Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 16-17, 2014 Road Rage

One month without driving did not calm Dave's road rage.  He thinks it is his job to let every idiot driver know they are an idiot.  I strongly believe living on a sailboat is going to prolong his life. 

We hit the water running this morning with a list of places to go and things to do with a 24 hour car rental.  The rental company did not have the same enthusiasm about an early start.  We chose Enterprise because they offer to pick you up.  Dave called them shortly after 8:00 and they told him they were headed to Ft Myers Beach right now.  I go shower, thinking he would finalize paperwork and be back in no time.  After my shower, he was still waiting.  They ended up with a car load, then forgot him.  So it ended up being about 10:00 before we signed the dotted line. 

When he returned with the car, he had to dinghy back to the boat to get some things we wanted to put in storage for now and a propane tank to fill.   Dave dropped me off at Walmart for an adjustment on my glasses while he filled the propane tank.

After lunch we were off to Tampa.  It was about a 90 minute drive, but took us 3 days by boat.  We needed to pick up an anchor at Island Nautical, formerly JSI.  We thought we were going to have them do our canvas work, so Dave ordered the anchor through them to save shipping.  And now we spent money on a car rental and gas.  Who knew.  Island Nautical had a small retail shop with their company.  So we picked up a few other boat items while we were there.  Everyone was very friendly and wanted to shake our hands.  They were confused about whether our anchor had arrived, but Dave had been told it was there.  Then they proceeded to tell us that everyone in the place has been sick with the flu or cold over the past 2 weeks and filling in for each other where needed.  So we immediately used their restroom to wash our hands.   They gave us a tour of their facility and someone was even wearing a mask.

It was pretty cool to see a sail loft, where they actually make sails.  There was a huge floor space where material can be laid out.    They showed us where they make masts, rigging and do upholstery.   Quite the operation.   Luckily, we didn't run into the guy that ignored us about our canvas work.  I didn't want to tell him face to face that we were going with a different company.  They have contracts with about 3 major boat companies to do all  their sails, so maybe the little person like us gets lost in the shuffle.  

No time to explore Tampa.  We're back on the Interstate and heading to Cape Coral.  It's now after 4:00 and we are invited to dinner at the Killion's.  We get to Cape Coral, go by our storage unit to drop off some things and make room in the car to pick up packages that have been sent to the Killion's. 

We had a lovely dinner and always enjoy their friendship.  Jackie asked us if we were hungry for anything.  Dave said "just some of her great home cooking."  She made a spaghetti pie, which Dave tried to eat half of.  We'll definitely try that at home.  It is a simple version of lasagna or manicotti.  After dinner, it was like Christmas.  We opened about 8 packages of boat parts, got rid of the excess packaging, loaded up and headed back to the boat about 9:00. We stopped at Publix to pick up some heavier and bulkier items that we didn't want to carry on the bus.  So it was about 10:30 when  we got back to the dock.  We loaded up the dinghy with half the things and decided to get the rest in morning.  But once we were at the boat, Dave decided to go back for the rest so we wouldn't be rushed in the morning.  I sent garbage bags for him to put the paper towels and  toilet paper in.  I could just see them getting wet on the floor of the dingy.   Things we had never thought of before.  What a full day!

The car was parked in a lot that started charging $2.00/hour at 9:00.  So about 8:30 Friday morning, we hopped in the dinghy to take the car back.  We made one more trip to Walmart for one more adjustment with my glasses and to pick up a few things we didn't have time to shop for yesterday.  It takes 3 buses to get to Walmart without a car.  I'm sure that would be an all day adventure if one bus took me 3 hours of travel and waiting time to go to church.  We also stopped by Top Stitch, the company that is giving us an estimate for our canvas work.  It was in the area of the car rental, so we thought it might be nice to put some faces to names, theirs and ours. 

We were glad to be back to the boat and back to a slower pace to life (for awhile).  Dave was anxious to get started on some boat projects with all the new parts he received.  We happened to pick up a local newspaper.  So later that afternoon, I read through the paper and found some fun things happening in the area.  We have been in the Ft Myers area for a week and I was anxious to do something off of the boat besides laundry, groceries and church.  I figured working on the boat can happen Monday through Friday.  I have always been the more social one.  I just don't have my girlfriends here to play with.

