Saturday, January 31, 2009

Windy Days Ahead

Well we are getting to spend a lot of quality time in Naples :) The weather has really kicked up - we are rockin' and rollin' like nobody's business. This is a very good lesson for both Martin and me. No use being uptight and overly destination-goal oriented - we can only do what the weather will allow. Martin talked with our marina neighbor, Hal, this morning and we were pleasantly reassured that we're making the right choice. He has years and years of boating experience and he agreed that he wouldn't take Lucky out in this - we're not big or heavy enough to make a passage comfortably.

So it's windy and cool (and I thought Florida was hot in the wintertime!). The breadmaker is cranking away, the heat is on and we're cozy and comfortable. I swear though, I am just so grateful that I got over the queazies because otherwise this would not be a "cozy" scene! I'm using this time to do some serious quilting. I'm putting my blocks in album, for those who would like to see, it's here. I have 2 hand-quilting projects going on. A Dear Jane, civil war reproduction quilt and a Quilted Diamonds quilt that I'm doing along with a with an online group of women.

Sometimes I feel concerned that we are getting a bit mellow - playing "house" a bit too much. It's challenging to get your head wrapped around the spontaneity - maybe we'll leave in 2 days, or maybe in a week. So you have to be ready to head out and explore if you can, but not get disappointed then if you have to leave... Because I keep thinking that we are leaving, I've not been reading the guide books to see what we could be up to. It's not that big of a deal except that both Martin and I are bit anal and somewhat control freaks (no!) so we need to ease into "going with the flow" thing, literally. I think I'm also pressuring myself with the "this-is-a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity, get-out-and-do-do-do-do..." idea. I guess that's not very realistic either now, is it?

The other way that the uncertainty makes for strange times is that you say goodbye, but then you don't go. This week we had a good-bye dinner with Mike & Jackie at the Bamboo Cafe. It's a really nice French restaurant in downtown Naples. Mike and Jackie are wonderful company and it was a lovely dinner. Mike serenaded us with a couple of piano tunes on the way out (they had a piano just sitting there, asking to be played – dang but he is good!)

Sue and Armando had a fantastic going away dinner at their house for us too. Armando cooked an authentic Cuban dinner that rocked! Sue and I spent some time in the afternoon playing with her new sewing machine. I showed her how to make cloth/clothesline baskets and tried to temp her into the quiting world :) Sue gave me a great looking book on a couple that cruised the Caribbean in a sail boat that I'm looking forward to reading. I also got my cat fix in with Tru and Blu, their gorgeous and very sweet feline kids! I'm beginning to worry that Sue and Armando may think we're stalking them...we keep saying that we're leaving but we never do - like the relatives that come for a short visit and just won't go home, yikes!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Finding Steph's posts

For the many among you who don't want to read my boring technical monologues, we've made it easier to find Steph's post.  All Steph's posts have the label "STEPH".  I've added another gizmo to our page that lists all the labels.  Clicking on "Steph" will show all the posts with that label, which will be all of Steph's posts.  Now you can skip all my rambles with a single click!  Go on, I know you want to ;-)

Weather window slammed shut

We were hoping to leave Naples yesterday.  Then a cold front passing though today kicked up winds.  So we reset expectations to be able to leave sometime between Saturday and Monday.  No such luck.  Another front due to pass Tuesday is kicking up winds all week.  Looking at the forecast, we might not be able to get out of Naples until Thursday/Friday next week.  All the locals strongly advise not going out when the wind's from the North.  According to, that isn't going to be late next week.

We'll know better Monday.  In the meantime, I need to call Key West and push our reservation back.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More work done

The new flag

Today has been a productive day.  I knocked off a series of small jobs that have been on my list for a while.  Other than the earlier mentioned Garmin update, I've also:

  • Put a US flag on the anchor light stem
  • Moved the anchor chain bitter end tie in the anchor locker
  • Made an anchor snubber
  • Fixed Lucky's USCG Documentation number on the hull
  • Marked the water tank
  • Got spare Raycor filters
I still have a few more things to do:

  • Wash the boat (funny how it keeps getting put off, eh?)
  • Fix the fwd bathroom sink (the plug is leaking)
  • finish the bimini
  • repair the bow cushion cover

I'll get on that tomorrow, after we refuel and pump out.

Pics here, more details follow:

Put a US flag on the anchor light stem

When we head into The Bahamas, we need to fly two flags.  The first is the national flag of country the vessel is documented in - hence the phrase "flag of convenience".  When you enter a country for the first time, you are supposed to fly a quarantine flag.  It doesn't mean you have the plague, just that you haven't cleared customs and immigration.  After the formalities, you then fly the country's flag as a courtesy.  I plan to fly the courtesy flag from the VHF antenna.  I haven't got one yet as they don't sell them here in Naples.  I'm sure I'll be able to get them in Miami.

Moved the anchor chain bitter end tie in the anchor locker

By moving the eye under the windlass in the anchor locker, I've made the whole starboard side of the locker available for other storage.  Right now I have the second anchor, with it's chain and line rode, the newly made snubber and a wash down hose.

Made an anchor snubber

An anchor snubber is used when you anchor with an all chain rode.  Yes, I know I haven't been doing so, but from now on I will be.  It's a length of braided line with an eye at each end and a hook in the middle.  Once you've played out the correct length of chain and the anchor is set, you hook the snubber into the chain and loop the eyes over the forward two cleats, making a 'Y'.  Pay out the chain until the snubber slack is taken up.  At this point any catenary effect (yanking, to you non nautical types) is absorbed by the natural elasticity of the snubber.  This reduces wear on the boat windlass and cleats.  Another side effect is it reduces the noise of the chain.  Very important when trying to sleep in a stateroom at the bow.

The line I used already had an eye spliced into one end.  Rather than put a loop in the other end with a figure-8 or bowline, I decided to get all nautical and splice an eye.  I pulled out my trusty Chapmans and followed the instructions.  It worked out rather well, as the photo shows.  Maybe the splice is a little long, but I'll know better for next time.

