03/23/2012, Boot Key Harbor
We became official Florida residents today and we have the driver's licenses to prove it.
Actually, it was quite painless and only took an hour or so to complete. In general contrast to the usual state operated offices of this type that usually qualify for a Saturday Night Live skit, this office was refreshingly different.
The Tax Collector (License bureau) was within walking distance of the boat. We discussed their kids, the quality of pizza at Daffy Dougs just up the street, where the best music was this weekend and smiles are allowed on license pictures in Florida.
Apart from the usual truckload of original documentation to prove you are who you say you are and you really do live here, it was a breeze.
Kathy was so pleased she went right across the street to the Library and got a Library Card. This is not allowed unless you are a real "resident".
There is huge excitement here in the harbor, as an overhead cable just west of the bridge had been damaged, allegedly by a large catamaran with greater than 65' air draft. It is now hanging at about 60' which is too low for many of the large sloops in the harbor. Since everyone is anxious to move North with the end of the winter sailing season, this has caused great consternation and ATT is currently a four letter word as they are the alleged owner of the cable. The Coconut Telegraph (VHF Radio) is just buzzing as you might expect.
You see, there is some justification for the frustration. It has been blowing like stink from the east for about three weeks. A strong east wind means anyone heading up the east coast of Florida from the Middle keys to Miami might just as well forget it. Unless you have a liking for running a hundred miles pounding into ten foot waves you might just as well kick back for a while. Today was the first good weather window for departures.
I can sit back and laugh you see because Ishmael is a Ketch (two masts) and our tallest mast is 53 ft. Easy clearance. Also we are not planning on leaving!
At long last all of the external teak on Ishmael is completely re-done in Cetol. It is expensive like crazy but reputed to last more than the six months good quality varnish lasts in the Florida sun. Now we can actually call our nice shiny teak by its' real nautical name - Brightwork.
Life is Good.
02/25/2012, Boot Key Harbor
For the past two days Ben and I have watched George wander around the boat under the influence of what we have dubbed "The Solar Panel High." While attending the Miami Boat Show last Saturday we purchased three 135 watt solar panels along with 5 led fixtures to replace our fluorescent fixtures. While we're happy with the new fixtures George is ecstatic about the two solar panels. (The third panel is being shipped.) He all but dances around the boat, (sorry no pictures at this time) and for those of you who actually know George you will realize just how odd a behavior this is for him. It's actually a little scary for Ben and I to witness.
But all kidding aside he has both panels up and we've managed to reduce our need for the generator from 8 hours a day to 1 or 2 depending if we need to use power tools. (I'm still sanding the teak on deck preparing it for a cetol treatment.} George reports just how much we're charging about every 20 minutes throughout the day. (By the way just for those who want to know, the panels charge the batteries 6 amps right at dusk.) He goes up and adjusts the angle of the panels about once an hour and is currently planning a better system to re-position them as the sun and the boat move. Right now he just holds them up using a piece or line that he ties to the mizzen boom.
Other than that excitement everything else on the boat is going along fine. Ben is progressing, albeit slowly, with school. He's loving his job over at Dockside and I'm guessing he'll like it better once he starts bringing home a paycheck. I, along with another women here in the harbor, have taken over for Kathy off s/v KIT and spend part of my time re-shelving the books at the exchange library at the marina. You'd think people who can obviously read, since they're borrowing books, would be able to shelf their books alphabetically according to author's last name. We even put up signs. go figure.
That's it for now. We're looking forward to seeing some cruising friends who are coming for a visit by land. Should be fun, we're just hoping George gets back from his next trip away on time to visit.
02/17/2012, Boot Key Harbor
The above picture is of a young girl, Miranda, who lives here in the harbor. Like most of the boat kids she spends a lot of time outside playing. In fact hardly a day goes by that we don't see Miranda out doing something. A few days ago we were talking to some other cruisers on shore and along came Miranda carrying her friend. Turns out that she is quite a good stalker and huntress. She followed this iguana up a tree and grabbed a hold just before the pair of them fell out of the tree. Miranda held on and ended up with the iguana.
What we learned from watching and listening to her is that, obviously, she is afraid of nothing and iguanas calm right down once you get a hold of them. I also learned that of the four adults talking to her, I was the only one willing to actually touch the iguana. When I should the picture to Ben he claimed that not only would he not chase down an iguana he wouldn't be in a big hurry to touch one either. Both of our girls were even less thrilled with the idea of touching the iguana then Ben when we sent them pictures.
Two days later we ran into Miranda again and she had another iguana, much smaller this time. She found it in the mangroves. She claimed that they are quite fast when climbing through the mangroves, but apparently not fast enough.
George and I think that it's really too bad that Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom is no longer on the air. Clearly Miranda could easily have filled in for Jim whenever he was unavailable to assist Mr. Perkins.
Other than that excitement the only other news is, despite a week of high winds and rain, most of our friends have left for other shores. Several are spending the rest of the season in the Bahamas. Steve and Kathy from s/v KIT are on their way to destinations much further south, as in Trinidad, and are not sure when they'll return this way. Fortunately, there are still lots of people around including many friends and more arrive everyday. Ben is on shore now hunting down Christie from s/v Kitty Wake who just arrived today.
Tomorrow we are off to the Miami boat show. George is hoping to hunt down some kind of a deal on solar panels. He's getting ready to install a new charger today and then he's going to buy four new batteries. Right now we have to run the generator way too much. He hopes to get at least two panels installed quickly. We'll see.
I've almost finished the sanding of the teak on the deck. Once that's done I think the next project will be new deck paint. We've had several friends who have used Kiwigrip. It's water based and was designed specifically for boat use. Everybody we've talked to likes it and recommends it highly.
02/03/2012, Marathon, FL
We're back on the boat after being in Michigan for two weeks. We managed to empty the house by storing the things we wanted to keep, giving away the things that we could to neighbours and friends, making multiple trips to Goodwill, and leaving the remaining furniture in the house for the new owners. The closing when well and we are officially without a house and it doesn't feel too bad. In fact we're quite happy to be out from all of the responsibility of home ownership. Mostly the upkeep. Now we can actually stay on the boat and travel during the summer months too. Of course Ben is thinking we should stay in Marathon for the summer. (For the record I don't see that happening. As much as we like it here we like moving around a whole lot more.)
Now that we are back it is time to get back to the boat job list. The first thing on the list is a solar system. We spend way too much time running the generator in order to keep George's computer and the fridge running. I believe that George will start on that project tomorrow. He'll have to stop planning at some point so we can participate in a wine tasting party at the tiki hut tomorrow. We're supplying the wine and our friends are supplying the food. When we emptied the house we had 40 cases (12 bottles) of wine in the cellar. We managed to cart 16+ cases down with us. The remaining cases we gave to friends and Jordan. Of course we can't actually store that much wine on the boat so we decided a tasting party will get rid of some wine and then we'll store what we can of the remaining wine. After that we'll go back in the giving away wine business. We know a few people down here that can store a bottle or two on their own boats.
That's the news for now. We were a little disappointed that we came back to rain, but at least we can wear flip flops and shorts again. Much better than socks and parkas.