Saturday, September 11, 2021

September 2021 Update

Hello Friends!

I have not written very much on my blog this year.  That is largely because the emphasis of the blog is our sailing adventures and we have not had as much of an opportunity to sail as we would like.  Unfortunately, this has largely been due to family commitments and (see prior post)  and unexpected illness and trip to England.

Most of our close friends are aware that Janet's father, Donald Clough passed away following a relatively short but severe time knowing that he had terminal cancer.  We are thankful that Janet could be there during his illness to help out with care and other things.  I joined her and we were able to stay and attend the funeral and help family with other arrangements etc.  Don will be remembered by his family and many as a wonderful man, and he will certainly be missed.  He helped so many people - especially his family with virtually any project they took on.  He was very active in his former military regiment - The Royal Tank Regiment, and many of his friends and comrades attended his funeral. 

Donald Clough - known to Grandkids as "Tick-Tock"

As for us - we  brought the boat back home before heading to England.  We have made a few weekend trips locally but no major trips since our return.  Recently, we have been watching the Gulf carefully for tropical activity.  Tropical Storm Fred went to our east and Hurricane Ida thankfully to our west.  While the forecasters are talking about an active late season - I sure hope they are wrong!

We are planning to join our best friends Larry and Tracy at the Annapolis Boat Show in October and help them bring their boat "TraSea" back south.  Here's a link to their progress!

Location of TraSea

And after that, well we are in the process once again of writing new plans in the sand at low tide!.....recognizing the need to be flexible in times when we have significant unknows such as Covid and a period of what seems to be more extreme weather events.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Plans in Sand at Low Tide

 As most sailors know, even the best of plans are written in the sand at low tide. Meaning, everything is always subject to change. It may be weather, work, health, or any other host of reasons.  But the situation is that we did set off, made pretty good progress and made it down to Venice, Florida.  

Unfortunately we then got some very bad news about Janet’s dad’s health. He is in England and the situation is not looking good.  Given all of this, we decided that we had to turn around and arrange for Janet to make a trip to England to help out the family. As I write this we are back in St. Joe’s Bay at Cape San Blas, waiting out some weather, but making our way back to Pensacola. Janet has a flight booked for the 19th June - so at least we have a little flexibility on our schedule to get home. 

Anyway, that’s our situation as of now and of course things can change. For anyone reading this, I have a small favor to ask.  Please include our Dad, Donald Clough and Janet’s family in your prayers. We have a difficult time ahead.   

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Finally Ready - Off we Go

Time and Hard Work

It has taken a lot of time and hard work to get Midnight Sun III (MS3) ready to cruise this year.  Most of the work has been restoring her after the hurricane damage, but then there is always the routine maintenance on top of that and a variety of upgrades.

Upgrades have included:
  • hard top for helm station
  • New canvas - pretty much everywhere, including a new enclosure
  • the enclosure required a little innovation to fabricate a new grill stand
  • New Beta test Boat Monitoring system from Tocaro Blue (yes, we are a Beta test Boat)
  • fresh-water flush for master head (still in progress)
  • Added LED lights to the helm area – I added red (for night sailing); white (for general use at anchor), and blue – because I like blue!
  • Added LED lights to the mast – for no purpose other than “sex appeal” 😊.  I actually added these before the new mast was installed – so it made the project easy!
  • Added rub strip to the rear of each pontoon – to prevent scratching from the dinghy
  • Adding flushing ports to all air conditioners to facilitate cleaning the coil
  • Built an additional cabinet for the galley to add more storage for pans etc. and to provide better location for the microwave (we did not get factory option).
  • Added a new TV
  • Building an extra hanging locker for the Owner side (but this will not be finished before our trip)
  • Janet has compled the sewing for new dinghy “chaps” – they look really good and will extend the life of the dinghy
  • Added a new portable refrigerator which also works as an extra seat for the cockpit area (Janet is working on cushions)
  • Made larger seat bases for the bow/pulpit seats., and Janet is making removable cushions.
Wow - that's a lot of stuff and a lot of work!

So we are officially under way.....and then spent 2 days at Cape San Blas troubleshooting and fixing!   I tell you - the worst thing to do with a boat t use it!  

First, the new Weems and Plath LED masthead light looks to have water in it so  they are shipping us a replacement to St. Petes.   Then the watermaker....but that turned out to be the impeller on the lift pump and I carry a couple of spares. water tank gauge    I have no idea why that quit, but I will figure it out in some other exotic destination. 

