Monday, April 22, 2013

Festival of Speed at Vinoy Park

I had a girlfriend that drove one of these....

I have always loved classic Hood Ornaments

There were several of these old Packard's....Great cars.

If I was a Farmer I think I would like to drive a Porsche Tractor

Perfect  ... Top Gear! 
I Understand...I belong to the Vintage Sailboat Club!

I only new one guy with a Norton....

Lots of custom rides here

Triumphs are cool

Take your choice

I drove for MDE in Corpus for a while and loved driving the SLS AMG  Roadster

I would be on a long straight farm road outside of Corpus and come to a full stop.  Punch it and start counting the seconds till the speedo hit 100+...TRY It! YOU WILL BE SURPRISED.

I would like to compare this to the Mercedes SLS Roadster....couldn't find the keys.

Susan and Jay owned one of these first Honda's to hit the US shores. I remember getting claustrophobic in the back seat.

A handy trunk for the spare.

We saw the King on the way out!

Festival of Speed at Vinoy Park

The Admiral found out about the car show over at Vinoy Park and I wanted to go check it out. We walked over around 1200 and I thought it would just be your run of the mill car show. I did not take a camera but I knew I could use the Iphone to take a few pics if there was anything worthy. WOW! as soon as we got there I had the Iphone out taking pics of every car there. It was the most incredible car show I have ever attended for sure, they had everything to Vintage, Classic, Muscle Car, Stock Race, Formula I, New Sports cars, and all the old ones were in Bristol condition. Eventually The battery died in my phone so at the end of our time there I borrowed the Admirals phone to get a few more pics on the way out. I was having the best time with the Admiral re-living the 50's, 60's, and 70's. The only car missing from our experience was my 60' Chevy Impala. All the Vintage cars were show room new and the Packards drew a big crowd.
There were several cars that I had either never heard about or seen before and some I had heard about but never seen like the Telsa: . I worked for MDE for a short time in Corpus to earn some boat money. This company contracted with Mercedes, Toyota, and others to put test miles on their yet to be released models. The best days were when I was assigned the Mercedes SLS Roadster. I was amazed at how the speed was immediate without any burning rubber. I have always wanted since then to drive a Porsch, BMW, and other high end roadster type cars to compare the performance. Not sure why someone that enjoys going 6 knots for hours or even days also enjoys the other end.I have had a few opportunities to go fast on water and about 30 MPH is my limit, anytime I approached that speed I was ready to back it off. Something about speed and water just does not mix with me.
When I got back to the boat to charge my Ipone I discovered it had crashed and had to be restored, I lost all of my fun photos. There was no way I could have posted them all on the blog anyway and fortunately I had those above on the Admirals phone. If one of these Festival's of Speed's comes near your home be sure to go check it out...lot's of Fun

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing for The Gulf of Mexico

I have wanted Hand rails on the forward end of the Bimini since I met John Ruiz! I put these on just before leaving Marathon. Much better going forward now when underway. 

Rebuilding the alternator has been on the back burner for a while. Now complete.

I tried to put a kit in the old one but I just could not get it to stop leaking after several attempts so I installed a new Galley pump that is used primarily to empty any water out of the frig but can also pump fresh or seawater to the sink as well. 

The Old ACR GPS antenna failed so I had to see what was inside the sealed unit, at least it was'nt a dead mouse.

Had the number 6 plus 2 Chinese characters on the  round disk, one sailor here said that it was a recipe for rice cakes.

The replacement GPS antenna for the AIS system, ONLY $25.00 from and free 2 day shipping!

There was a concerning noise coming from the Sea Power Unit, a 5 Kilowatt generator. 

Turns out it was a worn bolt on the bottom bracket. 

The old Bilge pump had to go. I put a kit in this just after buying the boat b ut it started leaking again at the worst moment so time to get a new one. 

The new bilge pump installed, again several hundred dollars cheaper on Amazon than! and with free 2 day shipping!

We thought we might have a leak coming from the forward water tank so  in order to get at the connections I had to remove the Salon Floor. Everything checked out. so the floor went back in the same day. 

PLB are the new EPIRB, they do the same thing and  instead of connecting them to the boat you connect them to your body so you do not have to go find it when you need it. And when help arrives they come to your location and not the boats location. We have two on board now.

