Daughter Lindsay & family departed yesterday, heading home to Clearwater. We detached from our mooring ball today, heading back northbound to Ft. Lauderdale to have the stabilizers installed. Reviewing the contract that Andy had already signed with the yard, LMC, where the work was to be done, I was appalled to read in the fine print that basically, we were waiving all rights to anything that happened....drop our boat via their fault --- they don't pay, our insurance company should pay. Then, this contract goes on to state that should we/our insurance company sue THEM, that we, as owners of the boat, would pay for all their legal fees, court costs, expenses, including appeals, etc. After several phone calls to the outfit that was installing the stabilizers and to LMC, etc. I was able to get us into another yard (Playboy Marine) to have the work done and cancelled our two week stay at LMC. LMC's response --- "You are one of very few that ever read the contract" and "No, we won't change the contract". Fair warning to all to read the fine print at all times!! What a one-sided rip off contract.
Cruised to Marathon (approx 60 miles), picking up a City Mooring ball to spend one or two nights here. With bad weather approaching, we relaxed, walked several miles up and down US1, sightseeing and grabbing a bite to eat and in general, being lazy. This is a nice harbor, with very friendly cruising group and city marina/mooring field folks, but only a limited number of mooring balls for boats our size or larger. They told us we needed to be here in Dec. at the latest in order to get a ball for the winter season....never mind that.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Pulled out of Marathon for a long day at the helm to Biscayne Bay where we dropped anchor and crashed. Up early on Tuesday AM, we cruised on into Playboy Marina at Dania Beach (5 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale airport) and were promptly lifted out of the water and put on the hard. We can stay aboard, with the understanding that we are 'locked in' from 8 PM til 7 AM..no problem for us. So, we are now staying aboard, limited to our bedroom area; can't run any water (toilets are ok as they are hooked to the holding tanks to be pumped at a later date); can't walk about as all furniture is piled up; the saloon floor is wide open and a fall through to the engine room below would certainly be the ultimate painful price to pay for inattention; and everything is covered in cloths or cardboard,
|Messy Messy Messy|
The outside of the boat is quickly getting filthy from the dust, the drilling, the sanding, the airport and some plant that spews stuff in the middle of the night. Uggg, the grit is everywhere.
|Scary to deliberately drill holes in the hull of one's boat|
The stabilizer installation is going well, on target for time. We've decided to paint the bottom while here so that work is underway; hull got waxed (WOW - best shine we have ever had on her!); minor repairs here and there as touch up work AND yet another Ray Marine factory technician aboard. He was adamant that the 12 volt power interference problems were rare on boats such as ours, being more common on sailboats. He replaced the 5 port ethernet switch for $200+ and we will have a chance to see if this works when we get back in the water underway. He said do this first because fixing the power problem (if that IS the problem) will be $1,000 or more. I am so disgusted, pouring good money after bad with NOTHING EVER having fixed the problem we have had since the day this boat was purchased and the new Ray Marine equipment installed. Everyone has washed their hands of this matter and points fingers at each other. We are stuck in the middle and screwed over yet again.
We are preparing this boat for the long cruise to the British Virgin Islands and beyond, perhaps all the way to Venezuela, adding the stabilizers, another 100' of chain to the anchor, adding Single Sideband Radio, longer stronger antennas for reception and have purchased the cruising guidebooks and most of the charts. If we can't get the chart plotter to work, however, we would be fools to head out. I have no idea how to get the equipment to be fixed if two and one half years, more technicians that I can count, all parts of the chart plotters replaced three times....what does one do next? Sink the damn boat? Utterly disgusting.
Wednesday, April 21 - Friday, April 23, 2010
I flew to NYC and back for my final project with my former employer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Phew, a lot of work, but challenging and made me realize I do miss that type of activity, but not enough to leave this lifestyle and go to work somewhere! The killer was having to put on STOCKINGS, HIGH HEELS and a suit. Bah. Felt like a kid playing dress-up!
|Check out the stabilizer - it is huge!|
While I was off the boat, Andy had to check into a hotel for 2 nights as the gelcoat fumes, etc. were toxic. The folks told him to sleep in a respirator or get off the boat....easy choice. The holes have been drilled through the hull and the gelcoat added back, etc. as they prepare to put the stabilizer fins on in a couple of days.
|Rudders & Useless trim tabs on Finally Fun|
Busy bunch of guys, removing parts of the engine such as mufflers and I don't what else, but stuff is being moved around down below. Me, I stay hunkered down in the bedroom out of the way.
