Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Marathon to Marathon

This Was Just One Of A Few Dinghy Loads Of Provisions
   So, we left Key West on Thursday.  We said our goodbyes to Rain Dog, finished all of our provisioning and stowing (whew),  and headed for Marathon.  The trip was rockier than predicted (surprise, surprise) and, as is characteristic of these waters, we couldn't tie up to our mooring ball without some sort of hitch.  This time it was our genoa (For those of you non-sailors, this is the large sail at the bow of our boat).


   Other than the day's sail being more "rolly" than preferred, our trip hadn't been too bad.  We had made it all the way to the beginning of our turn to the marina when our genoa decided to misbehave.  As we were furling it (rolling it in), Bill turned the winch handle as I led.  All of the sudden, the line stopped turning on the winch.  Bill pulled harder.  He succeeded in making the winch squeak quite a bit but, the lines on the genoa wouldn't budge.  Stuck!  The lines themselves weren't stuck but, since the jam was in the furling mechanism and it wouldn't furl any more, the lines weren't moving either. Great.  Just when we needed to not sail, the boat wasn't cooperating. 

   We couldn't just sail into to marina because the entrance was too narrow and we would be coming in waaay too fast.  We had to motor to the mooring ball.  We tried to troubleshoot.  Trying to switch and furl the sail in on the other side did nothing.  We tried letting out the sail completely and then bringing it back in again.  Nope.  Still stuck in the same place. The only thing left to do was to take the entire sail down.  So, with me at the helm, Bill made his way up to the bow and pulled down the sail, folding as he went so that we didn't lose it to the wind or waves. Once the sail was tacked down to the deck, I could climb over it to get to the bowsprit (holding the boat hook) and grab onto the mooring ball as we made our way into the marina.

Pulling Up To The Marina Office (Notice The Tiki Hut)
   Once secured to the ball and checked in, we set to fixing our sail issue.  It seems that the line in the furling mechanism had jammed.  Bill smoothed out the line and we were able to hoist the sail and furl it in like normal.  One more problem averted.

One Of The Two Very Full Dinghy Docks
       Now, safe and sound on the ball, we are waiting out the weather. There are several other Bahamas-bound boats here that we have been talking with. So far, the cumulative thought is that next Tuesday will be the start of a weather window that will allow us to make it to Bimini and then on to the Berry Islands. While we're waiting, we'll check out the town a bit more, work on our project list, and hang out with our new boater friends.  In fact, tomorrow, we're planning on taking a day trip by bus with a few couples to Key West.  Yes, we just left there but, there were certainly things that we didn't get a chance to do or see and, since Brian and Erika (Rain Dog) are still there, we'll try to catch up with them. 

Boat From My Hometown
      The marina offers quite a few amenities here.  The people are some of the most welcoming and easy going we've met.  We found a local (and cheap) breakfast spot that we wouldn't mind visiting again and we are even moored right across from a trawler that hails from my little bitty hometown.  What are the odds?  So, we may not like the fact that we have to cool our heels here for a while but, we figure if we have to be waiting somewhere, this isn't a bad place to be.

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Not Quite Chill'n in Key West

   Appliances.  We all seem to  have a love-hate relationship with them. We love them when they work. They chill our food, wash our clothes, and make our coffee everyday. Usually, they are so effective at carrying out their allotted tasks, we don't really think about them. . . Usually. . . Then there are the occasions when these workhorses break down and drive even the most adept repairmen to frustration.

Laundry - Cruiser Style
   I give you our refrigerator; ever-present and never causing trouble.  The keys changed that.  The warmer water and much warmer temperatures are giving our aging refrigerator a run for its money. Literally.  It doesn't. Stop. Running. It won't even cool consistently. This is completely taxing the batteries, so much so that we are having to run the engine for 3 hours each day just to keep the charge where it needs to be. Not to mention that, we're constantly worrying about the temperature of the food.  Thankfully nothing has gone bad yet.