Dave happened to talk to our friend Richard around 6:00pm.  He said they are the same way.  He could just spend forever at anchor, but Tracy wants to see what's happening on shore.  Richard told Dave that I should fly to SD to help with Ski for Light, which is starting Sunday.  I have been a SFL volunteer for most of the past 24 years guiding a visually impaired person cross country skiing for a week.  So he hung up, we talked it over.  I called my sister who recently moved to Oklahoma and has also been volunteering for about 10 years.  And within a couple hours,  4 girlfriends have called to try to talk us into going,  and we both have flights booked.  Now do you think I'll be able to sleep?       

It will probably be 2-3 weeks before I post another  blog page.  Then I will update people on what Dave accomplishes while I am gone.  And I will post one blog about Ski for Light.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends in Rapid City and especially our son, Pete.    

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014 new projects

FINALLY, we were able to get someone to our boat to give us an estimate to replace the bimini and dodger.   The first two companies seemed to ignore us.  The first one from JSI in Tampa finally returned my phone call after a week.  I just told him I'd get back to him (because I wanted to check out the one from Top Stitch today).  Dexter's that Dave talked to on Saturday and Monday have not gotten back to us to set up an appointment as they said they would. Today, we were to meet Tony from Top Stitch at the dinghy dock at 8:30 and bring him to our boat.  At 9:10 we started to wonder if there was something wrong with us, but we called anyway.  The person Dave talked to Monday evidently didn't tell Tony.  But he came right over. 

Tony had some great ideas for improving our set up.  Now they will get back to us with an estimate, we faint, but hand them our credit card and get moving on this project.  Sounds like they are about 3 weeks booked out and the project will take about 3 weeks.  So we'll be in Ft Myers Beach for awhile.  We may even have them recover our cushions inside the boat. 

Now we felt like we could move ahead with other appointments. We took our dinghy across the bay to Diversified Yacht Sales for Dave to order some parts.  From there we walked to  a Marine Electronics business and arranged for an electrician to come to our boat.  Dave wants them to check his connections and operations of the equipment he installed.  We also set up an appointment for an air conditioner/heating person to check our system.  Sounds like it just needs a good flushing after being in Mobile Bay for so long.  Then we can maintain it from there.  He will also check our refrigerator/freezer.  We haven't been able to move the control dial.  AND now I can make dental appointments, too.  Yippee.

As long as we were cruising in the dinghy, we stopped at a local bar on the water, Bonita Bob's.  The restaurants and bars on the water usually have their own dinghy dock to tie up to.  This is where the electrician recommended we pick him up.  So we thought we'd check it out for future reference.  Well, they just happen to have $1.50 draft beers and someone playing music.  We are always on the hunt for the best chicken wings.  So far, Uglies wins.  That's where we had a beer while we were doing laundry and we watched the Seahawks and Saints football game there last Saturday. 

We also lined up a rental car for tomorrow.  We have our day planned out, which includes a trip to Tampa and dinner at the Killions. 

We left the boat early enough to go our for breakfast before our supposedly 8:30 meeting.  We caught the sunrise behind our boat this morning.  We found a great Greek restaurant and had gyro omelettes.

January 14, 2014 mast climbing

This morning, I helped raise Dave up the mast again.  He wanted to run another line to the top of the mast.  This one was a whisker pole topping lift.  Once he was up there, he remembered that he also wanted to work on the VHF antenna, but he didn't take the right tools with him.  So that will be another trip.  He had to connect two lines by knotting them together and then taping them to make a smooth surface to pull through the mast.  The first one is the messenger line  that is inside an entrance hole in the mast.  The area where the two lines connect always gets hung up somewhere.  We had to pull the line back down to me.  Then I had to use a lighter to melt the end of the thicker line to make it thinner.  Not being a smoker, I am "lighter challenged".  Plus it was windy.  He also told me I had to spit on the ends for it to work right.  Then later he told me that was just for giggles.  We finally got it to work its way through the inside of the mast to the top.    

One other complication.  We have a tool called a WenchRite that helps turn the wench with a motor.  We had it charged and  ready to go, but no juice.  So I turned the wench by hand and hauled Dave up the mast.  It seemed easier than the first time I had to do that in Alabama.  But that night, my left bicep was pretty sore.  All I could think of was torn rotater cuff and how horrible everyone says the recovery is.   Dave took apart the WenchRite.  The motor casing had cracked and something electrical had burnt up.  The company said to send it in and they will decide if it falls under the warranty.  In the meantime, Dave thinks he can climb the mast with jumars, a device he had from his rock climbing days. 

