to see her anchor light over the marsh as we dinghied/dinghy'd (sp?) back.  The wind had died down and the creek was like glass.  We shared the creek with one other anchored boat.  Good place to anchor. 

Thunderbolt, sv Sabrina and Tammy Ann

Do you remember the s/v Sabrina?  She is a spectacular Hinckley Bermuda 40 that we saw and met over at Golden Isles Marina while we were in Brunswick GA.  Well....when we got to Thunderbolt we cruised by all the waterfront marina's and there she was at Bahia Bleu marina.  WOW!  We swung around and headed for Herb Creek to anchor. 
Tubby's Tank House
Later, we launched the dinghy and motored the two miles around the marsh back to Bahia Bleu marina so we could go ashore and have dinner with Tammy Ann of s/v Tammy Ann.  Why did we do this vs just taking a slip in the marina?  Because we have been in a marina for the last 3 1/2 months!  We coasted up to s/v Sabrina's slip just as her admiral was coming up on deck.  "Hi ya'll" she said.  Tom asked if there was a dinghy dock we could tie up to.  She looked around and laughed "anywhere - here next to our boat."  Then I said "I doubt you remember but we met before" and then I proceeded to tell her about meeting them at Golden Isles.  She told us where the restaurant Tubby's Tank House was and assured us she would be there all night.  "Leave your dinghy here as long as you want."  We were able to dump our trash ashore as well - kewl!
The Kansas kids - Tammy is from Kansas too!
We walked the short distance to Tubby's Tank House and found Tammy on the front deck.  We met Rick and Tammy of the s/v Tammy Ann previously in 2011 when we were in Sail Harbor getting s/v Honey Ryder's tuna tower built.  They are good peeps and we have stayed in touch.  Tammy is the one that clued me into Walburg Creek and Herb Creek anchorages.  Unfortunately Rick had to work.  We had a wonderful time getting caught up and talking all things sailing/livingaboard/cruising. 
Tammy and Rick - we have no doubt that we will see you again soon over the horizon in some anchorage with palm trees!!  

Head Maintenance Underway

Insert whatever political/nutritional joke you wish here - mine? Cheers!
When we made the hop from St Simon’s sound up to St Catherine’s sound, we took advantage of the sea state (waves jostling the boat around) to do some head maintenance.  Previously we had rebuilt the aft head and done maintenance on the waste hoses as best we could - see Two Types of Boaters Head Repair to review that posting if you would like.  There is one really long run of hose that runs from the aft Y value forward to the holding tank in the bow.  It’s a really long run of hose and no good way to clean it out of the calcium buildup from uretic acid.   It’s so well placed in the boat that there really isn’t an easy way to remove the hose completely to clean it like we did the overboard discharge hose.  *Did you catch my positive spin on that?  So well placed.... Nice eh?
Insert whatever joke you want here - mine?  Bottoms up!
A few weeks back we were discussing this with Caliber Chris and Janet…..yes, cruisers talk a lot about their heads (toilets) – my dear friend Floy (world cruiser) warned me about this favorite cruiser topic fact.  Anyway, I had thought of using my favorite vinegar in the hose while underway to knock some of the calcium loose.  Caliber Chris suggested flat Coke/Pepsi  would do the trick as well and maybe a little better.   I opted for $.64 Wal-Mart brand cola.  I dumped it into the head and pumped several times so the entire run of hose would be filled with cola and then I let it sit for 5 hours while we slogged our way to St Catherine’s sound.  Finally I pumped all the cola through to the holding tank and then out - we were still out past the three mile mark so legal.  That run of hose “seems” to pump much better so I am going to call the maintenance a success.  And yes, out past the three mile mark offshore, there were some caffeinated fish! 

