Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Good-bye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Adieu

19 May 2015

Packing up the boat to survive the summer without us is a little more involved than we had anticipated.  We have covered up windows, stained the toe rail yet again, cleaned out the bilge only to discover one of the pumps was not working, (bought a replacement this morning), changed out the borrowed alternator for a new one (just arrived this morning), filled up the fuel and water tanks, made sure that everything is tied down on deck or tucked in down below, defrosted the freezer and cleaned out the fridge, cleaned cupboards etc, shut thru hulls, hired a caretaker and in general just wondered where all the stuff came from that we are trying to pack up and take home.  

But the hard part is leaving this lifestyle which we have enjoyed so much; leaving people whom we have come to care about and knowing that it will be different when we return in the fall.  There will be a new cast of characters and we will only be passing through as we start our journey southward.  We have read many blogs in which cruisers talk about how quickly they make friends with other like-minded cruisers, how they buddy boat with them and then move on.  Very few have pointed out the resulting feelings of loss, nostalgia and sadness.    We can only wish everyone "fairwinds" and hope we will meet up again somewhere, some time.

Leaving "Well, Why Not? for the summer

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Disappearing Glasses

17 May 2015

Remember the 9th of February blog, "The Case of the Disappearing Glasses"??

We now have the answer to the mystery.  Yesterday, in the process of cleaning out the bilges before leaving the boat for the summer, Jim decided to make one last effort to find his missing glasses. Performing great feats to rival the best contortionists, with half his body in the forward cabin, half in the head and arms bent in all sorts of odd angles trying to access the various nooks and crannies, he touched what felt like a dry shelf above the bottom of one section of the bilge.  And on it - rested the glasses!  He couldn't see anything, but he managed to get a hold of them without knocking them down lower into the bilge.

Searching for glasses 1

Searching for glasses 2

When he got them out into the light of day, they were dry, unscratched and seemingly no worse for wear. However, they got a bleach and water cleaning....just in case.  He is now a happy camper AND he can see better!

Jim wearing the "stowaway-in-the-bilge" glasses

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What an Experience!

16 May 2015

We are back at Regatta Pointe Marina after our trial cruise which expanded from 3 weeks to 6.  The mixture of experiences, adventures, frustrations, and successes are swirling around in our heads.  It would be safe to say that we are no longer cruising virgins, but it would be equally safe to say we are not yet experienced cruisers. At least we are no longer doing everything for the first time.  And that is a relief.  

Here are a few sights from our Marathon to Palmetto sail:

A visiting egret, Ft. Myers

He took off
But came back again

The canal leading into Smokehouse Bay, Marco Island

Sails are actually up!

 Gulf of Mexico - our 360 degree view!

Sunset on the Gulf
A few accomplishments are tucked under our belts, and a tiny bit of confidence has crept into our psyche.  Much of sailing "plays" to Jim's strengths.  He likes to dig in and solve problems and he has had  opportunities to do that with most of the major systems:  the roller furling, the generator, the engine (alternator), the 200 amp fuses that kept blowing (operator error which took a long time to figure out) .... Not sure sailing is for someone who doesn't enjoy being "Mr. Fixit".  We also gained confidence in what most people would consider the basics.  But if you have never done them before they don't seem quite so basic the first time around!

Using the VHF radio with confidence
Calling to have bridges opened
Picking up mooring balls
Starting the outboard motor on the dinghy (not always so easy)
Using our dinghy
Venturing into unknown territory assisted only by GPS and charts
Getting used to the constant motion of the boat
Rough seas and flat seas, with and without wind
Sailing overnight (turns out I rather liked it)
Learning how to ferret out entertaining activities in new places
Meeting interesting people along the way and learning from them

Staying an extra 2 weeks at Marathon to have the electric stove and the electric cold plate refrigerator and freezer replaced were absolutely worth it!!  Every time I light the stove and make a cup of coffee or reach into the refrigerator and pull out something cold, or get ice from the freezer I thank Alex at SeaTek.  And that is all possible now without relying on the noisy generator!! 