This had to be a morning project because there was a prediction of rain in the afternoon.  As soon as Dave said he was finished and I could bring him down, I turned around to face the north and saw a big black wall of clouds moving towards us.  I didn't think I could lower him fast enough. 

Later that afternoon, I could hear a guitar playing softly.  I noticed a guy on a boat near us was sitting in his cockpit playing.  I sat outsider reading and thought of our son, Pete.  I miss hearing him play guitar and singing.    

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014 Mildew

Today we have a reservation with the City of Ft Myers Beach Harbor Master to have our heads pumped out.  All they told us was that it would be early Monday morning.  About 11:00, we called the office and they said Booba would be there soon.  We're not sure how he spells it, but most people here are called Bubba for a nick name.  This was pronounced Boo-ba and Dave even asked him to be sure.   He had a modified deck boat and came up alongside our boat.  His hose came over to our boat and sucked out the head.  Pretty slick.  It's free so it encourages people to use it instead of pumping overboard, which is illegal, but I'm sure some people do it.  He had holding tanks on his boat for the poo he collects.  We were in the San Juan Islands with friends.  There was a company that came to our boat to clean our head.  They were called the Fecal Freaks.  And their slogan was "We take shit from anybody".

A few days ago, while I was brushing my teeth, I realized that I hadn't cleaned the inside of our medicine cabinet.  The only time I remember doing that in my home was when I would move.  But I decided I would do that periodically on the boat.  Today, when I opened the medicine cabinet in the sunlight, I could see black speckles all over the inside walls.  Yep, MILDEW.  There is always a damp feeling on the boat.  We expected that when we were used to 10% humidity and generally have 85%.  So now that has me thinking about what else we need to be cleaning. 

Our bathroom interiors are white fiberglass.  When you see the boats with lots of woodwork, it always looks so cozy and more like a traditional boat.  But I like the fact that I can hose it down if I want to.  There is a floor drain in each head.  AND, would you even see the mildew on that woodwork?

This afternoon, Dave did some exploring of the area with the dinghy and found a great marine parts store right on the water.  He says "good enough" store.  Then we loaded up garbage, laundry and shower bitch bag and headed in together.  Once we had our showers and transferred the laundry to the dryer, it was 5:00 and we both decided we were hungry.  We walked to a nearby bar for chicken wings and beer.  Can't complain about laundry day.

Tonight we ran our generator for an hour to charge everything and use the wifi.  We need to turn on our wifi booster to pick up the wifi from  shore.  We can always get wifi from our phones, but I don't like to type my blog from that keyboard.  And I don't open photos or documents on my phone or watch facebook videos.  Uses too much of my data package.  It's a juggling game that will become second nature with time.   
Laundry break.    
 Booba and Dave cleaning out one of the heads.  The yellow cans hold extra diesel fuel.
 There are several shrimp boats in this area.  We haven't checked into buying it as it comes off the boat.  But there is a building that says Shrimp Market on it. 

January 12, 2014 Yes Trolley

Going to church this morning was a 4  hour commitment.  The mass was still one hour, but getting there and home took 4 hours.  First I had to see which trolley would get me there on time, even if it was running late.  Then I had to figure the time it would take to dinghy to shore and walk to the trolley stop.  Then I had to wait about 45 minutes after church for the next trolley, let alone get back to the boat.  But it was a lovely morning and a beautiful mass, church and property. 

People are very friendly and help you figure out what stop you need.  There was even a couple riding the trolley going to the same church.  They told me I could follow them.  Shortly after I boarded the trolley, we stopped for someone waiting at a stop.  This burly looking guy about 60 yrs old told the driver he just wanted to buy an all day pass, and he didn't want it activated.  She told him he would have to go to Publix supermarket to buy one.  She would have to activate the ticket if she sold him one.  Then he told her that  he was going to jail and they would be taking all of his money.  So he wanted to buy the ticket while he still had some money.  She still couldn't do it for him.  He said he couldn't leave and go to Publix because the police would be picking him up soon for trespassing.  So here I am on one hand thinking "this poor guy, I wish I could give him the money for the ticket, but they'll just take that away, too."  and on the other hand thinking "OK, we're done here, let's get going or I'll be late for church".  I'm surprised I wasn't struck down on site. 

