Friday, December 18, 2009

Ready for home

Lucky is all buttoned up and ready for transportation back to California. It was exactly a year ago that she was placed on the truck in Alameda and such a lot has happened since then.

As Steph mentioned below, I've spent the week since she left for Myrtle Beach getting Lucky ready.

Sunday I went on a sea trial with Jefory (head mechanic) and Louise to check the new drive. All ran well, we managed cruise and WOT RPM settings, no abnormal sensor readings or noises. It was a little rough out there, so we cut the planned trial short by an hour and came back in. With Louise's help I pumped out the black water tank. The fresh water tanks were almost empty already, so didn't need any further draining.

Monday was a very busy day for me. An early haul out allowed me to get on the two main tasks for the day sooner rather than later. The trim tabs needed to be looked at and all the stuff on the hardtop needed to be removed. The lads at All Point Boats looked at the trim tabs. Out outboard starboard trim tab ram had stuck closed. replacing all four cylinders solved the problem and they were done by 3pm. Meanwhile, I had everything off the top before dark. Mike came over and washed down the boat.

Tuesday I took off the propellers and protected the shafts with grease and plastic bags. I also loaded the boat with everything from the hotel except a few clothes. Dinner with Louise at Coconuts rounded out the day.

Wednesday the shrink wrappers came and started the job. It took them about a day, spread over three, to finish the job. We hope that by wrapping the tender separately it'll hold up to the journey better. Dinner with CJ and Margie was bittersweet. I'm going to miss them.

Thursday was fairly quiet, between prodding shrink wrappers to get on with it and watching the rain. I had a nice dinner with Sean and Louise. Five hours passed in the blink of an eye!

Here we are, Friday. Lucky is wrapped. All the bills are paid. The bags are nearly packed. My flight leaves in 3 hours. Its all over.

For tax reasons, Lucky isn't being shipped until the beginning of next year. She'll have spent the whole of 2009 out of California, so I'm not liable for property taxes. She should arrive in Alameda before the end of January.

Heading Home

I can’t believe that this adventure is coming to its end. It’s a humble reminder of how fast life moves along…

Our last week has been a quiet one. I am in SC, celebrating a early holiday with my Mom. We’ve had a wonderful week together. We’ve been quilting and quilt shopping, cooking, eating and talking. I couldn’t ask for a better week. Martin has stayed in Ft. Lauderdale to wrap up the work with Lucky. I think that he’ll be blogging about his week though I can summarize by saying that he spent some wonderful time with Sean & Louise, CJ & Margie and got Lucky sea-trialed, hauled, cleaned and shrink-wrapped. Martin leaves tonight for home and I follow tomorrow. We’re both in a bit of shock that we’ll be back home, together, in just over a day!

We'll definitely continue the blog through the end of the month. I think the year adventure should include our return home and readjustment, it should be interesting ;-)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Back in Florida

We had a great time back in Ft. Lauderdale after Curacao. I’m late blogging so I’ll just give a quick review. We found a wonderful hotel just off the beach downtown. It was also right around the corner from the Hugh Taylor Birch Park and down the street from the Galleria Mall. So I had great jogging and shopping grounds :)

Our friends Sean and Louise were in town and we were so excited to get to see them! We last saw them back in January in Naples. They live in a Neoplan bus and tour the country so we’re always happy when we get to meet up with them. They had just done a dive certification in the Keys but Louise had to finish up a couple exercises - we were so happy we got to join them! We had a great time and Louise finish her cert! One big difference from Curacao was that the water was Cold. Who would think that 77 could feel like ice water! We saw some wonderful critters – a very friendly sting ray that swam with us and a gorgeous cornetfish. We have some great pics up (the best is the one above)!

We drove out to Naples and spent some time with Sue & Armando and the kitties Blu & Tru. I’m so glad that we had enough time to visit with friends and say good-bye!

Of course we also go to see Margie & CJ a few times while we were back. Martin and I agree that meeting them was one of the highlights of our year. We're both incredibly sad to leave them!

The week and half went by incredibly fast. In addition to seeing our friends, Martin spent a bit of time at the boat yard as they finally replaced the cursed drive with a new and improved version (yay!) I made plans to fly up to visit my Mom on the 12th and Martin stayed on to complete the last sea trial and then see to it that Lucky got shrink wrapped and ready to go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our final week in Curacao

We were so busy the past week that I posted a couple of individual blog entries below (east-end diving and ATVing). We had such a crazy busy week and it was wonderful! I've posted a ton of pics too so you can see as well as read about it.

When we came to Curacao in June 2008 we met a couple from Denver - Chris and Andrea. There were staying at another dive resort on the island and had come up to Westpunt for the day. We met at Sol Food (of course!) and ended up diving together after that. We've kept in touch since then and were so excited to realize that we'd both be coming to Curacao for Thanksgiving. We just had the best time hanging out with them all week! They are fantastic divers (Andrea's a kick-butt photographer too) and they are a lot of fun to be with :) Thanksgiving was Andrea's birthday too which made the day all the more special.

So our last week we did a lot of diving! In addition to the east end dives we went out on the boat again to Watamula, did 2 night dives at Alice in Wonderland and dove the fisherman's beach behind Sunshine & Davids' for our last dive. On that last dive we swam with a school of 16 squid (awesome!) and found a pipe fish in the sand. It seems like every dive we made we found something wonderful...

On Friday, Martin and I visited Derrick and Ans down the road to visit their puppies. They have 8 pups that are Rottweiler/Mastiff mixes. I almost brought one home for my kittie George (just kidding, kind of of, they were soooo cute...)

We had Thanksgiving at Sol Food with Sunshine, David and the Bees. The dive shop gang came over later for pie and ice cream. We got to sing Happy Birthday to Andrea too. Sunshine put on an incredible spread of food (as usual) and I made my stuffing. It was a great dinner. The only downside to the day was that at some point during the evening/night, a creep snuck into our apartment and stole Martin's laptop. That sucked and we wish much bad karma on the thief...

We had dinner at Sol Food each night over the weekend and enjoyed hanging out with the Bees and Andreas, Bryan, Dave and Toni from the dive shop. Our last night in town was Andreas's birthday so we got to sing again! I especially enjoyed listening to Martin, Bryan and Chris. The 3 of them got on well together and I enjoyed the good-humored teasing :)

Somewhere in there we also went to happy hours, had the Bees over for dinner, sat and chatted with David and Sunshine, played with Chaos and Nez, cuddled with Meo, Martin biked with the Westpunt Riders and I got to jog on the mondi. This had to be one of our most active months of the year!

As I sit here in Ft. Lauderdale looking back I can't even express how grateful I am for this past month (or how sad I am to have left...) Thank you to all the wonderful people we got to share it with and special thanks to Sunshine & David for making our stay feel like we were at home (well, a warmer, sunnier, divier home :)

ATVing on Curacao

On Saturday we set off on a non-diving adventure with Chris and Andrea and had a BLAST! Sunshine recommended Eric's ATVs down in Wilhelmsted - they were awesome! I was a little nervous about riding an ATV. The first and only time I've driven one was at my Dad's old house in upstate NY. If I remember correctly, I promptly drove it into a tree :) Well, I managed quite well but one other guest on the tour (a Dutch or German guy) didn't fare so well. And did I mention that the trees here all sport inch-long thorns? (see pic of the day 3 Mondi shots) There was blood involved. Ouch!