Preparing for The Gulf of Mexico

Preparing for a approximately 7 to 11 day trip straight across the Gulf of Mexico is a lot different than just doing a day hop or a over nighter out in the Gulf. Being Hundreds of miles from help means you need to go over every system on the boat and make sure everything is up to date on maintenance and repair. Whenever I am planning a short passage I usually start to que up 3-4 days in advance and start paying attention to the ever changing project list. The day before departing I program the routes into all the navigation devices.

This time I started my planning by programming the route into SeaClear II first. The route is 801.22 Nautical miles from the Marina here at St. Pete to the Corpus City Christi Marina. At best I think we could make 144 NM per day. If there is no wind at all and we have to motor all the way across (as a few sailors I know have had to do, we would only be able to make 96 nautical miles a day to conserve fuel at a speed of 4 knots. So over 8 days on the slow side and about 5 1/2 days on the fast side. Given that Amazon or anyone else does not deliver to all coordinates within the boundaries of the Gulf of Mexico things need to be ship shape. Every day I think about getting it right so the passage will just be fun adventure. I began by talking to Bill about the crossing on our way up from Marathon. One thing I remember him mentioning was to be sure and have a spare fresh water pump for the engine on board. I brought this same topic up to John Furlinger and he agreed and added that a spare fuel pump and a spare thermostat would be good to have as well. You can spend a lot of money on engine spares and John mentioned it all depended on how far you want to go with it, and then there is the problem of having space to store the extras. After consulting the engine manual I concluded that Bill and John were correct on their suggestions so the good news is that Bill works at West Marine here in St. Pete and he knows every boat chandler in the area. He provided the directions to Mastry Engine Center: I love this place! They not only have every singe Yanmar part on the shelve but they take the time to make sure you have any related parts like gaskets etc. to make the install of the spare go smooth.
The Rest of the Gulf Project List Developed synergistically.
1. The Alternator. I knew the Alternator had not ever been serviced since we owned Wand'rin Star...time to get er done. Again Bill sent me to Wills. As I walked in the door Will said "you got a Yanmar alternator there", He rebuilt it for $150, Mighty Fine
2. It was time to replace the leaky Whale Galley Pump, I had tried at least three times taking it apart, putting a kit in, taking it apart again, and again to get it to seal. This King's man could not put it together again one more time so I just bought a new one. The best part is the 2013 model fits exactly in the same spot with the same exact foot print as the 1980's one.
3. On the way up from Long Beach Bill hailed a tow we were waiting on in the ICW to see if we were coming up as a target on his AIS system, he replied "Negitive". turns out I had a bad AIS/GPS antenna. I called ACR but they sold the AIS part of their company to a company in Austria. I tried calling them but it was 3am their time. The Admiral was going up to Tallahassee for a overnight Tai Chi event so this was the perfect time to remove the entire bed and access panels in the Aft Stateroom to get at the cable. Turns out the cable had chaffed, I found a RG58 cable connector at West Marine to splice the spot but no luck. The heck with it so I just ordered a $25 Passive GPS antenna from Amazon and with 2 day delivery I got it installed the day after the Admiral returned from her Tai Chi trip. The Antenna works great picking up 9-10 satellites right here in St. Pete.
4. After installing the rebuilt alternator and starting the engine to make sure the install was good I noticed a unusual noise and it sounded like it was coming from the Sea Power unit. I knew the bearings were good in it as it was rebuilt before we left Texas. It was time to replace the V-Belts on it anyway so after a bit of tinkering I took out the lower support bracket bolt and it was worn pretty good on the inner bracket points. I asked the guy at the Yanmar shop if he had a bolt like it but he could not find one so he recommended Pinellas Fasteners, they had it. I bought 2 and a couple of thin washers to go with it to shim the bracket.No more squeaking.
5. About 9 pm we heard the Bilge pump go off. The Admiral said turn off the Air Conditioning. Turns out the hose to the seawater out line had come loose and water was spraying inside the AC locker and down into the bilge. I open the engine access to check the progress of the bilge pump and the bilge pump was also leaking. I turned off the Bilge pump and used our 1 gallon shop vac to vacumn out the seawater from the bilge. repairing the hose on the AC was just a matter of replacing the hose and tightening up the hose clamps.  The Jabsco Bilge pump is different from most as it resides in the engine room and not down in the bilge. This is the same pump that was on the boat when we bought it and it was leaking then. It was one of my first projects to put a kit in it. It has worked flawlessly for almost  5 years so I thought it best to just put a new one in this time. After installing the pump I brought a hose down into the boat and filled the bilge to let the new one work and wash out all the salt from the seawater.
6. Again the Bilge pump went off around 9 pm. this time it was fresh water. After considering the sequence of events I felt that perhaps a hose had slipped off the forward water tank and the pump had siphoned out all the water in the tank. Tracking this down would require removing the Salon floor to get access to the forward water tank.Now that I had all the other stuff taken care of I was ready to tackle this. Fortunately I had plenty of experience removing the flooring and I knew I could get this done pretty quickly. The forward water tank and all the connections checked out so it had to have come from somewhere else. Wand'rin Star had to be inspected when we checked into the marina, just part of the routine here. I asked the marina technician who inspected the boat to confirm a couple of items on the inspection list to make sure my memory was accurate to chase down the source of the leak. He mentioned the pressure release valve on the water heater and I now realize the the mid water tank had emptied, the water pump continued to pump air into the activated water heater, the pressure release valve opened as I changed the valve to the forward water tank and the contents of the water heater then emptied into the bilge. The good news is the pressure release valve works!
7. We purchased two ACR Personal Locator Beacons. These take the place of EPIRB's that have been the standard till now. The difference is that the PLB's must be worn at all times while at sea. this is much better as they are readily available in case of emergency and do not have to be located. The PLB's bring the rescue responders to the crew and not the vessel in the event the crew and vessel become separated.
8. We will rent a 4 man life raft from Solution One Maritime in Tampa to make the crossing. I have researched  buying used ones, accepting offers from friends to use their out of certification rafts and have them re-certified, and just buying a brand new raft. If we were to continue to make crossings of this nature the best solution would to be to buy a new one. All the other options make little financial sense so the no-brainer is to rent one at $250 per week.
We had a rough Tampa Bay crossing from Long Beach, it shook loose the hose from the AC this in turn exposed a weak bilge pump.  I realized the alternator needed attention which led me to the Generator noise. I bought the ACR beacons from Solution One Maritime who happens to be one of the primary life raft providers in Florida and trains the US Coast Guard recruits on life rafts. Bill asked a question that exposed my defective AIS system
Marilyn Monroe said