Buckhead Creek to Herb River

We left Buckhead Creek yesterday morning mid morning.  We were up and planned to leave earlier but it was raining pretty good so we decided to wait and see if it would let up.  Sure enough, it did.  We pulled anchor and took off.  There were still a few sprinkles and a fair amount of wind (NE) so we were very glad to have our cockpit enclosure.  *Yes, I know I owe you all a blog posting on that.  Soon.
We use one of our fenders as a helm seat.  It works well, is comfortable and fun
We saw more ICW traffic and heard more on the VHF.  Even with our rain delay, we were able to transit Hell Gate on a rising tide.  For those that don't know, Hell Gate is "one of the most notorious sections of the ICW for shoaling."  "There are extremely strong side-sweeping currents" says Dozier's Waterway Guide.  I just call it Hellish.  Hell Gate is at ICW mile marker 601 to 602.  It's very short but very tricky.  You sort of make a slight S shaped path through while coming very, very, very close to the shore.  The big flock of birds less than 10 ft away on the shore don't help.  They are like having an entire dock full of people watching you other words, it's as if the birds are scoring your passage through Hell Gate.  Those of you that have been through I wrong?  Watch and see next time you are through there.  Anyway, this is our third time through there and we did just the other times but it's still an experience.  Take note - We went through 1 1/2 hours before high tide and saw as shallow as 8.5 ft at one point.  We draw close to 6ft.   

Isle of Hope Wormsloe Historic Site
The rest of the trip was great. 

Check out the nest atop this ICW marker
We arrived in Thunderbolt and anchored in the Herb River.

Picture Catch Up - Casting Off

We have some strong internet so I thought I would catch you all up on pictures from the last few days.  Pictures being worth $1k words and all.  Be warned, I like pics but then you all know this already if you have been following along. 
Bye BLM - Bill, Jim and Maryanne our dock neighbors

Tom stowing dock lines and fenders as we leave Brunswick GA
The UNDERWAY smile 
Ft Frederica
Our anchorage just past the fort
The marsh at our Ft Frederica anchorage
Above - Yes, we often end up anchoring this close to the marshland and yes, it's taken some getting use to for this Kansas girl.  I worry about grounding and or dragging when we swing.  But I am getting better.

Finally making the turn towards St Catherine's Sound

Weather off our starboard stern
Sunset over St Catherine's Sound - Sky is on fire
Preparing to head into St Catherine's sound in the dark
Walburg Creek anchorage looking back toward entrance to the creek
We anchored just before the turn opposite the two docks on St Cathrine's Island
Looking over Walburg Island I could spy boats traveling the ICW through the binocs 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Walburg Creek to Buckhead Creek

We decided to go only a short distance today and had no shallow spots to worry about so we didn't rush.  We planned and got 1/2 the way through launching the dinghy to explore St Catherine's island beach and some funky looking trees.  However the strong NE wind wouldn't let up so we abandoned that idea.  If the outboard would have stopped as it sometimes does, we would have been swept into the marshlands to be taken in by marshland Kathy Bates and forced to blog whatever she said, never to be seen again.  Just kidding.  Remember the movie "Misery?"  Anyway,  We made some adjustments to the dinghy hoist and how it is strapped down and then prepped for weighing anchor.  With the NE wind we knew the trip out into the sound, around Middle Ground and back up the other side would be wicked.  And it was.  We should have sensed that the big group of dolphins at the entrance to Walburg Creek were trying to tell us "Don't do it.  It's really rough out there you silly humans.". But we don't yet speak dolphin.  The anchored shrimp boat in Walburg Creek might have been another clue!  But hey, it appears this NE wind is never going to let up and we can't stay in Walburg Creek forever so we went for it.  Crossing the sound was a bitch.   At times we were barely making 2 knots and bucking like a wild bronco.  I was SO glad Tom checked and changed tank # 1 fuel filter.  Sv Honey Ryder hung in there and we managed to slog out and around the sound to the other side.   We proceed up the ICW to Buckhead Creek where we are anchored this evening.  It has fairly good protection from the NE and E winds.  Clouds have moved in and it is very dark all around.  We are the only ones in here.  In the Kewl category....we saw three bald eagles on our way out of Walburg Creek.  One on the St Catherine's Island shore and two really close to us on a small sandy area on Walburg Island.  Further up on the ICW near Kilkenny Creek, we saw another bald eagle very close along the ICW shoreline.  They are such fierce looking birds.  On the boat stuff front, we decided to take advantage of the strong winds by tuning on our wind generator this morning.  It started whizzing away, immediately putting 6-8 amps in our system.  Some people don't like the sound of wind generators but I don't mind ours.  This evening we enjoyed cockpit showers ( the new enclosure is awesome as it blocks all the wind) and then taco salad and fresh baked cookies.  We never got around to baking them last night.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Food For When You Are Really Tired