Anyway, it was so, so much fun. We drove a bit on the streets in town, then on back dirt roads to the Aloe Farm and Ostrich Farm for a drink. We toured a cave and hiked up to see a gorgeous view of the eastern coastline. Then we headed to the windmills and stopped at a small cafe near Playa Canoa which is the only beach that can be surfed on the island (there are small breakers there). We were hot and grimy, (actually filthy), by the end and were all wearing super huge smiles. We have a lot of pics up from the tour.

After the ATVs we headed home and stopped at Daniels for lunch with the Bees (we affectionately call Chris & Andrea "the bees" because of her siggie on scuba board :)

Just another day in paradise...

Diving the East End

Adventure Diving! On Monday our friends Chris and Andrea came to Curacao. We met them here back in June 2008 and were so excited to find that we were all going to be back here for Thanksgiving week!

They are avid divers so Sunshine planned an adventure for us all. Sunshine, David, Chris & Andrea, Martin and I drove down to Wilhelmsted to meet Neils and go on a 2 tank dive on the other end of the island. We piled into a zodiac and made the hour boat trip out to the tip. The seas were pretty high - maybe 5 feet at the point, and it was decided that it was too high to be able to get us back into the boat so we changed dive locations. Even in the "smaller" seas it was quite the adventure getting ourselves back into that boat - very different experience riding in a zodiac rather than a big power boat :) (see pics!) We did the first dive along a wall with a ton of soft coral. It was gorgeous. We had our surface interval in a lagoon, snorkeling and looking at huge starfish. Then we went back out for our second dive. This dive was along a very steep wall. We came across a total of 3 nurse sharks (fairly rare in Curacao). At the shark area we spotted a HUGE porcupine fish swimming with it's baby. None of us has ever seen such a huge puffer. It was at least 3 feet long! And then, doesn't a manta ray cruise by out in the blue! It was incredible! The only downer was that it was trailing a mooring line with a big coke bottle on the end of it :( (pic above).

It was an awesome day- awesome people, fish, diving...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bait Ball

Yesterday we went for a dive at the house reef at Ocean Encounters West called Alice in Wonderland. We descended to about 50 feet and saw something out in the distance. It was a large school of silvery fish (about 5 inches long) swimming in a tight circle, it's referred to as a "bait ball". The fish swim like this for protection from predators. These bait balls can be seen getting herded herded up towards the surface where dolphin, sharks, larger fish and birds feed on them. We descended down to about 70 feet and went out away from the reef a bit to see it. It was sooo cool! At one point the ball began moving upwards and we found ourselves in the middle of hundreds of swirling fish. Luckily we had our camera and got some great pictures! (see pics dated 11-22-09) We were hoping something large would come to feed on the fish but we didn't see much. One very large silver fish that came and went. It was a really thrilling experience. The pic above was taken from inside the bait ball.

Running in the Mondi

I took my camera out yesterday morning and made a photo journal of my run. I wish I done this in Ft. Lauderdale too where I got to run to the beach and see the sunrise over the ocean. Here, I run into the "mondi" (shrub forest) and see the sunrise over the hills. The mondi is like a desert with reddish soil and lots of cacti. All the plants seem to have thorns of some kind. You have to watch not to let anything brush your face or you'll pay! There are 2 trails I've been on so I ran each a bit to get pictures. One is a mountain bike path that David created for his Westpunt Riders. The other is a dirt road that goes along the coast to Watamula, a point at the tip of the island where there's a very popular dive site you can go to by boat.

There are 2 things I couldn't get pictures of in the mondi. Until this week there were very tiny delicate lavender flowers. It hasn't rained in a couple of weeks but maybe they'll come back out before we go and I'll get a picture. Then there are tiny lavender butterflies that look a lot like the flowers that I couldn't hope to get a picture of. I'm amazed at the amount of life that you see out there in the desert. I've seen lizards, a snake and several rabbits. See pic of the day(3) 11/22/09.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another week flown by...

Our dive at Porto Marie on Monday was great. We met a few of Sunshine's friends and enjoyed a beautiful reef. One of the people we dove with is a photographer (Stan) so we have a couple really nice pics on our pic of the day(3) and see the pic above! We usually like to stay for lunch at Porto Marie but there was serious construction on the bathrooms going on there and we couldn't deal with noise so we left. Then we got a little turned around finding the main road home and just happened to past this awesome Dutch pancake restaurant called Daniels. We had a great lunch!

This week we studied and then did part 1 of our search and recovery class with Toni. That was actually a lot of fun! We learned to navigate by compass doing specific search patterns and how to raise heavy objects using a lift bag. We then used our new found skills to lift a tire out from under the pier where it had fallen :) Toni found the minuscule baby drum fish in the tire. It was about 3 mm long. Amazing! We also spotted the small seahorse that was just found hanging out just off the pier. He seems so vulnerable just hanging out on the sandy parts but he's been there all week. He's hanging right next a big octopus in a coral rock so I hope he doesn't become dinner one night! We have the second half of the class tomorrow - 2 new search patterns and lifts to conduct.

We took a day off on Wednesday. All the classes had us a bit tired out! We went into town with Sunshine, David and Dave and saw 2012. Then we stopped at a roadside place and got "lumpias". Deep fried spring rolls. Those were delish and not terribly weight watcher friendly I'm afraid. I also had to work on my resume a bit that day. I seem to have completely forgotten that I will be going back to work soon and that having a resume might be a good idea! Thank you Judy for helping me pull it together!

Yesterday we went for a dive on the house reef at OEW. Then we headed to town to grocery shop. I'm making the stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner so I got the makings for that too. Then there was a barbecue at OEW in the evening so we went and hung out with the gang down there in the evening.

Today is Friday and we are lounging around, planning on diving at Cas Abao today. There is a lovely beach and small cafe/lunch place there. It's crazy busy on the weekends so we're going today. And of course it's Friday so all the fun at Sol Food begins this evening. That means lots of the guests from All West Apartments and the Lodge will be by (people we meet at the dive shop and barbecues) as well as the staff from OEW. The weekends are so much fun here!

So we've been really, really busy! In addition, I've been able to get up early in the morning and go running up in the mondi pretty regularly. I think I'll bring a camera next time and get more pictures. Martin has been mountain biking every Tuesday and Thursday evening and is now able to keep up with some of the smaller boys :) I don't want to even think about the fact that we have only 10 days left!

On a side note: the mechanics fixed the port drive and took Lucky out on a sea trial earlier this week. The port drive exploded. It's destroyed and needs to be replaced. Can you say "defective part"? What more can I say? Hopefully Martin will blog more about it when he's calm enough to address it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rescue Divers!

It's Monday already, our time here is half through. I can't believe it! A month sounded like such a long time but it's going by waaay too fast.

We had a great time at Moon Restaurant last Wednesday. Then Thursday Martin and I went diving at Habitat Curacao, a dive resort down the coast a ways. We weren't all that impressed with their house reef, ours (Alice in Wonderland) is much prettier :) We studied more on Thursday and then went to a neighborhood party with Sunshine & David in the evening.

