Med 2014

The 2014 cruising season has finally begun. I will be the first to admit my negligence in not blogging our trip to Croatia toward the end of last season after Greece, but I think I was having such a good time I just never got around to doing it. I will get around to the details of it sooner or later, but for now I will be fast forwarding to this year!

Last season ended with a cruise on a cruise ship across the Atlantic. Why you say? First of all, a two week cruise is cheaper than a business class air ticket, if you can believe that. Secondly, it is very relaxing and lastly, the time zones change only once every few days and by the time you arrive in Florida, our home, you suffer no jet lag. We liked it so much that we decided to do the same trip coming back to Croatia this spring, via London. Oh, one more BIG advantage. There are no limitations on luggage on a ship so we brought 8 suitcases, two of which were filled with clothes and the other six with spare boat parts! See what that costs you on a transatlantic flight!
The smaller 2 of the 8 had clothes in them

We ended up wintering at Mandalina Marina in Sibenik, Croatia, which turned out to be a wonderful place. They are in the process of building a 5 Star resort and it looks to me like it will be finished in about a year or two. Both Ken on Sans Souci and I employed a great guy named Ante Muic to look after our boats and he did a great job. In the past we have had both decent and absolutely HORRID experiences from our “winter watchers”. Many times the boats were neglected and in one instance the watcher was so negligent that we had damage to our boats. We generally are only there for one season and they know it. Ante was a different Breed. He really cared about the boats and did his best job. I highly recommend him.

I had three projects that were to be done over the winter. Two of them came out spectacular and the other, the varnish, just never got done, which was disappointing. It really looks horrible and will have to wait until the end of the season to get it done. My hope is that it gets really bad and just completely flakes off. I have zero patience for doing it myself and it would probably end up looking worse than it does now!

We had a new canvas cover made for the upper aft deck and it came out really nice. The only problem was that the guy who made it put a HUGE advertising sign attached to the canvas and I had to wait until we left to clip the stitches off and remove it. I did not want to hurt his feelings.

New canvas aft top


One day, about ten years ago, not long after we had purchased Seabird, we were docked at our marina in St Augustine, FL and the guy who was waxing our hull asked us to turn the boat around in the slip so that he could wax the other side. I backed out of the slip into shallow water and got stuck in the mud. I revved up the engine to free us and went back into the slip. Shortly after that, an angry, red faced little guy came charging down the dock, waving his arms, screaming and yelling at us. Evidently, when I revved the engine, a plume of greasy black soot came out of the exhaust pipe and landed on his wife, who was wearing a pure white cocktail dress, now covered with the innards of Seabird’s main beast of an engine. I looked over only to see this poor woman in tears, covered in black spots, looking sort of like a white Leopard. I apologized profusely and offered to pay for the cleaning or a new dress. Her husband was very gracious and did not want any payment. Since that day, we have periodically “dusted” other boats from Connecticut to Thailand, and maybe a few people too! All of these apologies in different languages were getting kind of old. Here is the story……

We have had this nagging exhaust problem on Seabird since we owned purchased the boat 11 years ago. Many, if not most Nordhavns have what is called a “dry exhaust”. Most pleasure boats have a seawater pump that sends water to a heat exchanger on the engine, cooling it and then sending the water, mixed with the exhaust, overboard. Most Nordhavns have my system which is similar to a diesel truck system that sheds the exhaust, without mixing in any seawater, high above the boat thorough a long pipe. The engine is cooled by a network of pipes that are attached to the outside of the hull on the bottom. The seawater cools the pipes with coolant running through them, which subsequently cools the engine by circulating it in a closed loop. It is a VERY reliable system with a negligible failure rate because there is no seawater coming into the boat for cooling.

The ONLY problem I have had with it is this horrible sooting periodically. When it rains, some water comes into the stack, washing any exhaust residue inside the 20 foot long pipe, collecting at the bottom. Once it dries and you start up the engine, your neighbors start to hate you as the black greasy dust bunnies blast out of the top of the exhaust pipe and settles on their boats. It only lasts for 10 seconds or so, but if you owned a white boat next to me, that was enough!

I decided to solve the problem once and for all over the winter and Ante said he had the right guy for the job. The result was what you see below. A custom made cover that is controlled by a line and pulleys. Before I start the engine, I pull on the rope from the aft deck and it opens for cruising. I have small velcro’d places over the start keys to remind me to uncover the stack before starting. It works absolutely great and I have not had a single speck of soot since then.

So, to whomever that poor woman was in St Augustine, know that my experience with you prompted a ten year search resulting in a solution and no one again will suffer your fate.
You can see the line in the center of the stack cover

We pull on the line and the stack cover opens
It actually opens another 20 degrees from this. So far 
so good this summer!

As I get older and more forgetful…..I have this


We decided to do a haulout while in Croatia to tend to some bottom issues and get some paint repairs done. We had a few dings and gouges on the hull and swim platform from previous seasons. We had also applied a special copper coating on the bottom called “CopperCoat” which is supposed to last 15 years. Unfortunately, we shipped the boat from Thailand and did not have the time or opportunity to “reactivate” the paint, which means a quick sanding if it has been out of the water for more than a few days. During this haulout, we would have that opportunity.

Kremik Service turned out to be a great service company. They did a good job for us repairing the swim platform, touching up the paint and cleaning our underwater hardware. I tried a new prop antifouling coating this year called Velox. It is a fraction of the price of Propspeed, a coating that I have used in the past with great disappointment.
The sign says it is an 80 ton lift but when I told the guy we 
only were 70 tons, he still grimaced after seeing the boat!

Our wing engine prop with an experimental coating. It
looks like a stick of deodorant. You rub it on and supposedly
the barnacles and worms hate it. I will report later on the 
success or failure.


We had a sad occurrence after we arrived in Sibenik. There was a wild party on the dock next to us with a family of charterers. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, the father tripped and fell overboard, drowning. They searched for the body all of the next day and in late afternoon, it surfaced in back of our boat! it was heartbreaking to see the grief of his family. We learned many years ago that boats can be dangerous places and partying needs to be done responsibly.

With all of the work completed, the boat was in good shape and ready to to our summer cruising. All that was missing was Sans Souci and her crew of four (Ken, Roberta and the two dogs, who arrived a few days after we returned from the shipyard.

Ken, Roberta, Keely and Toundra

Sans Souci

The plan this year was to slowly work our way down to Montenegro, which is a fun stop with cheap fuel to boot. Ken and Roberta decided that they had seen enough of Croatia and would make a beeline to Montenegro, only stopping in Dubrovnik to clear out of the country. We continued with our plan and took a week to get there, stopping in Trogir, Hvar, Mjet and Cavtat, where we cleared out of Croatia.

Seabird from way up top in Hvar, Croatia

In Cavtat, a bad storm decided to pick on this guy!
Maybe its a sign that he needs to give more of his money to charity!

Trogir was one of our favorite stops in Croatia The main pier is against a huge walled city

For some reason, people do not think boats are private 
property. Maybe in her country they are not! Or, maybe 
she was just tired…… Now she is all over the internet!

We arrived in Montenegro about a week and a half behind Sans Souci. This was to be our launching point for the summer cruise to Italy, Malta, Sardinia and Corsica, with a plan to winter the boats in Imperia, Italy. 
This is our “projected” path this summer

At least, that was the plan……

Next up: Cruise to Italy. 

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