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

She must have been a sailor.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Living Downtown St. Petersburg, Fl.

Just Chillin' in my favorite spot here at St. Pete Marina. A great place to just watch all the boats come and go from  this special Harbor. 

I got this from the Boot Key Harbor Facebook page, These Cubans made it to Land so they get to stay, their vwessel was found near the 7 Mile Bridge. 

Another guy from posted this on the Boot Key Facebook page, he wanted  everyone to like his photo so he could win a prize, I think he already had the prize. 

Some Eagles raising a pair of pups on a cell tower just a couple of miles North of the marina.

I found this at a Huge Neighborhood garage sale here in St. Pete. I  knew my brother would love it  since it  fits right in  with a theatrical production he Directed at Zachary Scott

The Admiral hooked up with the right person here at the St. Pete Tai Chi center and got to go  for a 2 day event at the Tai Chi National Headquarters  in Tallahassee Fl. 
Down the Street from the marina is Univ. of Southern  Florida, St. Pete. We went to a Free Japanese Taiko Drum  concert and then learned about the USFSP Free Talent Show the following Thursday, plenty of free activities to have fun with in the downtown area.

The Saturday Market is just a few blocks away, we go every Saturday and  have fun  for several hours. 

I liked these Tie Dyed baby clothes, the Admiral would not let me buy any, I was thinking they would be cool in Seattle.

The Best Wheat Grass Shots anywhere!

This Corn pancake is Mighty Fine.

We will come back for the Pineapple next time

This Endeavour 37 lost reverse and smacked a concrete walkway.  Just a small scratch compared to the concrete  These old boats are built like Tanks! I praised the captain for his choice in boats. He told me it might have been a different outcome if it had been low tide and his bow pulpit had hit instead. I told him he had outstanding timing!

Looks like the Endeavour won. I have another friend who has a Catalina 360  in corpus and when he hit  a concrete bulkhead at corpus Marina it left a huge gaping hole in the bow shaped like a sharks mouth. Endeavours....tougher than Concrete!

Living Downtown St. Petersburg,  Fl.

