Another 2+ weeks go zipping by and May is already half over! Lots of changes for us in this time as we crossed over from the Bahamas where we left off in the last update, and entered US waters for the first time on Möbius as we begin to make our way North along the East coast of the US. Here is a quick summary of our travels the past two weeks.
Bahamas to Florida
In the last update we were anchored off of Coopers Town on the NE coast of Great Abacos waiting for a storm front to pass and provide us with a good weather window to make our second “Atlantic crossing” over to Florida.
We left Coopers Town on May 3rd and anchored for the night on the NE corner of a tiny little island Mangrove Cay which Christine knew from past visits here on her boat, would provide us with a good jumping off point for the crossing.
Speaking of jumping off, SpaceX was thoughtful enough to provide us with quite the send off as you can see in this great shot Christine captured with the twilight launch of their latest “Falcon Heavy” rocket on our last night off Coopers Town. It was much more spectacular when seen from this distance compared to the close up view she got when we were anchored off Cape Canaveral last week.
Not to be outdone, Mother Nature also helped to send us off on our crossing with this beautiful sunset as we were anchored off Mangrove Cay.
My reference to “skinny dipping” in the title is because we have spent most of the past month dipping our very skinny boat in the very “skinny” waters with depths of under 3m/10ft in most places. In the Bahamas this is known as “The Banks” and you can see this very vividly in the sat photo here with all that light turquoise coloured skinny waters. This is one of the many reasons we worked so hard to keep Möbius as “skinny” as possible with a draft of about 1.3m/4.3ft so we are good in up to about 5 feet of water. Seeing these skinny depths is a bit disconcerting at first but you soon get used to it and just pay a lot more attention to depths on the charts as you go.
Our spot off Mangrove Cay was very peaceful and next morning we had the anchor up by 7am and headed for West Palm Beach which was just a bit south of due West. In this heat map you can see the warm waters that create the Gulf Stream that flows North at up to 6 knots at times so we “crabbed” our way across it with the boat pointing ESE at times in order to make the straight line across to West Palm Beach. Our Furuno Auto Pilot worked well to make this very easy and the crossing went without any problems taking about 10 hours with an overall passage average of about 8.2 knots in spite of fighting the current a bit.
Back in the USA!
We have both been into West Palm Beach inlet on previous boat trips in the US and it provides a very easy entry and is an official Port of Entry which we needed as this was our first landing in the USA. As with most countries the checking in process is getting much faster and easier being done online and with aps on your phone. In the USA this is done with the “CBP Roam” app from US Custom & Border Protection which we have been using in the USVI and Puerto Rico so it all went without a hitch once we had anchored inside the inlet near the bottom of this photo.
With one more passage in the logbooks, it seemed worthy of a celebration so we popped the cork on a cold bottle of bubbly fresh out of the fridge and took in all the entertainment provided by all the commercial and recreational ships and boats in this very busy spot in the good ‘ole USA.
We anchored in the lower Right corner of what is labelled as the “Turning Basin” in this chart as this is where lots of the big cargo and cruise line ships dock over on the far Left of this chart. We were also back in more skinny waters anchoring in 5-8 ft of water but all worked out fine. Next day we took the dinghy ashore in the dinghy and I went to the nearby CBP office to get a Cruising License while Christine headed for the grocery stores to top up our fridges and freezers for the next few weeks.
Fun with Family & Friends
Our Grandson Liam lives just a few miles South of West Palm so Christine had made arrangements for Liam, Tim, Ashley to drive up for some more time aboard on the weekend. Ashley’s Dad Dan was also able to make the trip so he got his first visit onboard and even caught a feisty little Mangrove Snapper from the Aft Deck! Christine and Tim cooked up some burgers on our grill to top off the evening. Tim & Liam stayed for a sleep over to put the icing on the cake and then Ashley came and picked them up on Sunday afternoon. Way too short but a great visit none the less.
From West Palm we made our way North along the coast before heading into the Intercoastal Waterway or ICW at Fort Pierce near Jensen Beach were our dear friends Steve & Kathleen live. A good anchorage on the South side of the bridge with a very well done dinghy dock to make it easy to come and go ashore and we spent three days anchored there enjoying some extended time with Steve & Kathleen both on Möbius and in their home where Kathleen treated us to a “low country boil” meal of shrimp, sausage, corn and more. Steve was kind enough to loan us his pickup truck for our stay so we were able to get lots done and had a great visit with them.
We continued up the ICW to Coco Beach that is close to where our friends Pam & Dave live and we were able to host them aboard Möbius for their first visit and then go ashore for a craft market that was going on that day. In the next few weeks we will be day-tripping our way North to Norfolk and we will do quite a bit of that travelling along the amazing ICW that you can see in the map above. The ICW is quite fascinating and though it keeps you busy steering the constantly winding narrow channel we enjoyed more “skinny dipping” our way along this scenic “Ditch” as it is often called.
The deepest sections are typically about 8-12 feet deep at best but is well marked on the charts and with Red/Green markers like this one to guide your way. Popular amongst the animal kingdom as well! Traversing the ICW involves going under lots of bridges, some that are fixed such as this one and others that are draw bridges where we have to time for an opening to get through. We have an air draft of about 8.2m/26.9ft so there are also some bridges with clearances of around 30ft that we can go through without needing them to open. From Coco Beach we decided to head back out of the ICW to make the jump up to Charlottesville South Carolina offshore and avoid the tighter sections along Georgia that Christine is not too fond of having spent a LOT of time cruising the ICW in many of her previous boats over the years.
