Thursday, November 29, 2018

Voyage #3

Sunrise was at 7:02 this morning. We wanted to be just out by then. Things were calmer in the morning, and that was dandy by me.

We were up at 5, walked dogs, had coffee, then Russ started his engine checks. I pulled out of the slip by 6:52. As a bit of added complexity, given the temperature was in the low 50s, we piloted the boat from the helm inside rather than the fly bridge. I'm ready for the warm to come back.

Given our last trip wasn't ideal, I was a little nervous. The trip down the Manatee River was smooth, as we anticipated. Once we got to the Tampa Bay the seas chopped with 1 - 2 foot waves. Some white caps.

Again the dinghy swayed a bit. This time we hit the throttle, cruising around 3000 rpms. The tide was going out, so we were against it heading to St. Petersburg. But the added speed smoothed out the ride a bit (which made me and the
A little choppy but not too bad
pugs happy), and cut about fifteen minutes off the excursion.

As predicted, once past the Sunshine Skyway Bridge things calmed down. The last half of the journey was positively lovely. We ate breakfast, some cold cereal, on the way, and reached Endeavour Marine around 10:30 in the morning. 

We tried to hail the marine on radio, but no one answered. Russ called on the cell phone to get instructions, but they weren't real clear. I decided to dock, and that got someone out right away. They pointed us to the large boat lift, wanting us to park it there. I backed out, and moved us down the thirty feet into the lift area. That all sounds easy, and it wasn't too bad -- I'm pretty proud that I can handle tighter maneuvers with some confidence.

In the map it looks like we got the boat on the 92 bridge. If you zoom in you'll see we came up right next to it, then turned left, making our way along (just a few feet!) the shore. That's where the very shallow, very narrow channel makes you go. No options. You can see the ground just ten feet from our port side. Made the docking maneuvers slightly more challenging.

They strap her in and hoist her up. The rig has wheels
so they can set her down anywhere.
We watched for a while as they cinched up and hauled out our boat. They immediately pressure washed the bottom, preparing to paint it. That task will take about a week. We don't have any hard dates when we'll get the boat back. Such is boat life.

Once Russ got the rental car, we stopped and ate at the Jasmine Thai and Sushi Restaurant. Wonderful! There lunch specials are a roll and an entree. He got the spicy tuna roll and pineapple curry, I got the Buddha roll and pad thai. Great lunch.

Now we're checked into the La Quinta near the airport. Russ heads back to SF in the morning for a few days on a 8:45 am direct flight. I will wander back up to The Villages and hang out with my folks. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Endeavour day

It's wintertime in Florida, they say. The high today will be in the upper-50s and the low in the mid-40s. Yes, I'm complaining because, dang it, this is Florida! In a couple of days we'll be back in the 70s, so there's that. Sorry Ohioans.

Sunset in at Regatta Pointe
With the cold weather came some winds, which isn't great news for us. Winds = waves. Our appointment with Endeavour is Thursday morning. We hoped to head over there this afternoon and be ready when they open at 7:30 am. Unless things settle a bit we're going to wait until tomorrow morning, heading out a first light.

We have a number of marine weather sources now so when I say "the weather isn't ideal", it's just that. Winds at 10 knots (the fair-weather guides tell us less than 15 is good), and waves less than 2 feet. Light chop. In other words, the boat will handle it just fine, some would say it's even perfect. I'm the cranky one. I like my water smooth.

We've been doing a number of other repairs. Our current mystery in the
Logo? Depends on carvers.
generator. It tends not to work. At the dock it isn't an issue, since we're plugged into shore power. On the water, however, it is, especially long journeys, say, to Key West. If you want any power (or AC) you need the generator make it. We've done a number of things (replaced the impeller, replaced a clogged L-joint) but haven't really nailed it. We have a specialist, Rian, working on it now. If he isn't successful, it will be added to the Endeavour list.

