Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Heads Are Better Than One, or Are They?

February 27, 2015

I indicated earlier that both of our marine heads have their own unique personalities. In my post of February 9th, I introduced you to the forward head.  It’s time to reveal the idiosyncrasies of our aft head.

The aft head is electric and is connected to a Lectrasan.  The theory is that the Lectrasan is a mini treatment plant, which utilizes a macerator, salt water, and electrodes and an electrolytic process which manufactures hypochlorous acid which kills the bacteria before the now “clean” stuff is pumped overboard.  (Thank you Nigel Calder, Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual for that explanation)  When ours is activated, it makes all of the proper noises and appears to do what it is supposed to do, but a light comes on that indicates low salt.  Sadly, this can mean all sorts of things and not necessarily low salt.  Who knew?  Our boat is on the Manatee River and the water is brackish so low salt did not seem an impossibility.  We have added salt, varying the amounts per flush based on the recommendations of various web sites, cruisers forums and the experts on our dock, but we still have the low salt indicator and we are no closer to figuring out just what it means. We can only hope that there is no grand disaster just waiting to happen.  To look at the bright side:  there is no leaky holding tank associated with it, nor is there a bilge into which Jim can lose another pair of glasses. (The first pair has not yet been found)  But, mulling over what to do next, we have wondered whether two heads are really better than one?  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Name Change

February 24, 2015

Choosing a name was quite the process, choosing the design and style of lettering was too, but putting it on the boat ended up being relatively painless!  So…we are now legally  “Well, Why Not?” but it won't be "official" until we have had our naming ceremony to appease Neptune.   

Jim removing the old name and cleaning the transom
The prior name on display for the last time 
It took us a couple of hours to remove the old name and clean the transom.  Shadowing of the old lettering remained despite everything we tried.  Hopefully we will be the only ones to notice it.  Working from a very bouncy dinghy made it an interesting operation.   After trying to mark center lines, sketching out a mockup so we could try different mounting places we decided that we were going to have to wait until the water was calmer. 

After days of very strong winds, and therefore bouncy seas (yes, even in the marina) we had our window of opportunity!!  We measured from every possible angle, and not just once either!  Despite some concern about getting it level (it is a slightly arched name) we finally gave up measuring and just did it!!  High fives!  We have two little graphic figures left to put on, but we are undecided about just where.  If only we didn't have a ladder and a dinghy hanging off the transom that we have to work around!  

Our original mock-up

Gotta give credit to  They have a great do-it-yourself design center on their website. Advice and artistic suggestions are available should you need them.  We have used them twice now and because they have been so helpful, efficient and pleasant, I just wanted to give them a shout-out! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Through the Eyes of a Birder

February 20, 2015

Sandy and Bill are good friends from Minnesota.  They are Birders (with a capital “B”)  I always thought that Jim and I could be called birder “wannabe’s”  or maybe “birder tag-alongs”.   But, I just got through reading Wickipedia and various other websites and apparently we are technically “bird watchers”.  I realize this is getting a bit esoteric, but the top of the list in terms of “obsession” are twitchers, then birders, then birdwatchers.  I’m thinking the dividing lines may be a bit blurry, but you get the idea.  We have travelled with Sandy and Bill to Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, the Boundary Waters in the US and on hikes around our local area. (They have done much more travelling, just not with us)  Sandy always has her binoculars with her.  I love accompanying her.  I learn a lot.  I ask a lot of the same questions over and over again and she patiently tries to teach me.  I enjoy looking at the birds, but, and here is the distinguishing feature.  I do not plan trips around birds, I don’t keep a bird list, I don’t check all of the field markers before speculating on the species.  In my defense, however, I feed our local birds faithfully during the summer, and I do write down the names of ducks who spend a few days on our pond en route to their migration north.  But, a birder, I am not.  I thought Bill went along with all of this bird watching as a demonstration of great marital patience, but no… it turns out that all of these years he was developing an interest in bird photography which since his retirement has bloomed into a full blown passion, matched only by Sandy’s passion for birding!    Now wherever they go, they travel with binoculars, spotting scope, and a camera with a huge telephoto lens. 

Sandy with her spotting scope.

A birdwatcher surrounded by two birders.  Check out Bill's camera lens.  

Jim trying to use a post as his tripod at Sanibel Island

With a self discipline which few others seem to have, Bill narrows down his 100’s (1000's?) of pictures to a few spectacular photographs that become his journal of that particular birding trip.  

Sandy and Bill spent this last week with us on the boat. Apparently a birder can “sniff” out good birding spots without anyone's help.  Bill was up and gone before anyone else had rousted that first morning.  He returned several hours later rattling off a long list of birds he had seen and had the beautiful photos to prove it!  Turns out he had found the pond on the other side of Hulk Harbor (see post on February 5, 2015)  I persuaded him to let me use a few of his photos to demonstrate the fascinating array of birds we have within several miles of our boat.  This is not his final edit – these are just the ones I picked because I really liked them.  (Photos of birds copywrite by Bill Sullivan, 2015)  All told, over the course of the 5 days we saw 44 different species of birds - most of them at Emerson Pt (aka Hulk Harbor), the pier at Regatta Pointe Marina, and Sanibel Island.