Launching Off Shore
Even better though was that this gave us a chance to go have the very interesting experience of traversing the lock at Cape Canaveral and
….. have a truly front row seat of the launch of yet another SpaceX rocket in the wee hours of the 14th that Christine stayed up to grab this photo.
If you click to enlarge this photo, the one below and the chart above you will see how interesting this route out to the Atlantic was. We took a hard right turn off the ICW just North of Coco Beach as per the chart above, to traverse the canal you can see at the top of this photo. That involved just making it in time for the 17:00 opening of the bridge that is just off the top of the photo that is looing due West.
Here is the opposite view looking due East towards the Atlantic with Cape Canaveral off to the far Left. We anchored just to the Left of the breakwater sticking out near the bottom of this photo to put us right beside the entrance into the lock on the Left. The Canaveral lock opens for business at 6am so we had the anchor up about 5:50 to catch the sunrise and round the end of the breakwater into the lock just after six. Christine slid us alongside the well built rails on our Starboard/Right side and I tied two lines fore and aft just to secure us while the doors closed behind us and then soon opened in front. Not too dramatic as there is less than a foot of height change but still a fun experience. Exiting out of the lock we called the bridge keeper to ask for his next opening and soon slid our way through. Passing several large cruise ships and then some commercial docks you see here as the sun rose to welcome us back out into the Atlantic. As usual, Weather Wonder Woman Christine continues her masterful work at scheduling our passages in just the right weather windows. The passage up to Charlottesville was about 300 nm/345 miles/556 km and we had the anchor down in the ICW just North of Charlottesville just under 31 hours after entering the Canaveral Lock. That averages out to 9.7 knots which is our fastest passage time ever thanks to getting off shore enough to catch some of the Gulf Stream which had us doing up to 13 knots at times. Fuel burn for this trip was equally as great averaging 1.38L/nm or 2.75 USG/nm We knew when we left that we would likely get “spanked” a bit by Mother Nature just before arriving in Charlottesville and things were a bit more “sporty” for the last two hours as we made our way back to shore and into the welcoming arms of the breakwater. However we were soon back into calm waters once inside the breakwater leading into Charleston.
Back in the ICW
Once inside we turned Right to get back into the ICW for about an hour of smooth sailing up the ICW and pulled over into a small waterway in the tidal grasslands where we enjoyed a very peaceful anchorage and a great sleep that night. The green on this screen grab from Google Maps is all grasslands and marsh and will give you a bit of an idea of our fascinating scenery the past few days as we snaked our way along rivers that all interconnect to provide a shallow passage inland. We anchored for the night of May 15th just off the SW corner of Butler Island which I’ve tried to show on this crude little map. There was a big blow forecast for last night (Wednesday May 17, 2023) so we motored about 15 nautical miles (28km/17 miles) further up the Waccamaw River and then took a fork to the Left at Bull Creek where we have now been anchored for the past 2 nights just off to the side of this narrow river. So far we’ve only seen two small boats with local fishermen go by so we’ve been enjoying the eXtremely relaxing scenery and wildlife. The tidal based currents flowing through these rivers gently swings us around about twice a day and this our view looking South. It is quite the amazing feeling to be so truly isolated in this magical wilderness where the only sounds are the wild birds ashore, the buzzing of dragonflies like this one that wildlife photographer eXtraordinaire Christine managed to capture on one of our lifelines. and the occasional splash of alligators alongside the boat. Click to enlarge and look close in about the middle to see one that stopped by yesterday. Turned out to be a smart spot to lay over as we have been far enough inland that we hardly got any of the 40+ knot gusts apparently happing over on the cost beside us. Today (Thursday) has been an overcast and drizzly day so we’ve been enjoying a quite day in the SuperSalon surrounded by this ever so peaceful greenery surrounding us allowing us to catch up with some online jobs such as getting this update put together and posted for you. We’ll pick up the anchor tomorrow and continue to day hop our way up the ICW and various rivers as we make our way North to Norfolk where we have a reservation in a marina there starting on June first and where we will likely stay put for the rest of the summer. Lest you think I’ve forgotten I am still working on the second installment of what has worked out best and least well of the features and equipment on Möbius and will get that uploaded in the next week or so as time allows with cruising every day. The logbook says we just passed 7900 nautical miles in the past 8 months with an eXtensive range of experiences along the way and hope that sharing those with you will be of interest and use so do stay tuned for that and my chronicling of our travels as we work our way North through all these awemazing waterways.
Thanks for taking the time to join us here and please do leave any questions, comments and suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
Not as much to post about the past two weeks as I have been out of commission after hurting my back badly when I tripped and fell last week and aggravated the four cracked discs I have had from a nasty motorcycle accident over 25 years ago. But the spasms are lessening each day since and just a matter of time before I’m back to just the usual back ache which is my normal state. No complaints from me though as we continue to enjoy taking our time to weave our way generally north through some of the hundreds of postcard like Bahamian islands.
When I left off in the last post we were in Red Cut Cay and after a few days there we continued up and anchored at Black Point then on to Allen’s Cay and then a very neat fully enclosed very tiny little bay on Royal Island as seen here on our chart plotter. This will give you a better perspective on how small the entrance was and if you click on the photo I have circled in RED the two short pieces of white PVC pipe that marked each side. Captain Christine guided us through as she put the entrance in our wake and …… …… I soon had the anchor down into the sandy bottom 2.5m/8ft below and we were soon enjoying our very own little anchorage with wine up in the SkyBridge. THIS is why we worked on the design so hard with Dennis to have the least draft possible; 1.3m/4.4 ft After Royal Island we made our way over to Lynyard Cay where we anchored for four days and had a chance to meet up with some sailing friends Mark & Shawnae who were anchored nearby on their latest boat s/v Big Sky Blue Waters (they hail from Montana). Difficult to show on maps as most of these spots are too small to show up but you can get a rough idea of our route and anchorages along the way. We are now anchored up near the north end of Great Abaco Island just off of Coopers Town. There is a storm front coming through this weekend with winds out of the West and South rather than the usual Easterlies so we’ll wait out here for that to pass and then make our way West as we get ready to jump off and cross over to West Palm Beach area in Florida in the next week or so.