Meanwhile, I'm distracting myself with getting our boat name put on the boat. We need to remove all the old decals, which are peeling anyway and look terrible. Currently the name Knot 4 Sailing is in three locations; both sides and the transom on the back. The transom is a regulation so no option there (which is silly for us since the dingy blocks it but there you go). We decided to keep our sides decal-less and white. We're thinking custom-made plaques that we affix to the railing on the fly deck would look better. Being a bit fussy, I'd like those fonts (the transom decal and the plaques) to match. I'm awaiting info from the carvers.

Update: Rian just left and the generator still isn't working. That said, we have a much better idea why and it should be an easy fix for the Endeavour folks. 

One of the sail cats Rian built -- love their looks
While chatting with Rian (who used to work for Endeavour and built some of these gorgeous 42 foot Mantas we see around) we got on the topic of sail versus power cats. I thought the sail versions could outrun us, but he said no. Our boat should be able to go 18 knots(!). We'd only ever kept it around 10 knots, or 2100 - 2400 rpm. He said our engines were turbo, and needed to be pushed full on for an hour or so every day in use. Interesting! I was a bit depressed that our boat only went as fast as a Segway. Now I'm looking forward to the crossing tomorrow. Let's open these babies up!

Note: The pictured sail-cat is named It's 5 O'clock Somewhere and everytime I look at it I get that song stuck in my head. Been singing it for days now. "Pour me something tall and strong, make it a hurricane before I go insane..."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Villages

Spanish moss ladened trees line the streets of The Villages
My folks decided to get out of the cold of Henderson, Nevada (yes, it gets pretty nippy in Las Vegas this time of year) and head to Florida. They rented a modest two bedroom house in the Alhambra neighborhood of The Villages.

Haps at Spanish Springs
If you haven't seen The Villages, it's one of the largest 55+ communities, and it continues to grow. It's made up of many, many housing developments (from condos, to duplexes, to small and large homes), and has everything the hip retiree could possibly need, right there in the area. Multiple town squares that have shopping, dining, and nightly music, community pools, rec centers with aerobics, weights, and yoga classes, forty-eight golf courses that are "free for life," tennis courts, shuffle boards, bocci ball courts, and a polo grounds -- yes, you read that right. Each of the town centers have their own vibe (Brownwood is a throw-back western look, while Spanish Springs is adorned with adobe buildings made to look old with exposed brickwork and fountains). While there are many roads that wind around the area, most of the folks seem to choose using golf carts, driving on the special roads and pathways made just for them.
Sunset on a golf course

The holiday itself we spent with friends of friends of my parents. They annually host a Thanksgiving pseudo-potluck (they make the basics, but folks brought a bunch of other items). The meal and the company was lovely. The day was gloomy, which made socializing indoors the perfect pastime.

Friday we did a bit of running around, trying to acquaint everyone (my folks, my husband, and myself) with the large selection of things to do and how to get there. Google is invaluable in such situations.

We left Saturday morning to pick up the dogs from day care and return back to the boat. There are still a few things to do before we head to Endeavour at the end of this week.
Lunch at the Bluefin

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Not a grand day out

Russ hangin' with the sea dogs
With Thanksgiving coming up we know we'll be away from the boat for a few days. Moreover, with the short week ahead, we knew we'd have various vendors and service people out Monday and Tuesday. With calm winds and flat water, we decided to take the boat out again. This would be for the 2nd time. Russ found a restaurant that we could dock at for lunch on Cortez. We were off.

It started out well. I took the boat out without incident and we headed down the Manatee River toward Tampa Bay. Once we reached the bay the waters got a bit rougher. Not horrible, but due to my green experience I felt uncomfortable. Swells around two feet, which most would say were excellent conditions. Sailboats abounded. Our cat rocked a bit, and with every speed boat that sped past us, we rocked a bit more.

With only thirty minutes from our destination I became aware of some banging. Big banging. We turned around to see the dingy swaying in the davit. When we took the trip here with Captain Randy he noticed that the davit flexed the fiberglass quite a bit, which is not a good thing. It's on the list of things we need to have Endeavor look at (the boat builders) when we take her there next week. In my mind's eye I saw the davit rip from the hull, making a huge hole in the boat. 

Needless to say, we turned around and beat back to the river, which was just as calm as we left it. 

I parked her, which was pretty easy given no wind and no particular current. So it wasn't all bad.

