Friday, January 26, 2007

Getting it Done in Marathon

Yes we are still in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida. We are waiting for a last part for the SSB and using the time here to get valuable work done on the book.

We have the outboard working fine again (it was missing a piece...since when?). I seem to have fixed a slow leak in the dingy with a patch on the fabric bottom. We had a guy out to recharge the refrigerator but as near as I could tell it worked the same as before even though my wallet was $118 lighter. I may give up on this one as I hate throwing good money after bad. The guy said if it didn't take he needed to put a vacuum pump on it to get all the air out and for that I'd probably have to be at a dock (not free) for shore power. Not worth it.

Yesterday a storm came through followed by steady 20+ knot winds in the harbor. It is a very crowded harbor and many of the boats recently arrived did not anchor into this north wind. Result? Boats dragging and wandering about the harbor and much stress. We too were dragging our anchor but got on it while we were still a good 3 feet from the boat behind us. It was still raining and cold for down here as we tried to re-set the anchor. I was in just my bathing suit and was pretty cold. As we set the anchor and began to lay out chain a guy hollered from a nearby boat. "MORE CHAIN". Thanks. Like I wasn' already doing that. Besides, I'd like to let out more chain but then I would have been right back into the boats I was trying to avoid. Everyone's an expert!

More exciting was a nearby boat who when they pulled up their anchor found another anchor attached to it...from another nearby boat! I and some others dingyed over to help out from the water side. We finally got them untangled and put with their appropriate boats!

When it was raining really hard I went out and scrubbed the port side of the deck. Why? Well, then I plugged the scupper on that side and opened the fill to the fresh water tank. Free water! and lots of it. I filled the tank in just a few minutes. Yum.

This weekend we have volunteered to feed and pet a couple of cats on another boat in the harbor while the owners go away for the weekend. Having been in this spot ourselves with good old Gracie we know how this is are a looking forward to helping out.

This latest cold front is supposed to make for northerlies all week so no going to Bahamas yet. That's ok though because we are going to go to Chicago to watch the Superbowl! Airfare going Miami to Chicago is cheap...I would guess that it is not the other way around! So out of here on Saturday, Superbowl Sunday, Back to Marathon on Monday! GO BEARS!

Finally, if you are real bored I have an article in the Feb. issue of SAILING.

Monday, January 22, 2007

holding on in Boot Key...GO BEARS

Looks like at least another week in Boot key for us. We've ordered an antenna for the SSB for the DSC feature. (I wonder what that stands for...?) What it DOES is allow you to press one button and an emergency message goes out automatically giving you latitude and longitude and other boat information. Besides the antenna I'll have to connect the GPS to the radio as well. Oh, none of that should be hard or take too long...

We seem to be in the evil repair triangle while we're here. My new little Mac is on the fritz and looks like it will need a new logic board (probably using the old logic?), The outboard is back to how it was when I paid Salty Sam in Ft. Myers $200 to 'fix' it. It is off to the repair guy today as will be the computer. As to the quality of Salty's work, I took the cover off when the motor began acting up and found that all the bolts were finger tight. Thanks Salty!

Everything else that is broken is still broken so that's good.


We watched the game at the Overseas Bar and Grill with a bunch of Saints fans. Still fun but not as much as I know they were having in the bars in Chicago! We may sail up to Miami and anchor just to hang out with the team.

No other news as we wait for various repairs.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Night of the Long Knives

Last night as we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying the calm evening we noticed the local sheriff and fish cop (Nazis) going boat to boat. Of course they have very bright lights and black uniforms. This has been proven over the years to be the best way to roust undesirables. Apparently this happens on occasion here in Boot Key harbor and of course they are just “doing their job” and “checking on stuff”. I didn’t really want any part of this sort of behavior so I locked the companionway with an external padlock and slipped below through a hatch. We sat below quietly in the dark. Are you thinking of Anne Frank? I was. How ridiculous. Of course this couldn’t happen in the drama there and you wouldn’t be able to use the really bright lights. Anyway they DID come to our boat. We saw the lights shining through the ports but laid low. They knocked, “Fish and Wildlife!” Boy that will strike terror in the hearts of terrorists! Oh no! Fish cop...RUN! Then I heard one of the crew say, “Oh, they’re not home, I can see the padlock”. Genius.

