Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 24, 2014 Florida Keys

On Saturday, Bev and I took our time and drove through the Everglades on the way to the Keys.  We could also bypass Miami going this way.  Around Homestead, Fl there were many nurseries with beautiful plants and produce.  We asked another sailor about a cheap but clean hotel in the Marathon, Fl area.  We were pleasantly surprised with our ocean front room.  We enjoyed the sunset from our beach and just relaxed.

Knowing how expensive it is to stay in Key West, we decided to spend only one night on the island. 
We found a great B&B though a booking agency that I would recommend to anyone.  The name was the Frances Street Bottle Inn.  It was in Old Town and walking distance to most anything.  It was a 150 year old house with a great veranda with cushioned wicker furniture.  We arrived there about 11:00am as others were checking out.  So we were able to park right by the B&B and leave the car there for the next 24 hours.  Actually, we just wanted to stay there instead of touring, but made ourselves go have a good time :)

We had to have lunch at our favorite spot in Key West, BO's Fish Wagon.  It is a little place with outdoor seating that looks like a junk yard.  Their specialty is a fried soft shell crab sandwich.  And you have to have their lime-aide.  Then we took a trolley tour so Bev could get an overview of the island.  After that, we walked through the wharf area, part of Duvall street and to Malory Square for the sunset.  We decided to get a table at a restaurant right on the water's edge.  We watched a cruise ship leave right in front of us, then had front row seats for a beautiful sunset. 

That evening, I convinced Bev to do something with me that Dave always refused to do.  We went to a Drag Queen show.  The name of the place was Aqua.  So Bev's story is that she thought it was going to be a dolphin show :)  We had fun.  Watching the other people in the audience was part of the entertainment, too.

We had a great breakfast on the veranda, walked through the Key West Cemetery near our B&B, then headed back.  We stopped in Marathon to visit with sailing friends, the Mills, and check out the city marina for when we head that way in a few weeks. 

We don't plan to spend much time in the Keys when we leave Ft Myers by boat.  We feel we can always come back to that area in the future.    
Key Colony Beach Motel in Marathon    

February 22, 2014 moving cars and boats

Since we knew we would be in this area for a few more weeks, my sister, Beverly, decided to visit for a week.  She is now living in Oklahoma to be near her son, daughter-in-law, and their 3 girls.  We wish we had room for all of them to visit. 

We decided to rent a car for the week.  That way Bev and I could be tourists, but we could also run a couple errands.  Arrangements have to be made to deal with a car when you don't have a place to park.  First of all, I took the local trolley to the car rental nearest us.  I then picked up groceries before I picked up Bev at the airport.  Now, where to park the car?  On the north side of the bridge, the parking is free, but you can't park overnight.  On the south side of the bridge the parking is $2.00 an hour, but free between 6:00pm and 9:00 am, if you can find a spot.  So every morning and night, we had to shuffle the parking spots.  A couple times, we paid for an hour for the convenience.   We spent one whole day of Bev's vacation  running errands for boat parts and to the Killion's to pick up packages.  She SAID  she enjoyed seeing the area and spending time with us.  The day Bev flew out, I went to the grocery store and bank, then the airport and returned the car.  I thought I would have to take the trolley back to the boat, but they were delivering a car and took me back, which was really nice.  I hadn't thought through to the part where I would have had to wait for a bus in the sun without a hat or sunscreen. 

Thursday, we went to Sanibel Island to walk the beautiful beach known for their sea shells.  When we returned that afternoon, we waited at a bar with a dock for Dave to pick us up.  Bev said "Boy, life goes in circles.  Here we are waiting for a guy to pick us up at the bar.  And they are playing the same music, but now they are calling them  oldies."  We also had a friend from the Black Hills in town today.  Greg Gunderson, from Custer (now Spearfish Canyon) and his friend from Naples joined us for a short sail (not much wind).  It is fun to have people we know from SD see how we are actually living on the boat. 

On Friday, Bev and I picked up Devyn Killion and went to a Manatee Park to kayak with the manatees.  Well, since it's warmer now, there weren't many manatees in the area.  We did see a turtle and a couple snakes.  And we had a nice time kayaking.  That morning, we went to a fish market on the water and bought fresh gulf shrimp.  Dave made a wonderful dinner for us on the boat that night.
Since it was a hassle to park, Bev and I thought we should just go on a road trip for 3 days.   I have been to Key West 5 times, but Bev had never been there.  So we decided to drive to the Keys.