I thought a few times about returning to Westshore Yacht Club Marina but I really wanted to try hanging out in a downtown marina where lots of things to do are in walking distance. Now after being here for almost three weeks I know this was the right decision. At first it was a big change from Marathon but we are really appreciating all the events that happen here everyday. The other plus is all the boat chandler's in the St Pete area. Preparing Wand'rin Star ready for a 7-11 day Gulf crossing to Corpus is mixed in with enjoying the Urban life so this is a good spot for both.
The Admiral is not about sitting on the boat so she is always searching the area calender of events to see What's Happening. Univ.of S.Florida is just about a 15 minute walk away. She found a Japanese Taiko Drum concert for free. We invited Maureen to join us, Carey was working late hours this week. We enjoyed being on a college campus again and we were surely the oldest to attend as most of the audience were students. This Taiko Drum group was down from New York as part of a Cultural Exchange event. The drums were very loud and reverberate through your body. We returned the next Thursday for a free Student Talent Show. The best part was the free pizza. We did get to vote and I voted for #11 the Dancer, the Admiral and Maureen voted for #1 the Juggler. The Dancer won 1st, the Juggler got 2nd but won the Student favorite award.
Right down the street from the Tai Chi center where the Admiral goes several times a week for Tai Chi was a Annual Neighborhood Yard Sale. It is Huge and wraps around a nice Park around a small inner city lake. The thing about anywhere Florida is that it is retirement central. People from all over the world come to Florida to retire. That means they have very interesting yard, estate, or downsizing sales. a person could have brought a large U-haul truck here and completely outfitted a condo, house or whatever with some very interesting and cool stuff. Of course it was fun looking at but there is no room on the boat for any of it. I did find a Ceramic figurine that I thought was perfect for my brothers home so I bought it for $2.00 and shipped it to him....He Liked It! The Saturday Market is a really great perk for living downtown. It is a farmers market/unique prepared food/music festival all in one. Most stuff for sale is organic and healthy.
The Admiral was invited to attend two days of training at the National Tai Chi center in Tallahassee. This was a perfect time for me to start in on some boat projects to prepare Wand'rin Star for a Gulf crossing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 118/II Longbeach to St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

We had drifted just a bit to close to this vessel aground for Comfort.

Just 3 minutes down the channel we had to wait for this dredge to get turned around and head out with his load of spoils.

We hadn't cleared Anna Maria sound when we learned what was waiting for us in Tampa Bay.

For the next 3 1/2 hours we took a salt hosing.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is big enough to see through the Spray!

Awwwww....Moored at last.

Wand'rin Star flying her colors in the St. Petersburg Mooring Field

A quick tour of the Marina and I discover three sailing vessels that have been converted to power boats by removing the mast and all there rigging. 

A long day to rent a car, drive to Marathon and bring back up  the Little Truck That Can to St. Pete, this nice sunset was taken just North of Naples.

We are now in the slip near the top marked by the blue spot, Bill Wilson's 33 Morgan Out Islander "Breezin" is just across from us among the slips directly below us in the center of the pic, and Maureen and Cary on "C Lover" are slipped in the center row at the bottom of the pic. 

Day 118/II Longbeach to St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

3/25/13 Departed 0815 hrs.  Arrived 1330 hrs; Underway 4:56 hrs; 24 NM; Avg. Speed 4.9, Forecasted 20-30 mph N winds, Sunny 75-80 degrees