That catches you up on our most recent travels and anchorages and now I thought that something a bit different might be of interest to many of you. Read on to see what you think and let me know your thoughts with comments in the “join the discussion” box at the end please.
Year in Review: Top Features We Like Most and Least on Möbius
Hard to believe but we started writing this Mobius.World blog back in March 2018 so we’ve just passed the five year mark for that and the primary motivation for creating and writing the 262 posts since then has been the hope that sharing our experiences here provides a good way for us to “pay it forward” for all the other people who went before us and shared their experiences from which we learned SO much. In keeping with that hope, as the calendar turns over to May (how did THAT happen so fast??) we have been actively cruising Möbius for one year now. Also on the hard to believe list is that our log book shows that we have just ticked over 7300 nautical miles (8400 miles/13,520 Kilometers) and most of that in just the last six months since leaving Turkey at the end of October. Last year we were in and out of a number of marinas so we have been through our share of Med mooring, docking, fueling up and the like. This year we’ve been on anchor every night for the past four months in quite a variety of conditions, bottoms and weather. We’ve done everything from short day trips, lots of overnight passages and some longer ones such as our trans Atlantic crossing of 14 days. With these cumulative experiences I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what we have learned over the past year about what is working out best for us as well as what has not worked so well and we would change or do differently to make Möbius even better. I will write this up as two blog posts grouping what’s worked best into one and then a second with what changes we would make to follow. In my experience I have found that first hand experience from others has proven to be the best and most useful for making my decisions and so I hope these twin posts will do likewise for some of you.
A few caveats before I go any further:
All of the points I’ll be covering are simply what has worked so well or not for us and our use cases with no suggestion that these would be best for other owners, boats and use cases.
There is no implied order or ranking of these items, simply a list.
Any mention of specific products is done for clarity only, these are not endorsements and we have no sponsors or affiliations with any of the products mentioned.
In the years of posts here on this blog, I have provided lots of detailed coverage, too much perhaps, of each of these items during the build so in this posting I will just be listing the reasons why each item is on the list. If you are interested in more details you can refer to these previous posts and I’ll provide links to some of these.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s jump right into our top favorite features on Möbius.
Starting up at the Bow, our whole anchoring system has proven to be eXtremely strong, reliable and easy to use and has perhaps contributes more than any other system to our SWAN factor that enable us to Sleep Well At Night in every anchorage in all conditions. The “SideWinder” mounting of the anchor off the Port side of the Bow which Dennis and I designed, has proven to be a great setup eliminating the anchor and roller assembly from sticking out over 1m at docks and keeps it very securely pressed against the hull in pounding seas with nary a sound or any movement. The primary components of our Anchoring System are
110Kg/242lb Rocna anchor
100m/330ft of Galvanized DS40 13mm chain
Maxwell windlass VWC4000 w/Maxwell controls at both helms and wired remote in forepeak
Lewmar Deluxe Heavy Duty Chain Stopper 13mm chain
Lewmar EVO 55 Self-Tailing Winch for kedging The chain all stows inside of a round aluminium chain bin inside the forepeak which has worked out eXtremely well as there is no “castling” of the chain as it is stowed. and any anchor mud and muck that gets in there is easily flushed out through the drain in the bottom that exits out the side of the hull just above the waterline.
Once the anchor is set we attach a 25mm/1″ nylon snubber line using a loop of Dyneema with a slip knot that goes through one link on the chain. This takes seconds to attach or remove and the snubber from the chain and absorbs of any shock loads on the anchor chain and eliminates any chain noise into the boat. Letting the chain out until the snubber is taking all the tension the line comes up through the large round “nose cone” in the very front of the Bow and ties to the Samson post. Leading the snubber line through the center of the Bow reduces side to side swinging at anchor and the hyperbolic curve machined on the inside of the sold AL snubber cone prevents chaffing of the line which still shows no sign of chaffing after over 150 nights at anchor so far. The large degree of forward slope of the anchor deck also worked out great making it easy to hose down with all the debris draining out the nose cone back into the sea. All together this is a super dependable and easy to deploy/retrieve anchor system that sets first time every time and resets immediately on severe wind shifts. Depends on water depth of course but typically we have about 30m/100ft of 13mm anchor chain out which adds an additional 120kg/265lbs to the 110kg/242lbs of anchor on the bottom so we SWAN very well every night and is definitely one of our favorite systems!
Foul Release silicone bottom paint
Our last minute decision to go with silicone based “Foul Release” bottom paint instead of CopperCoat has turned out to be one of THE best decisions we made. This Foul Release type of bottom paint never ceases to amaze me with how it prevents almost anything from growing on it and what might be there after months of sitting still comes off completely with a simple wipe with a sponge or cloth to bring it back to like new. We used the International version called InterSleek 1100SR but several other manufacturers such as Hempel “Silic One” are also available. This paint has been in the water for over two years now and it still cleans up completely with just a sponge or cloth if we’ve been sitting at anchor for a long time and currently shows no sign of wear or age. It is supposed to be good for 5-7+ years and so far looks like it will achieve that easily which would be a HUGE benefit in terms of efficient hull speeds and no costly annual haul outs. I can’t say for sure but I think that having such clean and slippery silicone hull surface contributes to our overall hull efficiency, speed and great fuel burn rates. What’s not to like??!!