In the middle I tied a figure-8 for a loop and attached a shackle and hook.  I can't wait to try it out!

Fixed Lucky's USCG Documentation number on the hull

So we got boarded by the USCG last Friday.  So we passed.  So we have a filled out form that should provided a pass if we get boarded again.  I don't care.

Although they didn't check, if they had they would have got me for two other things.  I hadn't secured the 'Y' valve on the macerator.  The macerator is a device for pumping the holding tank over board.  When within the 3 mile limit (9 miles in the Gulf) it isn't allowed to be used and the 'Y' valve must be secured in the closed position.  A zip tie will take care of that.  The other thing is you have to have the vessels documentation number fixed to the hull.  A quick trip back to West Marine and I purchased 3" decals (the USCG required minimum size) for the number and fixed them to the hull inside the engine room.

USCG - bring it!

Marked the water tank

Our water maker makes around 15 gallons per hour.  Once we get out of the US, we'll be using it quite frequently.  When running, it's designed to run for an hour for every push of the run button.  To make calculating how many presses needed to fill the tanks easier, I marked the port water tank.  Each mark represents one hour of water making.  So poke your head in the engine room, count the marks above the water line and push the button that many times.  Easy!

Spare Raycor filters

Lucky is a power boat.  As long as there's power, all is good.  With two engines and a generator, there's plenty of redundancy.  Other than a total engine room melt down, the one thing that could cause all three to fail is bad fuel.  Fuel with water or dirt in it.  The first line of defence are the Raycor fuel filters and water separators.  These are 30 micron filters, very similar to a car's oil filter, only easily removable, like a car's air filter.  If we have bad fuel that is causing engine failure while underway, our only recourse (other than calling for help) is to keep swapping Raycor filters until all the nastiness has been filtered out.  We now have 4 spare filters and I've practiced changing them.

Plans change with the weather

There's a cold front moving across America right now.  It's forecast to hit Naples, moving south, on Friday.  With the front comes higher winds, rain and maybe even thunder storms.  Prudence would not have us anchoring out over night for the first time as the front passes.

So we're going to delay leaving Naples until Saturday.  We'll head south to Little Shark River and anchor at the first turn.  (Google Map).  It's a known and recommended anchorage.  If the weather holds, we'll stay there two nights and explore the Everglades using the tender.  Watch out for crocs!  Crikey!  Hopefully the anchorage will not be too busy even though it's a weekend.

If the front is slower moving than forecast, we'll leave Sunday and only anchor one night or we'll leave Monday and head directly to Key West.

Distances are well within our capabilities:

Naples --> Little Shark River : 70 miles
Little Shark River --> Key West : 68 miles
Naples --> Key West : 110 miles

Garmin Update

The chart CD arrived today.  They sent me version 2008.5.  It installed fine and I was able to unlock the region of immediate interest to me (SE Florida and N Bahamas) and download them all into my GPSmap 276c.

I then went online to Garmin and attempted to unlock an additional region.  I was able to get as far as a credit card entry form, so I'm assuming I'll be good if I continue further.  I didn't bother as 2009.5 is supposed to be out very soon.  Once it's out, I'll be able to update my 2008.5 to 2009.5 at a cost per region and then purchase additional 2009.5 regions.  I might as well wait until we're about to jump across the Gulf Stream before taking the plunge.

Another day aboard Lucky

Life is definitely starting to normalize now as Martin and I grow accustomed to living on the boat. What's it's kind of like living in a small rustic cabin that sits on an active, though mild, earthquake zone. We are forced to put everything away after it's used or it takes forever to tidy up so we can move the boat. I personally, really like this because I'm a bit of a neat freak. Martin feels otherwise, but I must say that he has risen to the occasion! I was sick when we moved onto the boat but in retrospect, I think I was also sea sick. I'm really sensitive to the rocking and rolling. Today, the winds are at 10 mph. This means constant movement, especially with the boats going in and out of the marina added to the mix. I'm fine with it now but I don't want to spend too much time on land because I don't want to readjust... And I do get "land legs" where I get a bit dizzy sitting down on land (it makes eating out a bit more challenging), but that's not too bad. Once you stop feeling queasy it's actually really nice, a gentle rocking back and forth.

We have now used almost every appliance and space on the boat. The convection oven took 35 minutes to warm a portabella. We may have an issue there, but it works just fine as a microwave. We've stir fried on the outside grill and boiled eggs on the stove top. We can't run any 2 appliances at the same time so we make tea, then coffee, then toast... Martin is the cook, so I'm just fine with a coffee pot, toaster oven and stove top - that's all I've ever really needed! I once again tried to lite toast on fire, it's much easier to deal with on a boat - you just throw the whole oven onto the dock and let it smolder there (like I said, Martin is the cook...)

It's a small space. I would venture no more than 200 square feet below (I don't include the back cabin because it's all storage and not "living" space). If it's warm and you can go up top, you get an additional 100 sq feet or so. I lived in a 225 sq ft studio for 9.5 years with 3 cats, so living here with 1 human is not that big of a stretch. It's much less cramped when you can use the helm area. Our table just fits 2 laptops or 1 quilting project! You definitely need to get off the boat every day or you find that you don't move - literally. So far, Martin and I are doing well in the space together. It's definitely tight and if you're irritated with each other, well, there isn't really anywhere to go. This actually can force communication - always a good thing. I'm thinking this will be a productive and ultimately very positive experience for the two of us. You may need to check in with Martin on his perspective :)

I really like marina living in the US - we have all the amenities of home. We have electricity, unlimited water, internet and phone. I think that the Bahamas will be a little more difficult. I'm very addicted to the internet. Without that, I think I'll feel much more isolated. Maybe by that time though, it won't sound so scary! Hm. It's quiet on the boat. We went and got a radio yesterday. I need my NPR fix! We have no tv but that's not a big deal, we don't watch it much any way. But we did bring LOTS of dvds. So we are catching up on American pop culture by starting to watch season 1 of the 30 Rock. Neither of us has ever seen the show and we've really enjoyed the few episodes we've seen so far. Especially after visiting New York in November and going to 30 Rockefeller and seeing it up close and live (my aunt Lori works there, for NBC, and even got us in to see SNL - can't even describe how fun that was!)