We have met Bob & Carol B., aboard Cassandra Jade, a 65' Grand Alaskan trawler, on the hard for repairs. They went thru a tornado while in the Bahamas last month. They actually saw it coming at them, tied to a marina concrete dock. Carol shouted to Bob, "What do we do?" His reply? "HOLD ON". Hold on they did as the boat broke free of the concrete dock and the concrete dock broke off too. After it was all over, they suffered about $20,000 of mostly cosmetic damage to the boat, which is on the hard here, being fixed. Their photos of the marina dock are awesome! Phew, they were lucky!
|Sharon, Carol & Bob outside their home|
|Bob's cool car - a birthday gift from Carol! So fun to tool around in it!|
AND, Bob & Carol have decided to buddy boat and travel with us down thru the Caribbean - the Leeward and Windward islands. This trip has been a dream of Bob's for some time and they jumped at the opportunity. We, likewise, are thrilled. They have changed their cruising plans for the summer to stay closer to FL and we'll head for Bahamas, the first leg of the trip, in January. I've bought 4 cruising guides already and my yellow highlighter is zooming across the pages. I get more excited with every page I turn. So many little islands, some French, some Dutch, some both, depending upon which side of the island one is on! So much history, so many beautiful beaches and each island only a day's journey from the other. Island HOPPING at it's finest!
Adventures on the hard, up on the air in Ft. Lauderdale
Cruising north to Jacksonville for May, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Still up in the air, with final preparations madly underway. The crews are finishing the bottom paint and minor cosmetic repairs and the stabilizers are nearly completely installed. Remember in November 2009 my comments about a trawler hitting our boat as he/she pulled out of Beaufort, NC marina???? Well, damage had been done. We had patched a bit, and now had it all repaired properly. Thanks to the boater who failed to stop, failed to acknowledge the bump which was hard. Our guests aboard alerted us and said it was a HARD bump. The irresponsible boater who had to have known he hit us, just cost us nearly $600 for repairs to the bow and anchor pulpit area. Wish we'd gotten his name at the time, but Andy didn't think anything was wrong. We noted the damage later in the day....bah. Another hard lesson learned.
Given the Gulf of Mexico oil spill situation and uncertainty surrounding where exactly the oil will flow and for how long, etc. we have cancelled our plans for the summer, fall and winter. No longer are we headed to Clearwater on the West Coast of FL for all of May and onward to Mobile Bay, AL and into the TennTom, TN and Cumberland Rivers thru November and back to Clearwater for November and December.
We just returned nearly $600 of charts, books, computer chips, etc. for that trip to Blue Water Books. They were most gracious, allowing it all to be returned. We are disappointed in missing this opportunity, but more fearful that we would cause damage to our boat if we got caught up in the oil, sucking it into the engines, generator, raw water pumps or whatever else is exposed. We are also concerned that we could get 'stuck' up that way, unable to return due to residual oil. This is so disheartening...an environmental disaster and a personal one for so many as their life on the water has been so jeopardized...
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Finally Fun is BACK IN THE WATER, right on schedule at 2 PM. The workers are feverishly finishing additional tasks now that we can start engines. Sea trial will be at 7:00 ish Wednesday and after completion, we'll be off to Jacksonville, where we will spend a month at the US Navy Base Marina on St. John's River. We'll drive back and forth (a 5 hour one way trip) for visits to Clearwater, babysitting Pickett and helping out when his baby sister is born mid May. Not as convenient as being at a marina in St. Pete or Clearwater, but this is certainly better than not being there at all!