Imagine your local police going door to door in the middle of the night to “just check on your documentation”. To see if you have fire insurance perhaps. Imagine the outrage that would ensue. But if you live aboard your boat apparently you have somehow surrendered your right to unlawful and unnecessary search as promised in the constitution. Remember the constitution? It seems few do these days.

One of their excuses for this jack-booted behavior is to prepare for the death of Fidel. You do see how that could send shock waves through the anchorage here in Marathon don’t you?
They’ll probably be back tonight but we’re not going to hide. We may have a problem in that we’ve never registered this boat in Florida because we keep meaning to leave. We’ll see how much trouble that makes for us tonight. Sue is ashore sending in registration documents and making copies just in case.

The Bahamas beckon more than ever.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Enee Gets a Clean Bottom

Mission accomplished! We took Enee to the Marathon Marina and Boat Yard (actually goes by the new name now - Cay Club Marina) around 9 AM on Monday. The boys were ready for us and like so many boat yards, the workers seem happy with their jobs and friendly to the customers. We pulled up to the wall by the pit for the travel lift and the main guy gave me the bad news. . . Yes, I would need to BACK the boat into the pit. Not my specialty but after about 3 tries I got her in to the slings. It is a little tricky hauling this boat because the aft sling has to go in the narrow region just aft of the keel but before the propeller. I used a picture of Enee in the slings from Ft. Lauderdale to show them how to arrange them. No problem. Up she comes. The boys gave her a good power wash and there was some nasty stuff growing down there. I know Enee is an old boat but should she really be growing a beard? After setting her down on the tarp we spent the next couple of hours preparing the surface for painting. Sue washed the whole thing with a scrubber to get the last of the little green stuff off. I sanded here and there, patched a few places, and gave Sue plenty of direction.

We also took advantage of being out of the water to replace the zinc. Wow, that was time! I also dissasembled an old through - hull that wasn't being used (for the non working air conditioning) and put a cap on it. One less leaky valve to worry about.

We had about a third of a gallon of paint left from last time in Ft. Lauderdale. At that time I found this very expensive paint on sale for half price and bought it. Now I need to stick with the paint and, of course, it ain't on sale now. So, I bought 1 gallon . . . ah but first a West Marine story. . .

Before leaving Ramrod key we called the West Marine in Marathon to see if they had the paint we wanted. Yes they had one can. We asked if they could hold it for us and they said, 'No problem'. You see where this is going, right? We went to West Marine on the day we said we'd be there to pick up our paint and, yeah, they had sold it. The guy seemed surprised that I was upset. I really don't care whether they can hold stuff or not just don't tell me one thing and then do the other! I was reminded of Seinfeld and the 'holding' of the car reservation. Needless to say I put down the other items I was going to buy there and left. Luckily our friends Joe and Peg have a car here and we used that to drive all the way back to Stock Island (almost all the way to Key West) to get our paint.

I thinned the paint as much as I thought I should and we managed to almost stretch it to make one coat. I left a little 2' x 2' patch on the starboard quarter uncovered. Another coat would have been nice but $$$$$$$$$ so we'll go with this for another year and see what happens. I think we'll be fine if we stay out of Ft. Myers and if we keep moving and not sit so much and that certainly is the plan. Looks good. . . from about 20 yards away!

Today we should get a new thermostat for the frig in the mail and see if that fixes the darn thing. Schlepping ice is not so bad but it would be nice to have the option. Also hope to play with my SSB some more now that it is working.

Another front has come through so we are experiencing the usualy 20-25 knot north winds probably through the weekend. Earliest departure for the Bahamas then would be Monday. Won't that be fun!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Radio Head!

Yes! At last I have the SSB that I bought about 11 months ago working. This is thanks to Capt. Marty Brown, author of "Marine SSB Radio for 'Idi=Yachts'. She anchors here in Marathon and she walked me through several steps via telephone until we figured out (shockingly) that the weak link in my set up was the coax cable that I soldered up myself. I bought a ready-made one from Radio Shack for $10 and I am ON THE AIR. This morning I was able to communicate with a guy in the Bahamas (where ever THAT is!) So happy days.

In a little while we get hauled out and will begin the painting process. Stand by for pictures of Enee's naked bottoom!