Several people asked me (us) "what will you DO? on the boat?" I replied "the same things I do at home". Now I do have a better feel (after 10 days) for what we "do" on the boat, and it's just like at home, I was right! So far - a typical day looks like this, or there about... Up early, with the sun usually, between 7-7:30. Make tea/coffee. "Lately" (and my daily goal), is to go for a jog or exercise. Then breakfast. Then chores. These take on all shapes and sizes - cleaning inside and out of the boat (she gets dirty/messy fast), blogging (!), running to the store for supplies, laundry, etc. We often go into town on our bikes - for a late lunch or shopping. Then in the afternoon it's fun stuff - quilting and listen to a book on tape for me, reading or video games for Mart. In the evening we have been seeing Sue & Armando a lot. If we aren't socializing, it's just like home, cooking dinner and then chilling, maybe catching some 30 Rock! It's a lovely life of leisure and the days actually fly by. And yes, every day I recognize what a gift this experience is!

We've been in Naples long enough that I feel comfortable here. I've managed to drag myself out for some morning jogs - 10 minutes to reach the Gulf, 10 more down to the fancy dancy rich neighborhoods and back. We know where the Starbucks is, the West Marine and supermarkets. We had dinner with Sue and Armando the other night at "the first English Pub in Naples". It was awesome! I thought the cider was really strong but I think it's my "land legs". I've always been a "cheap date" but now it's down right ridiculous. Sue and I closed down the Cheesecake factory last night, our girls-night-out with pomegranate margaritas, it was awesome. It sounds like we're drinking a lot, but really, it's not too bad!

Each leg of our journey will bring new circumstances. When we leave Naples, we'll be leaving our friends. That will be a big difference. I could stay here for months just to be with Sue & Armando. Reconnecting with Sue has been nothing short of an absolute joy for me. I'm going to miss her so much!

And so. There, I've finally blogged! I'm really, really working on my fear of writing and will try to continue to pop in as much as I can :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Garmin Technical Support

I spent 3 hours on the phone to Garmin today.  I have a GPSmap 276c which I use as a backup GPS and for the dingy.  I also have a set of charts "BlueChart Americas v7.5" I purchased a couple of years ago to load into the unit.

Garmin BlueChart is a CD with a whole bunch of different charts covering the US, Canada, Caribbean and South America.  You don't get them all when you buy the CD.  You get one region, which you unlock using a code contained in the box and an somewhat convoluted process.  No problem. I've done this before and the unlock process went smoothly.  If you want to unlock other regions, you need to purchase additional unlock codes from Garmin.  I have no problem with this - other than the usurious cost, that is.  Why ship additional CDs when all the data for multiple products can fit on one.  So I attempt to purchase additional unlock codes.  No luck.  I fairly computer literate and can usually resolve issues with trying different things and researching the various forums and tech support boards out there.  Not this time, so I resorted to that last resort, phone support.  

My first attempt failed.  I reached first line customer support after a wait of five minutes.  They passed me onto Marine Support Services.  After a wait of 30 minutes, Bill told me he couldn't help and passed me onto Software Support.  After a wait of another 30 minutes my call was dropped.  In all fairness to Garmin Support, this may have been AT&T as my phone said "Call could not be completed" rather than "Call ended".  Let's try again.  This time I went from customer Service Straight (5 mins on hold) to Software Support (45 mins on hold).  Mike answered the phone.  After 30 minutes, during which time Mike took over my PC for a little while to attempt an unlock himself, things were beginning to be resolved.  Mike would put me on hold for a few minutes and then come back.  This happened a few times.  Unlike Steph, I knew this was a good thing.  If there's nothing to be done, you'll be told and, guess what, there's nothing to be done.  If the support analyst puts you on hold it means he (or her) is out of his depth and has to consult with someone.  This is a good thing as it means you've broken out of majority of issues and help is usually forthcoming from a "higher" authority.

In my case, I had an old (but not too old) version of BlueChart that had become depreciated (i.e. unsupported).  So unsupported that not only did their web site not recognize it as a product (which was why I couldn't purchase additional unlock codes) but Mike couldn't sell me any, either.  Beyond that, I couldn't even buy an update to the chart first as Garmin have gone to "BlueChart G2" (for Generation 2) and there wasn't an upgrade path.  Once Mike realized all this, he had chatted to his manager and they decided to step around the whole issue by sending me the Bluechart G2 Americas CD for free.  Once I explained I was "on the road", he agreed to overnight the CD to me here in Naples.  It should arrive tomorrow or maybe Wednesday.  Mike assures me I shouldn't have any problem buying additional unlock codes with the new charts.

We'll see.  If I do, I'll be back on the phone when we arrive in Key West.

Marco Island

Armando, Susie and Steph enjoying lunch

Sunday was our second trip out, this time with Susie and Armando.  Rather than head back up to Sanibel, we decided to head down to Marco Island, about 9 miles south of Gordon Pass.

In many ways it was a similar experience to Friday's trip.  The differences, however, are worth pointing out.  There was a lot more traffic, especially in the channel.   Enough, in fact, that I had to moderate my speed based up the boats ahead.  The channel was also a little rougher as smaller boats zipped around us bigger fish, rocking us with their wakes.  Complimenting the greater number of boats, the radio traffic was a lot more lively.  Most amusing was the off color cursing that followed the less considerate boats as they rocked all the anchored boats around Marco Island.  The vessel "Lark" seemed to be a particularly bad offender.  We anchored out in the Gulf, about one and a half miles off Marco beach, and weren't bothered at all.  There were a lot more crab pots to deal with.  I think when we head south, I'll take us much further off shore - 6 or so miles into deeper water - and try to get away from them.

