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Entries about boating

Still in Miami


Well, here we remain, and that's OK by us. Flexibility in all things and never, ever make the boating gods angry.

We had intended to leave for Key West on Christmas morning. So, we had our "Christmas Dinner" on Christmas Eve. Carol fixed a nice pork roast and we had our presents for dinner: hers was strawberry cheesecake, not from Wolfie's; it's no longer in business. But the guy who owned Wolfie's later started a place called Epicure and, as far as cheesecake goes, it is well named. Mine was a more pedestrian bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano double chocolate cookies. Carol was nice and shared her present; I did give Carol a cookie.

On Christmas day, and the next two days, the winds were about 20 knots. On the ocean this would have been OK; in the shallower waters, +/- 20 feet, where we would have been, this would have made for a very rough ride. So, we opted to hang around.

On Friday we walked up Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Lincoln Road is about a 2/3's of a mile, open air, pedestrian mall that, more or less, goes from the bay to the ocean. In a place like Miami Beach where there is so much wealth on ostentatious display, the mall is less about shopping and more about consumption. We hadn't seen anything like this since north Michigan Avenue in Chicago. We did have a nice lunch there, in the center of the mall under umbrellas. An interesting place to visit, but give us the land and people in Spring Creek. And on top of all that, there were no pickup trucks or Christmas decorations anywhere to be seen. Maybe there's a law.

We were anchored out for a week and while at anchor it was plain that the boat was drawing too many amp hours from the batteries, a bad thing. Plus, it was overcast for several days so the solar panels were no help. Since the only thing that was running, most of that time, was the refrigerator, the problem was easy to identify.

There seems to be a perverse rule to all which boat designers adhere: if something is important to access, put it somewhere that is impossible to access. It's a good thing that I'm a skinny guy; if I weighed two pounds more I couldn't get to places like the evaporator coil for the refrigerator. We dug down to it and, sure enough, the cooling fins on the evaporator coil were caked solid with crud as was the duct leading to it and vent too. To clean the coil we found a small air compressor with a tank at an Ace Hardware; it's 110 volts and I wanted to wait until we were on shore power to use it. Plus I wanted shore power for a good recharge on the batteries.

So, yesterday, Saturday, we pulled in to Dinner Key Marina, in Coconut Grove, very close to where Carol grew up in Coral Gables. The air compressor worked well enough and we managed to get the coil clean and to jerry-rig a filter to reduce further accumulation. And then the fun began. We we barefoot and all of a sudden we were walking in water in the rear of the main cabin, a very, very bad thing. It appeared to be fresh water and there is a 40-gal. tank in the rear cabin. Since I had just filled both water tanks, that seemed like the place to look.

We literally deconstructed the rear cabin to get to the tank and to expose all of the water hoses to and from the tank. After a couple of hours of work and inspection there was no place that could have put out that volume of water. And then the light went off! On the stern platform there is a fresh water shower head. It turns out that it was stuck in the open position and when Carol left the water switch on it pumped 40-50 gallons into the boat in a short time. The fix was dirt simple. The bilge pump evacuated most of the water and we used a hand pump to get most of the rest. But it was another couple of hours to put the rear cabin back together again.

Too much work and too much excitement for old, retired folks. That brought us to the existential question of the day: do real sailors order pizza for delivery? The other Rhett had the right answer: I don't really give a damn! It was late, we were tired and there was more work to do; so, Papa John's tasted great.

Carol's feeling a little off today, so we'll stay another day at the marina so she can rest and, maybe, head out tomorrow morning.

One of the interesting things that we've learned so far is that traveling by boat is not like traveling by car on an interstate; there isn't always another exit down the road with a Motel 6. When we can't travel at night, which includes almost all inland waters, plus the Keys and the Bahamas, we have to organize a day's travel around a place to stop at night: an anchorage or a marina. Although we've passed the winter solstice and are farther south, there are still only about 10.5 hours of working daylight. So, some days when we can manage 50-miles but the next safe place is 60-miles, we settle for two 30-mile increments. Trying to figure out how to traverse the Keys through Hawk Channel has been particularly vexing in this regard but I think that we're ready to try.

Posted by sailziveli 04:46 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (1)

Ever Southward

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We left Charleston, SC on Wednesday morning, 12/03/08. The cruising guides indicated that the ICW is dodgey with lots of shoaling from Charleston to Florida; so, we decided to head to Brunswick, GA the short way by sailing. The good news is that the temperature that night was very mild, the warmest evening in several weeks. On the other hand, there was no wind at all; the ocean surface was literally like glass. So, we just drove the boat. That big stick in the middle of the boat has seen about two hours use since we left Oriental. It took about 26 hours to complete the trip.

Carol and I lived in Brunswick for four years in the middle 1970's. Sears moved me here to work in the local store and Carol taught school at Brunswick High; so, this was a homecoming of a sort. Despite living here all that time, I had never seen the area from the water so coming into port was a new experience for me. This is the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. St__Simon_..hthouse.jpgBrunswick is on the mainland and the entrance channel is formed by two islands: St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. St. Simons had become a very high end place; most of Jekyll Island is owned by the state of Georgia and has not been as developed.

This is a picture of the new bridge which replaced the one while I was working here. The_Bridge.jpgThe old bridge was a big part of my retail learning curve. About two weeks before we moved here a freighter hit the old bridge and it was closed for repairs for over a year and a half. With the bridge closed, we lost access to a large part of our trading area. We had to work hard and scramble to "make the day," i.e. beat last year's sales, and were not able to do it very often.