We have decided we are tired and just want to chill, as we'd planned to do on the rivers in TN and AL and KY this summer. We've decided we will stay in and around Charleston, SC and in Georgetown and other little towns in the area and explore the rivers and small towns and just hang out. We're fixing the insurance so we can be 'below the line' for hurricane season.
|RobertE & Riley camping with us in years past|
I spent the day cleaning the interior of the boat after the technicians removed all the cardboard they had taped everywhere -- floors, walls, countertops, etc. Unbelievable amount of grit. As I started scrubbing with Murphy's Oil Soap, I stopped....and debated whether to keep cleaning or not. There on the wall, coming into the saloon, was a perfect baby Pickett hand print from when they were aboard just before we got to this boatyard to have the stabilizers installed. I had misty tears in my eyes as I scrubbed it off. Ah, miss the little guy so much!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The story of our life. We spent the night right in the spot where the slings dropped us in the water to await the sea trial. The bright and early sea trial was OK, but the helm station Stabilizer controls do not work. Back in to the boatyard, tying up on another wall while the technician then spent hours trying to figure out the problem. Finally taking the unit back to the shop, he got it fixed about 3:30, way to late to take off. Spent the night on the wall there, sharing a glass of wine with Bob and Carol and running out to dinner, beating it back in time for the 8:00 PM gate locking curfew - but barely! Bob's car could not get thru the gate, but Andy & I were able to squeeze thru the chain fence like a couple of kids beating curfew!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Down Dania Cut Off Canal by 8:00 AM, we were in the Atlantic at 8:30, turning north. Guess what, no surprise here...the Chart Plotter failed yet again. Remember, yet another technician a couple of weeks ago...he replaced for a few hundred dollars, the 5 port ethernet switch, saying it could not be a power issue. Well, this is the worst yet, with it cutting OFF not to be restarted. Traveling out in the Atlantic, in the Gulf Stream, breaking a trawler sound barrier at 11-12 mph, we rocked along all day from Port Everglades Inlet to Ft. Pierce Inlet with NO chart plotter, making it more difficult to figure out where one is all day long. Made it thru the Inlet, about 7:00 PM-ish, but anchoring around the bend near Fabor Cove was difficult. It is so shallow and at low tide -- without the chart plotter we were 'guessing' where we were and sometimes we had depth and most often we did NOT. Via phone, the technician said he has no idea what is wrong. We told him we would send his unit back and we expected our money back. We would get our old unit put back in -- it is bad, but not as bad a situation as we are in now with this new unit. This nightmare has no end and again, pouring good money after bad and a worthless piece of whatever will get us killed, sunk or injured before this is over. I am searching for the name of the CEO of Ray Marine to unload this tale of woe to and expect to get this fixed. Frankly, I will ask that they remove every piece of their equipment and refund all our money. We will have Garmin installed and see what happens. If they can't fix it, they should keep it all.
All in all, a beautiful day on the Atlantic, mostly in the Gulf Stream. Pretty calm waters, so the stabilizers didn't get much use. Andy turned them off/on, but I could hardly tell the difference.
Friday, May 7, 2010
After struggling last night to set the anchor, without benefit of depth due to non-working chart plotter, Andy running from upper helm station to the lower one, in an attempt to determine where in the water we were in order to set the anchor, without going aground, we set it. Later, both of us nervous, as we felt we were too close to two other boats, we moved the boat, going thru that anchor drill all over again, without benefit of chart plotter. Finally, settled in without further incident.
Up early, pulling anchor by 7:30, we were at Port Consolidated in Ft. Pierce to get fuel. Wow, a fuel station OUT of fuel. Told it would be a 20 minute delay til the fuel truck got there and finally, over an hour later, we began fueling. Nice guy, they gave us a 5 cent a gallon discount for the delay. Those of you reading this blog, don't ever offer to help pay for fuel if aboard. We just might take you up on it....560 gallons later and approximately $1,600 later, we pulled out about 10 am, off schedule, with a long cruise in the Atlantic before dark.
What a day in the Atlantic...fabulous. Too many sea turtles spotted to count (10+); big rays flying up out of the water with enormous splashes back down into the water; dolphin playing in our wake once back inside the ICW from the Atlantic; sharing the lock at Port Canaveral with a huge manatee, who clearly had the right of way and KNEW IT!