On Friday we began our Diver Rescue Course - see the pic above. Poor Martin got a bit too much sun on his head and had to go for creative solutions :) Dang, but that was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated! Our instructor, Dave, was fantastic. We met on Friday and went through the theory and then took the written exam. We only spent about an hour in the water reviewing self-rescue skills. Saturday we were in the water all day going through 10 exercises. We learned how to bring up an unresponsive diver, how to approach tired and panicked divers and how to tow them all into shore/to a dock. How to do rescue breathing, take off our own and their equipment and get them onto dry land. It's not that easy! On Sunday we worked through 4 simulations or scenarios. They were like our final exam. During one, bringing back an exhausted diver, some divers on the dock didn't realize it was a simulation and one stepped right in to help. I was impressed with the man's calm efficiency. I hope I'm that good now :) He got a chuckle when we explained that we must just be very good actors! Today is Monday and I'm so sore. I had double calf charlie horses last night - that was fun... It just goes to show how physical the class was I think. I learned more in this course than any other that we've taken so far. It really makes you think outside of yourself and gain a different perspective. I'm very, very glad we took the class. I hope we never need to use the skills we learned but we're better divers for knowing them.

As for other classes, we have 2 night dives to finish for our Night Dive Specialty and then Tuesday and Saturday this week we'll do the Search & Recovery class with Toni. It's a very productive month for us!

Today we have to read for class tomorrow and we're going diving at Porto Marie, meeting up with Sunshine and some of her friends. Tomorrow morning we'll have class, I think just for half day.

It's paradise here. We're both extremely happy :)

Lovely Curacao

Let's see, what have we been up to since last Friday! We had a wonderfully social weekend at Sol Food. The dive shop folks come over and we really enjoy hanging out with them and getting to know everyone better. They are such an upbeat, fun group of people! Martin and I have not been going crazy diving but are averaging about 1 a day. We went out on a dive off the beach near the house and I found ANOTHER seahorse. I'm so very proud :) This one was a gorgeous bright yellow. We also had our first night dive (first of 3 for a specialty class). I wore my new hood and was very glad - it's both warm and keeps the little water bugs and nasties out of my hair. Lights under water attract as many little creepy things underwater and out of water. We saw an enormous lobster (easily would have fed 6 ;) and an eel that was hunting. No octopus but we'll be doing a few more night dives so hopefully we'll see one.

I was slowed down a bit Sunday and Monday with headaches. I realized that I forgot my Excedrin Migraine and Naproxen (1st line of defense before the heavy hitters...) so we went to a drug store here. Over-the-counter drugs are behind-the-counter here but psyche - you can get prescription strength Naproxen! Monday was my birthday. That was the day of our night dive and then afterward there was a big group of people that came over for a special spaghetti dinner. (Bryan, manager of the dive shop, has his family visiting for a week.) So we joined them and had a really nice evening and lots of cake! Tuesday was Sunshine's birthday. Since she cooks all the time I made us all burritos (hey, I'm not a culinary star...) and we sat out on the patio and had a wonderfully relaxing evening in the breeze.

Tuesday morning we went diving with Ocean Encounters West on a 2-dive boat dive to the Sponge Forest and Watamula dive sites. There was a really strong current so they were drift dives. I enjoyed them - it's a challenge with the strong current. I'm also taking sudafed for my ears and have found that when I take it I can get down right away - no hovering at 20 feet in ear pain - it's Such a relief. Thank you Sandra for that wonder cure!

Today is Wednesday and we've stayed in studying all day. We have our Rescue Diver Course all day Friday-Sunday and have to do the theory work before then. It was a long study day! We're heading down to Wilhemsted this evening with Sunshine, David and Andreas to have dinner in town. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Loving Curacao

Life is good, very very good! I just took this picture off of our balcony :)

We arrived in Curacao late Monday night. Sunshine & David greeted us and we talked til late. We had a warm welcome from Meo the cat as well. He slept with us all night. I thought the mosquito netting would bother him but he didn't seem to mind at all! On Tuesday we went for a dive with Sunshine, David and some ladies from the American Women's Club. It was a great dive and I was so psyched - I found a big black sea horse hanging out in some black coral! My training with Sandra in Ft. Lauderdale is showing ;) Tuesday afternoon we went into town and did some grocery shopping. We had to wait on produce though. That arrives by ship on Thursdays so Sunshine picked up our produce for us when she went for her shop on Thursday afternoon. Between availability and the 45 minute drive to town, shopping takes a little more planning than at home.

I went out with David one morning to walk the "pups". (The pups are actually 2 young - huge and lovey fila brasileiros). He showed me the "mondi" (bushland forest) where he's cleared miles of mountain bike trails. The next morning I was able to head out and get a run in up there. I'll have to get some pictures and post them on the pic of the day (3). David has started a non-profit mountain biking group for the local boys here called Westpundt Riders. Martin went out riding with them last night on their weekly ride. I was happy when he returned - walking and not too bloody :)

Yesterday we studied hard and then today went and finished our first specialty class - Enriched Air. Now we can dive with nitrox tanks if we want (more oxygen than air). This gives you more time under water or less of a wait time above water for multiple dives. We won't use nitrox much but it'll be great to be able to when we want it. We've also signed up for the Rescue Divers Course, and both Night Dive and Search & Recovery specialty classes. We're front loading our stay here with classes since the dive shop has a huge group in the end of the month. This will give us time to practice what we learn too.

A major disappointment - the Disco Dive was canceled. And I even had a black sequins jumpsuit to wear over my wetsuit - what a shame! We have so much schedule already - Monday is our first night dive, we're doing a 2 dive boat trip Tuesday morning and then our Rescue class all weekend.

Sol Food opens today for the weekend (Sunshine & David run a restaurant here Friday noon - Sunday evening). It smells great right now. I think a bunch of the people from the dive shop will be coming over for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to it! It was so nice to see everyone again. It's so unusual to visit twice in only a few months. I'm looking forward to getting to know the dive gang better!

Leaving Fort Lauderdale (oops - delayed post!)

I thought I had posted this but I hadn' better late than never...

Happy Halloween! OMG - November is here!

We've had a great week. Once again we went diving with Sandra and Dan. This time we found a white-nosed pipefish (pretty rare it seems), and a gorgeous flatworm that was reproducing and spliting in half (that pic didn't come out on my camera :( The Ft. Lauderdale Int'l Boat Show on Thursday was Incredible! We went with CJ and Margie and Sandra and Dan met us there too. Holy cow! It's HUGE. We visited several vendors that people wanted to check out. We toured Cronki, Viking, Lazzara, Tiara, Nordhavn, Selene and Grand Banks boats. It was a great day but very, very hot. We lost the gang earlier on from the heat but we couldn't leave! Never having been before, we were enthralled :) The show was also only a mile and half from the hotel so we could walk home afterwards (traffic was an absolute nightmare!). We got to see the new 60 Nordhavn - Wow. Martin and I are thinking that maybe one day, several years from now, we'd like to cruise again and we'd definitely get a trawler and go further afield. The Nordhavn's are more ship than boat and the 55 and 60 foot models are incredible. (The 60 is the exact same boat as the 55 with an additional 5 feet in the cockpit). It was awesome to get to actually see one! I'll put some pics up on "pic of the day 3".