The morning we planned to leave, Saturday, we wanted to help Dave move our boat to a fuel dock to refill our water tanks.  Once the water maker is finished, that won't be a concern.  Since we wanted to get an early start, Bev thought she'd catch the sunrise that morning.  Well, we woke to a dense fog.  It was actually beautiful to see the other boats and their reflections on the water.  We slowly moved our boat to the fuel dock, not far away.  As we were there, the daily ferry to Key West passed by us.  I caught a picture of it with another boat in the background.  That boat was a touring replica of one of Magellan's ships from the 16th century that circumnavigated the world.  Quite a contrast to see together.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 16, 2014 spinnaker

After spending Valentine's Day doing laundry, working on the boat and eating leftovers, we had a fun weekend of playing with the Killions.  They brought their boat from it's slip on the Caloosahatchie River to our bay overnight Saturday.  Thank you, Killions.  Having you join us forced us to clean up the boat, put away projects, and play for the weekend.

It was windy Saturday, about 20mph.  So we spent time on each others boats in the afternoon and went out for a great dinner in Fort Myers Beach.  That was our late Valentine's dinner, not so crowded today and we were treated by the Killions.  So that made it even better.  Nice walk on the beach at sunset and back to our boat.  The boys played with the single side band radio.  We heard broadcasts from New York Harbor and from Panama City, Panama.  The girls played cards on our table that was cleared off for the first time in weeks.

Sunday was a beautiful day for sailing.  The winds were light, only about 6mph, but a great day to try our spinnaker sail.  It is a large sail and handles differently than the sails that are fixed to the boat.  It works great when the wind is from beam to run (more behind you).  So you often see them on boats that are racing.  It will be helpful if we have a long distance to go and the only wind is behind us.  But if there are two boats on the water, there will be a race no matter what.

I forgot a couple more projects that Dave did while I was away.  He replaced our alternator along with a "smart charge regulator".  It helps keep our batteries charged to the best level.  Marine engines are just automobile engines adapted to boats.  So this will improve the life of our batteries.
He also moved the lights over our heads in our V-berth.  They were closer to the bow, but we sleep with our feet to the bow since it's narrower there.  The other end is almost as wide as a king sized bed.  He also put in a 12 volt outlet on my side of the bed (his side had one already).  I can now charge my phone there.  We have to have the generator running to use our 110 outlets.
He added a Pactor device that changes data into a radio signal, so we can send e-mails though our single side band radio if we are off shore and can't use our regular wifi.  We have a radio call sign that has to be used with that.  Dave sent out a practice e-mail to a couple people and got replies.  So it works!!

He's so handy, I think I'll keep him  :)

Lunch provided by the Killions.  Brian likes to skipper our boat.
 First time sailing with the spinnaker.
Devyn jumps right in to help.  But we couldn't get her to talk on the VHF radio.
The view from our cockpit of the full moon rising on Saturday night.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

January 25, 2014 Ski for Light

Well, I am back from South Dakota and have been lazy for a few days enjoying the sun and humidity.   
I want to share what Ski for Light is all about.  In 2014, the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light celebrated it's 35th year.  I have been a volunteer since 1990 and have only missed 3or 4 years in those 25 years.  Dave started volunteering in 1988, but probably missed 10 years. 

As volunteers, we cross country ski with people that are visually impaired.  We register on Sunday.  We have an orientation and are paired with our participants on Monday.  Then we ski together Mon, Tues, and Wed and have races on Thursday.  The races are categorized by male, female, 2 age groups and partial vision vs totally impaired (or low vision).  They also have a rally race where you can estimate what your time will be and see who is closest to the estimated time. 

There is also a downhill competition for visually impaired and physically impaired participants with adaptive skis.  Dave has guided downhill and cross country.  I stick to cross country and snow shoes.

Over the years, we have become friends with many of the people who return each year.  We have also had family members and friends volunteer.  So this year, I was able to spend time with my sister, Beverly, who recently moved to Oklahoma.  She helps with selling t-shirts, hats, pins for the year, banquet and raffle tickets, etc.  So you don't have to be a skier to help.  Several of my girlfriends that cross country ski were there, too.  So it is like a family reunion.

Over the years, I have become good friends with the people I guide.  This year I guided a lady from Toronto, Canada who I guided 2 years ago.  We had so much fun together!  There were 12 people from Toronto, or were friends through their connection, that came to SFL this year.  We have spent time with several of the people we have guided during other times of the year.  And we hope to visit our friends in Toronto, too.  Many of them are sailors, which helped us bond even further. 

On Wednesday afternoon, there is a bonfire in the area where we cross country ski.  This year there was a wedding at the bonfire between two SFL participants that met at our regional SFL.  I believe it was 6 degrees at the time of the wedding. 