Not quite so many dolphins on this trip.  I think the heavy traffic in the channel kept them away.

One "baby step" I took on this trip was creating a route to follow.  I used my PC to plot a course from Gordon Pass to Marco Island and uploaded it into the Raymarine chart plotter.  Then, once we had cleared Gordon Pass, I turned the auto pilot into "track" mode and allowed it to steer us all the way.  I had to avoid crab pots manual and determined the best way to do this and then re-engage the auto pilot.  What happened after the auto pilot was re-engaged was another useful piece of information.  It turned us back onto the original track.  I can reset the track to be between current position to next waypoint as well and sometimes that was the better thing to do.  This is good information to know and will help tremendously when we start our longer passages.

Lunch on the Gulf

Being boarded by the Coasties

Friday saw our first true day trip out on Lucky.  We took Mike, Jackie and Rachael out for lunch.  The plan was to leave Naples; head out Gordon Pass into the Gulf; head north to Sanibel Island (about 25 miles from Gordon Pass); anchor and have lunch; return.  If conditions were bumpy, our contingency plan was to return into Naples Bay after a suitable period of bouncing - the length to be determined by the average shade of green of the passengers - and anchor in the Port Royale lagoon for lunch.  Port Royale is a very well heeled part of Naples with lots of $20M+ mansions on the water.

As it turns out, our contingency wasn't needed and the Gulf was like a mill pond.  Small waves, much less than 1', gave us good running and we were soon cruising at 23 knots (one knot is 1.1 mph).  I kept the RPM at 3000 (85% of the maximum 3600) to reduce sound levels.  From a MPG point of view, the cruising sweet spot seems to be between 3000 and 3350, so we got there a little later.  What's the hurry?  The gulf is pretty flat around here, so we were running in 25' or so of water which never changed, despite running 3 miles off shore.  The only things to be wary of were the crab pot buoys.  Crabbers throw their crab pots off there boat in one (or sometimes 2) straight lines.  Attached to the pot is a line, which is then attached to a floating buoy.  This helps them find the pot and haul it in.  Unfortunately, if you run directly over them, the line will wrap around a prop.  At best, this means diving down to free it.  At worst it can mean mechanical failure.  So you try not to run over them.  They're spaced far enough apart to maneuver between them, but it does require keeping a sharp lookout in the "11-to-1" sector ahead.  Stephanie helped and we had no problem.

We anchored a couple of miles south of Sanibel Island, just west of it's eastern tip (where the lighthouse is).  A nice lunch was enjoyed by all.  As we were having tea I noticed a small rib, crammed full of people, headed straight for us.  My thoughts of it being a few joy riders coming for a look were soon changed as, instead of veering off, they came straight to us and slowed down at our stern.  It was the Coast Guard.  "Permission to come aboard?"  Great, a safety check.  So three came aboard.  Two stood on the swim platform and went through all the paperwork while humoring Mike, Jackie, Steph and Rachael bombarding them with questions, comments and jokes.  The other took me around the boat asking to inspect various things - bilges (make sure they're dry), fire extinguishers (make sure they're on board and good), flares (on board and not expired), life jackets (one for everyone on board).  We almost passed.  We only had three life jackets on board.  Turns out we left 4 back in California.  Doh!  They were nice and didn't cite me but did ask me to get some before we went out again.  My rule of running a dry boat paid off.  I'm sure they were expecting to see a group of partiers quaffing various alcoholic drinks, not a group of Brits having a cup of tea.

Once the excitement was over, we up-anchored and headed back.  Soon after heading south we saw the Coasties again, this time headed for us from a "10 o'clock" heading.  As they had right of way (when two boats are on a collision course and all things are equal - i.e. power vs sail or large boat in small channel - the vessel on the left has right of way) I slowed down and steered to the left to pass to their stern.  Rather than allow me to do that they sped up, turned to their right and circled around me.  Testing or messing?  We'll never know.  They waved and headed off to another boat bobbing in the distance.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, except for the dolphins playing in the channel around us as we headed into the dock.

More pictures here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Destination Key West

We've made our first travel plan.  We're headed to Galleon Resort Marina in Key West, docking Monday Feb 2nd.  Now we'll work backwards and decide where we'll go enroute.

There's plenty to do in Key West and the other keys, so we're staying there a week.

Once we've worked it out, we'll be sure to share.

Yes, we're both pretty stoked.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Naples bay, looking South on our return from the Gulf

Despite the cold weather, we knew we needed to move Lucky today.  As life aboard gets more and more comfortable, it's easy to fall into a routine that doesn't involve going anywhere.  If we're to get to the Caribbean, Lucky needs to leave Naples.

Our mantra for this trip has always been "baby steps".  It is time for our first baby step.  Our plan:  Leave the dock; refuel; head down the bay; out Gordon Pass and into the Gulf; turn around and come back.

Leaving the dock was pretty straight forward.  Stow everything away down below.  Unplug the shore power cord.  Lines off. Away we go.  Shame we forgot about the port stern line.  Oops!  In our defence, we'd never been in a double slip before and had never tied a line here.  Fortunately we didn't smack the 60' yacht next to us and quickly threw off and gathered in the errant line.

The fuel dock is directly across from the slip, so that was really easy.  The fuel gauge read 20%, so a quick calculation gave 300 gallons as the amount of fuel to top off our 375 gallon tank.  I left the gauges on during refueling and had Stephanie let me know when we reached 100% on the gauge.  215 gallons later it read 100%.  Well that can't be right.  Boat fuel pumps don't have an automatic shut off, so you listen to the gurgles and when they get higher pitched, you slow down until there's a little froth at the fill port.  I was able to add another 40 gallons.  So the gauge reads 100% full at 90% and reads 20% full with 120 gallons (30%) in it.  A 10% fudge factor at either end.  Good to know!

After fueling we headed south down the channel.  It's a narrow channel and the marker posts don't line up with where the charts say they are, so I was extra careful on my positioning.  we were never in any danger of running aground, the shallowest it got was a 5' clearance below the props.