Speaking of boats - since we wrote last week we've come full circle. We had the sea trial the day after I posted and there was a "miracle". Lucky appeared fixed! It seems it was the trim tabs causing the tilting and overheating at full throttle. We were thrilled! Martin was waiting to pay up and get a detailed mechanics account to post about the Lucky saga.

Then we had a very unwelmcomed shock yesterday. We went to the boat to drop off some stuff (we've moved practically everything from Lucky to the hotel so it's time to start moving it back - we leave on Monday). The mechanics were there finishing off the work so we could go pay up and be done. The last check is the oil and *surprise* there was water in the port drive. Don't really have the words for how that felt. Martin was, livid? Jeffrey, the lead mechanic (and owner) has assured Martin that they'll take care of it while we're gone, as well as the cost. This means a haulout, reentry and sea trial - all without Martin there. Yeah, Mart's not thrilled. But we have to do it or there's no chance of Lucky be "fixed" before we head home.

So now on to our next adventure - Curacao! I'm sooo excited to have an entire month to explore and dive there. It's such a good thing that we planned this, it's a perfect way to end the year! We have Wifi there so we'll be on line and continuing to update the blog!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Swimming with a Manatee!

No, the pic above is a Sea Robinfish but first - Martin swam with a manatee out in the wild - how freakin' cool is that??? Yesterday we went diving with Dan & Sandra. It's been windy and the ocean is too high to go out so we all stayed at the bridge. Martin & Dan were free diving and Sandra and I were scuba diving. Martin & Dan meet up with 10 ft manatee that hung out with them for about 5 minutes. Amazing! They also found themselves swimming with a school of 6 eagle rays! Sandra and I missed the big critters but did find a Sea Robinfish (pic above). It's the creepiest thing ever! It has these appendages like front feet that they can move like fingers to turn over rocks and find food yet it's a fish. Yikes! I'm really amazed at the bridge area. It's just a sandy, kind of ugly space under water and you would never guess that such amazing and rare animals live there.

We also went to the Leonard Cohen concert last Saturday. Wow. It was an amazing, professional, classy show. I just can't believe that he is 75 yrs old. He has so much energy, vitality and wit, it shines through on stage. His fellow musicians and singers are incredibly talented. He sang and also read some of his songs as poems. I was laughing one minute and moved to tears the next. The show was 3 hours long of performance (and a 20 minute or so break in the middle). Even Martin (who was rather dubious about the show) had a great time. Absolutely wonderful!

On Sunday we went to Naples and visited Sue & Armando. It was a great day spent with great people :) We checked out a new English Pub that Martin gave the thumbs up to. We then watched a very strange-yet-funny movie, Burn After Reading. We had a nice afternoon catching up and getting kitty love from Tru & Blu. We finished off the day with stone crab claws for dinner (the season just opened). I'm going to miss Sue & Armando sooo much. I'm so thankful we've had the opportunity to be so close by and to see them.

Yes, I'm starting to really feel that the end of this magical year is approaching. I just can't believe how fast 10 months has gone by. We leave in just about a week for Curacao for November, then a few weeks more and we'll be home. I even have a return date for work, January 11th! Ooh, that's going to be a rough adjustment :) (Don't worry Judy, I'll get back in the flow quick ;) Okay, no more thinking like this or I get all freaky and sentimental.

So for the rest of our time in Ft. Lauderdale, we have more diving planned, the huge Fort Lauderale Boat Show next Thursday, and at least one more sea trial with Lucky (tomorrow). Oh, and we signed up for a Disco Dive in Curacao. It involves disco clothes and doing the hustle - at depth - can you say, excited???

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cooling Off

Wow - it's finally supposed to cool off a bit in steamy Florida. While the rest of the country has been experiencing fall, we've been hotter and steamier than summer. But tomorrow's high should be 75! We're finally getting a break, yay!

This past week we've been pretty busy, socially and with Lucky. Here's the run down!

We had CJ, Margie, Sandra and Dan over for Martin's chili the other night. It was so much fun (and so filling ;) I got to see Sandra's pics of an octopus eating a crab - she's an awesome photographer! We have plans to go out diving with them again, hopefully this Wednesday. Thursday we went to see Hangover. Meh, not bad as comedies go...

We have some fun plans for this weekend. Tonight is Leonard Cohen in concert - woo hoo! I'm soooo excited! And tomorrow we're going to Naples to visit Sue & Armando. It was Sue's birthday this week and I'm really looking forward to seeing them again!! We're planning on riding bikes around town and then having a lovely stone crab dinner (or at least Martin is planning on that, he's a stone crab junky).

As for Lucky... Martin and I took her out on a sea trial on Friday. I haven't been on Lucky (moving) since June and I was all nervous! We did fine though Lucky didn't perform up to hopes. At 3400 rpm she's fine. That's slightly above our usual cruising speed. So that's really good! But when pushed full throttle - not so good. The port engine runs about 20 rpm shy of the starboard and overheats. The worse is that Lucky leans really, really badly to the left (at full speed). It kind of freaked me out. Martin says it's because the port engine isn't performing as well as the starboard so she "tilts". We debated letting her be as she is - so we can't run her full throttle - at this point who cares?

But then this morning (the drama just doesn't end), the head mechanic wanted to see Lucky and he and Martin found she was massively down in coolant. So it's boiling out of the engine. This can't be left alone. Sigh. So the work continues. Flipping raw water pumps between engines, blah, blah, blah. Another sea trial early next week but it'll be Martin and the mechanics. I'm good for now :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photo Phrenzy!

In case you've missed it, we've added yet another link to pictures on the right. Steph's been such a busy photobug that she's maxxed out Picasa Web Albums again.

Update from Fort Lauderdale

Life in Ft. Lauderdale is HOT! We are coming to the end of a 3 week heat wave - that should be broken this weekend - yay! We've been getting some relief from the heat by diving with Dan & Sandra quite a bit. I've updated the Pic of Day 2 through 10-11-09 and had to start Pic of the Day 3! Sandra and I go scuba diving under the Blue Heron Bridge in Lake Worth and Dan & Martin free dive either by the bridge or out at the channel to the ocean. Our days on Gladius with Dan & Sandra are always fun with lots of sun and laughs. Friends of theirs often are aboard too. After a couple of hours diving we head to one of the many restaurants that have docs you can tie up too. I wish we had more of that in the Bay Area! The bridge area is a unique eco-system (river and salt and shallow) and there are amazing critters there - some that are typically very, very difficult to find elsewhere. My favorites are the batfish and burrfish. The pic above is the burrfish.

We've also been able to spend lots of time with CJ & Margie and the pups - always a Wonderful time! This Thursday we're having everybody over for some of Martin's Magnificent Chili - I'm really looking forward to it! We have settled into a very comfortable life here. I'm still jogging, even with the heat. I got a water belt that has helped a lot. I had a bit of a freaky morning this Monday. Jogging up the beach I saw police and then saw a dead body. He had apparently washed up in the night, rip. CSI is one of my favorite tv shows but I prefer fiction in this case :( Martin is still hanging in there doing the Shred with me. We've been cooking a lot and are still making use of the beautiful outdoor grill and seating area here at Kira-Mar. I recently discovered quinoa and am exploring new recipes... Hm, I guess that's all that new this week!