After I returned home, we had great left over ribs from last night.  Using the microwave to heat them really draws on the batteries.  I found myself wondering "how would my mom have heated these up before she had a microwave?'.  Microwaves just became part of our lives.  After she passed away, my dad needed a pacemaker.  There used to be concerns about using a microwave if you had a pacemaker.  Dad just said that he'd probably starve to death if he couldn't use the microwave, so he was going to take his chances.  I don't think he had cooked a meal in his life until she passed away.  He must have been 76 or 77 and lived until he was 91.   So we are going to start watching what we are using the microwave for.  And if it dies, we will consider if we really want to replace it.  We are both thinking it would be a great storage area.  Funny how your priorities change.  I might miss my microwave popcorn.

Since we needed to take the trolley to Publix today, we decided to ride the whole loop just to see what else was in the area.   We noticed a marine electronics store just across the bridge in Ft Myers that piqued Dave's interest.  We saw some fun restaurants and found a dentist within walking distance.  (We both need to have our teeth cleaned.  We haven't PAID for that in about 30 years.) 

I had put together a shopping list.  But this was the first time we had to look at the cart and put things back because we would have to carry everything on the bus and to our dinghy and then in the dinghy back to the boat.  Whole new concept.  We had brought a thermal bag, another nylon bag, and my hard case for eggs.  Outside the store, we repacked everything and even got rid of the egg carton and some  boxes.  We even estimated the time the trolley would be back and were really hustling outside the store to catch the trolley and not have to wait another hour.  I think Dave had had enough of the civilized world.  Sailing really suits him.  Plus we wanted to listen to the Broncos football game back at the boat. 

Back at the boat, I unpacked and organized groceries while Dave cooked jerk chicken and used my "thermos beans" to make beans and  rice.  I had used cranberry beans, just because I had never heard of them.  They were like a mild red bean.  And the Broncos won!!
Below is a picture of the walkway up to the church.
 This is the dinghy dock.  They are much lower than a regular boat dock so you can get into and out of your dinghy easier.  Ours is on the left with the yellow life jacket in it and the grey chaps covering the sides for protection.  Most places you can just leave them and not worry about them.  But if you see other people locking their dinghy, or if you're not sure, it doesn't hurt to lock it to the dock.  The motor is locked onto the dinghy. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 2014 No trolley

After talking to other sailors in the laundromat yesterday (original social network), we decided to check into other local companies that do canvas work for boats.  Dave called Dexter's and talked to someone who said he had an appointment in the area of our boat and would come look at it today.  We were pretty excited.  Dave finished installing his VHF in the cockpit and cleaned up the area to make room to walk about the cockpit.  I even served him breakfast outside.  Beautiful morning.  I don't know why we don't eat in the cockpit more often.  That's going to change.
Waiting for his call, we did some organizing that eliminated another plastic bin :)  I made some beans in a thermos (check out  Had lunch, and still no call back from Dexter's. 

I decided it was time for me to get ready for church and have Dave take me to shore so I could find the bus stop and get to church in plenty of time.  The bus stop was about a block away from where I expected it and around a corner.  But I was plenty early.  The 4:10 bus should stop near the church at 4:25 and I would have to walk about a block to make it to church at 4:30.  Well by 4:30, the bus had not arrived, so I scratched church and will try again in the morning, taking their adjusted schedule into consideration. 

We wanted to watch the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints football game after church.  So I called Dave to meet me earlier at a restaurant/bar that would be showing the game.  We knew there was one by our dinghy dock that we had been to in November when we were scoping out the area, but I told him I'd look for something new as I walked back to the water.  Another restaurant by our dingy dock had several bar areas.  On the ground floor deck there was live music.  But the second floor had an indoor section with the game on. 

I headed back outside to meet Dave at the dock.  I walked up just as he was tying up the dinghy and said "hey, I'm here to pick up a sailor".  We went to the new place and had to bring 2 doggy bags home.  Their servings were huge.  Nothing wrong with ribs a second day. 

