Saturday, December 16, 2017

More drama than necessary!

December 16, 2017

As we left the dock on a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon, we were feeling pretty good.  
The canal
The tides were rising (an important fact for those us sailing with a 5 ½ ft keel).  We had calculated our departure to arrive at the hand operated lock just before high tide.  In case we went aground (a common occurrence) we would have a rising tide to lift us off.  The nine and a half mile canal trip was lovely, the lock was not.

The lock
When we arrived at the lock, there were two boats on the other side, trying to enter the lock. A powerboat was towing a sailboat and they were struggling with how to manage both boats through the lock.  While we waited what seemed like forever, I just drove in circles.  When they finally made it through, they were not able to reset the lock.  Nevertheless, we headed in, barely clearing the partially opened gate.  

All went well until we were exiting.  The final step is to tie off at the dock and pull a chain to reset the lock for the next person.  Somehow, in the process of trying to tie off the boat and pull the chain at the same time, Jim lost his balance and fell into the water between the boat and the dock.  Being concerned about getting squished between boat and dock, he first tried to pull himself up onto the dock.  In the process he managed to become way too close and personal with the many barnacles attached to the pilings.  But it was just too high of a stretch and he couldn’t do  it.  

My inclination was to get off the boat and help pull him up, but he was concerned that the boat might float off without either of us.  He just wanted me to throw him another dock line which I did.  He fastened it to one of the pilings and had me hold on to the other end while he stepped on it, effectively using it as a one rung ladder. Pretty clever and it worked. His comment afterwards was “Well, that was refreshing”!  That is quite a statement from someone who thinks any water less than 100 degrees is cold!!  

His binoculars which he had around his neck survived (they are waterproof), his Tilley Hat didn’t float away, two knives stayed in his pockets and his watch continues to run.  Although his legs are quite scratched up, the only “tragedy” was his magnifying glass that he uses regularly. Apparently it neither floats nor stays put in a pocket.  Luckily he has a second one!
Cleaned up before betadine

Post betadine
His legs have been painted orange with betadine and he is taking some antibiotics prophylactically.  Just another day in the life of a cruiser.

We are now gently rocking at anchor just off of Hog Island in Charlotte Harbor.  The weather is wonderful - warm with a soft breeze. We are relaxing and enjoying being on the water.  Itinerary and schedule have yet to be determined and may never be.
And this is why we cruise.  Sunrise at Hog Island.

Off the dock and on the move!

December 16, 2017

This is a list of all of the “fun” we have had since we put the boat on the hard and finally left the dock. It makes one wonder why we choose a cruising life!

Fiberglass gash from last Spring repaired during the summer– check

Dodger and bimini constructed and mounted during the summer but after Irma - check

All of the shade netting that we put on in the Spring removed - check

Three house batteries and one start battery purchased - check

Said batteries hooked up and all things electric working correctly – check

Cockpit table varnished and mounted - check

Teak around the companionway sanded and varnished – check

Teak toerails sanded and sealed - check

Manual pump on the head replaced - check

Engine serviced – check

Generator serviced and water pump rebuilt – check

Fresh water pressure pump replaced – check

Anchor Windlass disassembled and inspected – check

New fender covers put on - check

Boat washed and scrubbed – check

Many trips made to West Marine to buy all sorts of miscellaneous stuff - check

Provisions purchased and put away – check

Sail Repair tape purchased – check - will fix the sail at anchor! 

It was high time to get off the dock and do what we came down to Florida to do - cruise!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Off the hard, at the dock!

Dec 12, 2017

Life improved when we move to the dock last week. 

On the way to the dock....can anyone see Mr. Wiffles?

Jim following Well, Why Not?'s journey
Boats are happier in the water and so are their owners.  The gentle motion is pleasant, the breezes are cooler and the absence of the 10 foot ladder is wonderful. 

Our  inaugural lunch at the dock
In our new location we have a variety of wildlife neighbors.  Birds and fish, of course.  A little more exotic are the Florida soft shell turtles and a small crocodile.  

the soft shell turtle with my reflection
Two very large turtles spend much of their time swimming around the boats at the dock.  If they get too close to one another a real ruckus takes place and after much splashing, one quickly exits.  The  small crocodile (about 4 feet long) pretty much ignores the turtles and vice a versa.  The dockside discussion is whether or not he is actually a crocodile or an alligator.  Assertions are made on both sides of the issue.  I have spent time on the internet looking at pictures and tho it would be unusual, I think it is a crocodile.  I base this on head shape.  I have not been able to take a picture – it glides quietly by and I never seem to have my camera at the ready when he makes his appearance.  But, there is  a large verifiable alligator in one of the side canals who seems to keep pretty much to himself, but bellows in the early evening darkness.  He sounds like a large bullfrog on steroids.  Happily he never comes out and joins us dockside.

Once we were in the water, a diesel mechanic came to service both our Yanmar engine and our Westerbeke generator.  Jim got some practical application for what he had learned at the boat show as the mechanic was happy to let Jim work alongside him. The Yanmar got top marks, but the generator did not fare so well.  We rarely use it which we now know is not good for it.  Our departure from the dock will have to be delayed until the water pump can be rebuilt.  We have plenty to do and no particular schedule so it’s not a tragic turn of events.  Just one more dip into the pocket book.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Living "on the hard" ain't easy!

11 December 2017

Living on the Hard – it’s all part of the adventure…or so they say

As a neighbor here in the boatyard described it to a friend, “it is like living in a small camper suspended up in the air, accessible only via a 10 foot ladder" and I would add, with lots of very close neighbors.  Getting on and off is bad enough, but trying to carry up groceries or taking off trash can be a challenge.  We use a 5 gallon pail as a poor man’s substitute for a “dumb waiter” to lift things up and let them down.  If something is too heavy, we use the hoist on the dinghy davits.  If it is really too heavy, then we get someone from the boat yard to use the bucket on their tractor!

The only water available is what was left in the water tanks from when the boat was put up.  In our case that means approximately 200 gallons of water which we use for cleaning, cooking, etc, but not drinking.  It has been sitting for 5 months in those tanks – who knows what joined it there.  We only use water at the galley sink.  But there is the issue of where does the grey water go….  We open the thru hull under the sink and then put a bucket under the exit of the thru hull to catch waste water so we don’t create a puddle underneath the boat.  That is our plumbing system!

The heads in the boat are not usable on the hard so we get our daily exercise walking to the bathrooms which are located about 200 feet away and are shared with however many people are staying in the boatyard at that time.  Middle of the night runs to the bathroom become a challenge.  Under the heading of TMI, here is our solution.  A bucket with a soft foam seat…what more could anyone ask for?? 

A modern day chamberpot!
Cooking is a pain because of the dishes – which in all fairness one could carry to the bathrooms where there is a large sink- but I prefer just using fewer dishes and washing them in as little water as possible.  It is also a good excuse to go out for meals!

At the boatyard we are plugged in to a 15-amp 110 outlet which provides enough power to run most of the electrical needs that we have on the hard: mainly outlets for charging computers, phones etc. and provides back up charging for the boat batteries when the solar panels are not keeping up.  

We took three days off last week to go to the St. Petersburg boat show.  

Lots of power boats, but you can see some masts!
Always a fun time even though the power boats seem to dominate!   Jim took an all day class on diesel engines and altho he picked up some useful information, he admitted that what he really needed was a hands-on workshop.  I just enjoyed a variety of seminars, some informative (communication devices, weather) and some fun (travel hints and tips for the Bahamas and the Caribbean)  I wandered through a variety of new sailboats and catamarans but confess that I prefer the look and the feel of the older boats.