Open and Accessible system installation
All of the system components, wiring and plumbing were given dedicated locations with completely open access. This reduced the time for initial installation during the build but more importantly continues to put a smile on my face every time I need to do any work or maintenance on any of the systems as everything is easy to access and mounted at a just right height for working on. Here in the Basement for example you can see how all the components such as all the 14 MPPT controllers on the Left and the three 240V Victron Multiplus inverter/chargers on the Right, are all mounted such that when I’m kneeling or sitting in front of them they are at the just right height right in front of you to see and work on. Same story back in the Workshop area where all the major components on the Right such as the DC Distribution box, Kabola diesel boiler, watermaker and AirCon chiller system are mounted on top of the shelves to put them at just right height as well. At the far end, the front of the Day Tank has been used to mount all the fuel filters, Alfa Laval centrifuge and fuel transfer valve manifolds are out in the open and at perfect height when standing in front of them. Underneath that shelf the electrical wiring, external rectifiers and water distribution manifolds are also open and easy to access.
All of the plumbing is similarly open and easy to access such as this manifold with valves for all the cold water consumers in the Master Cabin.
One of our four primary principles for the design and build of Möbius was Low Maintenance and having all the components, wiring and plumbing open and so easily and comfortably accessed has been a big factor in achieving this goal throughout the whole boat.
As we did for all the major components, we took a “systems” approach to the propulsion system from front of the engine to the prop. coupled to a Nogva Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP) is also way up at the top of our list of favorite features on Möbius.
Our choice of a Gardner 6LXB engine aka Mr. Gee, coupled to a Nogva Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP) via a Nogva HC-168 2.95:1 reduction gearbox is also way up at the top of our list of favorite features on Möbius.
The combination of the slow revving engine and lack of any transmission shifting created a seamless and smooth propulsion system. This was our first experience with CPP and it did take some time to learn how to run a boat where you first set the throttle at the RPM you want and then don’t touch it and just use the Pitch lever to increase pitch through an infinite range from zero/neutral to maximum pitch for the load and speed you want. With no shifting involved to go from forward to reverse it is eerily quiet and smooth when docking and when underway we essentially run the boat based on the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature meter to get the just right pitch for any speed we want.
We cruise between 8.5-9 knots and after 7300 nautical miles our overall propulsion efficiency has us averaging about 1.85 L/NM @ 8.5kts which we are eXtremely pleased with.
The dedicated “propulsion room” is another of my most favorite design decisions as it similarly provides open and easy access to Mr. Gee and all his components, ….. as well as the Nogva gearbox, coupling and Tides Marine dripless prop shaft seal. I am able to stand, sit or kneel on the grated composite flooring on all sides and with a full meter of width all around and each grate can be easily lifted out of the way to provide access underneath if needed. Having a dedicated engine room with nothing but the engine inside keeps everything inside easy to see and work on, easy to keep well ventilated and all the other components typically found in engine rooms such as fuel filters, batteries and system components are kept OUT of this environments heat and vibration. More examples of how well the open and accessible systems design is one of our favorite features.
Layout (cabin locations, balance living vs functional, up/down)
The overall interior layout also makes it way to the top of our favorite aspects of live aboard Möbius. For us it has the Goldilocks balance between amount of living space vs functional systems space and our decision to have a very large forepeak up front and then an even larger engine room/workshop space in the rear has resulted in a great layout as well as keeping these spaces completely separate with their own dedicated access so you never need to go through a living space area to get to something in the forepeak or engine room or workshop. The vertical layout has also worked out eXtremely well for us with each cabin a few steps below the SuperSalon and the SkyBridge up above. One of the most useful features of our layout is having an enormous “Basement” area below the floor of the SuperSalon. We designed this to be 1.2m/ 4ft high such that you can easily move around by bending over and not hit your head on anything and then sit or kneel to access any of the equipment mounted on intermediate floor to ceiling walls or access any of the many storage bins and shelves in the Basement. The stairs leading down into the SuperSalon from the Aft Deck on the Left and then around to the stairs down into the Ships Office and Guest cabin on the Right provide excellent access between all these areas. Very difficult to photograph but hopefully this pano shot of the SuperSalon will help convey why we like this layout with the 360 degrees of glass so much.
We knew we wanted a Flybridge overtop of the main Salon or House so this was part of the design from the beginning but I don’t think either of us appreciated just how much we would enjoy this feature and how much time we would spend up here both when at anchor and underway. Part of what makes this space work so well is our decision to put the Upper Helm at the Aft end of the SkyBridge. As we’ve done in several areas of the boat we have created an initial prototype for the seating in this SkyBridge Lounge area by using patio furniture which we rearrange from time to time to figure out what will work best longer term. So far this L shaped layout has worked out best. There are great sight lines when sitting in the Helm chair just outside this photo on the far Left and yet still takes full advantage of the height for sight lines through the 360 degrees of windows that surround this entire space. The Bow and the side rub rails are all fully visible from the Helm chair. The roof overtop of the outdoor galley down on the Aft Deck does prevent a direct view of the transom but otherwise the sight lines Aft are great and we have a camera that displays a birds eye view of the transom on the Helm displays if needed when backing into a dock.
The Helm down in the SuperSalon duplicates the Upper SkyBridge Helm. But unless the weather is very cold or wet we much prefer to run the boat from the SkyBridge with its added height and even better visibility.
At anchor it also makes a great office space and a comfy bed for naps and off watch time as well. So the SkyBridge definitely makes it onto our top favorites list.