Our Wind Generator Is Now
Back In Business
   Now, before you suggest freon (a recharge kit), we tried that. It helped but, didn't fix the problem. We also defrosted the fridge. Again, not a fix. So, after trial and error and consulting various sources, we have come to a conclusion. There just simply isn't enough insulation in the fridge. We have found a few ideas on how to bulk up the insulation and plan on trying those as soon as possible.

   In our efforts to find parts for the fridge and other projects (Believe me, a project list never ends on a boat), we have found ourselves roaming around town a lot.  This has allowed us to walk the tourist scene as well as the less traveled areas. We've met some interesting folks, checked out a few shops, and sampled a bit of the local cuisine.  The locals are friendly and easy-going but, (as this is prime spring break time) the waterways can be a bit treacherous.  There is a combination of speed boat owners who don't care about the wakes they cause and tourists on various rented watercraft who, I think, just don't understand that driving by someone at close range on a boat is not the same as in a car.


One Of Many Banties In The Area
   We have also discovered the famed, or infamous, animal of Key West, the rooster.  These guys are everywhere; backyards, businesses, perched on signs, and, yes, crossing roads.  We even had one standing beside us as the cross walk waiting for the light. No joke. Smart rooster. I guess it gives new meaning to the term "bird-brained".


Walking Around Town

Picturesque View On The Walk To The Commissary

These Little Jellies Are All Around The Dinghy Dock 

Silas Has A New Favorite Perch
  We finally got the cats checked out and their papers are nearly in order.  We found a local vet that also sails to the Bahamas on a regular basis.  He helped to get the cats vaccines updated and (in accordance with the paperwork) is going to make a boat visit to see the cats here in their home environment.  We also have a very similar boat to his. So, I think he wants to see the boat, too.

Oliver Enjoys The Deck
Kookie Checks Out The Dodger

Simeon Thinks We Can Chart Our Course Later

Nap Time

   Our projects here have taken up quite a bit of our time. So, provisioning is the biggest thing looming on our check list (other than getting the fridge to cooperate).  I have the list made up and double checked. We just need to actually buy it all and get it stored on board. A task that is simple in theory but, not so easy in the physical execution. This is going to mean multiple dinghy rides, multiple walks to the store and back or rides in a taxi, and multiple loads of stuff to stow away.

Sunset In The Bay
  Rain Dog arrived on Thursday.  We are heading out to dinner tonight with them to discuss travel plans and have a fun evening out. As of now, if the weather cooperates, we'll head out mid week for Bimini by way of Marathon and Key Largo. Hopefully landing in the Bahamas by the weekend.  For now, we'll continue to work our way towards getting the boat Bahamas-ready and try not to get too frustrated with the fridge. . . Simeon certainly won't.

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blogger Issues

   Some of you may notice, or have noticed, that I had to repost my most recent post because it was accidentally deleted.  Thankfully, we were able to retrieve the post with nothing lost but, the comments.  So, Pat, if you haven't already, please see the comment I put at the bottom of "We Fought The Waves and The Waves Won".  I just thought I'd let everyone know that the reposting was on my end and that, if you got an email or checked the site to find what looked like the same post, there was a reason for it.

   Now, to the actual reason I was going to put up a new post in the first place - comments.  It has come to my attention that some of you are having trouble figuring out how to actually post a comment on our blog.  This is understandable, as BlogSpot (or Blogger) is a little different to navigate than most other blogs (at least that I've seen).  So, if you are one of those people, don't feel bad.  It looked weird to me when I first used it, too.  I will explain.

   If you are looking to leave a comment, there are two different links to look for.  Once you've read through the post and gotten to the bottom, there will be a line that starts with "Posted by . . .".  After my (or my husband's) name and the time of the post you will either see the words "No Comment" or a number with the word "Comment(s)" after it.  For instance, if two people have already put up comments, you will see "2 Comments".  Click on whichever of these two phrases is there. Once you do, scroll back down to the bottom of the post (because you're now on the page for that particular post).  You will see the comments section ready for you.  Type your comment or question and hit publish.   