Rodger doger over and outta here!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Found Harbor to Boot Key. . . Wheeeeee!

On Friday we once again set sail. The wind had been east and heavy for a few days but it looked like Friday it would swing to the south-east and if so allowing us a nice run to the ENE to Boot Key. NOAA wasn’t wrong this time. Before leaving we spotted a water spout snaking out from under a cloud. Never got near the water though but still . . . .

After taking able seaman Jeff D. on board as crew beer delivery guy we got going around 1000. We went just about straight south on a port tack to get an angle on Boot Key. We tacked about 3-4 miles out and headed for Boot Key. What a great day. Made it all the way in one reach. Enee was heeled over with her rail touching the water and sea water coming up the sink drains. Wheee! Seas were only 2-3 feet so it was a pretty fun ride. About half way there we finally put a reef in the main for a little more comfort with no loss in speed. In fact, Enee seemed to go faster as the day went on perhaps scrubbing her own bottom!

Great to have our own driver!

Made the drawbridge into Boot Key harbor around 1530 and dropped anchor soon after that. What a great day. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a truly good sailing day as our runs on the west coast of Florida were either on the inside or on the outside with dead air or wind on the nose.

We have the usual list of boat issues while we are in Boot Key. Number one is getting hauled on Monday and painting the bottom. It’s been about a year and the bottom took a beating from the Barnacles in Ft. Myers. Float switch on the bilge pump went on the fritz during the sail yesterday so that either needs fixing (right. . .) or replacing (more likely). We’d also like to order a new thermostat for the fridge to see if that fixes it and hope it won’t take too long to get shipped.

We already met up with our old friends Joe and Peg who we first met Nov 1 of ’05 at the start of the ICW. It was fun to sit with them last night aboard their boat and catch up a little.

Looks like another cold front will be moving through in the coming week causing winds out of the north which is no good for crossing the gulf stream. So, we’ll probably be here for a week at least.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back up the Keys

Good bye Key West and here we go back up the chain of Florida Keys. We had a great stay in Key West and I got a lot of good work done on the book. On Tuesday we sailed to New Found Harbor but not alone. Not at all! We were joined by our good friends from Burnham Harbor Chicago - Larry, Pat and Jeff. (That's Jeff and Larry sailing Enee. Good Crew!) Also along was Larry's brother Mike and their friend Marv. Mike lives in New Found Harbor about 28 miles along the chain of keys. Marv and Mike trolled all the way up but not a strike. Just like when I would go fishing with my dad! We had anchored out by Mikes place last spring when we were south bound. It was sure great to be able to take everyone sailing . . . and no breakdowns this time! The wind was pretty light but we were able to keep both sails up while we motor sailed up the Hawk Channel. Plenty of pilots on board to help us negotiate the shallows into the anchorage about a half mile from Mikes place on Ramron Key. That's Pat enjoying a day at sea. Nice.

This coming Friday we will probably make for Marathon and Boot Key Harbor. We have arranged to have a haul-out there so we can throw a coat of paint on the bottom. It has been nearly a year since we painted her in Ft. Lauderdale and getting all barnacled up and scraped in Ft. Myers has probably not done the paint job any good at all. I'm excited and scared to see my bottom!

While we're out of the water I hope to cap an old seacock that is only for the air conditioning which I'm sure will never work anyway. It is a scary looking arrangement and I don't like worrying about that old seacock.

Our friends, Joe and Peg, who we met way back when we started the ICW in fall of '05 are anchored there now and we look forward to hooking up with them.


Now then. . . for any of you that remember me promoting Coffee Plantation in Key West as a nice internet cafe. . . I take it all back. I take it back because I was summarily kicked out for not spending enough money and sitting around too long. What an ass that owner is. I always bought something because that is fair. If there is a money or time limit then they should post it. I wrote him to tell him how embarrased and tricked I felt. He told me that the final straw for him was when he saw Sue put napkins in her purse! First of all, I've known Sue for over 20 years and in that time she has never even OWNED a purse. Needless to say I've not known her to steal napkins either. So this owner needs to really calm down (his name is Theo). If you go to Key West enjoy the town but there are other places to get coffee and internet. Free at the library and they don't kick you out. Go to any of them but please skip Coffee Plantation or take plenty of money.