Hot Water & Heated Floors
Another example of the advantages of taking a Systems approach is our Domestic Hot Water system or DHW and probably fair to say that the heart of our DHW system that puts his solidly on our top favorites is our decision to install a Kabola diesel fired boiler. Located with all the other system components in the Workshop it is out of the way yet easily accessible. The 75L Kabola boiler is our primary source of DHW as it circulates through one of three heat exchanger circuits in our Calorifier that stores all our hot water as can be seen in this cutaway demo. The second heat exchanger circuit routes hot water from our Gardner engine and so whenever we are running the boat this provides all our hot water instead of the Kabola boiler. The third heat source is a 240V electrical heating element which we can use if the water based heat exchangers should ever fail.
However the one feature of our DHW that truly steals the show in cold weather is mostly invisible and that our Heated Floors. Underneath the vinyl flooring in all the living spaces there are circuits of plastic PEX tubing that circulates hot water and provides a creature comfort in colder climates that is difficult to adequately describe in words. A detailed description of the whole heated floor system can be found HERE in this previous blog post.
As you can read in that more detailed blog post, this is quite a simple system really but does take a bit to get your head around how it works as this is all part of the overall domestic hot water system so that all the water flowing through the floor PEX is coming from the Calorifier in the Basement circulating the same water as distributed to all the sinks and showers on the boat. No valves to adjust or turn on/off it all works by virtue of how this “Open Direct” plumbing design dictates.
Overtop of the PEX tubing and rigid foam, these industrial vinyl floor planks provide a fantastic floor in all weather conditions and are specifically made to work well with heated floors. Critical for our use on a boat, these vinyl floor planks have a simulated wood grain texture molded in which has proven to be completely skid proof even with wet feet and any spills clean up easily. After two years of rigorous use these floors show zero signs of wear or marks which helps keep them on our top favorites list.
There are three independent zones for the two cabins and the SuperSalon and each is controlled by one of these easy to set thermostats which maintain whatever temperature you want.
The manifolds and pumps are mounted down in the Basement up against the Aft bulkhead and yet another example of how easy this whole system is to access.
Battery & Solar Based Electrical System
Yet another systems approach on our top favorites list is our overall Electrical system. It is “battery based” in that all four voltages; 12V + 24V DC and 120V + 240V AC comes from our 1800Ah @ 24V House Battery bank. AC is created via the 5 Victron MultiPlus inverter/chargers and the DC is provided via three DC distribution boxes; Central Main in the Basement plus one in the Forepeak and one in the Workshop for the high amperage circuits there. Solar is our primary source for recharging the house batteries most of the time but when we are underway the two massive 250A x 24V Electrodyne alternators with WakeSpeed 500 regulators provide up to 9KW of power and we also have the option of connecting to shore power whenever we are in a marina. There are eight 320W solar panels that form the roof of our SkyBridge as seen in the photo above and then three more mounted on top of the cantilevered roof over the Outside Galley on the Aft Deck as seen here. And then three more mounted in a hinged frame in front of the SkyBridge. These 14 solar panels add up to just over 4kW of potential power and most days our battery monitors show an actual input of between 1kW during the winter months and up to over 2.5kWh of power during summer hours. Each solar panel has its own MPPT controller which are mounted in the Basement and feed into individual circuit breakers for further control as seen here. Having a dedicated MPPT for each panel reduces the impact of any shading on any panel and helps with the overall performance of our solar system. This screen shot from our Victron VRM display shows a summary for our solar output vs electrical consumption so far in 2023. And this summary of the past 2 days, April 28+29 2023 lets you see how it varies throughout a 24 hour day. We have not been in a marina or connected to shore power in the past four months and the combination of solar and alternator power is keeping our batteries 100% charged every day and so easily makes it onto our favorites list!
Handholds Everywhere for Everyone
Safety was another of the four design principles we had and one example that has proven to be a big favorite is the way we were able to ensure that there were super solid hand holds for EVERY person onboard from children to adults.
On the exterior the handholds are all 30mm diameter thick walled AL pipe such as these on the aft end of the house roof near the Aft Deck. These pipe handholds also make for eXcellent strong points for fastening things with Dyneme and other lines. Perhaps one of the most important spots for handholds is along the side decks when you are moving between the Fore and Aft Deck areas. On the left you can see the continuous length of AL pipe that runs along the entire edge of the house roof and then the three rows of Dyneema landlines that Christine rigged between each of the sturdy vertical AL stanchion pipes. The top lifeline is 1 meter above the deck so hits most adults about waist height which ensures that even if you were to be thrown against these you would be stopped and not flipped over top. Up at the Bow there is a very solid set of AL pipe railings that wrap all the way around and make this area extremely safe and fun spot to be for dolphin watching or just dangling your feet overboard and taking in the scenery at anchor or underway. At the far end of the Aft Deck there are solid AL pipe railings for the corner of the deck before the stairs going down to the Swim Step and then a solid AL pipe railing on the other side of the steps. In the Engine Room, Mr. Gee has a full set of AL pipe railings wrapped around him to ensure you can’t be tipped over onto him in rough seas and these have worked out very well to also provide good support as you are leaned over working on various parts. On the interior of the boat one of our favorite esthetic features of the gorgeous Rosewood cabinetry is the design we came up with to incorporate built in hand holds to the design that are located on all the cabinets in all the cabins and SuperSalon. This example is on the corner of the Galley cabinet across from where the fridges are located. These solid Rosewood edges wrap around the whole boat to form what we call our “Blue Horizon Line” and their key feature is that they have a deep groove that is at about waist height where your fingers naturally slip in to provide an eXtremely secure hand hold. We have had our grandchildren onboard several times now and these have worked out as designed to be at Goldilocks height and size for their fingers too.