As for Lucky, things continue to move along and she may be fixed! Racor bowls were cleans, a thermostat adjusted and today the gas tank was emptied and cleaned (apparently we got back fuel somewhere in the Bahamas). Weather permitting we'll be taking her out tomorrow for a major sea trial.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Living in Fort Lauderdale

We're overdue for an update! Martin and I have had a great time the past few weeks. We've been settling in and working on our attitude adjustment and doing very well :) We've moved most of our kitchen stuff off of Lucky and into the apartment (I call our hotel suite an apartment). We've been doing a lot of cooking and using the grill outside by the water. I'm still running (up to 50 minutes now!) and I even have Martin doing Jillian Michael's Shred with me - getting healthy!

The highlight of our time here is that we get to spend lots of time with Margie and CJ. We've had them over for dinner and we've gone up to Delray to visit them a few times. We're going to the movies too. We discovered that if you go to a matinee on a weekday that you're the only people in the theatre and it's kind of cool. We each get to pick which one on alternate weeks. So far we've picked 2 winners - Julie & Julia and The Surrogates.

We also met another wonderful couple, Sandra and Dan. They are very close with Margie & CJ (and tons of fun too :) and live a bit north in Lake Park. We spent a great evenig with Margie, CJ, Sandra, Dan and their friends Frank and Stephanie last weekend. Pomegranate martinis and sushi - a lovely night! Sandra and Dan are avid bikers and divers (scuba and free diving). Last Sunday we went out with them and did a little of both (free and scuba) off of their boat and it was awesome! We saw a batfish - one of the strangest and coolest fish I've ever seen. Sandra is a professional underwater photographer and has a gift for finding allusive critters. She has a book that is coming out soon and I can't wait to get it. (I found the pic above online but had to show you what this thing looks like!) I think Martin is very, very interested in learning how to free dive. He's lucky because Dan is one of the best and has offered to teach us!

This week we also went to Butterfly World with Margie and CJ and had a great time. There's an aviary there and bug museum as well (CJ and I weren't so into the spiders.) I tried to get good butterfly pics but they are tough to get on film... I did put a few photos on the pic of the day 2 though (birds and flowers mostly). One frisky lorikeet drew blood - but my finger and I survived!

We have several fun things on the agenda for October. We got tickets to see Leonard Cohen who is actually performing right in Ft. Lauderdale (thank you Anne!) I'm soooo excited! And the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is the last weekend of the month. It's the biggest in the country. There will be a Nordhavn 60 there to check out, drool... Then there's the alligator park, monkey jungle, botanical garden and seaquarium still on the list too.

Tonight we're having dinner with Margie & CJ and maybe Sandra and Dan, at Runway 84. It's a restaurant near where we had been staying (close to Lucky) that is shaped like an airplane. Excellent and abundant Italian food. Tomorrow we're going out with Splashdown Divers for two boat dives with Sandra, Dan and a bunch of their friends. It feels so good to be out doing fun stuff!

Work continues on Lucky. Martin is there now with the mechanics doing some kind of a test. We're still crossing our fingers that she'll be fixed by November 2nd when we leave for Curacao. Speaking of Curacao, we are so, so sad to hear that Natas, the old man pit bull (16 yrs old!) of Sunshine Getaway has crossed the rainbow bridge. He was an awesome dog, RIP.

So that has bee life in Ft. Lauderdale this September since our return from home! We'll be back with more adventures soon... :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Mechanical Mystery

So Stephanie's already told you about our woes with Lucky. Now it's my turn to provide some technical details.

The short version

Lucky still has a power issue on the port engine. The mechanics don't know why.

The long version

Last we left it, we had replaced the bad injector, everything looked good and we were waiting to replace the secondary fuel filter cover before going out on a sea trial. Friday morning Neil and his new sidekick, Eligh, came and replaced the fuel filter cap and got ready to go. everything was looking good. Fuel consumption was back to normal and no vibration was evident.

We headed down the new river. All the way down, everything looked good. Once I got past the twisty bits, I upped the RPM to 1000. Still no vibration. We headed out the cut onto the Atlantic. Conditions were rougher than the last time, we 2 - 4' waves. Nevertheless, once past the markers, I pointed us into the waves, dropped us down to 600 RPM and waited for Neil's signal.

Last time we went out I ran the throttles up gently, taking maybe 15 seconds to walk both levers to the fully open position. This gave Neil difficulty in matching reading from the engines to each other, as the readings are taken every second. This time we "slammed" the throttles and let the engines wind up to their maximum RPM in their own time. Much to our surprise, the port engine max'd out at 3350 and the starboard was 3530. Not only was the port engine not spinning up to maximum RPM, but the fuel consumption was 25% higher than the starboard. When we throttled back to 600, this increased fuel consumption continued. We repeated the test a few times, going into the waves and with a following sea, walking the throttles and slamming them. The same result in all cases. Lower RPM and higher fuel consumption on the port engine, exactly where we were before the injector was replaced.

We came back in. On the way back I ran at 1000 RPM to maintain around 5 knots heading up river. There was noticeable vibration. A little experimentation confirmed that it was coming from the port engine and not the drive.

Back at the dock, Neil executed one more test. Using the plug in computer, he ran a "run up" test. The computer, by revving up the engine, can some how calculate the maximum compression each cylinder was able to maintain, stated as a percentage of the design pressure. Volvo's specifications require each cylinder to reach 83% of maximum and the difference between the lowest and highest to be no more than 10% for the engine to be acceptable. Number 2 cylinder was 100%, but number 6 - the cylinder that had the bad injector - was only 60%. The others were in the 80's. We also ran the test on the starboard engine and all the cylinders were in the high 90's.

It was late on Friday and none of us had had lunch, so we called it a day with the plan to come back on Monday and look into the cylinders with a boroscope.

Monday came and Junior showed up in the morning to remove all six injectors. They were going to be sent to an injector shop to be tested. Later that day Brent showed up with the boroscope and we had a look. The theory is that if the bad injector had been putting more fuel into the cylinder than it should, the excess fuel would not have burnt and run down the cylinder wall, washing away the oil. This would allow excess wear from the piston to the cylinder wall to occur. This wear is very easy to see. The cylinder walls have a fine crosshatching etched into them. This crosshatching holds the oil and allows the piston rings to seal. excess wear would be evident by the crosshatching being worn, or gone, and there should also be vertical scoring. The cylinder looked fine. In fact, there was no discernible difference between any of the cylinders.

Where does that leave us?