January 10, 2014 Farmer's Market

Today it was great to not have a schedule, not be sick, and to have sunny, warm weather.  I think it was 80 degrees today.  We pulled out the tank tops and shorts.

Dave was relaxing this morning and in no hurry to go anywhere.  I wanted to go to shore to check out the Friday Farmer's Market right by our dinghy dock (place where we can tie up our dinghy since we pay for a mooring ball).  So off I went by myself for the first time in the dinghy.  Woohoo!!  I kept singing the 80's song that got me through dental school "Ain't nothin gonna break my stride, Nobody's gonna  slow me down, oh no, I gotta keep on movin'."  I had so much fun buying fresh fruits, vegetables and breads.  There was also a BBQ stand, so I brought home some pulled pork for lunch. 

This afternoon, we packed up a couple loads of laundry and our shower bags and hopped back in the dinghy.  We have a "ditch bag" in case we have to leave the boat in an emergency situation.  So I call my shower bag my "bitch bag".  I have to say, I can't remember the last time I "fixed" my hair or wore makeup and I'm loving it.  Sorry Heidi about the Mary Kay. 

We were back at the boat by 5:00 and enjoyed Happy Hour in the cockpit of our boat.  Dave even replaced our cockpit VHF microphone.  The old  one wasn't sending very clear messages.  It hangs on a coiled cord and we think it was just time to be replaced.  You can do a radio check on channel 26 and it sounded better. 

We had a great dinner on the boat with fresh farmer's market veggies.  Then we made a new "to do" list for the boat.  It's never ending.  But it felt good to toss the old list with very few things to transfer to the new list.  We could hear the band at the local bar on shore from our boat.  Might have to check that our before leaving here, but if not, we are fine, too.  Maybe there will be an afternoon band for these old sailors.   

January 9, 2014 Mooring Balls

We took this day to explore the facilities and what was within walking distance.  We enjoyed breakfast in a local restaurant.  They had Bloody Mary's for $2 which was cheaper than the milk.  So, there you go.  No plans for the day, so why not?     

 Here's how a mooring ball works.  There are floating balls that are anchored and spread out to keep boats a safe  distance apart.  You bring your boat up to a numbered ball and grab the line that is attached to it and bring that line back to your boat.  (We have also run one of our lines through their loop, but they wanted us to use their line here.)  Then you head up to the office and pay for the night.  It is much cheaper than a slip in a marina, and a step above anchoring. 

Slips run an average of $2.00/ foot.  But we are hearing that will get much higher in the more touristy areas.  So for our 43 foot boat, you spend $86/night.  The nightly rate is cheaper if you stay for a week or a month.  For that money, you have the peace and mind of a safe night tied to a dock.  There are showers and coin laundry facilities (and you get what you pay for so they can vary).  Usually there is a restaurant on site or close by.  Sometimes a convenience store.  Some marinas are working marinas if you need work done on your boat.  Others are strictly resort type places.  Your slip has a power source you can plug into.  You can recharge the batteries and use any power you want.  And each slip generally has a water spigot, so you refill your tanks.  Most have a fuel dock and a pump out station.  Some have wifi.  And a few even have a courtesy car for you to use (haven't seen that since we left AL).

When you anchor, you always have to check your anchor to be sure it is holding.  And you have to watch that other boat's anchors are holding and they aren't slipping towards your boat.   It's free, but you have no facilities.  So you have to conserve your water and electricity.  You can run your generator to recharge the batteries, but that uses fuel.  We plan to anchor as much as possible. 

Now with a mooring ball, we pay $15/night.  We have access to their showers and coin laundry, but we have to go by dinghy to shore.  They do have a free pump out service that comes to our boat, but we need to make a reservation.  I think we could get water, but we would have to fill jugs.  We haven't had to do that yet, but I think that's more common in the Caribbean.  We just ordered a water maker, so that will give us more freedom to anchor for longer periods of time.  I'll go into that more when Dave is installing it in a couple weeks. 

The Mangelsens and Hartleys stayed at Salty Sam's marina another night after sailing out on the Gulf today.  They invited us over for happy hour and dinner.  We brought a couple things to share and  had another fun evening at their boat.  I drove the dinghy there for the experience.  Tonight, Karen won LRC and I won 31.
 The mooring field.
 Maintaining a mooring ball.  Looks like he's scraping barnacles off of the ball.
 Our home!