We're staying with a friend, Larry, who lives just south of Brunswick. Larry___Russ.jpgA real bed has been a novel experience, and a very comfortable one. Larry's place is beautiful, opening onto the tidal marshland called the Marshes of Glynn. 6Larry_s_Place.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 08:41 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Are We There Yet?

That Depends on What the Meaning of "There" Is!

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We hit Charleston on Saturday, 11/29/08. According to my official "Captain's Log 2008" this Sunday is day 19 of the trip. We've come approximately 300 miles and Key West is still more than 700 miles away.

The weather has been terrible... way too cold; temperatures have been 12~15 degrees below average. Al Gore: where is global warming when I really need it? On Thanksgiving day we preparing to get underway between first light and sunrise. The boat, the mooring lines, the dock.... everything was coated with a 1/4-in. of ice. We wanted to sail overnight to Charleston but the prospect of 12-hours of darkness with temperatures at/below freezing in an open cockpit with 15 knot winds was too much for either one of us... we wimped out and drove the boat down the ICW. I guess that it's called irony when the cold weather prevents you from doing the things that will get you away from the cold weather, or something. Anyway, when we left Oriental I thought that we had brought too much warm clothing; today I think that it was not half enough.

We did take the boat out one day to sail; the weather was actually too nice and the wind died. I think that we're both ready for more sailing and less motoring.

There have been good surprises, like getting the heat pump fixed. We had another one on Thanksgiving Day. We stopped at a marina near Georgetown, SC. When the dock master and his wife returned from their dinner with friends, they decided that their gift to us would be a free stay. This picture was what we saw on Thanksgiving evening. Our boat is the one on the outside of the dock. I might rather have had turkey and dressing, but the view was truly one for which to be thankful. You might notice Carol standing on the side of the boat. Ask her if she was enjoying the view. Heritage_P.._Marina.jpg

We did finally have warm enough weather to anchor out one night. We pulled in to the anchorage and checked Skipper Bob, the ICW anchorage authority. The recommendation for this location was to put out two anchors. We had never done this and decided that this was a good time to try a technique that we'll need later. Predictably, chaos ensued; the Three Stooges could not have written a screwier script. The upshot was that one anchor wouldn't set, and the other one wouldn't break loose and we had the line from one foul the propeller. So, over the side I go, wet suit, weight belt and mask into the cold water. Did I mention that I don't like being in cold water? After about 30-minutes I managed to free the line from the propeller; boat, line and LLoyd Bridges don't-wannabe are all doing fine. The wet suit must work pretty well; I expected to come out of the water a skinny, shriveled, black popsicle, but I was OK.

When we finally recovered both anchors they were covered in something I had thankfully managed to forget: pluff mud. It's great for growing rice but our nice white boat is now pluff mud brown; with the wind and rain it got onto everything. Pluff Mud --- don't leave South Carolina without it... because nobody in SC wants it.

We've seen a lot of porpoises, probably Harbor Porpoise, but I've never been able to get a picture of them; they're pretty quick and don't pose very long. Birds were rare in NC, too cold I guess. These two pelicans in Morehead City were not having a peak experience. Pelicans_i..ad_City.jpg
In SC we've seen more birds, like this osprey, along with lots of blue herons and a couple of snowy egrets. Ospreys_in_Nest.jpg

When we got underway on the Friday after Thanksgiving it sounded like WWIII, a constant barrage of gun shots. It finally dawned on me that it had to be duck season in SC. The SC boys must be really good shots or the ducks are really smart because we haven't seen any ducks.

The plan in Charleston is to hang around a couple of days, rent a car to do some errands and, finally, pizza and the new James Bond movie. Then it's off again for points south and, PLEASE!!!!, warmer climes.

Posted by sailziveli 18:23 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Too Much Work, part #1 the House

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We have a friend who is going to stay in our house while we are gone. She has a son in the 8th grade. Getting the house ready for other people to occupy is about the same as selling it; the main difference is no need to repaint, although it does need it.

Closet and dressers are getting emptied; cabinets are being cleared out; boxes are moving to the attic; stuff is going to the dump site. The left handed benefit of all of this is a general "decrapping" of the accumulation of 5-years of occupancy. The house will be less cluttered when we move back in.

Needless to say, this has been traumatic for Carol, who forms emotional bonds easily with any/everything she has accumulated, and she has accumulated a lot of stuff. She's in shock but the prognosis is fairly good; she still has not exceeded the credit card limits.

I, on the other hand, have. The list of things we may need to travel safely is long, and since these are for a boat, they are, by definition, expensive. The main acquisitions have been have been an EPIRB and an inflatable life raft in case the boat sinks. Since we have these, of course the boat won't sink, I hope. New anchors and rodes, weather software and spare computers, charts and navigation guides; the list just goes on and on.

We have dodged the dog question, for now anyway. Wile E's former owner has agreed to mind the mutt while we are gone. This is good; we like the dog, but he doesn't work on the boat.

The headline news is that Carol has cut her hair shorter than it's ever been since I met her in 1965. If she were driving a Cadillac she would perfectly look the part of a 61-year old real estate agent. Wanna' buy some mountain land?

Work not withstanding, Fall in the mountains is gorgeous. The weather is cool; the leaves are turning; life is way good Dogwood_09_26_06.jpgBarn_on_Up..0_10_03.jpgFall_Color__2007.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 09:12 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

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