  Thank you for the comments so far and I look forward to many more.  I apologize for any confusion you may have had.  I hope this clears things up for those of you unfamiliar with BlogSpot.  In case, later on, anyone needs a reminder of what to do, I have changed the note that comes up at the bottom of every post.  It will help guide you through.

   I am including some pictures from our travels so far that didn't, for one reason or another, make it into my previous posts but, are still great.  So, for those of you that were having trouble with comments, this is my little bit of gratitude for your efforts. For those of you that didn't have any trouble, well, enjoy the pictures anyway.

Strange Bird - Followed Us Around at Moody Gardens (Galveston, TX) 

Cool Plant - Moody Gardens

BIG Catfish - Moody Gardens

Pretty Ladybug - Morgan City, LA.

A Navy Supply Ship That Bill Worked With - on the ICW

WW II Era Planes - Pensacola, FL 

Sunset Over Dunes - Destin, FL

Almost Home - Destin, FL

Horseshoe Crab Grave Yard - Port St. Joe, FL

Washed-up Jelly - Port St. Joe, FL

It's Going To Take HOW Long To Get There? - Silas

"Pirate" Ship - Pulling Into Clearwater, FL

These Guys Were Out With The Racing Boats - Clearwater, FL

Silhouette of Second Chances - Sarasota, FL 


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)


We Fought The Waves and The Waves Won (Reposted)

I have some catching up to do.  The days since my last post have not leant themselves to blogging (as you will see).  So, without further ado, here it is.
Hey, No Fishing In The Marina!
Sarasota At Night
   So we left the Manatee River without seeing a single manatee. Bill said that the water was probably still too cold for them and they were further up the river in warmer waters.  Our next stop was Sarasota.  We were moored there for a couple of days and spent our time checking out the town, relaxing, and doing some minor repairs.  We found an ice cream shop that had 31 flavors but, wasn't a Baskin Robins; a quaint but, pricey cheese shop; and a Whole Foods with great produce but, extremely pricey meats.  Are you detecting a theme here?  As you might have guessed, the mooring field wasn't that cheap either.  Sarasota was a nice place to be for a little while but, we couldn't afford to stay any longer.  So, as soon as the weather allowed, we headed out.

Can You Guess Which Famous
Photo This Is From?
Shells . . . Floridian Gravel


Cheese Shop

Pretty Coastline
More Coastline
   Traveling on the ICW (Inter-Coastal Waterway), we made our way to Fort Myers.  The scenery was nice and we actually had a calm ride until the we got into speed boat territory.  We couldn't believe the outrageous number of power boaters and the speeds these boats were allowed to go.  It was rare if a boat passed us and didn't come as close as they possibly could, going way too fast, leaving a tremendous wake for us to deal with.  These wakes were made worse when, on many occasions, we had multiple boats passing us on both sides at the same time.  We even saw police and coast guard boats doing this. Amazing.  There was one particular boater who, when I motioned for him to move over, deliberately moved even closer, buzzing not only us but, our buddy boat (Raindog).  Not to be corny and quote a 90s child star but, "How rude!".

This Is The ONLY Police Boat Anyone Stopped For

Boats Everywhere!

We are 51 ft. Tall.  Almost Didn't
Make It.

Street View
   Once we actually arrived in Fort Myers, we had a pleasant stay for a few days.  There are lots of little shops and restaurants to check out.  A town trolley will pick up and drop off people at various points of interest, though we only used it for the grocery store.  There was even an art festival on Friday night.  Everything from paintings to jewelry to flowers was displayed.  There were even several street musicians showing off their talents and adding to the flare of the evening.
Us And Raindog Out To Dinner

Walking Down Town

Sunset In Fort Myers

We Put Out Our "Tent" Near The Bow
Silas Likes The Cooling The Tent

Flower Art

Installation Outside The Art Museum

   On Saturday morning we pulled out of the marina and into the mooring field for the night; leaving Raindog behind.  Brian and Erika have family coming.  So, we will meet up with them when they are ready to head out of Fort Myers. After the night in the mooring field, we made a short 15 mile jump to an anchorage.  This allowed us to shave some time off of the trip to the Keys that we were to start on Sunday.  Sunday morning, we left the anchorage expecting a smooth overnight trip of 28 hours, arriving in Marathon Key by mid Monday morning.  What we expected and what we got were two very different things.  The weather, yet again, turned our plan on its ear.