We had been warned and they were right.  Going out of Gordon Pass was rough, thanks to the northerly wind.  My best guess would be a 3-4' chop head sea.  Waves over the bow and a little swirly.  We went out passed the markers, turned around and came back in.  Much smoother with a following sea.  Coming in we watched dolphins body surfing the waves.  How cool is that?  we also saw a couple in the channel.  They're everywhere.  I can't wait to get in the water.

The trip back up the channel was a lot less nerve wracking than the trip out, which was the whole idea.  I'm going to be a lot more confident on Friday and hopefully the chattering and questions can be fielded without me needing to say "leave me alone, I need to concentrate!"

It wasn't my best docking ever, but no gel coat (mine or anybody else's) was harmed.


"The moment"

For the last week, Steph has been worrying about where we can go to watch the inauguration.  Susie and Armando kindly invited us over to their house.  Armando even came to pick us up!

The pomp and circumstance was interesting to see (I had never sat and watched the ceremony before) and I continue to be impressed with Obama's oratory style.

Susie had put on a fantastic spread and we all tucked in.  At Armando's urging, Susie made pizza.  Homemade and delish!  The only pizza that's comparable would be Sunshine's in Curacao.  I'd be hard put to pick between the two.

Monday's Target run had come up empty on a few things, so Steph and Susie were off again.  I begged off, wanting to start washing down Lucky, and was dropped off at the marina.  The two left, along with a request to find me a nice warm sweater.  It's going to be in the low 30's later this week.  That's below freezing for goodness sake!

Dinner was at "St George and the Dragon", a restaurant that purports to be "English fayre".  What a disappointment.  A mediocre steak house with only one English ale (Bass) and that in bottles.  No "English fayre", either.  We won't be back.

Entertaining on Lucky

Mike at lunch

Monday was our turn to play host.

Just as we were deciding what to do about lunch, Mike called.  He was on 3rd St (another fancy-pants shopping area in Naples) with Jackie and Rachael and they were about to have lunch.  Would we like to join them?  So we jumped on our bikes and met them at Campiello, a very nice Italian on 3rd St.  After lunch we all came back to Lucky and had tea.  It was the first time they had seen Lucky afloat.  The canvas guys had shown up earlier so we even had our cushions back so we could sit outside in the cockpit.

[nautical talk explained]
On a boat, the cockpit is the area at the back where you either fish or drink cocktails, dependent upon your fancy.  You control the vessel from the helm.
[/nautical talk explained]

We planned on taking them out for the day on Friday.  So refuel, practice runs down Naples bay  and trip planning required pronto!

Steph had arranged with Susie to go on a Target run that afternoon so I was soon left alone.  Time for more jobs!  By the end of the day I had completed all the jobs I wanted to get done, including fixing the fender holders, new windshield wipers and fixing a drawer in the galley.

Susie and Armando joined us for dinner - pasta.  I have a "no cook" pasta sauce recipe using tuna, capers and lemon that works really well.  We can now add the stove top to the list of things used for the first time.

Tuesday is the inauguration and we're going around to Susie's to watch.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tea and cake

Jeff (left), Mike (right) + 1

Saturday was a non-boat day.  Susie came down to the marina on her bike and we went cycling around the posher parts of Naples, looking at the mansions down on Spyglass Ln and Galleon Dr.  After we wiped the drool off our chins, we checked out the pier.  Quite the happening place, what with the fishing and beach action going on.  Afterwards we were feeling a little peckish, so we decided to go up to 5th Av, the "shee-shee" shopping street.  We noticed a small "English Tea Room" and treated Susie to her first English High Tea, complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones and sticky buns.  Yum!

Mike turned 70 on Saturday.  Amazing really.  He looks 20 years younger and acts even younger than that.  I wish I knew his secret.  So Mike and Jackie threw a small party Saturday night.  Lots of fun!  Being a Mike and Jackie event, there was music.  Jazz, as created by Mike + friends.  The guitarist is Jeff.  While I was a neighbour of Mike's, he lived two doors down (and across the road).  To add to "The Quarry" (our street) reunion, Rachael had made a surprise visit from Leeds.  She showed up Thursday night at their door step, here for two weeks.  Needless to say, much catching up ensued.  We'll be seeing more of Rachael before she leaves.  She wants to visit Lucky, so we'll probably go out with her.

Speaking of Lucky, the list of to-dos is piling up.  Wash and wax, fender holder, new windscreen wipers, chain and line rode on the second anchor, refuel.  Going to try to knock off a bunch of these tomorrow.  I'd also like to launch the tender and run that upriver a way, but that means turning Lucky around in her slip, so I'm going to hold off for a bit on that.

What few pics I have from the weekend can be found here.

Simple Things

Sometimes it's the simple things that make for a great day. Last night was calm, the least windy day on the boat so far. When it's windy, the water makes a curious "frwap"ing sound against the hull. I'm sure we'll get used to it but last night was totally quiet. I slept a full 7 hours, with no cat-anxiety dreams, and woke up to the gentle sound of a slight rain hitting the hatch. The kitchen is now fully equipped, with home-made bread and fruit. No more hotel food! We have my Mom's dolphin wallhanging and the clock up on the wall (see pic of the day). The sun has come out and it's Warm, we're sitting in the helm, in shorts and a tees, enjoying the [late] morning. Ahh.

Martin is very busy. We've discover a miracle product - Magic Erasers (thanks Susie!) I've used these before but I never had a boat to clean and didn't understand their greatness. Our vinyl seats are dingy and we have scuff marks all over the boat. I spent an hour trying to pull some of it up but nothing worked. Enter the magic eraser... It takes everything off and on a 43' white boat, with white upholstery there is a lot of boat to clean. Martin is determined to scrub the whole exterior of the boat with the erasers, and as they are the size of a sponge, it's going to be a long project! I only have the interior/helm to worry about ;-)

It's likely to rain the next couple of days so we hope get some exterior projects done today (new windshield wipers and fender holders put on, a wash and wax) and we'll get out on the bikes for some running around. We absolutely love having the bikes. Naples is a beautiful town and not too big, we've found we can get around very well with the bikes. Sue and Armando have helped us out when we needed to go farther afield. Oh, and an amendment to my earlier comments on Naples - we've found this to be a very friendly town - young and old! I love that people smile and say hello as your walking or biking down the street. You don't get the averted eyes like in SF!