Anyone who has ever been too tired to cook knows a fast, easy, hot meal is just the ticket.  In our past life that probably meant take away something....Chinese, Mexican or fast food.  Now that is not an option.  Pressure cooker pasta is my go to gold standard.  So easy.  So fast.  So good.  You simply must try this.  Head over to Beyond Burgoo for the details and link to the original recipe.   I made this last night after we dropped anchor in the dark.  It was perfect.

St Catherine's Sound and Walburg Creek

9-22-13 and 9-23-13  We headed out St Simon's channel and then turned north.  The wind didn't really cooperate so we motored most of the way.  We also had some rain.    We got a later start than we should have.  That is one thing that we have not adjusted to....getting up and leaving early.  Its not that we can't, we just haven't.  In this case we should have.  With winds on the nose a good part of the way, it slowed us down.  We had to enter the sound after dark.  Gasp!  Yes, it was a bit of a stomach tensing time but we went for it.  Our Garmin chartplotters did an excellent job of guiding us.  Sailing Chickie Tammy ......
Omg - as I am typing this on the deck a dolphin has surfaced and seems to be hunting for an afternoon snack right around our Kewl!!!!
Tammy recommended Walburg Creek for an anchorage just off St Catherine's sound.  She was right.  It's terrific.  Nice wide river and great holding - even in the dark.  D-oh.   This creek is approx mile 620 on the ICW charts if you are following along or needing a good anchorage.
Ooh - two dolphins.
We are still getting used to tidal swing.  Very weird to be bow into the current and stern to the wind....for now until the tide changes.
The guidebooks say St Catherine's is a private island owned by the St Catherine Foundation in conjunction with the New York Zoologically Society.  They have some animal reserve /  rehab going on.  Walburg Island is mainly marsh so tons of birds.  Over the marsh I spotted a big motor cruiser headed up the ICW this morning in the binocs.
We mainly chilled today and did some boat stuff.  Freezer was acting up again.  Tom discovered loose wires and fixed them for good and now it's working.  Our radar wasn't working yesterday so I dove into that.  Loose connection behind the panel. We fixed.  Tom also noticed that fuel filter #1 was very cloudy last night.  Exploring that today, he found some water in there.  Luckily the filter did it job and keep it out of the engine.  We dumped the water, changed the filter and ran the engine for a while.  Worked like it should.  Yay.
Tacos and fresh baked cookies are on the agenda/menu for tonight.
Internet/cell service is iffy here so no pics.  I did take some and I will try posting those when we get to a better spot for service.  The sunset last night was spectacular with all the clouds around.  It looked like the sky over the sound was on fire.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Night or Fixing Your Boat In Exotic Locations

Well maybe not exotic but still away from the dock.  That's right.  We had some maintenance/repairs required at anchor last night.  While it's not the first choice of activity while anchored in a lovely, quite river, it's also not unexpected.  Not that we thought this would happen.....fridge and freezer would not start back up.  The strainer was clogged up big time.   Ooops.  We checked it 2 -3 weeks ago, honest.  So Tom cleaned it out but the units still wouldn't start.  Then he messed with this and that while I got this tool and that and flipped switches on and off and we troubleshooted what it could be.  Fridge started running but we could't get freezer to start.  Tom tested pump and it was fine.  Water flow in now cleaned seacock/strainer was great.  Finally he changed the freezer pump diaphragm.  This seemed to do it.  And yes, my brilliant husband found one spare onboard when we moved aboard and thought "hum....I should probably order a couple of more since we have multiple pumps that use this part."  He also changed the seacock O ring and then doubled it up when it leaked a tiny bit after changing.  Freezer started up and ran all night.  Yay!
My point in all of this is....things are going to break and maintenance is required even in a nice anchorage.   Even after being at the dock for 3 1/2 months, we had to do repairs and maintenance the first night out....officially cruising!  But we didn't let it get to us.  We know this.  We expect it.  I would even say its the norm or standard.  Will we have maintenance and repairs every night?  I hope not.  Will there been consecutive nights where we have repairs and maintenance?  You bet.  But that is the price we pay for life afloat and on the go.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Casting Off Officially

