Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hurricane Season, the Wait Game

As you can see the Magnesium Anode needed to be replaced, there was just a small bit left on the old one.

The Ultimate Challenge, remove and replace the Magnesium anode in the Hot Water Heater!

Captain John inspects his new bottom Job

These cats have a huge beam, but the bill for the bottom job was about the same as a Monohull

While John was taking care of business I got some pics of some interesting Vessels, here is an oldy but goody.

I think this is a brand new NordHaven getting commissioned

The Nordhaven had port and starboard  Midships rudders, along with the conventional rudder at the stern.1st time I have seen this.

Ready to go, backing down the railway.

We still had a way to go at this point to get positive flotation.

Steve the yard man helping Captain John ease her off the cradle.

The mouth of the Manatee and the Sneed Island Yacht Club.

Sails up preparing to turn downwiwnd. Westshore is about 25 miles up the Bay.

The Trainer is going through the routine with the Ape.

The Admiral liked the Apes, Daddy on the left, teenager in the center and mom is in control.

This is the Cheetah run, you can see a clump of white feathers out in front that the Cheetah is chasing to demonstart their speed.

The Cheetah catches the feathers and she is satisfied to chew on them ignoring the meat the trainers offered as a reward.

The Bengal tigers sitting on this popup window where you can get up close for pics.

The Admiral really like the Bengal tigers

I liked watching the Hippos swim in the water, they effortlessly glided along

Feeding one of several species of Flamingos

Feeding the Walaby's

There is a baby in the sack

They tried to make it look like Africa

This is why there are so many baby animals in this park!

The orangatangs were pretty cool

Every animal looked very healthy.

These Stilt dudes added to the fun.

Sometimes you just have to get off your feet!

The Critter show was hilarious, pigs, birdes, walaby's, cats, skunks, most of them rescue animals.

A safe version of Zip Line

Lots of White Rhinos

Hurricane Season, the Wait Game

Gee, when you read other cruisers stories about cruising and they get to Hurricane Season they just say they found a safe place for their boat for Hurricane Season and that’s about all they write about. So when you start out cruising you know you will do the same thing but you have to figure out what you will do for the Six Month Duration. Well the 1st month or two is just catching up on boat maintenance and doing any projects that are on the list. Of course mixed in with that is learning the lay of the land wherever it is that you happen to be. Fortunately the Tampa Bay area is abundant with things to do either on or off the water. However, we learned that the summer season here is their winter. Since the summer is the rainy season here all these boaters in the area, especially cruisers just park their boats and wait for the rain to end. This summer has seen the second most rain in the history of weather record keeping for Tampa. To date we have had over 16 inches of rain, 4 inches just last week and there was no tropical storm around. Of course TS Debby and Hurricane Isaac contributed this seasons record. I wonder if in 1985 when Florida experienced 8 tropical systems was the season with the highest rainfall? Our start battery went bad so since we were not going anywhere it was no big deal that it took almost 4 weeks for a new battery to come in. I installed it yesterday. We have made a couple of trips back to Austin and will make at least one more in October before we resume our trip as the Hurricane season comes to an end Nov. 30.

The Admiral has made a few birding connections and we plan to go birding with them tomorrow at Fort DeSoto. It is uncanny how she always hooks up with some of the top birders in the area, Lorraine and Don Margeson. They are leaders in a small army of birders who are very involved in protecting the local bird habitats and closely monitor the migration of birds through the Tampa Bay area. Some of Lynn’s bird pics revealed some banding on some Least Terns and after she shared her pics with her new friends she became an instant member of their group. They encouraged her to continue to be vigilant and send anymore sightings of banded birds to them for their continued study of the local birds. Now she feels like she has a duty to more closely monitor the area around our marina and report her sightings to the group.

The Admiral has also discovered Tai Chi. She feels that it might actually be better for her than her bi-weekly Yoga. So far she has four of the moves down and is determined to get the first 17 in her repertoire since she has heard from others more experienced with Tai Chi that will all she really has to learn to be able to practice it successfully. There are 107 moves and if you know them all you are supposed to be able to do all 107 in about 35 minutes providing a complete stretching workout for the body and peace for the mind.