In short, where we were two months ago. A lot had been fixed, but there's still an issue with no obvious cause. Brent thinks there still may be a compression issue with cylinder 6 - maybe a stuck piston ring - but wants to test this "the old fashioned way". So he's going to rig up a pressure tester out of an old injector and we'll try this later in the week. Meanwhile the injectors are being tested and a sample of oil was taken that, after analysis, may show fuel present. This would be another sign of a leaky cylinder. We'll know a little more by the end of the week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Learning to Let Go

Well folks, the cruising days are over. It's been a really difficult weekend, though it's also been very enlightening. Martin and I have done a good job of communicating and working through our situation together (even if I do say so myself!) The upshot from the sea trial on Friday was bad. I don't know the details, but it's highly likely that Lucky needs to be hauled out Again and this time - have her port engine taken away. It IS as big a deal as it sounds.

So the cruise is over. We've been discussing Australia but it didn't feel right. It took a few days of really thinking about things and being very honest with ourselves to come to the conclusion(s) that we have:

First, Lucky needs to get fixed in Florida. We can't take her home til she works. If we go to Australia it feels good: "FINE, we'll just leave and party somewhere else, pth!" But that's not very productive. And our heart isn't in it and that would be too wonderful a trip to go on if we weren't completely present. Second, we need something to do/look forward to this fall. We can't spend a total of 6 months living this way. Third, on some level, we are getting tired after 3 months of this. My friend Sue called it, "travel weary", I think that fits. No home, no itinerary, no goal.

Ironically, I've worked at the Osher Center for 7 years. I've been listening to "learn to live in the present moment" woo woo for years. Okay, now it's time to embrace the woo! :) We've been living for "next week" for 12 weeks. Not settling into the hotel, not exploring the area, not accepting that we LIVE in Fort Lauderdale. Okay, I don't like Ft. Lauderdale but hey, make the best of it, right? Where are those coping skills? What happened to positive reappraisal? We need to live it, not talk it, people!

So here's the deal. 1. Seize the moment! Hey - we get to live in Ft. Lauderdale until November 2nd! Let's move back into the nice room at the hotel and rent it for a month rather than extend every 3-4 days. We can visit the butterfly garden and take day and over night trips to see Sue & Armando, snorkel with manatee, visit the everglades... I can rent my own car so I'm not trapped in a hotel and I can grocery shop on my own and go have lunch with Margie! 2. Maybe we can get Lucky fixed in 6 weeks. If we give it 6 more weeks, maybe we can have the boat ready to ship home before we leave for... 3. Curacao! We adore Curacao so let's go! Our week there in August was the highlight of our summer. We'll spend the month of November in our favorite vacation spot. What a great place to spend my birthday and Thanksgiving! It's only 3 hours away and it feels like home. No travel weary woes. 4. We'll have December to either continue to work on Lucky or ship her home and make it back right on time.

Martin and I are fighting a sense of loss, we really wanted a year of living and exploring on Lucky. We both wanted nothing more than to head to Lucaya, Bahamas with Margie and CJ this fall. But fate had other plans and we can suck it up or be sad for 3 more months. The former makes more sense!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An update!

So while Stephanie was writing and uploading her post below, she was ignoring her phone that was telling her I'd called and left a message.

Note to self: Don't leave phone on silent mode in different room.

If she'd picked up my message, her post may have been a little different.

Yesterday, Neil performed a test on the injectors, that deliver fuel into each cylinder. Unlike gas engines, diesel engines do not burn all the fuel they take from the tank and some fuel is returned back to the tank. The test involved measuring how much fuel was being returned from each injector. He has this nifty little rig that has a hose connected each injector to a small measuring cup. You can then measure how much fuel is being returned by each injector. This should be a certain amount at idle and a differing amount, either too low or too high, indicates various injector issues.

We turned the engine on and watched the fuel slowly creep it's way up the hoses to the measuring cups. All, that is, except on the injector furthest aft. In it's hose, the fuel was barely moving, indicating that the injector wasn't taking any fuel at all. The problem was obvious and a new injector called for. When Neil pulled the injector it's tip was dry. As it should have been wet, it was definitely malfunctioning. A few calls later and a replacement was found in Michigan and overnighted.

By the time I had arrived at the boat this morning, Neil had replaced the injector and had both engines running. Fuel consumption on the port engine was now slightly lower than the starboard, rather than 20% higher. A good sign! There was no vibration in neutral, so we went out into the river to check with the drives engaged. No vibration with the drives engaged, either! So things are looking really good!

Neil advised going out on a full sea trial today. There were still a few things needing attention. The fuel delivery tubes needed to be replaced and they'd sent the wrong type. These steel tubes connect the common rail, a cylinder containing diesel fuel pressurized to some ridiculously high amount - 36,000psi or so - to the injectors and should be replaced whenever changing any injectors. Having the fittings blow at speed would be really bad. Neil also noticed that the priming cap above the secondary fuel filter wasn't priming. This could cause air to leak into the fuel line which could also cause performance issues.

So we'll do the full trial tomorrow. I'll post up when we're done, but it's looking really good!

Back from CA and trying to make decisions!

We had a really nice time back home! I got a few pics - of the cats, house, a party and my friends absolutely adorable baby girl. I need to get back in the habit of taking pics again. I attended my first "festschrift". It was a one day conference on coping and emotion, a tribute to Susan Folkman's immense contributions to the field. I'm so glad I was able to go! I also got to see my friends and co-workers and the new office space (we've been moved).

It was a busy week of smogging and registering the car, trying to keep my COBRA, ordering cat meds, attending birthday parties and barbeques, visiting with good friends and hanging with my kitties. The fur-kids definitely remembered us after our 4 month absence but I must admit, they seem somewhat apathetic about our return. I think they are going to miss Ghislaine a Lot! Bean had a check up and her health is very good while her attitude is back to cranky :)

We are back Kira-Mar hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. There is an usual high tide right now (the lunar "perigee" as the moon gets really close to earth) and it's wild - at high tide (around 6am and 6pm right now), the river raises so much that the streets flood! We got a good pic of outside our hotel last night.

So the latest sea trial (Tuesday) showed that we still had 1 engine problem and 1 transmission problem (vibration). Yesterday, the mechanic figured out the engine issue and it's pretty easy to fix (bad injector?). The vibration remains a mystery and likely means getting hauled out again.

Martin and I have been having a series of long talks about what to do and if we should put "Plan B" into action. "Plan A" is ideal and what we really want to do. We want to get back on Lucky and go to Delray and then the Bahamas with Margie & CJ. But, if Lucky can't get fixed "soon" we need to act. We had a Wonderful 6 months and are hooked on boating but we'd like to finish out the year with a bang rather than a drizzle in Ft. Lauderdale. If Lucky is a lost cause, we're thinking Plan B - 1 month in Australia, and then 1 month in Curacao. This would put us back state-side in early December. But when and how to decide if she's a lost cause? We've had almost 3 months of thinking "maybe she'll be set to go next week". We could easily do this right to December it seems. We need a cut-off, drop dead date. We're making this October 1st which means we should know by end of next week.

It's actually a really difficult decision to make. We had dinner with CJ & Margie last night and then swung by the boat. I'm so tired of hotels, I just want back on the water, back on Lucky, back cruising with our friends. I'm a bit surprised at just how much I enjoy living on Lucky - being outside all of the time, the smell of the water, the freedom to head out and explore whenever you want (weather permitting of course :), meeting new people and talking "boating", hoping to see a dolphin! Even the rocking that used to make me sick eventually came to feel comforting in a weird way.