We took really long showers this morning.  The longest we are likely to have for awhile as we tossed off the dock lines today.  Everything was stowed.  MUST projects are complete so it is time to go.  Woo hoo!  At 11:12am we slipped the dock lines.  Our wonderful dock neighbors walked s/v Honey Ryder back out of the slip, wishing us fair winds.  We will miss them but we are so excited to actually start cruising.  A quick stop at the fuel dock to get some additional fuel on tank #1 and a proper good bye to dock mistress Sherry and Then we were off down the East Brunswick River.  We took the advice of our friend and long time Pacific cruiser Roxanna.  Last winter over dinner in KC, she strongly suggested that whenever we officially cast off, "Just go around the corner and anchor.  You don't have to go far.  Just get off the dock, go a small distance, anchor and simply clear your head of the "dock fog."   So that is what we are doing.  We just dropped the anchor in the Frederica River off Fort Frederica on St Simon Island.  Yes...not far from Brunswick Landing Marina but worlds away from slip living.  Thanks to everyone for following along and hanging in there through all the project posting.  It's hard to put on words what this feels like.  It's been so long planning and working towards this.  We both had HUGE smiles most of the day to give you an idea of some of our feeling.  Anyway....stay tuned! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Anchor Day

Anchor locker minus primary rode(chain)
We spend Wednesday in the anchor locker of our boat.  We had not really done much with our anchors and rodes lately.  We have a 45 lbs CQR and a 45 lbs Bruce anchor.  We also have an aluminum folding Danforth folded up in an anchor bag in the anchor locker.  We weren't 100% sure how much chain we have because we had to have some rusted chain cut out of the middle our anchor rode when we first purchased s/v Honey Ryder.  Additionally we didn't have our anchor chain marked so Wednesday was the day. 
Tom and Jim confer on all things anchor
Luckily our dock neighbor Jim took an interest and decided to lend us not only his advice but muscle.  We laid out all the chain on the dock.
Primary chain rode all out
Then we decided to move it up to the top of the dock on the wood for measuring and marking so we wouldn't be dragging it around on the concrete dock de-galvanizing it.  Re-galvanizing chain is $$ so best we keep as much on the chain as possible. 
Tom using a little heat to loosen up an anchor shackle
We also took advantage of having it all out to switch the chain around.  Very rarely was the bitter end (the end furthest away from the anchor) in all the chain being out.  However, the end of the chain closest to the anchor gets used a lot so we switched it around.  Now the unused portion of the chain is closest to the anchor - like new... and the older part is down deep in the anchor locker.  We also discovered that the chain was through bolted inside the anchor locker.  Many boat are set up this way.  Not good.  If there was an emergency and we had all the chain out and needed to let it loose complete, it would be near impossible under load.  Tom removed the through bolts and tied the bitter end inside the anchor locker.  Now if we need to let it go in an emergency, it will be easy.  We also located and inspected our anchor float.  This is what we would tie the onto the end of the anchor rode if we should need to let it go. Then we can come back to it and retrieve the anchor and rode after the emergency is over.
Jim sewing in the webbing to mark the anchor rode
Anyway....we measured just over 200 feet of anchor chain (rode). Jim suggested using small pieced of webbing sewn into the chain to mark it.  50=1 mark, 75=2, 100= 3 back the other way 125=2, 150=1.  Very simple and easy.  Jim offered up some of his webbing and showed me how he sews his on.  He was WAY faster sewing his marker on than I was. 
Secondary rode
Turns out the secondary anchor rode has 75 feet of chain and 160 line that was already marked at 18 ft or 3 fathoms.  Not my first choice in depth measurements but hey, it's already marked, no sewing web we are going with it. 
All emptied out
We scrubbed down the anchor locker and removed the non-functioning wash down pump.  It is toast.  We will probably wait to get a new one - not really in the budget/priority list at this point.
I removed the windlass electrical connectors, cleaned them and reinstalled them with lots of silicon grease.  We also cleaned up our snubber and got a new hook that will make it much easier to use.
Snubber with new hook
While we were worn out at the end of the day (sometimes you feel like an anchor and some days you feel like the rode-  Baahahahah!).  It was good day checking all this off the list. 
Tom working in the anchor locker
*Now before you go commenting/emailing me about all the weigh on the bow and such because of so much chain, know this.....anchor and chain rode = sleep factor for us me.  The more chain the higher my sleep factor!  I like sleep! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Good Peeps - Lester Forbes