While she was off at Tai Chi it gave me a chance to have the boat for myself to install the replacement Magnesium anode in the water heater. I really dislike plumbing and since I had never done any work with the water heater I knew it could turn into a disaster. Anytime the plumbing connections involve dissimilar metals + plastic fittings you know something can break when you are disassembling fittings that have not move in several years. I did spray some penetrating lubricant around on the fittings the week before allowing some hope that they would just part with ease. The good news is that the water heater is in the engine room and it has easy access. After the Admiral departed the boat I methodically gathered my tools and put on some music to prepare my mind to thoughtfully and carefully take the water lines apart. The owners manual was of some assistance but it does not teach you how to be a plumber. With the Grace of God, each of the connections freed up and I was able to remove the old anode without breaking anything. I carefully cleaned the fittings and prepped them with Teflon tape as I installed the new anode into the hot water out fitting. I was doing great and just as I was tightening the last plastic fitting one last ¼ turn it broke. After screaming some of my favorite stress relievers I slowly paced about calming my mind so I could think of my next steps. I knew I had saved a lot of fittings from the plumbing I removes when replacing the tanks and fortunately they were easy to find. I had two of them in the large Ziplocs bag, my blood pressure began to return to normal and I carefully replaced the fitting. You do not know if you did a proper job till you turn on the water pressure to test the system and make sure there are no leaks. After running several gallons of water through the system to bleed out any air, I was a happy dog, no Leaks! The only other boat project this month was to replace the Excide Start battery. When I was topping off the batteries I noticed the Start battery was unusually warm, in fact it was hot. Not good. We have a 40 watt, three stage, Xantrex True Charger. I had read some of the manual but not all of it so it was time to get intimately familiar with the battery system so I could make sure what was going on. The charger has several settings and one of those settings is determined by the temperature of the air around the batteries. The switch was set for 50-80 degrees and I learned that if the switch was not set properly then the charger could overcharge the batteries. The area where the batteries are stored is 80-90 degrees this time of year so I of course corrected the setting and ordered myself a new start battery as my negligence probably contributed to ending the life of this battery early. It was a three year battery though and it has lasted 5 years? The new one finally came in after being ordered nearly four weeks ago and I installed it yesterday, maybe I can get 6 or more years out of this one.

I have made a few dock friends while here at Westshore and one of those is John who owns a Charter Cat Catamaran sailing vessel. John asked if I could help him bring his boat back to Westshore From the Sneed Island Boat Works. You Betcha, I wanted to learn about the Sneed\ Island boat yard anyway and since it is located at the mouth of the Manatee River I would be able to explore that area a bit on the way back up to the North end of Tampa Bay. After assembling a crew of 4 yard workers we jumped aboard the Cat and they slowly lowered us down the railway into the water. Everything went very smooth and we were soon motoring out the mouth of the river and turned North East toward the Sunshine Bridge. There was just about 8 mph wind but we set the main and jib wing on wing and soon was moving just above 4 knots. We enjoyed tweaking the sails trying to get the most out of the light winds, after about 4 hours Captain John decided he needed to get on with it since we still had to drive back to retrieve his car from the yard. He started up those two Yanmars and we motor sailed at 6-7 knots, soon we were in the Old Tampa Ship Channel with a bit of traffic and we put away the sails to concentrate on getting her back to her slip at Westshore. Anytime I get an opportunity to get on a different boat, power or sail, I jump on it. There is always plenty to learn along the way from the experience.

We still had our tickets to Busch Gardens that was part of our SeaWorld package. The original Busch Gardens opened in 1959 as a hospitality center for the Tampa Anheuser-Busch brewery. Visitors could visit the gardens for free and watch a trained bird show after touring and enjoying a free beer at the brewery. It has evolved into this African Safari theme park and now owned by the same company that owns SeaWorld so they are very involved in conservation, rehab of sick or injured animals, endangered species protection etc. around the world. The African animal habitats are pretty spectacular and educational. We spent two full days and saw most of it. We probably would not have to gone to Busch Gardens but since the tickets were so cheap when combined with SeaWorld it was definitely worth it. All of the animals appeared very healthy and they obviously spared no expense in providing as natural a Habitat as possible inside the confines of a theme park. I liked the Hippos and the Cheetahs the most, the Admiral liked the Cheetahs and the Gorillas.

Rain is in the forcast, maybe we can find something interesting to do ……………..

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