03/24/2013, Boot Key Harbor mooring field
Here's a look at our latest project...a new (to us) wind generator! It's up and running and adding free power to our batteries.
03/13/2013, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon
Our new solar panels. Imagine working on something like this while your boat bobs around in the mooring field!
We have been busy the last week. We went to the Marathon Seafood Festival on Saturday with friends from San Antonio who are here on their catamaran, and were amazingly assigned to the mooring ball right next to us. We went out to eat with other Texas friends a few times. We worked on a big project...
Until this stop we never had a problem keeping up with our electrical needs. But we found out after being at anchor or on a mooring ball for a long time we needed another power source. One of our Texas friends, Rick, gave us his old flexible solar panels and we had previously purchased a solar controller from another friend, Bob. Ralph then spent 3 days planning the installation and purchasing bits and pieces he needed, soldering wires, heat shrinking stuff, drilling holes, running wires from panels to controller to batteries, etc. (Of course this also meant we had stuff strung out all over the boat to be able to get to the areas we needed to work in.) Finally he was able to finish it all up yesterday afternoon. (Meanwhile, I spent those days on regular boat tasks: doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, and washing dishes. Plus being Ralph's assistant.) Today was the test - seeing how the batteries did after a whole day of just solar power. They were great and kept our charge up with no need for our generator or engine power! We are so happy!
03/07/2013, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Fl.
Things are going great here. Beverly and I are having a great time and enjoying our new life as full time cruisers. Boot Key is an awesome place, with a huge cruising community. It seems to be a beehive of activity at times. There is so much to do. Some for fun, some out of necessity. Hey, we live on boats, right? Sometimes, it's necessary to get away for fun, and just get off of the boat for awhile. Sometimes, we need gas/diesel, water, or food.
George, a friend of ours, sent an email with some thoughts and questions. Here is the email - "On your web site you should talk about how it really feels to be cruising. Is it what you thought it would be? Do you think about the day the same way as when you were working? Do you relax, or are you still thinking about, what next? It would be interesting for your friends to understand what it is like. Thanks
How does it feel to be cruising?
It is hard to answer without just saying, "It's great!" As I always say, "Every day is an adventure." I really mean that. Well, what do I mean exactly? Ok, the morning that we left Perdido Key Oyster Bar and Marina in Pensacola, the weather was great. Very light gentle breeze, and calm water on the ICW. As we motored along, shortly after leaving the marina, we spotted some dolphins in our wake. They were acting odd! Well, it seems that they were happy to be in each other's company. One rolled over with its belly up (and other things), as they frolicked in the morning sun. We were cracking up! We just saw dolphins in the "act"! About thirty minutes later, as we headed out through the cut into the Gulf of Mexico, the waves grew. The tide was going out against an onshore breeze. Several times, we buried the bow of Fugue into those waves, water running down the decks. The boat was taking a beating, and so were we! The rest of the day was not much better. The forecast was 2-3 foot seas, but from the southeast which was on the nose, and slowed us down. We arrived at Destin after sunset, unfortunately, and the entrance there is a challenging one. We made it in, but it was pretty close. We could have lost the boat, and possibly been injured (or worse).
Everyday isn't exactly like that, but usually something comes up to add to the adventure. You just never know.
Is it what we thought it would be?
Yes, pretty much. Not too many surprises. We have met so many nice people, made many new friends, and still love being together and sharing each day together.
Do we think of each day the same as when we were working?
No way! There is no way to compare. It did take a while for me to adjust, and relax. There is structure to most days, but it's different. No stress, but the boat or crew usually needs attention. It may be a trip to provision, or a dinghy ride to get gas for the generator/dinghy engine. So really, work is required, but on your schedule.
Do you relax, or still thinking about what next?
I am mostly relaxed all of the time. The "what next?" can be something that keeps me from sleeping at night. If we have an offshore passage coming up, it is so important to interpret the weather forecasts. I have to determine if the forecast is what we are comfortable with. This involves many sources, comparing them, and determining if it looks safe for us. It is a huge decision to go. If you meant what next, after cruising full time, I haven't even thought about that one.
Where is the light switch? Here is the deal....
We enjoy each day. We have fun. We meet new people and make new friends. We do what we need to do, like going for provisions or fuel/water. It has become clear that electricity is the biggest challenge these days. We have been on a mooring for two weeks now. No watermaker, no solar panels, no wind generator. Fortunately, we have our Honda generator (which is running right now), and a place to get water. Refrigeration is the killer! The Isotherm runs 24/7. It takes amps to run, day and night. This wasn't a problem when we were underway. The diesel was running most of each day. In the morning, I'd fire up the Honda for about an hour to top off the house bank, and charge the cell phone and computer. Fire up the diesel, and off on a new day's adventure. Once we arrived here in Boot Key, living on a mooring, things began to become clear. We must keep our batteries alive. This becomes more of a challenge, once away from a slip at a marina for extended periods. Looking around the harbor, we are one of the few that don't have solar panels and a wind generator. These are things that we considered before leaving. We have relied on our Honda generator, and it does a great job, but it really gets old running it 4 hours each day.
We just added an LED anchor light to reduce amps used during the night. A friend gave us some flexible solar panels that I'll be trying out, and an older wind generator for a nice price. Hopefully, these will help us deal with our meager energy demands.
So, while relaxing, I am always thinking about what the boat needs. Maintenance, cleaning, or repairs. More equipment? These are the things that you concentrate on, and worry about, rather than work-related things at the job. It is a different kind of stress, but it is still there and very important in a cruiser's daily life.
03/05/2013, Key West, Florida
Today we went to lunch in Key West with a couple of friends (not as easy as you might think, since it's 49 miles from here). We left our boat at about 11:15, dinghied over to the marina office, walked to the bus stop, and caught the 12:05 bus to Key West. They have a pretty good rate of $1.50 per person for "seniors." An hour and a half later (lots of stops) we arrived in Key West. We walked around looking at all the chickens near the post office and walked a block to Duval St. There are a lot of little shops and restaurants, but we felt we couldn't miss Jimmy Buffet's famous Margaritaville. We all had "cheeseburgers in paradise," which were excellent. We had a great time and around 4 headed back to catch the bus home. It was 20 minutes late, but there was room for everyone waiting at the stop and we headed out. Due to spring break traffic and multiple stops, it took 2 hours. I think we've had enough of buses for a while! Still, we have already talked about going back and just exploring Key West another day. Fun!
03/04/2013, Boot Key Harbor mooring field
We went out to dinner the other night and somehow Ralph became Jaws!
03/02/2013, Boot Key
We finally got the bottom cleaned on Fugue, along with new zincs. Barnacle Bill came over yesterday, and did a great job.
We are staying in Boot Key for a while. The big boat isn't moving, but the dinghy is getting a good workout. It is a pretty short ride over to the marina, where we do laundry, get rid of our trash, have our showers, or meet up with friends for a walk to West Marine or a restaurant for dinner. Tonight, we went to Pincer's Perch for dinner with friends. It was really dark when we got back to the marina, so a chilly ride back to the boat in the dark. Not easy finding our boat in total darkness, other than about 200 anchor lights. I passed right by our boat at first, but figured it out pretty quickly.