A real treat for us was the tiny little bird, like a sparrow, with yellow underbelly and a black band across his eyes, like Bandit. This little bird flew aboard when we were almost out of sight of the East Coast of FL (about 7 miles out), checked us out two or three times at the helm station, making us laugh as he slid down the instrument panel, unable to grip his tiny feet on the slick, waxed surface. He would nearly land in Andy's hand or lap and fly off, out the side window of the open bimini. He kept coming back, landing on the aft deck, usually on the table. He hitched his ride for nearly two hours, often coming back to the flybridge where we were. He'd get near us, slide around again on the helm station and zoom off. We loved it. I crushed cracker crumbs on the aft deck, but don't know if he ever ate anything. He just needed the rest we think. I saw him fly off toward the shoreline, about 6 miles away. Special moment, for certain!!
|Reeling him in|
I read that the Bonito is one of the fastest swimmers and that they like the yellow/green lures...exactly what we had on the line. Andy got him to the boat and I netted him. He was nearly dead. I think we drowned the fish, pulling him behind the boat for god knows how long..... A few gasps of breath later, he died.
Bending over the cutting board on the cooler, my back was killing me before I was finished....Remind me to tell the kids and Andy that I want for my birthday/Christmas a fish filleting board that will attach to the boat. This is the second fish I have hacked up, killing my back.
On a positive note, I never saw any sharks, even after all the 'chum' I threw overboard. FINALLY, some pieces that resembled fillets, were cleaned and bagged, which I then froze for three more meals after tonight. .
We grilled the remaining pieces tonight, adding olive oil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice...delish! Nothing like fresh fish! Doesn't get any better than this!
After a 12 hour day before dropping the anchor next to the NASA Causeway in Cape Canaveral, boater's midnight struck Andy by 8:30. I am next, as soon as I log off the blog. A great day in the Atlantic,. but so very smooth, we could not tell again that we had stabilizers!!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
A short day for us, departing anchorage at the NASA Causeway by 8 AM, dropping the hook off R44 in the ICW at Daytona Beach by 2:40, approximately 50 miles in route. Here we sit, watching the boats zip past us in the ICW. Without good anchorages further up, we stopped short today and will make it to St. Augustine tomorrow and then out the Inlet on Monday all way to downtown Jacksonville on the St. John's River.
Cruising past one of my most favorite places along the ICW, Haulover Canal, just off the Indian River, north of Titusville, around Merritt Island. Wildlife abounds here, around this man made narrow canal that cuts between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River. I spotted 3 flamingos - a first for me; numerous dolphin and manatee; too many herons, egrets, pelicans - both brown and white - and other birds to begin to count roosting in the mangroves and spoil islands along the way.
Interestingly, the pelicans work together here, swimming in a group, herding fish together by flapping their wings on the water. Before the fish can escape, the birds gobble them up! Dolphin herd fish like that too, circling around the fish and taking turns getting in the middle of the dolphin circle and chowing down! I've never seen an alligator,but they are here, I'm told. This is a place I'd love to come back to in a sea kayak, so I could poke right in to these little inlets and coves and be right in with the wildlife. In the interim, I have to be content with carefully watching that we remain in the dredged channel, or we would be aground. When one sees birds walking on water, one should know that the water is very shallow!!!
Sunday, May 9 Mother's Day, 2010
Easy trip into St. Augustine City Marina via ICW, in spite of the shoaling and low tide. USCG kept putting out warnings about shallows and shoals off an Inlet, but we had no trouble....lucky us mainly, as others had run aground all day long in that area. I'd called my Mom and sister, Anne, who drove down to meet us so we could all celebrate Mother's Day together, rather than wait another day or two. A great dinner and fun time was had by all. After dinner, Andy & I walked around Old Town St. Augustine, taking in the sights, which were mostly tourists like us!
Monday & Tuesday, May 10 & 11, 2010
Couple of incredible, awful days..... The port engine quit on us out in the Atlantic after departing St. Augustine at 7:00 AM so we could have a good day's travel. When the port engine goes out, the stabilizers go OUT and OFF.