This Dinghy Almost Hit The Power Boat.  The Dinghy
Guys Weren't Looking.
   The early hours of our trip toward Marathon were fine.  The weather was calm, the channel was deep, and (apart from a few, shall we say aloof boaters) the other boats weren't a problem either.  By the afternoon, the waves and wind had significantly picked up.  By nightfall, things had gotten so bad I was forced downstairs with a bad bout of seasickness.  I hated leaving Bill up there by himself to fight the storm but, I was really no use to him in that condition. 

   The waves, wind, and swells (I have no earthly idea why they call them swells!  Swells are not "swell".) were horrible; 10 ft. waves, 25 kt. winds, and 6 to 8 ft. swells.  If you have trouble visualizing this, think of being on the boat as it slides up and down the waves, taking water over the bow and rocking hard side to side all at the same time.  If this makes you sick thinking about it, well, try being there. (We DID read multiple forecasts and charts.  This storm was nowhere to be found).

   At 2 a.m., things got worse.  I heard Bill rev the engine.  Hard.  Then he slowed it down.  Again, he ran the engine hard and slowed.  This was not normal.  Something was definitely wrong.  I dragged myself out of bed, navigated the hallway, climbed the stairs, and asked what was going on.  Bill's response . . . "The waves are attacking us, the throttle is broken, and we're going to die!". . . Ok . . . I have to admit that a little freaking out in these conditions was understandable but, we were not going to die.  No throttle meant no power.  No power meant the engine was useless.  So, we managed to unfurl the Genoa (the big sail in the front of our boat) and ride the winds (VERY uncomfortable but, it worked). 
   With only the wind to push us, we had to go where the winds were going.  The winds had no plans to go to Marathon but, they were headed toward Key West.  So, Key West it was.  By sunrise, the weather was starting to behave itself and Bill decided to see if he could fix the throttle from the cockpit. No luck.  The problem wasn't in the cockpit.  It had to be somewhere inside the boat.  Bill needed a steady place to work.  A marina seemed like the best solution.  After calling around, we found a marina that didn't have a slip for us but, did have a place in their mooring field.  Beggars can't be choosers.  We took it. Then there was the problem of actually getting there.  We couldn't sail all the way there (the channel was too narrow).  A tow boat was the answer.  Luckily, we're Boat U.S. members.  So, getting a tow wasn't a problem.
Being Towed
   The tow guy got to us pretty quickly.  He had us hooked up and going in no time.  The ride was (surprise, surprise) rough but, he seemed to know exactly where we were going and we arrived without issue.  Once we were on the mooring ball, Bill set to work on the throttle.  He actually got it fixed in a matter of minutes. Turns out, it was just a loose nut on the arm that allows the throttle to run.  He replaced and tightened the nut and, voila!  The throttle worked!

   So, here we are.  Safe and sound again.  The cats are fed, comfortable, and happy.  We have both showered, eaten, and are planning on making it an early night and turning in early.  Thanks to the strong winds, we'll probably be here through Sunday.  This means that we are going to get as many projects done and as much provisioning done as possible in town and on the Navy base (of course).  We didn't make it to Marathon but, that's just fine with me.  I have had my fill of big waves and swells for quite a while.
   Note: I had every intention of posting this last night but, Oliver (graceful boat cat that he is) managed to knock the laptop on the floor and break the mouse receiver before I could get the pictures in.  We bought a new mouse today and are keeping it far away from him.  Sorry for the added delay.

Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)