I woke around 0600 and could hear the winds picking up. I was surprised it was so late, I usually wake on auto earlier to check the anchor. I went up to the cockpit to check our position and everything looked good. the winds had shifted to the North and we had shifted around like everyone else. The winds were were definitely in the 20 mph range but all looked good so I went back to bed. I was not really able to get fully back to sleep. by 0630 I got up again and took another look around. Humm...why are we so close to that boat that is aground on the shoal?. I continue to sit and monitor our position. By 0645 I am concerned enough to wake Bill and prepare to move the boat to reset the anchor. After about 15-20 minutes discussing this with Bill I finally realize we are indeed dragging inch by inch and the winds are now gusting to the 30's. We start the engine and I go forward and raise the anchor. We will have to reset it so we can get the dingy up on the davits before we depart. All this and no coffee yet! I get the anchor back down and I do not even care if it drags a bit now cause we have room and we just need a few minutes to get the dingy and motor secured before we take our impromptu departure from the Longbeach anchorage.
Bill takes us to the ICW as I finish getting the anchor and rode secured. We are not even out in the ICW at the North end of Sarasota Bay when a dredge is taking up the entire channel. the winds are now sustained 30 gusting to 35+ knots. Using the AIS to get the Dredges name we call to see if we can pass, he said come ahead but he gets turned around and heads North so we will not have to worry about passing him today. For some reason Bill thinks to ask the Captain of the dredge if we are coming up on his AIS, he responds "negative". What!, I look back at the GPS antenna that is dedicated to the Nauticast "B" AIS and realize it must be blocked by the solar panels. I will just have to deal with that later.
We just have two Bascule bridges to clear today and the first was the Cortez Bridge. The bridge tenders want you to be near the bridge when they open so you can get on through and they can quickly re-open the bridge to traffic. Bill was cautious and stayed a bit off due to the wind and sea conditions so we were a bit late getting through the bridge, Bill made sure to thank the tender and we made our way to the Anna Maria Bridge just a short distance away in Anna Maria Sound. This time there was a barge South bound on the other side and he was having his own issues with the wind, current and sea state. Bill called him on 09 to tell him to pass through first and we would wait. The Bridge tender came on and said he was out on deck and could not answer the radio so he would make sure he knows to pass first. It was a long 15 minute wait, The bage passed and again we late getting through. things that look close are really far away when your speed is 6 knots. Bill again apologized and thanked the tender but I am sure he wrote down Wandr'rin Star on his bad list. They do not really care what  the winds are etc. they just want you to get on through the bridge and not hold up dozens if not hundreds of cars.
Anna Maria Sound was just the intro to Tampa Bay, Shortly after clearing the Anna Maria Bridge we found 4-5' with the occasional 6' short chop seas and the howling North wind on the nose. We motored on at 2200 RPM's making 5+ knots in the opposing flood tide. Bill thought we might want to run over to Fort Desoto to anchor in the lea there and wait it out. I rechecked the weather on the Iphone and now there was a high wind warning out till 1800. Yeah bashing through this was not that comfortable but I thought about the prospects of taking an hour or so to make Ft. De Soto and hanging out there till 1800 or so and still have 3 hours to get to the mooring field at St. Pete so I just wanted to continue on. I was hoping the fetch would begin to die down as we neared the St. Pete peninsula anyway and it did subside as we neared our destination.
It is not like Wand'rin Star had not experienced such conditions before after all we came from Corpus Christi Bay where the winds are routinely 20+ and we had been out several times in 20-30 on the Bay, even with 30 sustained we sailed to the Navy Base and anchored out for the weekend there. The difference though was that this chop was a bit steeper and a slightly longer wave period and for whatever reason a less comfortable ride than what we experienced in Corpus. I am guessing it is due to the much wider and more exposed opening to the Gulf of Mexico here.
We went straight to the Pump out at the St. Pete Marina to get that duty over with and with the North winds pushing us on to the dock we were pushed in naturally, the problem would be getting off once we got the chores done. After hosing off all the salt and taking care of the chores we decided it was enough for the day and to forget going to the fuel dock. I went and checked in, got Mooring Ball #11. I felt like we could easily use a spring line and get off the pilings we were pushed up against. We tried to reverse off fist with a spring on the bow, we waited for the gust to go away but no luck. So we decided to use a aft spring and just power forward off, I was sure this would get us off. But no, we were really pinned.Carl guy who drives the pump out boat was waiting for us to move so he could get in and empty his tanks. He volunteered tp tow us off and that worked just fine but it was kinda of harry!, Making sure the dingy and all the other stuff hanging off the stern did not hit a piling on the way out was a bit concerning but it all worked out well and we went slowly to the mooring field so as not to get any more salt spray on the decks.
On the second try we secured to Mooring #11 and began putting things back in order as Bill packed his stuff and prepared to go back to the real world. The good news was he had a few more days off so he could spend time on Breezin to move along a few boat projects of his own.
My task was to get things back in order since the Admiral was flying back in just a few days. The primary objective was to retrieve the Little Truck That Can from Marathon. Love those 1 way car rentals!. My friend  Johny picked me up early in the morning and took me to St Pete Airport to get the rent cat and then I drove over and John, who crewed with me on the way to Marathon volunteered to drive down and do some of the driving back. After getting through am rush hour I picked up John and we drove straight to Marathon, about a 7 hour venture. I picked up Bill's Stuff at west Marine, we had a fine lunch at Key Fisheries and then we were back off to St. Pete. Bill remembered that I needed a parking permit so he got on for me and left it on Breezin. After dropping John off at Westshore Yacht Club I got back at 2330 hours, stopped by Bills boat to get the parking pass, and then back to the dingy dock. I was back on Wan'drin star around 2400 and happy.