You can see our boat from here but you have to squint
Also, we ate at the Riverside Cafe. We split the coconut shrimp, greek salad, and blackened grouper. All excellent.

Friday, November 16, 2018

It's still work

Some of you have asked, "Why haven't you taken any photos of the interior yet? We wanna see!" And I'd love to show you. But everyday there's some little thing to do that requires rearranging the furniture to do it. Seems like the place always looks like it was hit with Hurricane Michael.

Okay. You want proof?

I recall a woman who owned a "tiny house" saying the best thing about tiny houses is they clean up quick. The worst thing about tiny houses is they get dirty quick. When the living room is also the garage, there's chaos just to get the tools. And all that? That was to fix some burned out light bulbs. I know, right? The trick to being a good boater is to get rid of your Type-A issues. I'm working on it.

Soon we get a break. Thanksgiving is coming, and my folks are moving (at least for a month) to The Villages, which is a two hour drive north-east of here. We'll stay there for a couple of nights to enjoy the holiday and not work.

Here's a good picture from our rainy day yesterday taken from our bow.

I promise, interior pics will come. Someday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Monday was a bad day

About four months ago I got a Shingrix shot in San Francisco. The Walgreen's pharmacist warned me that I'll get a sore arm and possible flu-like symptoms. Boy, did I. I was in bed most of the next day with aches, chills, and a slight fever.

If you're unfamiliar with Shingrix, you need two of these suckers somewhere between two and six month apart. At the time of the first I thought I'd just get the second at a Walgreens in New Orleans. But every Walgreens I went to had a wait list with hundreds of names already on it. Apparently, the company had no idea their product would be so popular. We get to Florida, and there's a Walgreens in Palmetto. I go there and, no surprise, they don't have any. Furthermore, they aren't expecting any until December (which is past my six month mark). 

We needed to do some shopping at Walmart, and on a whim I checked with their pharmacy. And they HAD the shot. They were only giving it to those who had the first, so I qualified and happily took it.

Happy, until...

I woke up in tears Monday morning, just bawling. Thinking of all of my incompetencies and fears and life changes and on and on, it took me a couple of hours to realize I was just sick. Fever brain raging with anxiety. I spent the entire day in bed. Gorgeous day outside, but the dogs and I slept for hours. I didn't feel somewhat normal until 7:30 Monday evening. I even slept soundly that night. Thank goodness I don't need another one of those shots.

Tuesday came and I felt like new. Moreover, I was gong-ho to try this boat thing again. Russ and I -- ALL ON OUR OWN -- took the boat out, toodled about the Tampa Bay a bit, then brought her home and docked her. Roughly a three hour tour. We managed not to bang up our boat nor anyone else's boat.

Okay, so now I'm happy.

P.S. Dolphins continue to love our boat. If they're around, they're in our wake. I don't know if we travel at the right speed (only about 9 knots), or the engines sound/feel right, but they seem drawn to us. That also makes me happy.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I needed to decompress

After three really long days on the water (the last of which was on the Gulf), we arrived in our new home port of Regatta Pointe, Palmetto, FL. We came in on a Friday night, and our slip is just 50 feet from the marina's restaurant and bar. It was happy hour. Crowds gathered to watch us come in. I was at the helm, and did my best, but Captain Randy had to jump in on occasion. Nothing like some performance anxiety.

We joined the happy hour crowd for a bit, getting some small bites for dinner with Randy, then we both collapsed, exhausted. What a trip.

Dolphins like the boat
While on the gulf we witnessed firsthand some of the devastation of the red tide plaguing the area. The typically clear waters were yellow at times, or we'd pass through miles of floating dead fish. Russ even had burning eyes from the bloom. He remarked to Randy that this qualified under the heading of "we're just too stupid to live." Otherwise, the five hour voyage on the water was uneventful. In the boating world, we call that a good thing.

The last two days we did more sorted, arranging, going through the tons of storage space on the boat that is filled with tons of stuff from the previous owner. Which, as far as we can tell, was left from the previous owner before that.