Possibly saving the best for last, something that brings us joy every day is the choice of interior materials we made.
The Rosewood we chose for all the cabinetry really steals the show and this shot of the Galley cabinets will give you some idea. We were very fortunate that Naval Yachts happened to have their very best cabinetmakers throughout the entire build and they were a joy to work together with to produce details such as how all the grain is bookmatched such that it literally flows from one piece to the next. This was made possible because after months of searching we were able to purchase an entire flitch of Brazilian Rosewood that had been flat cut from the same log. As each slice comes off they stack these in order and therefore the grain of each slice follows the next. The other key was finding a matching stack of solid Rosewood that would be used to build the frames and every edge of every panel. NO veneer edging allowed! Unlike more typical construction, all plywood edges had these T shaped pieces of solid Rosewood glued in place and then the veneer was applied AFTER so that it overlapped the solid wood edging. What this does is ensure that there are no glue joints exposed and they become invisible as they gradually transition from veneer to solid. When these panels would be used for a corner of a cabinet, a thick piece of solid Rosewood was glued glued on and then this solid edge was rounded over in a shaper to create a large radius corner The Rosewood was more than 11X the cost of any other hardwood so to help stretch the prized solid pieces it was sometimes possible to glue on a piece of cheaper hardwood like this and then round the Rosewood for the corner. For the very large radius corners, strips of solid Rosewood were edge glued up and then radiused like this. Or like this. When combined with the Turquoise Turkish marble and the inset Blue Horizon line strips, the end result was well worth the extra time and expense to build. We carried the same combination of materials throughout both cabins, Salon and Galley and I hope these few photos help you see why this puts a smile on our faces every day. There is a LOT more that we like about our dear Möbius and she has definitely lived up to being “Project Goldilocks” by being just right, just for us but the above items hit upon most of our top favorite features and I hope this review was worthwhile. Of course there is always the other end of the spectrum and so in the next blog post I will follow up by reviewing things that have not worked out as well or are things we want to change so do stay tuned for that.
The past three weeks have flown by as we enjoyed having friends aboard and we continue meandering our way from USVI to Puerto Rico and now into the Bahamas.
Picking up where we left off in the last update, we were in St. Thomas USVI after a super fun week with our Grandson Liam and his Mom & Dad, Ashley & Tim as we sadly took them over to the airport to fly back to Florida. We then anchored Möbius over on the East end of St. Thomas so that we could pick up our very good friends Bob & Sue from Victoria BC when they flew in a few days later. We spent the next few days moving Möbius along similar routes to the ones in the map above to show Sue & Bob around St. Thomas and St. John Islands. Bob & Sue were keen for some passage time aboard Möbius so they set up their return flights out of San Juan so they could join us on the relatively short trip from USVI over to Puerto Rico. So we moved over to Brewers Bay on the West end of St. Thomas for the last night in USVI before making the short jump over to the small island of Culebra that is part of Puerto Rico. The RED route on the map here. (click to enlarge) Christine & I had been to Culebra doing delivering a catamaran for some dear friends back in 2017 so it was fun for us to be back in this small island again as well. Next hop was over to Salinas on the South coast of the main island of Puerto Rico, GREEN on the map above, which was another spot that we had been to previously on that same delivery. Timing also worked out just perfect as some long time sailing friends of Christine were spending their last night on their sailboat in Salinas before sailing off to Antigua the next morning. We joined Willie, Mark, Dick & Deb for a fabulous group lobster dinner in the small restaurant at the Salinas Marina to send them off in grand fashion.
Mark kindly extended the lease on his rental car so we enjoyed that luxury to spend the day on the road with Sue & Bob seeing more of Puerto Rico including a stop for some delicious lunch at a roadside pig roast spot that was a favorite of Willie’s and then dropped Sue & Bob off at the San Jose airport. Bon voyage nos Amis, thanks for the memories.
And !poof! just like that everyone was gone and it was back to just the two of us on Möbius as the Captain took us out of Salinas Bay for our next leg of the journey. We needed to check out of Puerto Rico so we moved over to the small anchorage in Puerto Real on the far West end of PR. WHITE on the map. We stayed in Puerto Real for the night and enjoyed a good dinner out at the local restaurant by the marina. This was our first time in a marina this year, last time was in the Canary Islands in December before heading out on our Atlantic Crossing. Solar panels are working eXtremely well and we have not needed shore power since we left Greece back in October nor most of the past year but being on the dock was convenient for doing the check out and a date night before heading off for the Bahamas. More and more countries are automating their marine check in/out process to be done online and this is working better and better but still has some odd bugs in the system and took us a few hours to complete but all went well in the end. We anchored outside the marina for the day and left later in the afternoon to time our arrival in the Bahamas to be in daylight for good visual navigation. This would be about 600 nautical miles (690 miles/1,110 km) passage and would take us a bit less than three days. We decided to head for Clarence Town to check into the Bahamas, a favorite of Christine’s from her many years sailing the Bahamas in her previous boats years ago. You can click to enlarge this map but it is challenging to show the Bahamas on a map as it consists of more than 3,000 islands, cays, and islets and most of these only show up when you zoom way in. But the RED line in this map will give you a rough idea of our route. It is estimated that the Bahamas’ territory encompasses 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) of ocean space with a total population of 400 thousand people spread across this area. As usual, Weather Wonder Woman Christine found us another great weather window with very calm wind and seas making for smooth sailing as we settled into passage making mode for the next three days. For those interested in the boat’s performance, I’ve highlighted some of the key stats on our Maretron N2KView screen here. I’ve set up two different SOG Speed Over Ground SOG meters, the one in Green is showing 9.5kts SOG averaged over about 3 minute intervals to give a better reading vs the one in Yellow showing 10.6kts which is the instantaneous SOG at the moment. When calculated for the entire 560nm passage our average SOG anchorage to anchorage was 8.5kts and our overall fuel burn average for the passage was 1.7 L/NM or 2.2 NM/USG. The RED circle is the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature showing 359 degrees C / 678 F which translates into about 80% load. We keep the EGT between 330-360C most of the time as this seems to be the best combination of ideal load, fuel burn and speed. We will continue to try out other settings and report on the results in future updates.