On Thursday night, there is an awards banquet.  Trophies are handed out for the races.  But there are also awards for various guides and participants.  This year, I was selected to receive the "Spirit award".  I think it was because I laugh the loudest, or maybe they wanted to guilt me into coming back next year.  Whatever their reason was, I was honored to receive recognition for just having fun.

On Friday, there is a tradition of going to the Saloon #10 at 10:00am for Bloody Mary's.  It is also a chance to say good-bye.  Over the following weekend, we spent time with our Canadian friends that stayed a few extra days in Rapid City.    

I was very glad that it worked out for me to return again this year.  I cannot say where we will be next January. 
I had to take the dinghy to shore with my luggage to catch a taxi to the airport.
Friends skiing together while our participants were either snow shoeing or snowmobiling.
 All dressed for the wedding in the bride's colors.
The bride with her father.  Even her guide dog was dressed for the occasion.  The tent in the background is where we go to warm up and have "refreshments".
Receiving our medals from the "trophy queens", my friends Debbie and Barb.
 Kaye has her trophy for winning her race and I have my "Spirit Award".

February 12, 2014 completed projects

I was impressed with all the things Dave completed while I was away.  He is still waiting for a part for the water maker.  And the canvas work is in progress.  I will dedicate a full blog to each of these topics when they are completed.  

We made a project list on 1-10-14.  So I am going down the list in no particular order. 
Dave climbed the mast on his own while I was gone.  I don't think this was the smartest move, but this is from a guy who will go scuba diving without a buddy.  He has two jumars, a climbing device that slides up the rope and lifts him as he goes.  He installed a lightning arrester with a DC block to hopefully slow down a lightning strike and decrease interference on our radios.  He refurbished our VHF antenna and was happy with the results.  He also replaced the hand held VHF in our cockpit.  Both of these should help with our transmissions.

The dorades on the deck (that bring air below without the rain) were sanded and painted.
He placed preventers on our boom.  This "prevents" the boom from accidentally swinging to the opposite side should the wind accidentally get behind the sail.  That motion is usually hard and fast and can break things and hurt people.
He placed an LED light in the cockpit and close to the floor inside the cabin that can be turned on with a remote control.  That way we can turn on some lights when we return to the boat after dark.  The cockpit one still needs to be wired (need another part).
Dave also placed a couple battery operated LED lights inside my cabinets under the sink.  Now I see that I need to clean those cabinets.   Mildew is my enemy.
He also mounted our smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide monitor, our fire extinguishers.  He also mounted in our cockpit a "Dan Buoy".  This is something you throw overboard if you have a "man overboard".  It is registered with the company and will alert the Coast Guard of our position.   

While I was gone, our hot water heater quit working.  So Dave had to order a new one and install it.  That includes researching what we need, ordering it, waiting for it to arrive, then installing.  Usually he finds out that he needs another part in the middle of an installation, so everything is on hold until that part arrives.  We were getting some water in our bilge and this appears to be the reason.

Dave moved our boat to a dock by himself in the fog to have an air conditioner/heater person work on our boat.   The $750 for parts and labor were worth it because Dave also received an air conditioner/heater class from this guy.  

We had a neighbor in the mooring field dive our hull for $1.50/foot.  He cleaned the bottom, replaced zincs (they protect all the other metals, by corroding first), and checked our paint job.  Things looked good.

Dave installed a diesel whistle.  This whistle is in the vent for the overflow of the diesel tank.  As you fill your tank, the airflow past the vent creates the whistle.  Once the fuel reaches the vent, the pitch will change and the whistle will stop.  This helps prevent spillage, which is always a concern because you can be fined big time.  We heard the obnoxious noise coming from another boat and decided we wanted to be obnoxious, too. 

Dave also installed a bilge alarm.  If you are taking on water, it ends up in the bilge.  If it's a small amount, you taste it to see if it's fresh or sea water (blue job) to help determine where it is coming from.  If you are taking on a lot water, the bilge pump kicks in.  The alarm will let you know the pump is running, in case you are sleeping or have the engine running and don't hear the pump.

This week, Dave adjusted all the rigging-the shrouds and stays are the lines that hold the mast in place.  They need the correct tension and balance.  Dave placed a coating on all the threads to help control corrosion.  He described the coating material as smelling like sheep's butts.  Don't ask me how he knew that smell.  This included going up the mast again with the jumars.  It was much easier having me control a backup line on a winch instead of using other climbing devices.
Dave has been cutting inside our boat for installation of the water maker and running all kinds of lines.  He is waiting for one more part, so we are going to put our boat back together.  We have sailing plans with the Killions this weekend.  Then my sister, Beverly, is going to visit for a week.  She will need to sleep in our dinette area.  But we promised to leave for about 3 days so he could keep working. I think a trip to Key West is in order.