Andy went into the engine room, replacing relays, but that only gave us a short respite, before all quit again. Poor guy, over $52,000 for stablilizers that will stop this rock and roll and he is still seasick!!! He sat on the aft deck, trusting his life w me at the helm. Actually, he was too sick to care, and probably wished I'd end it all for him. Nothing worse than sea sick! The seas were 3-5 feet and almost at beam, rock and roll all the way: up, down, rock, rattle, roll over and sway yet again... NO stablizers after all that.
After 3 hours of that, we finally got to the inlet at Jacksonville and St. John's River and in we went, to the first marina inside at Mayport, FL. We got tied up, called a John Deere technician who arrived pretty promptly and finally got us started again. Maybe, just maybe he found the problem in that the reply switch is so close to the port engine it gets too hot and shuts down. He tied it up and around and all of us crossing our fingers, off we went after a 4 hours delay. But, I question the 'fix'. We've been cruising for two years.....why a hot engine now? However, this engine has QUIT on us about 3 other times...AND we have replaced that relay before ----- so maybe????
About 3-4 hours later, up the St. John's River toward the Naval Air Station, where we planned to leave our boat for a month, we were stopped in the River by Customs & Immigration. They wanted to know if we were US citizens; how many people on board; did we have any weapons aboard and where were we coming from and going to....Once they heard we were headed to NAS (which means we are retired or active miliary -- at our age, certainly NOT active military), they pulled in their fenders they had just thrown over and did not board us and went on their way, letting us go on our way. We had 5 minutes to make it to NAS before they closed and we were hoping for help in tying us to the dock.
Bah, 2 minutes to 6 and the folks were gone at the dock...kinda confusing to get into there but we did get to the dock. My cowgirl skills are improving as I was able to 'lasso' each piling or cleat and get us secured to the dock w/o any help in sight! Finally secure, we trashed any idea of dinner and headed for the Blue Moons and a hummas snack. Beer and Bed sounded like a great plan.....long day with some tension thrown in.
Would you believe, two guys (separately) came up to say hello at the dock and to WARN us NOT TO STAY here!!!! Even tho they are at these docks!!!! Seems there is an 11 mile fetch (means that there is 11 miles of OPEN water before our boat and in a south wind, it howls, blows up big waves which will smash our boat against the dock. They each pointed to a sailboat over by us, in a slip (we were tied along side the dock) that actually got pushed up and over the dock the month before due to the winds/fetch. The damage to the boat was significant: gouged gelcoat and scratches everywhere!! Much appreciated insights! We added three more fenders to the side of the boat and went to bed.... no south winds predicted til tomorrow...
Up fairly early with thoughts of finding another marina - most likely headed back to Jax Beach Marina near Anne & Mom, I found nothing working properly. Seems we LOST power during the night. Andy had a melt down when he realized our batteries were way way DOWN due to not being able to charge as we had no power......in spite of being plugged in all night. To the non-boater, no power and batteries not charging means we would not have power to START the boat. Batteries discharging all also damages batteries and with over $3,000 in batteries we are NOT anxious to replace something that should last a long time.
Andy headed to the marina office to tell them in spite of our month's reservation, we had spent one night and we departing. The gal actually told him they had that power problem off/on a lot. What IF we had left our boat there as we'd planned to do, (remember that granddaughter that is scheduled to be born 5/21 or arrive on her own even sooner - we are driving to Clearwater later in the week so we will be on hand!) returning in 10 days or 2 weeks? Dead batteries also mean dead refrigerators and dead, thawing freezers.....Ever have your refrig/freezer go out and you didn't notice? Phew, ruins everything, including the equipment!!!
Almost 4 hours after departing NAS Marina, we pulled into Beach Marina on Jacksonville Beach off the ICW for the month. Another not so hot day.....trouble comes in threes and here was #3. The wind was howling at about 30 knots (per the Marina's estimation), low tide, no room to manuever and boom, we were stuck. Andy is so good at backing this boat into tiny slips, but nothing worked today. Between the strong wind, the current and docks so close together, a nightmare quickly evolved. NOTHING worked.