As you can see, conditions were ideal for power boating for most of our three days at sea and we only put the paravanes out for one night to reduce the roll when we encountered some larger swells out of the NE. The canine crew seemed to approve as well. We pulled into the well protected bay just off of Clarence Town on the North coast of Long Island and had the anchor down just after 10am Thursday, 13th of April. As you can see depths in most bays and cays in the Bahamas is very shallow, averaging about 2.4m/8ft here and will help you understand why we worked so hard with Dennis to minimize our draught which is about 1.4m/4.6ft. This is a relatively remote Port of Entry for the Bahamas and we had checked in online before arrival and then spoke with the agent by phone when we were anchored. He is based over in Stella Maris on the other side of Long Island but he kindly offered to make the 90 minute drive and met us at the Government Wharf I’ve pointed to above and we completed the paperwork and got our passports stamped there and we were now officially in the Bahamas! Christine went ashore the next day to stretch her legs and got a kick out of the slightly dark humour of the location of this Covid Test center from months previous. Fortunately she reported no dead men sighted. We had a good night’s sleep and woke up to find over 10 other boats anchored around us, the nerve! So we pulled up anchor and headed up to the very North end of Long island Green route here. Christine had picked out a lovely little bay just around the Northern tip of Long Island at Cape Santa Maria and she maneuvered us in and I dropped the anchor onto the sandy bottom in about 2.5m/8ft of water. This is the view looking South as we enjoyed sundowners just the way we like it; the only boat in the bay. After enjoying the tranquility of our private anchorage, we continued to follow our previous wakes through many of the small Bahamian islands and cays and yesterday morning we made the jump North to another favorite anchorage at Rudder Cut Cay. This photo will help you see how thin and small these cays are. This spot is quite famous amongst cruisers as it has a sunken statue of a mermaid playing a piano in the shallow waters here. I went into our archives and dug up this photo from May 8, 2017 with me checking it out. The mermaid said that she was working on her next composition and didn’t need any of my help so I let her be. There are also several of these large caves carved into the shore just beside us here and are large enough to take your dinghy inside of and make for some fun snorkeling.
And that’s a wrap for this Mobius Update folks. We continue to live and move on The No Plan Plan but in general we will continue to enjoy our time as we wander through the Bahamas and make our way North up to the East coast of the US. It is looking most likely that we will spend the summer months up in the Chesapeake Bay area where we can stay put for several months so Christine can have the time and quiet to focus on writing her next novel. I will continue to post updates along the way once or twice a month with some brief updates on places we get to and things we see. Hope these travel logs are of some interest and please let me know what you’d like more of and less of as well as any questions you have as we go.
We continue to enjoy our times here in the US Virgin Islands aka USVI where the weather has been in that Goldilocks zone where it gets cool enough at night 25C/77F) for comfortable sleeping and comfortably hot (30-32C/88-90F) during the day. The easterly Trade Winds are blowing about 15 knots most of the time, sometimes dying down to 5 and sometimes gusting over 25 kts when we are out in the channels when on the move and the water is a consistent 27C/81F. Hard to ask for much better and easy to understand why this area and the whole Caribbean is so popular at this time of year.
It was Christine’s birthday on the 15th and our wedding anniversary on the 21st so we treated ourselves to some time in places like this idyllic beach in Honeymoon Bay. This was a particularly special treat for Christine as she had spent lots of time anchored here in Honeymoon Bay on her sailboat Sunrise which she and her husband Jim had built and then chartered for several years out of the USVI in the 80’s and then again in the 90’s with Tim aboard.