And my last simple pleasure of today, I discovered yet another awesome app for the iphone. Ever the weather maven, I found that the weather channel has an iphone app. I'm in heaven!

Oh, we were just invited to a "chart party" at sunset at Anne & Hal's (the couple that travels the Naples/Keys/Bahamas route each year). They are going to share with us their preferred charts, marina's and anchoring spots, etc. Another fun night!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Moving Aboard

We did it - we live on a boat! Yesterday was a long and eventful day. We had a rough start at the boat yard with work to wrap up but by early afternoon we were out on the waterway doing a "sea trial" with the mechanic, Hugh, on board. Martin says the boat has never run so well and efficiently. We definitely give 2 thumbs up for all the service we've gotten here, they really know their stuff.

I was absolutely thrilled that as soon as we were out of the marina itself, there were dolphins! One even swam right up in the wake of our boat - it was beautiful - they're so big! It didn't hang out though, Hugh explained, because we were going too slow and they like to jump in the wake if it's a big enough wave. How cool is that?

Then Martin paid for the past week's work (yikes) and we met the harbormaster, Joan, and got our keys. We have a bathroom/shower facility and free laundry - yay! (We don't have wifi but the library is nearby.)

We spent a good amount of time "swabbing the decks" and unpacking our things from the hotel. We hadn't been on the boat more than half an hour when a woman came by and introduced herself. She and her husband are living on a 50' trawler docked 3 boats down. They have spent a few months every year for the past several years traveling from Naples, down through the Keys and off to the Bahamas - no way!! Needless to say, we're excited to talk with them (since that is exactly what we hope to do as well). We are hoping to have a drink with them this evening. One of my biggest fears for the trip was being a bit isolated socially. Well so far this hasn't been a problem at all but of course we choose Naples because we had friends here. I'm excited that we're already meeting people at the marina. I can't wait to hear their stories. There is so much to learn.

Back to yesterday... Sue and Armando came over in the evening and we had a house-warming party. I can't imagine a better first night on the boat. We had celebratory tea and cookies. Then they offered to take us to Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods). It feels so good to have a kitchen with real food in it. We came back to a lovely evening of cheese and crackers and wine. The boat was warm and cozy, as was the company. A perfect evening!

This morning we awoke to our first full day aboard. Where is the soap? Did we pack razors? There's no bowl for the fruit? Today is a day to start unpacking, sort everything out and see what we still need to pick up. It is unseasonably cool here so it's a perfect day for staying inside and playing house. Martin has a loaf of bread baking, it's going to be a nice day.

Internet access update

Online in the Starbucks on 5th Av in Naples.  We got a Starbucks card each and can now get 2 hours a day access.  Only 1 purchase a month required, plus we'll get spam from AT&T occasionally.  That's what email filters were designed for, so I'm not anticipating a full inbox any time soon.  As both Steph and I have our favorite sanitized caffiene drink here, it's no real hardship.

The two hour limit is actually a good thing, as it will force us out into the bright light eventually.  If we really need more time, the library is just up the road.  Seeing as I have the heaviest laptop in  existance, I don't think I'll be going that often.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Intermittant Internet

Once we leave the hotel and board IGL, we're not sure what kind of Internet access we'll have.  We know we can find access because we can always come back to the hotel and drink coffee in the lobby while using their wireless.  If we can't get access from the boat, then our posts will become less frequent.  We are still going to write blogs every day, but may not post them up every day.  So, like today, there could be several posts going up at once.  If you haven't already, I recommend subscribing to the blog using an RSS reader (like iGoogle).  That way you can see the new posts as they occur, without having to stop by on the off chance.

I Got Lucky Update

On the hard, waiting for the travel lift

A lot of work has been done to Lucky over the last few days.  The port drive has been removed, fixed and replaced.  The props are back on.  The detail has been finished.  All the bits are back on the hard top.  The fuel sender has been calibrated and Lucky is in the water.  Of course, not everything went smoothly and the gory details follow.  For those uninterested in the techie details, look at the pretty pictures here and skip to the next post.

So last we left it, the port drive had water in the oil and no apparent entry point.  On Monday the technician came, dropped the drive and took it away.  Once the drive was dropped it was obvious there was a leak as there was a significant amount of salt crystals built up inside.  Yesterday the drive returned with the news.  An internal seal, one of two that seal the part of the drive that provides the vertical rotation, had torn.  In addition, the part of the drive that the large seal at the top seats on had pitted and was providing access for water as well.  So the seal was replaced and the bed refinished.  as the drive was being placed into Lucky, the tech noticed that the drive exhaust elbow had corrosion around one of the seals.  I was given the option to replace or ignore, but decided that I'd better bite the bullet now rather than be bitten later.  So that meant a day delay before the exhaust was replaced.  That happened today, first thing.  Then the drives were calibrated to each other.  Lucky was ready to be splashed.  There then followed a four hour delay while another boat was being placed on a rig to be trucked to Napa, California.  Bill, the owner, has been a sailor for 16 years but had decided that enough was enough.  He searched across the country for the boat he was looking for - a Tiara 35' open - and found one in Naples.  What are the odds?  Normally, placing a boat on a trailer should take less than an hour, but there were several causes for the delay.  All the barnacles needed to be scraped off (1 hour).  The trailer needed to be put in the correct position and made the correct length (another hour).  Unsuccessfully attempting to get the overall height below 15' (yet another hour).  Sigh.  So by the time Lucky could be lifted, it was already 2pm.  The yard closes at 4.  We were splashed at 3pm and the engines could finally be turned on.  There was a leak in the exhaust, this time at the engine exhaust elbow due to a slightly warped flange.  An hour of filing got it nearly flat enough, but not quite.  The tech will be back tomorrow morning with some magic paste that will seal the remaining tiny gap.  Fingers crossed we'll sea trial, find no issues with the drives and the joystick won't need recalibrating.