With boats on both sides of us, a narrow passageway and then more docks at the end, Andy was at the mercy of the wind. Without much room to manuver, and me in the cockpit, fender in hand, we tried over and over to get into the slip backwards. Nothing worked -- I'd fend us off the boats and finally, he hit pilings; hit a piece of wood sticking out and no attempts on my part was able to keep us off. THEN, the WIND pinned us to the dock at the end of the slips...nothing worked to get us off. Andy said later, he figured we'd be there for hours til wind quit or changed direction. We could not get off that place. Suddenly, the wind abated and Andy pulled us out of the dock area, turned the boat back around and headed back toward the slip, this time BOW IN and we made it. Ugh.
Scary stuff and embarrassing. Even as beginners, we were never this bad... We vowed over beer and wings at dinner in the bar next to the marina tonight that no more --- back to the headsets so only we could hear the @###@!!! that was emitting from certainly my mouth today and his too.....but my @##%%## were so much LOUDER than his!!! Clearly, NO ladies on board Finally Fun today!!!!! Just a couple of loud mouth sailor types!! grin
Thursday, May 13, 2010
We've spent our days scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing this dirty boat. Andy, with his newly acquired power tool polisher and $300 worth of wax compounding stuff, is on a mission. We learned some neat techniques from the guy who polished our hull while on the hard in Ft. Lauderdale and it is time to really get a good wax on the upper boat. Sooooo much work!!! But, at the end of the day, I remind him we ARE retired (which means nothing to do and time on our hands) and that we ARE saving about $1,000 by doing this work ourselves. Our backs hurt, our arms hurt and everything else hurts and we have at least 4 more days of hard labor ahead of us.
Speaking of hard labor, our expected granddaughter is due to be induced a week from tomorrow (and she could still decide to come sooner, on her own). We depart Sunday for Clearwater, to stay with Lindsay, Walker and Baby Pickett and to babysit Pickett for the week...a treat for us while we await new Baby's arrival. With scheduled appointments with friends, doctors, CPA, hair salon, etc. we will be busy.
We will return to the boat sometime after the birth, again returning to Clearwater on June 28. We've rented a condo on the beach for a week, with Leslie, RobertE and Riley and my Mom. We'll be out of Lindsay's hair, have a vacation, and give her a fun place to rest, relax with the new baby and let us play with Pickett during the day and keep him overnight as much as she'll let us. Should be a good time had by all!
We will need to depart Jacksonville prior to June 15, as we must be out of FL per our insurance requirements by then. We changed our insurance all around, allowing us to stay south of the Cape Hatteras line during hurricane season because we feel basically lazy and don't want to cruise so far...no specific destination further north we wanted to be at. We'll hang around Charleston, Georgetown, etc. as I've said before, driving back to FL to play with new granddaughter and with Pickett, and in general, just chill.
I'll update blog from time to time, but Finally Fun is tied up for a month now.
May 27, 2010
Busy, busy time. We were on hand for the arrival of our granddaughter, Makenna Avery Lea, on Friday, May 21, born about 5:30 in the afternoon. Ah, a beauty! Her little brother, Pickett, is not so interested - the items in the hospital room intrigue him far more!
|Baby Makenna & Momma Lindsay|
We have gotten into a routine at Lindsay's house, "holding down the fort" while the new parents bond with the baby at the hospital Imagine, now days, the baby is born in the room, Daddy gets to stay overnight, sleeping on a pull out couch in the room, spends all day in the hospital room helping the new Mom with the baby.
|Pickett's t-shirt says ONLY CHILD now scratched thru to say: Big Brother|
Visitors can come and go, including the young siblings. Bah, in my day, too many years ago to count, babies were relegated to the hospital nursery, brought out at the convenience of the NURSES or on a schedule to be fed by Mom. Dad could come during visiting hours and siblings were person non grata....If allowed at all, they could peek at their new brother or sister through a glass window. Very positive. enlightened changes over the years!