Sunrise at the marina
Palmetto is a smaller town, and still has that "old Florida" vibe. Mostly retirees, cute little down town that we can walk to from the boat, and seriously cheap food. The Old Port Cove in West Palm Beach was more upscale, but lacking in anything other than a restaurant on the marina. Sure, many bigger, beautiful yachts (we felt like we dragged down the place), and towers of condos. Maybe it's my anti-car nature, but I'd think the folks living in those condos would appreciate a small grocery, or drug store, a couple of eateries. We would have. But you have to get in your car to go anywhere. 

Weather is coming, so we don't know when we'll get out again. We hope this afternoon, but it might be when we have to take the boat for some maintenance.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Let me tell you about the hermit crab races

"On Thursday nights they have hermit crab races," said Captain Randy. He was talking about the Crows Nest at the Tween Waters Island Resort on Captiva Island. Russ and I aren't big on those "force fun" kind of events so we weren't particularly interested, especially after a long twelve hour day of boating. We'd been up since 4:30 am, rolled in at 6:30 (in the dark), and hadn't eaten since noon. We were hungry, tired, and not in the hermit crab racing mood. But it was the easiest place to get to from the boat, so off we went.

Participation isn't mandatory, but the event is smack in the middle of the place and well underway. The race was little more than dumping the crabs in the middle of a round table, then cheering for them as they scampered every which way until they reached the edge, where participant had to catch them. Apparently, this was the family version (there's another round of crab races for adults only later in the night), so families crammed around the table while the MC, Sunburned Willie, taught them the rules. Things like, "don't touch the crabs until they cross the finish line", and "every claw, pincer, leg, and part of the shell has to be over the line to be called 'finished'", and "don't be banging on the table 'cause that will just scare the crabs into thinking there's an earthquake", and "don't blow or whistle on them 'cause that makes them think there's a hurricane" and, most importantly, "for god sake, people, don't take this seriously because it's a flippin' hermit crab race!" 

We hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. Sunburned Willie was incredibly witty and sharp as a tack. Armed with crabs, kazoos, and a spray bottle (which is liberally used on misbehaving parents) Willie put on a wonderful show. I can't recommend it enough.

No pictures, though, since they weren't allowed. You'll just have to go. Or watch this YouTube I found:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Long days on the water

Once we got the boat, we moved it to its temporary home, the Old Port Cove Marina, just two miles from the previous owner's slip. Then -- you guessed it -- more work! All the stuff we'd shlepped from Palmetto via the minivan had to be put somewhere on the boat. It has quite a bit of storage, but George (who is doing fine, by the way) had left us a bunch of things, some good, some bad, but all of it occupying the space we needed. The next two days was a bunch of packing, unpacking, more sorting, trips to donation centers, trips to the dumpster, more sorting... It was a grueling two days.

Sunset on the lake
Why not take more time, I hear you ask? Because we already had hired a captain to help us with the voyage across Florida's intracoastal to get the boat to it's new home. And he could only be available Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Thus another rush.

Somehow, it all came together. Randy boarded us at 8 am on Wednesday, and we put in a 10 hour day, crossing 2 locks and Lake Okeechobee to get to Clewiston. Then another 12 hour day to get to Captiva Island. The idea is that Friday will be a short day, then he'll help us clean and check the boat.

The lock before the lake. Wide open, since the lake is low.
While hectic, the immersive experience has made us both more confident. I piloted the boat into two locks, as well as a pier so we could walk the dogs. I'm still rough, but I get it. I predict the process will get much easier as we go.

We're about an hour out of Captive Island. I predict I'm gonna sleep well tonight.

Yes, I do a fair bit of the piloting.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Boat Day!

Cozy in her temporary home
Up around 5 am (remember, we just had daylight savings, so technically it's six), we fed the dogs and walked to a Starbucks nearby. The air was soft, the breeze was pleasant, and we watch first light emerge. A good calm to start the day.

We grabbed some breakfast at the hotel, packed up, and headed to George's place at 8 am. We kept the car in front of the house and took the dogs, keeping them in the state room for the morning.

Captain Scott, our pilot for the maiden voyage, was prompt. After a thorough walk-through and look-over we slowly edged out of the slip and make our way to the intracoastal. At some point Russ took over, and got us to the port, where Scott brought us into the slip. The trip was event free, so wonderful.