While the outside of Lucky gleams, the cockpit and helm are looking very shabby.  Between the planes flying overhead on final approach to Naples airport and mechanics tromping on and off, there's plenty of grime around.  She'll get one final "service wash" from the yard, but I'm sure Steph and I will be swabbing the decks in the next few days.  Down below needs a good clean as well.  We're both itching to move in and make her home.

Monday morning I had Carl (the yard manager) help me put the life raft on the hard top.  It's way too heavy for me.  Once back in its cradle I could get the rest of the stuff up there.  Radar, air horn, loudhailer and spot light.  I needed Steph's help for a couple of items as it took one person to hold the bolt while the other tightened the nut.  The spotlight and hailer still need to be wired back in, but that won't take more than a few hours.

One of the final things to calibrate was the fuel sender.  Its a float in the fuel tank that sends a signal to the helm so you get a reading off fuel remaining.  Quite important, really!  So we recalibrated.  Made more difficult by the lack of instructions, finally resolved with a download and printout.  Using the yard's calibrating sender didn't work as it would only go down to 6% on the gauge.  Using the fitted gauge got down to 2%.  Note to self - refuel at 10% or higher.

So Lucky is in the water and we're nearly finished in the yard.  I've found us a slip we can live aboard.  It's one block south of the yard, so we'll move Lucky there once all is done at the yard.  Can't wait!  I'll be able to make decent cup of tea, for one thing!  :-)

Happy Birthday to me!

Armando, Sue, Steph, Martin, Sean and Lousie at dinner

Yesterday was my 44th birthday.  I'm not much of a birthday person, but every one around me is, so I got cards and presents.  Thank you Anne for the persimmon cookies!  I'm saving them until we're on Lucky and then we shall have tea and cookies as a celebration!  Steph bought me scone mix.  Sue got me clotted cream.  We already have the jam.  So scones and tea will be on the menu later this week as well.  Yum!  Sean and Louise were in town, fresh off their "trawler school" and full of nautical tales.  They came over to the yard at lunchtime and we spent an enjoyable afternoon wandering the waterfront.  Sue and Armando joined us later in the afternoon and were given the full tour of "The Bus".  Having spent 2 years living in an RV, they were especially impressed.  We had to leave Sean and Louise early evening so they could teach a class, but we arranged to have dinner later that night at Olive Garden, one of the few restaurants open after 9 in Naples.  Much to Steph and my delight, they had Martini & Rosso Asti Spumante on the wine list.  Greg, stop rolling your eyes!  As an added bonus, I was able to stop all singing at lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting Things Done

Monday was a busy, industrious day. Martin went to Lucky and began reinstalling the hardware back to the top of the boat. He also found a marina where we can stay as live-aboards (not easy in Naples as most marinas have a 4 day/month live-aboard limit). And I had to find the local quilt shop (!) and buy a pair of shorts (I'm useless when it comes to reinstalling heavy objects on a boat anyway...) We have been using our folding bikes as transportation and they have worked out great. Yesterday, however, I was having doubts! I guessed the quilt shop to be about 7 miles away and thought a 14 mile bike ride would be perfect - get exercise and errands done at the same time. Taking to the open road rather than riding around town I realized that the bikes are pretty slow - okay, they have 16 inch tires, they don't exactly "burn rubber". To make a long story short, I felt like I had ridden to Georgia and back by the time I returned. I did a quick google pedometer check and realized I had underestimated my trip, and that my 14 mile ride really did feel like the 24 mile ride that it was. So now I'm questioning my own navigation skills as may be a very long and meandering year ahead!

Sean and Louise arrived in the evening from Ft. Lauderdale where they were in trawler school. They live in their 40' Neoplan bus - touring around the US with their dog, 2 cats and fish (you can read their blog here). We had a great time with them in the evening and are looking forward to spending time on Tuesday with them as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Biking and Visiting

Today we rode our bikes to Mike and Jackie's house (old family friends from Leeds). It was a gorgeous day. We had a lovely brunch at their house, walked to the beach and saw the neighborhood alligator and her 8 babies (see pic) and listened to Mike play the keyboards for a bit. What a treat that was, he's a very talented musician! Mike gave Carole a call (Martin's Mom) so everyone got to say hello. Then we rode our bikes back home. (Note: the trip home was significantly shorter. I'm having some serious doubts about Martin's navigation skills after today ;-) Another wonderful day spent with friends!

Kayaking with Manatees and Leaping Mullet

On Saturday, Sue and I headed north to Fort Myers (about 45 minutes north of here) to the Manatee Park. We had an awesome afternoon. It's a small county park dedicated to environmental education. Florida Power and Light discharge warm water into a canal there and the manatee have adopted the location as their winter home. They have a beautiful butterfly garden as well. We rented a 2 person kayak and set off down the Orange River. We saw several manatee snouts and a tail. They aren't easy to spot but thankfully they sound like a whale when they come up to breathe so we managed to see one up close while in the kayak. The river is full of mullet - it's not just a bad haircut - as well. As we were drifting down the river, fish would jump out of the water vertically - 3 or 4 feet high - and flop back. It was a bit strange, like a fish circus. It was great to spend time with Sue and catch up in such a peaceful place.

Then we all (Martin, Sue, Armando and I) went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The food was great, the cannoli wonderful... It was a great day!

ps I very friendly woman we met there offered to take our picture and email it to us. She actually took a few and sent them the next day - how sweet is that?!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Work being done to Lucky

On stands in the boat yard in Naples.

Warning!  This post contains graphic details and strong technicalities.  Those of a weak disposition are advised to skip this post and get a nice cup of tea instead.

For those of you still here, a brief summary of all the work being done so far.  The list keeps growing, so there's bound to be another post later.