The far end of the beach you can see in the photo above had a small bar where everyone was hanging out but to our delight we found this old wooden picnic table at the other end of the beach and enjoyed an extended B’day lunch all to ourselves. Then we moved back to Brewers Bay which is tucked in behind the extended runway of the St. Thomas airport creating the ideal breakwater to keep us well protected from the swell. The runway is the length of rocks you can see in the background here. Brewers Bay is is part of the University of the Virgin Islands UVI so the beach is part of a park area of the campus and is a very peaceful spot being on the far western side of the island with every little traffic or population. While in Brewers Bay we had another terrific treat in the form of a visit with a high school friend of my daughter Lia who has been living and working here in USVI for over 20 years. She reached out to us when she read that we were coming here and came out to spend an afternoon with us aboard Möbius. Trish was a very impressive young lady and we all thoroughly enjoyed our conversations about times old and new. Thanks Trish! Brewers Bay was also the perfect spot for us to wait the last few days before our Grandson Liam (7) and Christine’s son Tim and wife Ashley flew in from Florida. I took Christine ashore the day they arrived and she walked over to the airport to meet them. If you look closely at this photo (click to enlarge) you’ll see what I mean when I say that while I was back on Möbius I could also watch their plane come in and land right beside me! At last! We have a real pirate aboard and a very modern one who also a space pirate as well apparently. Here is a map of the routes we took with Liam and family. Brewers Bay on St. Thomas Island over on the far Left where we started and Francis Bay on neighboring St. James Island over on the far Right where we ended up. With no time zone change and a relatively short flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Thomas everyone got a good night sleep aboard Möbius and next morning we headed out on our first trip seen in Red on the map here. We stopped and anchored across from Crown Bay marina which as you can see here is also beside one of several cruise ship ports here on St. Thomas. Christine took Tim ashore so they could do the grocery shopping for the rest of their visit. Then we continued on to Francis Bay which is another spot that Christine and Tim had been to when Tim was a young boy aboard Sunrise. It was a real treat for Tim to be able to show Ashley and Liam this part of the world where he spent several years when he was about Liam’s age. Hard not to have a good time on secluded beaches like this! And watching sunsets from the aft deck. Although you probably can’t top the ultimate combo of a dog, an iPad, Mac’n Cheese and Goldfish! At least for a seven year old. We spent two very fun days and nights anchored in Francis Bay doing what one of the big motor yachts beside us we called “Chillaxing”. Everyone got time to swim, snorkel and suntan and had fun doing a whole lot of nothing. Just what vacations are for. Much to Liam’s delight, Christine got the drone out and showed Tim how to fly it off the foredeck of Möbius and they were able to get some super aerial shots just before sunset. On Saturday we pulled up the anchor and headed back over to St. Thomas Island to our next anchorage in Christmas Cove, the Green route you can see in the map above. In spite of this being the USVI Yacht Race weekend, there are not too many boats on in the bays. Christmas Cove is particularly well known as being the home for the famous Pizza Pi boat Tim & Ashley treated us all to Pizza Pi last night. Thanks Tim & Ashley! No surprise that pizza was also a big hit with Liam in particular and a fun way for us to spend our last night together.
As I type up this blog post, Christine is ashore taking Liam, Tim & Ashley back to the airport as sadly their time with us here is up and they have to fly back to Ft. Lauderdale later this afternoon. Christine rented a car so she could take them on a bit of a tour of St. Thomas and she took them up to Mountain Top overlooking Megan’s Bay on the North coast of St. Thomas. As you can see, it was a great day with an incredible view of all the surrounding islands in the background.
Safe trip home Tim, Ashely and Liam. Can’t wait for our next time together.
That’s a wrap for now folks.
Next week we have our good friends Sue & Bob from Victoria BC flying in to spend a week with us and they will probably join us for the passage over to Culebra and Puerto Rico which is where they fly out from. So Christine and I will enjoy a few days to ourselves and getting the Guest Cabin on Möbius ready for our next guests and our next set of passages. I’ll have all the details on that in the next update here and till then our sincere thanks for taking the time to join us on these adventures and hope you’ll be back for the next update in about two weeks as we get another new month started. Yikes! How did that happen so fast??!!
Thanks to Christine’s forecasting with PredictWind we had a super smooth ride all the way from where we left you last week in St. Martin to the US Virgin Islands. We left SXM out the drawbridge on the northern French side (Green on the map) for its 17:00 opening and then anchored in the outside bay to enjoy dinner and the sunset. We got underway about 20:00 for our overnight 103NM passage timed so that we would arrive in USVI after sunrise. Mother Nature not only gifted us with calm flat seas but also a near full moon to light our way. As you can see it was a very exciting white knuckle ride for the crew! Our timing worked out just right as we arrived at the southern coast of St. John Island just after sunrise. We headed for Cruz Bay (Red on map below) to check in at the US Customs & Immigration office and anchored just off shore and launched the Tender to go ashore and do all the checking in formalities. That all went well so we headed back to Möbius to go find a nice spot to anchor for a few days. Found a great little spot in a small protected harbor on the West side of Great St. James Island (Green on map). Crystal clear water, not too many neighbors and the Pizza Pi boat anchored nearby. We stayed there till this morning (Sunday) and then headed over to Yacht Haven marina (dark Blue on map) on the East end of Charlotte Amalie to fill up our water tanks (more on that later). We blend right in with the other boats on the dock don’t you think??!! The dock hand was super helpful and we enjoyed chatting with him as we whiled away the few hours it took to fill up two of our water tanks.
After filling up with fresh water, we motored over to the south end of Hassle Island, which was NO hassle at all, and we we are currently anchored here as I write. (dark Blue on map above) This is the reason we had to go fill up with water today; our watermaker high pressure pump is broken. Both the Low and High pressure pumps were not wanting to work when I went to start using the watermaker after many months sitting dormant but I was able to get the Low Pressure pump working with just a good cleaning. However I wasn’t so lucky with the HP pump as one of the ceramic pistons was broken and so I’ll need to find a way to get some replacement parts sent over. With a water tank capacity of 7300 L/1900 USG and only Christine and I onboard we can go about six months but with family and guests arriving soon and now ability to make our own water, we needed to head over to the marina to get some fresh water and took on about 2500L/660 USG which should be more than enough till I can get the watermaker working in the next month or two. Charlotte Amalie is the “Big City” here on St. Thomas and the airport is not too far away so we will be checking out this area for a good spot to anchor when our Grandson Liam and parents fly in on the 22nd. May head over to check out anchoring spots off of Water Island which Christine has fond memories of in her days chartering on her boat Sunrise when son Tim was just a young boy so fun for him to revisit this and share with his son Liam.
So that brings you up to date with the Good Ship Möbius and thanks so much for taking time to join us on this latest leg of the adventure. Hope you’ll be back for the next update and in the meantime please leave your comments and questions in the Join the Discussion box below.