So we have now made it to Apalachicola - one of our favorite spots.  Our route here took us to Panama City, And Cape San Blas first. We are Not rushing but are aware that we are at the start of hurricane season.  We plan to cross the Big Bend on Sunday/Monday to get us to the west coast of Florida.  We hope to get the masthead light replaced In St. Pete Next week - until then we are  sailing with some “jerry rigger” temporary measures and our steaming lights. 

Anchored at Cape San Blas

Now how many times can you say you have sailed by the Staton Island Ferry? Port St. Joe?😁
As it turns out, new ferries are being built in Panama City and fitted out in Port St. Joe!  What a sight!

So after Cape San Blas we travelled up the ICW ( Gulf canal and Apalachicola River) to Apalachicola. It’s a great trip that I never get tired of - even if we have to motor!

So, as I said, we plan to jump across Florida’s Big Bend tomorrow afternoon/ night.  Weather is looking calm and a light wind, so I’m sure there will be some motor-sailing ......but hopefully an uneventful passage.  

More to follow!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Repairs continue - so Learning Drone

 Repairs Continue

Midnight Sun III continues to be repaired at Pensacola Shipyard.  The main issue is the repair of cosmetic scratches in the gel coat from Hurricane Sally.  While we were fortunate to sustain no structural damage, the boat was hit by many roofing shingles that were blown off our house roof.  Well that will not happen again - we now have a metal roof!.  The shingles did not pierce the gel coat bet left many shallow scratches.  These are being wet sanded or compound polished out prior to re-sealing the surface.  Its proving to be a slow painstaking process - but the finished areas look like new again.  We keep getting told "two more weeks"........we shall see.

So this has put us behind schedule with our plans to leave for the Bahamas, but we have not given up on that hope yet.  Needless to say I am monitoring progress every couple of days and itching to get her back in the water!!

In the meantime....

Drone Flying

Yes, I do have one of those annoying Drones.  I have been wanting to film sailing shots with it for the past year but have not had the confidence to fly it over water - so yes, that is a major issue.  Well I have been practicing and built up more confidence.  This weekend members of Pensacola Yacht Club came over to our area and we had a party and raft-up. - Yes, everyone here is about over the whole Covid thing.  Foolish - well who knows, we will see.  Fun - Yes!  So I took the opportunity to do some drone filming and made a short video.

Check it out! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Repairs and Video Update


As I write this post, Midnight Sun III is currently in the Pensacola Shipyard getting final repairs completed.  To be honest, I have made the lions share of the repairs (other than mast and rigging) myself while waiting on a space at the shipyard.  Everything has been backed up because of Hurricane Sally.  We are very grateful to Rick Zern and the guys at Zern Rigging for getting the mast and rigging work done.  Awesome job guys - as always!  Also, a big thanks to Hunter Riddle at Schur Sails - another local Pensacola firm that does first class work at a reasonable price.

Final items include painting the bottom (antifouling), wet sanding/polishing a few remaining scratches on he starboard hull, and detail cleaning/polishing the topsides and hulls.  

Of course we have had several rain days sine she was hauled out - but we are hoping for a speedy turnaround by the yard and our contractor - Perdido Sailor!  So the pressure is on Brandon.....its all up to you now!

Our Plans for 2021

Of course with the ongoing Covid situation, our plans are even more certain to be "written in the sand at low tide" - meaning subject to change and revision.  I know that many of my blog readers are in Europe and other parts of the world, but the situation here in the US is far more.........well I hesitate to say better, but certainly more "nonchalant" than other parts of the world.  Comparatively, we have few restrictions on travel within the US, and facilities are certainly open and available.

That said, our current plans are to leave -hopefully later in March and head south around Florida then across to the Bahamas.  From there, we will likely head back to the US East Coast (Maybe June) and head north for Hurricane Season.  I hesitate to put this in writing, because I just know that things will likely change.  But as of now - that's the plan.  I will keep you posted, but we are getting excited to hopefully be underway soon.  Now that does mean we have a LOT of preparation work to do in the next month.  So wish us luck!!

Video Update

I have finally finished the video series on our Atlantic Crossing from La Rochelle France to Josephine, Alabama!  This has been quite a project, but the entire trip including our planning and preparations now form 9 episodes that are uploaded to YouTube.  The final part - Episode 9 covers the Bahamas to home.  Since we have come through the Bahamas several times and since this was the last leg of our trip, we  passed through fairly quickly but did manage to stop at a few places that we had not had a chance to visit on previous trips.

Please check out the final episode at: 

If you would like to see the full series of videos, please check out the following link:

Thursday, January 28, 2021

We Have a New Mast!