Well, we should have it figured out by next week. Our October 1st deadline is quickly approaching and we are going to have to make a decision. Martin is with the mechanics now, probably being told we need to haul out. We'll be back and keep you updated as things unfold! Oh the drama.... ;^)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This is what happens when 370hp of irrestistable force meets immovable rock through a bronze interface.

I'm writing this sat on my bed in my house in Redwood Shores, CA. We've been home for about 10 days catching up on mail, friends and cats. It's been a nice trip. The house is fine, all the toys work and we managed to catch up with almost everyone. I should have written this blog last week as I've quite the 'splaining to do, but I've been putting it off. Stephanie has finally kicked me in the rear enough times that here it is.

Those of you on Facebook already know and the picture above might clue you in, but the day before I flew out of Florida I managed to run aground. There's a first time for everything and it happens to every boater eventually. Ten days ago it was my turn.

It was Wednesday afternoon, two weeks ago. The mechanics had put all the engines and drives back together and we were going out on a sea trial. As you may remember from the last time, this involves going down The New River to the Intercoastal and then taking the Intercoastal south to the Port Everglades cut and then out to sea. No problem. We'd done this a few weeks earlier. Despite meeting The Jungle Queen, a large Mississippi style paddle steamer at the tightest bend in the river, we negotiated the trip down river without stress. It was merging into the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) where the problems occur.

When negotiating the waterways, there are marker posts showing the places to go. While there are many different kinds of signs on the marker posts, the two predominant and most important are red triangles and green squares. The red and green markers show the location of the deep water - the channel. The reds marks one side of the channel, the green the other. To stay safe, you travel between the two colors. Pretty straight forward, really. The complications start to arise when there's only one colored marker visible. You need to go on one side or the other, but which one? As you'd expect, there's a convention followed and a simple mnemonic to remember it.

"Red, Right, Return".

When you are "returning", keep the red markers to your right (and by implication, the green markers to your left). You are "returning" when you are entering inland waterways from the sea or going upstream. You are returning home. The ICW is a special case as it winds it's way along the eastern seaboard. Sometimes downstream, sometimes upstream, sometimes "on the outside". As "Red, Right, Return" has little bearing and even less consistency, the convention is that going southbound, red is right. It's pretty straight forward. The confusion arises where the ICW crosses or joins a river or cut. At this point there's a profusion of markers, some marking the ICW and some marking the river and the two conventions collide. If you're traveling downstream and make a left to go south down the ICW, or are heading north up the ICW and make a left to go upstream, the conventions switch and you have to pass between two markers of the same color. Better make sure you know which two to pass between, right?

So here's a link to the official NOAA chart for Ft Lauderdale

and here's a link to a Google Map, where I've superimposed both the red and green markers, along with my fateful track.

You can see from the satellite photo, that there are two very obvious shallow spots where the New River joins the ICW. Groundings are so frequent here that Towboat US hang out here waiting. In fact, we didn't need to wait at all and were pulled off the rocks within 30 minutes of hitting them.

I can't excuse what happened. As pilot I should have been aware of our route the whole time. Unfortunately for me, we were at low tide. Another 30 minutes and a foot of water and we would have sailed clear over them, probably none the wiser.

I spoke to the mechanic on Friday. In the end we need 4 new props, 2 new prop shafts, seals and 2 new clutch packs. Add in the labor and I be lucky to get change out of $10,000.


We fly back to Florida tomorrow afternoon. I have the boat lift scheduled for Tuesday morning and the mechanic will be on hand. Once we're back in the water we go out for a sea trial again. Hopefully we'll not hit anything and the engines and drives will operate as we hope - no overheating and reach full RPM of 3600 - and Steph and I can resume our journey.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lucky Update

The port drive showing the newly added seal plate. This should stop water getting into the drive in the future.

It's been a week since Lucky was dropped into the water and a lot has happened. Sort of.

On Friday, International Marine Diesel's lead tech, Neil, came on board and ran a bunch of diagnostic tests to try and work out what's going on. End result - better go for a sea trial. As a safe guard, Neil "shimmed up" the oil pressure relief valve on the port drive so that it would maintain slightly higher pressures. He wanted to be sure that when we went out, the drive wouldn't be starved for oil. It was getting late on a Friday, so we planned on doing that Monday morning.

On Monday, Neil showed up at 10 am, reasonable early by mechanic standards, and off we went. I'd been stressing over this all weekend and hadn't got much sleep Sunday night. as it turned out, the trip down the river was stress free and reasonably uneventful. The tide was coming in, so idle kept us going at a sedate 3 knots, which was fine by me, and I had plenty of time to react to oncoming traffic. The only boat of note was a 95' yacht. I was well prepared as I'd been listening to the captain talk to traffic ahead of us and the bridges. When he showed up around a corner, I had plenty of space to jockey aside. We were out in the ocean by 11. Nice and flat, the seas were less than 2' coming from the north east. I pointed her in that direction and we were off. Up to Wide-Open-Throttle and back a number of times as Neil used his little HP hand-held, plugged into one engine or the other, for data capture. we were able to get the port engine up to 3200 and the starboard up to 3400, but both engines overheated, showing 205 degrees coolant temperature. They should maintain 185, even at WOT. As for the drive, all though it showed low oil pressure at low RPMs, once the RPMs were above idle, the pressure came right back to normal. Once he'd got all the information he needed, we turned around and headed back. An uneventful trip up river and we were docked by 12:30. I moved Lucky into another slip, getting her closer to the shore and a stern-in, starboard tie-up, so I could put the tender back on the swim platform.

Neil came back on Tuesday and I got the full scoop. Both engines are over heating. Cause most likely due to heat exchanger fouling. Bearing in mind we replaced both fuel coolers for the same reason, it seem likely. So Neil had come to pull both heat exchangers, that use sea water to cool the engine coolant and both charge air coolers, that cool the compressed air going into the cylinders. As for the low oil pressure in the port drive, he didn't know and Volvo hadn't got back to him yet.

Meanwhile, I was having electrical issues. There was still a lose battery cable showing ground when it should show +12v and the generator wasn't starting up. An electrician came in Tuesday afternoon and we were able to solve both problems. The battery cable only showed ground when the "Helm C" breaker was on and further investigation showed that the spot light was the culprit. It's never worked right (always popped a breaker) and I've never needed it, so we unplugged it from it's breaker. I'll solve it another time or just pull the whole thing off. The generator needs a new emergency stop switch. The original was corroded. Another victim of salt water intrusion. To be safe, I replaced the breaker just above it as well. I had to order the switch, it should arrive next week.

The underwater lights were installed, but couldn't be tested as they were lacking the correct fuses.

To finish off a full day, I moved aboard. Stephanie would be horrified at the mess, but if you promise not to tell her, there's no reason why she should ever find out...

Not much happened Wednesday and Thursday, other than the electrician finding out that he needed insurance to work in the yard. I decided that if the engines were having all these issues with raw water cooling, then the A/C condensers were probably needing a little TLC as well, so I went out and purchased the makings of a flush system (hoses, pump, fuse, switch).