Or in this case.....good redneck!  (He will be the first to tell you he's a redneck.)  Meet Lester Forbes of Forbes Electronics.  Mr Lester is one hell of a marine electronics tech and a pretty darn fascinating person as well.  We have gotten to know Lester much better recently as he looked over our shoulders, guiding us and troubleshooting with us as we upgraded our marine electronics.  We learned SO much from Lester and we are very grateful for all his guidance, advice, patience, and humor.  It was a blast working with him.  If you need him, you can call his wife over on sinkin rock (aka St Simon's Island) and she will have him call you.

LED Lights

s/v Honey Ryder has the old fashioned festoon and halogen lights in the interior of the boat.  They suck tons of power (not good on a sailboat) and burn so hot they will give you a sunburn in 5 mins flat.  The 3 festoon bulb fixture alone pulls 3 amps and we have 6 of those fixtures!  We have discussed off and on replacing the bulbs with LED's but have you priced a LED bulb lately?  A marine LED bulb?  They are expensive, in some cases $49 per bulb!  Additionally it is very confusing to figure out what type LED to get for what type fixture.  LED's look WAY different than regular bulbs so you can't go by looks.

You also have to be careful because not all LED's are made the same.  Some are made well and some are not.  I hit the internet to research our options.  The more I read, the more confused I got.  Then I talked to several other cruisers, same thing.  Now I will admit, most of this confusion was self induced.  For some reason, I was making this harder than it needed to be.  Finally last week, I decided it was time to quit dinking around and pull the trigger.  I started with Dr LED web site (very busy and hard to navigate) but then something lead me over Cruisers Forum and a thread about LED lights and MarineBeam

There I saw a video about a really kewl light that was perfect for us.  When you first turn it on, the light that comes on red.  If you turn it off and then right back on, the light comes on the second time is white and only one switch is required!  No need to get a whole new light fixture to get this benefit.  For those that don't know, sailors (boaters) need red lights at night.  White lights will ruin your night vision, red will not.  When you are on watch at the helm at night, your eyes adjust to the dark and you are able to see what is around you.  Any white light will blind you temporarily, messing up your ability to see what is around you.  Think about when you finish watching late night TV in a dark room. You turn off the TV and suddenly you can't see anything in the room.  You have to wait a few minutes to get your night vision before you can navigate your way to the bedroom.  We have not had any red lights on s/v Honey Ryder (other than a dedicated one at the nav station) because most of our fixtures have only one switch.  With this two-way light, we can now have the red lights we need.  Check it out.  Red/White Switchable -there is a video on the page so you can see what I am talking about.
I ordered from Marine Beam.  I had questions and Jeff personally assisted me, answering all my questions.  The pricing was good and the delivery was super fast - 2 days.

We have not yet replaced our nav lights with LED's.  We wanted to see how this went first.