Our new mast has arrived and as of this post (Jan 28, 2021), is being installed by Zern Rigging of Pensacola.  Once the install is completed and we have se-trialed the boat, I will write a post on the differences and improvements.

Needless to say we are very happy and will soon be back on the water.  We are planning a cruise starting (hopefully) in March.  More info to follow on that.  We have been very busy with repairs since Hurricane Sally.......and the new mast is a significant step forward.

Here are a few photos of the work in progress:

Waiting patiently for the boom truck to lift the mast!

New mast design - note the spreaders - Two levels!

St. Christopher and Silver in place - taking no chances this time.  Note the more robust mast foot.

Mast in place  - now to work on the Standing Rigging

One step closer to getting back to being a Sailboat!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Progress with Repairs!

By way of recap - Midnight Sun III was damaged in Hurricane Sally.  The devastation to boats in our area is difficult to comprehend.  So many boats were lost as a result of the unexpected nature of Hurricane Sally.  We were expecting tropical storm conditions at worst, and we actually got a Cat 2 (I think 3) hurricane.  The worst attribute was that it was a slow mover, and we had sustained winds well over 100mph for hours and a high storm surge (I measured close to 9 ft).

If you look back a couple of posts, you will see some photos of our damage.  The major damage to MS3 was the loss of the mast.  Other damage was largely superficial - but the estimate from the boatyard was still substantial.  Notwithstanding that - the boatyards have all been full with wrecked boats etc, and all the repair contractors are booked and cannot give a date as to when they can start.  Its been very frustrating  - so I decided to get moving on the repairs myself and have the boatyard do anything I could not get to.  I'm happy to say that although its been slow.......I am almost there!  THe big thing of course is the mast - and I am pleased to say our new design has just been delivered to Zern Rigging in Pensacola and it should be installed next week (guessing around January 15 2021).

Mounting points for pulpit seats

So in the meantime, I have been grinding out spider cracks around deck hardware.....filling with epoxy and re-gelcoating......

So far, I am pretty pleased with the progress on this.  There's a bit more sanding and polishing needed.  But most of these areas will be drilled out again to mount hardware.

There were also some scratches on the coach-roof, that I have pretty much got out with a light wet sanding.  Once this is complete, I plan to have the topsides professionally detailed, compounded and waxed.  Yes, I could do that my self and may do if I can't find anyone that will do this for me........but I do think there is an art to doing this well.

Helm Station

I have been building a new helm station enclosure.  This time, the new version will have a hard top

Removing the old frame - bent by the tree
Removing the old damaged frame for Helm Station

Building the new frame from 1 1/4" dia. stainless steel tubing

Fabricating a new hard top from 3/4" thick King Starboard XL.  This is pretty heavy material, but it sure beats laying up fiberglass and it seemed to machine pretty well with a router.

New stainless steel frame installed ready for hardtop.  I also took the opportunity to run some cable in the frame so that I can add lighting.

Installing a Lewmar hatch in the hardtop for ventilation and to be able to see the sails when sailing!

The next step is to get this up on top of the boat!

And Viola!  New hardtop on the boat.  I have temporarily attached the old windshield, but we have a new canvas enclosure on order for the hele station and for the entire cockpit area.  We should have that installed by the end of February. I think this is really going to change the look of the boat  I have installed wiring in the frame so that I can put LED lights in the hardtop.  So there is still some work left to do before this project is complete!

The next step was removing and mounting damaged deck hardware.  This has been fairly easy - there are a few damaged stanchions.  I had to re-bed and tighten a couple of bases, but so far no gel-coat cracks other than the forward pulpit seats that I fixed.  I have just replaced the metalwork for those and fabricated new seats also from Starboard.  I thought the original seats were teak. but they turned out to be  marine ply.  So I figured the Starboard would last longer.  When making the new seats, I made them about 1.5 inches bigger (at the request of the admiral) to accommodate bigger butts!

So we are getting very close to being seaworthy again.  Jobs remaining include replacing a piece of toe rail and sealing a leak on a window.  Oh - and of course a new mast!   Which has arrived in Pensacola.  We will be headed to the shipyard next week to have the mast, rigging, and sails installed by Zern Rigging and Schurr Sails.  These guys are the best and I can highly recommend them.  They work very closely together to ensure everything fits.  We have had work done by Zern and Schurr before and they are  both first class!

Anyway - I am going to go ahead and post this and hopefully one more update should see us back on the water as a sailboat rather than a cata-trawler!