Great White Egret

Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill



Hooded Merganser

Oyster Catcher

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hulk Harbor

 February 4, 2015

Our first night anchoring out overnight was in a delightful bay, just up near the mouth of the Manatee River in a place I named “hulk” harbor for the several large derelict boats languishing there.  Officially it is named Emerson Point.  Our son Josh was with us and a dingy ride ashore and an exploratory hike seemed like a great idea.  Alas, Jim could not get the outboard motor started.  
Josh using foot pump to inflate kayak
Not to be deterred we inflated our larger kayak, paddled over to our fellow anchored boat, Livin’ Life, sailed by Janice and Dave to see if they wanted to join us.  They did.  Their outboard started and they even offered to tow us – but we decided to tough it out.  We had a nice hike, saw a variety of birds and a cute bee hotel. 

Bee Hotel on Emerson Point
Kayaking back to the boat enabled us to get the first picture of the boat outside of the slip.  Not sure just how we will get one with sails up…

Well, Why Not?  at anchor
Two nights anchoring out were wonderful!  Next time we hope to go farther and stay longer.  

The Case of the Disappearing Glasses

09 February 2015

If you are reading this in hopes of learning great amounts, it might be time to disabuse you of that notion!  There are wonderful blogs out there that we have followed for years that teach, that share hard earned knowledge and that pass out great wisdom.  Maybe someday we will have learned enough to help others on this same journey.  For the time being maybe we can just entertain a little as we muddle our way through the learning curve, making mistakes – some dumb, some perfectly logical, so far none that are disastrous.  We are a little less overwhelmed than on day one, we are able to laugh at some of the challenges and are not too embarrassed to share some of our misadventures. Others you may not hear about … at least for awhile.  This one we are willing to share.

The Scene of the Disappearance
We have two heads (marine toilets) 
on board and each one has its own set of problems.  (wouldn’t you know it?)  Up front is a manual Jabsco.  Pretty straight forward – flushes with sea water either overboard or to a holding tank.  The holding tank can be emptied by a pumpout system at a marina or pumped overboard via a macerator (think blender).  Our holding tank is a Nauta bladder-probably an after- thought to comply with marine regulations where pumping overboard is not allowed.  It is small (theoretically 15 gallons) except it is mounted vertically rather than horizontally – a nod to not having much space – and therefore probably has only a 10 -12 gallon capacity.  That means basically it needs to be pumped out every 3-4 days if used full time.  It seems to have a small leak! (ugh)  While tightening a fitting in hopes of fixing it, Jim was leaning over and his glasses case, with his prescription glasses inside, slipped out of his pocket and disappeared into the depths of the compartment and presumably from there into the vast bilge system.  Not good!

The bilge is the lowermost part of the interior of the boat.  In this boat it seems to consist of a number of separate compartments connected by tunnels so that water in one compartment can flow into another one and at the lowest point can be pumped out of the boat.  Hoses run through these and often the connections between the compartments are not obvious. There are small fiberglass walls, dark nooks and crannies all over. It is a veritable maze.  There are a number of access doors through the floor and some walls which provide a lookout to check the status down below and gain access if necessary.  I have never liked bilges, they are dark, icky, and some seem to always have a little water in them.  In general I would just as soon have nothing to do with them.  However, if water decides to come into the boat I am very glad for it to have a place to go from which it can be pumped right back out to where it belongs – outside the boat!!  So... now you have a general idea of the abyss into which the glasses case dropped.

We searched high and low.  Jim removed various access covers, no luck.  Even with a 2 ft long magnet (the glasses case is metal) and a high powered flashlight and an extra long mirror on a stick (imagine a dentist tool on steroids) we had no luck finding it.   How it could have disappeared so quickly and so effectively is beyond us.  In any case, if the fitting still leaks after all this, Jim is not going to be happy.  Actually he is not happy anyhow, but if he solved the problem, the loss of the glasses might just have been the price to pay.  Me?  I expect them to show up somewhere, sometime…..

We have a second head…and it has its own unique personality, but that is a subject for another day.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Playing Tourist

Ours days are not spent entirely on all things boat related.  We do venture out occasionally!  The Dali Museum  is in St. Petersburg, about 25 miles north of our marina in Palmetto, and houses a large permanent collection of Salvador Dali’s works in a most unusual geodesic structure.  In addition, they are currently hosting a travelling exhibit called Picasso/Dali, Dali/Picasso. The works of these two legends, on loan from museums around the world, are presented side by side demonstrating not only the artists' relationship with the times, but also each other. The exhibit moves to the Museu Picasso in Barcelona in March.
In front of the Dali Museum
In Sarasota, about 15 miles to our south, is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  The 66 acre complex includes not just the art museum, but also Ca’ d’Zan, their “Venetian Gothic palace” which served as their winter residence on Sarasota Bay, the Circus Museum including fun memorabilia of the travelling circus era including their rail cars, calliope and animal cages and the Tibbals Learning Center which houses an incredibly detailed and intricate miniature circus covering 4000 square feet. 