Old Port Cove Marina, where we've docked for the next couple of days, has a handy shuttle service that returned both Scott and Russ to George's house to retrieve their cars. Then the work really began, as Russ loaded box after box of stuff that we have to organize and put away. I took my time, doing and redoing the kitchen, which, while open to the saloon, lacks a bit in space. So. I figure we'll have to go out and eat more.

By 5 we'd had enough of work. The day outside (high of 84) cooled nicely. I made us some fruit and yogurt, Russ poured some wine, and we ate on the fly bridge, watching the sunset.
The saloon

Up to bridge

The galley
Russ and Captain Scott on the fly bridge

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Getting there, Part 2 -- Our first hitch

Tight fit in the rental van
After days and days of last minute prep and scheduling and planning and execution, after packing, moving trucks, storage lockers, hotel reservations, and weather, we've had our first "no go." 

The morning we were to board and take our boat, George, the previous boat owner, was taken to the ER with respiratory problems. We feel terrible for him -- he's been a great guy. But of course, we feet terrible for us, too. We were so looking forward to this moment.

Even tighter for the dogs at my feet
Russ and George swapped texts this morning, so he's not incapacitated, thankfully. He is key to the current plan. George's slip is in a small canal off the intracoastal. It looks like a tight fit to get in and out of, which is why we asked him for the help. The Old Cove Marina (where we have plans to temporarily stay on the boat) is not far, but we'd feel better if, for this first small voyage, a pro did the job.

After phone calls and schedule shifts, we think we're good to go for tomorrow at 8 am. 

Not all bad, though. We discovered the amazing little Caribbean sushi place that was outstanding. Thus proving, there's always a silver lining.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Getting There, part 1

I truly hate leaving. I don't mean just moving, I mean leaving. Whenever it was time to pack up and go, be it to San Francisco, New Orleans, or just a road trip, my gut would sink and a minor depression sets in. I feel bad, I feel sad. You think after years of doing it, it would be second nature. It's not. If anything, it's gotten worse.

You throw packing and moving into the mix, and I'm a mess. This move has been the worst, largely because we don't know what we're moving to. How do you pack for a boat? How much can we bring? How much cold weather can we expect, and how cold? How much space is in the kitchen? I saw the boat, but I just don't recall. This move is a particular challenge largely because of how much I don't know. I don't even know how much I don't know.

Thankfully, we started loading up a couple of days earlier than our departure date. We have to put everything into one of five categories: stays here, to the boat, to storage, to donate, and to the dump. I would hold something and freeze, like a deer in headlights, trying to come up with some answer. 

When we said goodbye to a friend in New Orleans, we planned on driving the RV and truck together, like a caravan to Florida. Late in the afternoon, however, we got an offer to have the RV purchased. So packing became even more complex, loading out the RV as well as the condo. We needed the extra time.
Crowded in the U-haul

The day we planned on leaving, a huge rainstorm blew in the night before, and rain continued throughout the day. That storm plagued us not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times during the trip. It made loading a bother in New Orleans, then we had to drive through it to get to Pensacola, our first stop. It passed us that night, so we had to drive through it again, around Tallahassee. Then we turned down the Florida peninsula, and the storm came slamming back for a last visit. That one was a doozy -- our phones went off with tornado warnings, urging us to seek shelter immediately. The rain remained throughout the day, making the already congested rush hour traffic around Tampa just horrendous.

Our dogs know that when they see us packing it's time for a road trip. Ready to travel they bolting into the coach. When I tried to get them to leave, explaining that we're selling the vehicle, Savannah wouldn't even look at me.

The pic to the right wasn't taken on this trip (you could tell, because the skies are blue here). This was along I-10, between Pensacola and Tallahassee, just one week after Hurricane Michael. You may have to blow up the picture to appreciate it. It was a forest. This kind of devastation when on for miles. In fact, you drive for over an hour at 70 mph and the view is just like this the entire time. The hurricane was more like a 80 mile wide tornado.

Not ours anymore

There's a saying in the boating world, that the happiest days of a boater life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. This...