A few pictures here:

I had the oil changed and engines/drives serviced.  Including the drives and generator.  I'm glad I had the drives serviced as that showed up an issue with water in the oil of the port IPS drive.  So They've been trying to find the source of the leak.  All the seals in the lower unit are fine and it passed a 24 hour pressure test, so they're not really sure.  Final thing to do is drop the lower unit and check the two seals (one to keep the oil in and another to keep water out) between the lower unit and upper unit.  To do that the mechanic had to take off the upper unit, which he did yesterday.

Lucky was a mess.  Thanks to the shrink wrapping coming off in Louisiana, she spent a day before delivery travelling naked (as it were).  This made a mess.  So I'm having her detailed, which involves washing, polishing and waxing the whole boat above the water line.  Glad I'm not doing it!  Not only was the gel coat looking tired, the upholstery at the back was grimed from road dirt.  So I'm having the upholstery replaced.  Might as well start looking good.  More importantly, and the reason why the canvas makers were here in the first place, is I've decided to replace the slant.  The slant is a piece of canvas (plastic, really) that fits over the back of the boat, enclosing the cockpit.  The original had begun to deteriorate and was oozing something sticky.  I need to call the canvas guy on Monday and talk materials (we forgot to yesterday).

Bottom paint prevents marine growth on the boat under the water.  It's usually copper based and is designed to slowly rub away.  It needs to be replaced every few years.  It was time for mine, so I had the yard take care of it.  Two coats will definitely see us through the year.

As any high school chemistry student will tell you, if you put voltage across two metal plates in a salt solution a current will flow and metal will be taken off the anode and deposited on the cathode.  Great for electro-plating, bad for boats.  Due to stray currents in the water, anything metal below the waterline will slowly dissolve unless precautions are taken.  In this case, electrically attaching all underwater metal to a different metal less "noble" metal.  A Zinc.  So I had them check all my zincs.  All were great except one set.  It turns out one pair of zincs, attached to the drives, should have been aluminum as the drives are bronze not zinc.  This explains why I've been having all the issues with the drives and corrosion.  No more!  I'm also going to be carrying spares and will dive down to check them regularly.

I need to put all the stuff back on the hard top, but need a couple of strapping fellows to help me lift the life raft up (damn, but they're heavy!).  Once it's up, I'll be able to put everything else up.  So I'm expecting Monday to be a long day or wrenching!  I also need to check the float switch on the mid-bilge pump as it's sticking, put the chain and line onto the second anchor ready for Bahamian moors and finish construction on the bimini top.  The snuba arrives Monday, so space for that needs to be made and a battery bought.  All in all, the work has barely begun.

Timestamp change

Do not adjust your monitor.  I have taken control.  Welcome to the timestamp zone.

I've decided to change the timestamp Blogger gives each post to our local timezone, current EST (+5 GMT).  I don't think this will change, unless we decide to post during our brief trips back to California.

Pic of the Day

A friend had a great suggestion for our trip, to post a picture every day that exemplifies that days happenings. I think this is great so I'm going to give it a try! (Thanks Judy!) They may often be dups from the blog but I think it's neat to see the photos in order. I made a Picasa album called "Pic of the Day" and we'll put the link here on the blog in the right hand column. You can find it here.

Friends and more friends

The last few days have been a frenzy of activity.  Between visiting Lucky and spending time with friends, there hasn't been much downtime.

Thursday, Steph and I met up with Suzy, an old college friend of Steph's, and her husband Armando.  We were given a brief tour of Naples, went for a walk on the beach to watch the sunset and back to their house for snacks.  They're a great pair and I'm sure we'll be spending more time with them while we're in Naples.

Sunset on Naples beach

Yesterday was another trip down memory lane, this time for me.  Mike and Jackie were my neighbours as I grew up in Leeds (all those years ago).  They snowbird in Naples and we got together.  Also visiting was Harold a cousin of mine I've not seen in a couple of decades.  We went down to the boat yard to visit Lucky.  An interesting time was had trying to corral the herd as we walked through the busy yard.  I was distracted for a moment by the boat yard manager and a couple of canvas makers and before I knew it everyone had disappeared!  Steph kept them in sight and I was able to catch up with them all once I'd answered all the questions being thrown at me.

Outside Tin City

So it's dinner with Suzy and Armando tonight and bicycling with Jackie and Mike tomorrow.  Will the fun never end?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Celebratory Drink

We arrived in Naples last night and a quick drink was in order.   We've visited Lucky and I'll bore you all to death in another post about that.  A Volvo Penta mechanic should be showing up this afternoon to talk about the left (port) IPS drive, so I'm on "standby 5", waiting for the phone to ring.  Steph's muttering something about more shopping.  Is it too early for a drink?


We’re off! We had a good trip, uneventful and on time. After a weepy first half I bucked it up with a margarita, stared at photos of my kids on my iphone, and pushed on. It helped a lot that Ghislaine sent me a text when I arrived to let me know that the kids were doing fine and being social - then I was able to relax and enjoy the evening!

And here we are. It seems hard to believe that it’s actually happening. Sitting at a table on the patio at the hotel, enjoying a “cold” day (there’s a cold front here now, it’s “only” 72). Last night we went to an Irish Pub, recommended by the hotel clerk, and had a drink (sitting outside again…) The bar had a “guys beautiful buns” contest, and so we began our trip! There are worse ways. First impression of Naples (though limited) is that there’s a distinct difference attributable to age. The younger people we’ve met have been friendly, chatty, generally very pleasant. On the other hand, Martin was almost run over by a 70 year old on a bike and an old woman slammed a shopping cart into me (I was moving too slowly). So I guess if you’re born here, that’s fine, but get out before it’s too late :-)

The Bayfront Hotel is nice and within walking distance to the boatyard, restaurants, shopping and all so we don’t need to rent a car. We went to see Lucky on the hard. She looks huge up on blocks. Martin will have more to say about all of that.

Gratitude list for the day is long, including friends, the internet and warm days!