Today has been a busy day. Neil came back and took the transmission from the port drive. After pouring over schematics, they've decided the only way for the drive to show low oil pressure at idle but not at load is for one bearing in the main shaft to be leaking oil. The transmission is pretty trick, in that it used the oil pressure to engage the clutch and two channels in the drive shaft to move the oil up the drive to the top side of the clutch pack. At idle, when these channels are closed, there's only one thing maintaining pressure from the oil pump, and it's this bearing. So they're going to replace the bearing. It'll take over a day to replace the drive and the four coolers, so we're planning on another sea trial next Tuesday. All being well, everything will check out and I'll be off to CA with a lifted heart!

Once Neil left, I used my jury-rigged flush system to flush weak acidic solution through the raw water system of the A/C condensers. I flushed the acid through for 2 hours, then followed it with a fresh water flush. We have four condenser units, connected to two raw water pumps. Today I flushed the most important - the main cabin - and the other condenser attached to the same pump, the aft cabin. It meant turning the A/C off for the afternoon, so I retreated off the boat into "The Captains Lounge", a very nice lounge with TV, leather sofas, kitchen and wi-fi, while that was going on. Based upon the color the solution turned - a mucky brown - they needed the clean. I was able to reconnect the units correctly and turn on the A/C. It might be my imagination, but it seems a little more effective :-)

In other good news, the electrician finally showed up with the correct fuses and we were able to verify that they work! I look forward to seeing them in full glory later tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taking it Day by Day

Well, Lucky is back in the water! And our port engine AND port drive are not working. Yup - the drive that we just spent 8 weeks servicing. So...

I'm heading back to SC this evening to visit my Mom for a week. Martin is moving back aboard Lucky tomorrow. He's out with the mechanics doing a sea trial today. We had plans to go home on September 3rd. I'll now be home on the 1st. Martin still plans on returning on the 3rd, unless hell freezes over and Lucky is fixed and working before then, in which case he'll head back to CA a bit early as well. Sorry for dripping sarcasm but this is getting really, really old! We'll return to Fort Lauderdale on the 14th and see what happens then.

We haven't been up to a lot to report on the blog. Martin spends his days on Lucky with mechanics and electricians and I hang out at the hotel. I'm getting back into running, doing the "couch to 5K" program, a 10 week program to get you running a 5K without walking. I've been run/walking for a few years so I thought it'd be cool to get back to the serious jogging! I start week 5 this week. I'm very proud of myself for getting up at 6:30am to head out before it gets too hot to run! It'll be cooler in SC and at home so I'm looking forward to that.

Last Thursday we went to a happy hour at the marina and had a tour of a 62 foot Nordhavn - what a gorgeous boat! Martin and I had a lovely walk along the beach on Saturday and celebrated Lucky being in the water with a dinner at 3030 Ocean. Wow, that was awesome! Last night we saw CJ & Margie and said goodbye for 3 weeks. I'm going to miss them!

I feel badly leaving Martin here but we both think it's for the best. It takes some stress off him to know I'm not going crazy at the hotel. (It's so hot here that daytime activities are pretty limited. I wish I were a beach person!) He'll be able to chill out in the evenings and not have me bouncing around like a puppy, "what are we doing now, what are we doing now??" :)

As for the technical difficulties with Lucky, I have to leave that for Martin to write about. My expertise is limited to - oil pressure in drive low, big problem. Engine sucking too much gas, could be big problem. Not very enlightening, I know!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting Wet At Last!

Lucky is in the water after 52 days on land, yes, I counted! I just spoke with Martin and the engines turned over and no water is coming in from anywhere (she had a lot of holes drilled into her - looks like they're all well sealed!) This is the good news.

The bad news is that the port engine still seems to be burning more gas than the starboard. We aren't necessarily surprised, this issue was never diagnosed or addressed since she has to be in the water to run the engines (but we couldn't run the engines because the drive had watery oil and that had to be fixed before the engines could be run - you see the conundrum...) It was hoped that with the drive fixed and new alternators, super-chargers and all the rest, that it would simply correct. Eh, well, maybe not.

The plan is to take her out on a sea trial tomorrow morning with an engineer. Hopefully he'll be able to figure out what is going on with the port engine. Tomorrow afternoon the electrician needs to finish up a few odds and ends as well.

In the meantime, theoretically, engine work can be done while we're in the water so we're looking at moving aboard Saturday/Sunday - though that could change if there are any "revelations" tomorrow. Once the engine is fixed we'll cruise up to Delray to stay until we return home to visit on Sept. 3rd.

*We're coming CJ & Margie...really, really...we'll be there soooon.....*

Fortunately there's a boat show and happy hour tonight at the marina - a welcomed distraction :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quick Update - Getting Closer!

I thought I'd post a brief update. We were supposed to splash Lucky today but they sent the wrong part on Friday. So we are hoping the correct "supercharger" will arrive today, then we could get Lucky in the water tomorrow or Wednesday.

The next possible adventure is Hurricane Bill. We will leave Lucky at the marina where we are now if the hurricane looks like it's going to come close. The marina is located well up the river and is a good place to weather a storm. Oh the adventure never ends ;-}

Seriously, we're so close to getting Lucky in the water, we're almost there. The new hotel is bright and sunny, has a pool and an oven (yay - I baked quiche yesterday!) I'll post pics today. It's a very pleasant place to hang out. There's a farmers market down the road on Sundays with incredible home-made hummus, we found an awesome sushi restaurant we can walk to, and of course, our friends CJ & Margie are close by...

In other news, we bought our tickets for our visit home - 9/3-9/14. I'm looking forward to visiting with friends, cuddling with my fur-babes, attending Susan Folkman's festschrift, getting my hair cut, and teeth cleaned!

We'll update again soon, hopefully from the water!

[ps: here's the definition of "festschrift" from, I hadn't hear of it before talk of Susan's:

(plural ‐iften)a volume of essays written by the disciples of an eminent scholar or writer, to whom it is presented as a tribute on a special occasion such as a birthday or retirement. The custom and the term (‘celebration‐writing’) originated in German universities in the 19th century.]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back in Ft. Lauderdale

On Tuesday Martin and I went to the Ostrich Farm on the other end of the island. It was a very interesting tour. They are such strange animals - funky looking, a bit stupid and frankly, tasty...we had lunch there too :p Tuesday night we had a really nice evening going out to dinner with Sunshine and David. I was so sad to leave on Wednesday. Sometimes you visit a place that just "fits". That's how I feel about Curacao. The combination of the tropical island, wonderful people, the great apartment, and gorgeous diving - I can't wait for us to go back again!

We arrived back late afternoon yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale. We're staying at a new hotel/suite. It's located downtown on the waterway and it's sunny and bright with a full kitchen. I like it a lot more than the other place though Martin has a longer drive to the boat. We found a vegan restaurant last night and had a tasty dinner - Martin was very surprised but he really liked it! Then we went shopping at Whole Foods - a healthy return.

Unfortunately, I've been smacked with a horrible headache today. I'm getting paranoid - thinking that it's Fort Lauderdale. Maybe the weather? Barometric pressure? The last one was 4 days long, I'm hoping this one is short lived. So I'm hanging at the apartment and Martin is off to the boat to check on the progress. I'm sure he'll be blogging soon with an update on Lucky!