Grounds of the Ringling complex, strangling figs and Ca' d'Zan in background
Palmetto is home to the Manatee County Fair.  We had to see what it was all about!  The animal and farm portion was pretty minimal: 5 chickens, 10-12 rabbits, a few goats and cows and a small petting zoo.  But the pig races were stellar with an announcer who really knew how to work the audience.  The amusement area was huge and full of rides and games appropriate for all ages.  

Can you see the 4 Formula 2 Powerboats on the race course?
Today was the Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta.  My head is still ringing from the Formula 2 Powerboat races, the Jefferson Starship performance and a spectacular and noisy fireworks show.  There were many other activities during the day: kids' fishing contest, a 5 K run, K-9 frisbee shows, "XPOGO" demos, Hydro Cross jet ski demos and stunts and  more.  Of course, food and drink of all varieties were everywhere.  My choice:  shrimp hushpuppies!  And of course, ice cream before we walked home over the bridge in time to watch the fireworks from the back of our boat.  

Fireworks with Bredenton in the background

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Getting to know you ....

February 3, 2015

Switches, hoses, AC panel, DC panel, thru hulls (a scary enough thought to have holes in the bottom of a sailboat but even scarier when you don’t know whether or not any particular one should be open or closed), clamps – one or two?, bilges, mysterious openings in the floor, storage behind and underneath cushions, water tanks, diesel tanks and that doesn’t even begin to deal with all of the lines (not “ropes”), sheets (also not “ropes”), anchors, chain and other stuff on deck. And I haven’t mentioned the engine, the generator, air conditioner/heater nor VHF, GPS, Chart potter, depth sounder, or compass.  Just give me a paper chart..after all I took a navigation class, maybe the chart will look familiar…maybe!  It is all very overwhelming… I thought I could start slowly by getting to know the galley first. 

I started with the sink.  Just have to turn a knob for hot water or cold water, right?  Only two problems.  If the  DC circuit is not switched on for pressure water….no water.  If the AC circuit is not switched on for the water heater…no hot water.  Well, there is a separate water faucet that has a manual pump.  Good, I like a little independence here.  If the water pressure is off, it is the only way to access the water in our tanks and it works like a charm, if I remember to open the right valve.  But, if the water pressure is on and I try to pump water, it leaks water all over the galley counter.  OK…I can deal with that.  Use manual pump only in the case of emergency.  I get it. 

Jim diving into the refrigerator
Marg using the "grabber"
Then I moved onto the freezer and refrigerator.  Find the circuit for the freezer and turn it on.  I’ll just cut to the chase here.  It made an impressive noise but did nothing…no cold air let alone freezing air.  This was clearly beyond me and thank goodness for Harry at Peterson Marine who knew what he was doing.  It is a cold plate system which basically means that the cold plate in the freezer gets really cold – cold enough to keep things frozen and a little fan blows air into the refrigerator where everything is kept cold and everyone is happy.  There are dials and gauges, but none of them has any markings so it is pretty much a guess as to where it should be set.  We have an infrared thermometer which I used religiously as I turned the compressor on and off and logged in time and temp. Turns out that running the compressor twice a day for an hour each time keeps the freezer/fridge behaving properly.   All of this is well and fine, but whoever designed this must have been at least 61/2 feet tall with very long arms.  Getting to the bottom of either the freezer or the refrigerator is impossible for me.  It’s way too deep.  I practically have to climb inside, you’ve heard of dumpster diving?  Same deal.  The prior owner was clever – he bought one of the grabbers that they give you after hip surgery so that you can pick things up from the floor!!  Works great for most things, but be careful what you let slip to the bottom!

Then I moved on to the cooking part of the galley.  There is a microwave – works just fine when we are at the dock and plugged in to shore power – there is that AC thing again.  But otherwise, it just makes a nice place to store bread.  Then there is an electric two burner glass stovetop.  It, too, is great while at the dock. Away at sea, one burner might work off of the inverter..oh yes, I forgot to mention that mainly because I don’t understand it at all. But speaking of inverters, I have one other option – a crockpot at the lowest power.  Can’t complain about putting dinner in, cooking it all day, anchoring and voila..dinner is ready.  Another wrinkle:  there is no oven.  

Omnia Stovetop Oven
And I like to bake!!  So I bought an Omnia Stovetop Oven which is pretty clever and I like it a lot…but it still needs a heat source…and now we have come full circle back to the electric stovetop.   Last but not least we have a grill, fueled by propane, which attaches onto a rail at the side of the boat.  Yeh! something I can use to cook with while out at anchor!!  And if it is really calm I can use the Omnia Oven on top of the grill!  A two for one bonus!!  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset

February 1, 2015

For 35 years we have not seen sunrises or sunsets.  Our house is tucked into the hillside of a small valley which does not give us views eastward or westward.  We have lovely views of the hills, but those very same hills hide the sun both early and late in the day.  So, we are thoroughly enjoying the spectacular sunrises and sunsets along the Manatee River in Palmetto, FL.

Sunset from anchorage at Emerson Point

Sunrise from dock at Regatta Pointe Marina