We arrived back at the marina after an overnight sail from Marathon to Ft. Myers, a day sail to Marco Island and another overnight sail to Palmetto.  We were met at our slip by friends who helped us dock and tie up.  So nice to see familiar faces and get a helping hand!!  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Playing Tourist in Key West and Marathon

05 May 2015

During the past three weeks plus, we have spent 5 days at Key West and almost 3 weeks at Marathon.  Here are a few pictures that will give a bit of flavor of both those places. 

Key West:

Bo's Fish Shack interior decor

Bo's Fish Shack "mascot"

Bo's Fish Shack  from the street side
Bo’s Fish Shack: an eatery with personality and really good shrimp tacos and the messiest cheeseburgers around. 

Sloppy Joe’s Bar:  So you want to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway? then come here to write.  

Bar where Hemingway wrote several of his novels

Chris from Annie C writing her great American novel!

Farewell Key West

Marathon, Boot Key Harbor:

Harbor Hillbillies – a charming floating eatery serves up great Southern breakfasts.  Dinghy up and either eat there or go back to the boat or to the park..

Harbor Hillbillies

Mike and Betty from "C" dock joining 3 other "C" dockers for a Hillbilly breakfast

Dinghy "Parking Lot"
The Tree of Knowledge

Boot Key Harbor has a Tree of Knowledge.  (As opposed to the Circle of Wisdom at Regatta Pointe Marina.)  The taxi and shuttle drivers all know where it is. Apparently it is the favorite spot to pick up and drop off clients.  There are lounge chairs, a swing and couches, but so far I have never seen anyone there - not sure what that means!

We have been at Boot Key Harbor for almost 3 weeks, 2 weeks longer than planned. However, we have had some significant work done on the boat so the delay was well worth it, but at the same time, we didn't manage to get out much. One day at the beach, a little kayaking, time up at the lounge using the internet, visiting with other boaters, walking to West Marine and the grocery store ... that about covers it.   

But...NO Dramatic Episodes! 

So now we wait for a weather window to head back to Regatta Pointe Marina.  

Dramatic Episode #4

 03 May 2015

One of the few concerns we had about "Well, Why Not?"  when we bought her was the extensive dependency on 110 v power.  The generator produces the electricity which in turn powers the stove top, the coffee pot, the microwave, the freezer, the refrigerator, the air conditioner and heater, and small appliances, though not all at once.   Imagine our frustration when the generator quit working!!  Fixing meals became rather challenging, keeping things cold became impossible where ice was unavailable.   For over a week we limped along with no generator.  Trying to keep everything cold with ice did not do much more than fill the fridge with water.  Gross, but remember we couldn’t use the shop vac because.. guess what? no generator and we don’t have a manual pump!   We do have an Igloo type cooler permanently attached to the aft deck (not sure why it was originally installed there) and in a moment of desperation (brilliance?) we removed the contents and added bags of ice.   Despite sitting in full sun, it worked amazingly well as long as we didn't put too much in it, remembered to open the plug and drain the water and bought ice everyday. It was way too much like camping and when we arrived in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon we were slightly grumpy.  Alex Miller of SeaTek to the rescue!!  He fixed the generator, but we realized that we needed a longer term solution.  

Alex working on the generator
Alex is a young man (from Minnesota, no less) and has built quite a reputation for excellent work, reasonable prices and sensible solutions.  So... we opted to have him and his cohort, Darren, remove our electric stove top and replace it with a propane stove and best of all, convert our freezer and refrigerator to 12 volt battery power. 
Darren cutting insulation for refrigerator
In the process Darren put in extra insulation to raise the bottom of the refrigerator and the freezer so that I can actually reach everything. No more sending Jim head first into the fridge! (See Post "Getting to Know You...." on Feb. 3, 2015.)

Darren relaxing after a hard day's work!

It is a relief that our galley is no longer 110v dependent.  The generator's only job now is to power the air conditioner/heater, recharge the batteries and provide the 110v power for charging laptops, phones, etc.  Any of that we can live without in case the generator gets cranky again.  

Alex surveying the finished project!!

So now we wait for a weather window to head back to Regatta Pointe Marina.