Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A few details before returning to the Motherland

It was time to return to the Motherland and take care of business, annual Dr. visit’s and Fun with family before we start the 2nd portion of our trip. A couple of things popped up on the to do list to get the boat ready to be alone a few weeks. One item was to convert all the deck level navigation lights to LED. All other mast, deck  and navigation lights were already replaced with LED fixtures. Now replacement LED bulbs are available for the old incandescent type fixtures. We already replaced all the interior lights with LED replacement bulbs so this little project completes the vessel and thereby reduces the power demands for any type of lighting to minimal consumption. The folks at JSI in St. Pete were very helpful in helping me pick out the right  LED replacement bulbs, each of the three bulbs were $50 each but that was easy when most complete LED fixtures are in the $400-$600 range. 

I replaced the two white stern lights (we have two since when the dingy is on the Davits one is blocked by the dingy),  so these are the two on the left, the old incandescent is stored in the center. I was just getting the bow combination red/green on the right ready to install.
 Dingy Duty
 The next item was to get the dingy down put the outboard on and run it around a bit to make sure all is good there. The dingy will get a workout when we get to Marathon. The morning was spent just cleaning the dingy and after it dried out the motor was on and two pulls and I was off, it ran smoothly all the way out the channel nearly to Gandy bridge, then it started sputtering a bit. I began to get back near shore since I did not want to row this dingy to far. I made sure not to slow down to much since I did not want the engine to quit till I got closer to the mother ship and sure enough as soon as I backed off on the throttle it died, I glided to the dock. I am assuming it was bad gas. The fuel has been in the 3 gallon tank for a year now and I am sure it just needs replacing. I took the fuel tank to my truck and poured it in, this is the only quick way to recycle bad gas. I will get a fresh tank of Ethanol free fuel and try again to make sure before we depart for St. Augustine.

The Osprey take over every mast head in the marina where they carry their catch and eat. They then drop a egg sized mess of fish bones on the deck.

This 68' Irwin is right across from us on our dock. I have counted 11 Cormorants roosting on the spreaders at night. That boat gets pelted.

These are Yellow ballon like commercially available bird defense products. They do not work.

A fine example of bird poop
 Bird Defense
The other item was to construct some bird defense to ward off the Cormorants. As long as we are on the boat they do not land on our spreaders and poop up the place. But the last time we were gone for Isaac we returned to a big mess and so some serious cleaning was in place. The boaters here at Westshore report that this is the worst year ever hear for the bird poop problem and I think it is because it was a bumper crop of baby seabirds around here. Anyway I have watched as other sailboats in the marina tried all sorts of commercially available products and tactics for scaring the birds away from their vessel. The one that works the best is a line of colorful streamers hoisted up the mast. So I walked around the marina to see who seem to have the best design and copied them. We have two sets of spreaders so I strung 3 streamer per spreader on a line measured at the right height and hoisted it all up the mast. Unfortunately the three days of winds here in Tampa from sandy blew my streamers out so when I got back I spent the afternoon cleaning and putting my streamers back together. My dock buddy John reported that the boat stayed clean till after Sandy, then the limp streamers just didn’t fly anymore.

I liked the way this guy rigged up his bird defense streamers so I copied him. 

These are my streamers...they work great when they are flying.

 Visitor From Texas

We got a call from Kevin who flew to Florida from Corpus to take his 30’ Cape Dorey back to Texas. He had just arrived in Gulfport after cruising up the ICW from the Ft. Myers area so we drove over and had dinner with him. We then took him to a local Publix so he could get a load of provisions and helped him get it all in his dingy and bid him Farewell. At the time he hoped he could find a weather window to run across the Gulf to Corpus, or if not that far perhaps to Gulfport Miss., or Venice LA. Well once the fronts start coming every 4-5 days it makes choosing a window a bit of a gamble and then there was Sandy out there closing on Cuba. He eventually decided to just travel the ICW and right now he is in Panama City waiting out the next front that is passing through here today.

Here is Kevins Awesome 30' Cape Dorey all fixed up for long term cruising in Gulfport, FL.

Since some of our family lives in Seattle and another bunch in Austin we all met in Austin for early Thanksgiving. Russell wanted to go to Luling for some real Texas BBQ while in the Heart of Texas so yeah buddy I jumped in the car and loved every taste. We all took the opportunity to go to my brothers production of Rag Time at the new Topfer Theater at Zachary Scott. If you visit Austin make sure you take time to see whatever is on at this theatre, The next closet experience of this quality would be in New York City. We had two full weeks of Super Fine Family Time and we had excellent reports from the Dr’s so ready to get back and get to cruising.

These guys are the real thing, NO ONE can do Texas BBQ better. This is the smoke house at Luling BBQ where you guy choose and buy your meat.

We had an a great evening at the New Topfer Theatre to see Rag Time directed by my brother Dave.

House Sitting at my Brothers home. Taking care of Luna, a Chinese Crested

Sandy will change the immediate future of all East Coast Cruisers. Waters North of the Chesapeake may have changed. Here is an excerpt from the Waterway Guide; just one of the major weekly updates that East Coast Cruisers follow to stay abreast of current conditions on the East coast:

“Waterway Guide Cruisers update:

We all may have witnessed the storm of a generation. The loss of life, livelihood, and property saddens our hearts. For boaters, an entire cruising region has been transformed in a moment -- new inlets have been formed, old channels filled, hundreds of marinas damaged or destroyed, ports of call nearly wiped out.
Mariners are advised that the aids to navigation in all Fifth District waters and coastal areas should be considered unreliable due to Hurricane
Sandy and the associated rainfall, wind driven storm surge and extreme high tides. Aids to navigation may be missing, damaged, off station or displaying improper characteristics. In addition, mariners may encounter shoaling, obstructed waterways, floating and submerged debris and abnormal currents. Report any navigation outages or hazards to navigation to the nearest Coast Guard unit or to the U.S. Coast Guard
Navigation Center website at “
We Left Galveston bound for Corpus Christi by just a few months after Ike. There once was a lot of homes on Bolivar Island, Ike blew them and all their contents into the Gulf and Galveston Bay, we dodged a lot of debris, floating stuff, refrigerators, etc. The debris was still floating around for years after. You can imagine what it might be like as you get close to Jersey Shore. It will be a while before normal navigation returns to those areas. A lot of cruisers will have to make decisions on which way they want to point the bow.

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