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Lemons Way
The continuing adventures of a cruising sailor/family lawyer, his wife (also a lawyer), and their young children.
The Modern Chartplotter Is Installed
Keith, variable, getting hot and humid again
08/25/2008, Hilton Head

It's Monday morning and the mechanic came early to finish up so I can mozie along. This was the chartplotter I salvaged from the Catalina 25. There are pictures of it navigating me across the Sea of Cortez last year if you go back to that time in the blog. As you can see it is far superior to the 1995 technology that came with the old magellin. It comes with US maps that go into great detail and even include many of the major nav aids. That is going to help considerably as I head the last 500 miles south down the east coast of Georgia and Florida. If I want, I can buy map cards for the Bahamas or anyplace else in the world and it will chart my boat's position via GPS on the maps. This baby is fully programmable so I can customize the screens to match the exact data I want for each situation. It is lightening fast, far more accurate, and just a real asset to cruising safety. Look how it plots my exact position in this creek off of the waterway. The magellen couldn't get closer than a 30 mile view without cards that I couldn't find. This thing will zoom in to 50 feet, but that wouldn't be of much use to me except maybe in heavy fog and even then I wouldn't trust it. It uses the waas technology that airplanes use for their gps tracking. After installing the chartplotter, we did a few odds and ends to get the boat in ship shape. I ran the engine for about 20 minutes to make sure everything was working and not leaking or overheating. Now we're good to go. I've literally fixed/serviced everything I know of to fix so the boat is pretty much in perfect order. I'm sure that won't last long, but its feels good for now. I'll clean up and get it ready to travel, pay my bill this afternoon, and head out either later this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning. Maybe I can get a ride to the grocery to provision and perhaps a dinner on the town before heading off. Why rush.

Sunday Morning Cozied Up In The Cabin Of TD
Keith, rainy again
08/24/2008, Hilton Head, SC

After the beautiful day yesterday it is raining this morning so it seems waiting another few days to head south again was a blessing. I already took the dogs for a short walk and made some pita toast and coffee and we're back inside the cabin. I don't think I've got cabin fever even though we've been in here a lot over the past few weeks. I'm kind of a homebody anyway (a homebody who likes to travel long distances as long as he can take his home and dogs with him). Now Jake - he still gets antsy if he's down below for too long. Anne rests without any trouble. The Catalina 36 MKII design is really comfortable for living. It has 14 windows or ports altogether. Not ideal in the middle of the ocean perhaps, but for coastal cruising and hanging out in one place, it is just great. Lots of light and when its raining, the water streaming off all the windows is beautiful. Two of my ports have very slight leaks (a few drips) which don't affect anything that I know of. Otherwise it stays cool and dry in here with the ac going now for almost two weeks. The cockpit is also very roomy and perfect for spending time with the dogs or people. Many of the cockpits on more expensive boats are small and cramped and not at all comfortable to spend time in. I still haven't come across a boat I'd rather have right now than this one. Yesterday turned out to be a very nice day. Late afternoon I was walking the dogs and came across two Israelis who wanted to take pictures of my dogs. Turns out one of them just finished working for the New Jersey "Y" Camp, where I spent several of the best summers of my life. Small world. I can't believe Vinny the cook works there this many years later. I showered and shaved earlier the afternoon, did the dishes, organized the kitchen utensils, and filled up my 5 gallon extra diesel jug and stored it out of the way. I'd eventually like to have four of these on board. Each 5 gallon jug gives me about 10 hours, or 50 miles, of motoring if needed. Did some minor marinetex repair on two small chips along the side of the boat that have appeared recently. Walked the dogs several times over the course of the day and met nice really people at the dog park. Jake and Anne seemed happy as clams to just hang out on deck most of the rest of the day in the warm but not too hot sun. As I've mentioned before, we are like a little tourist attraction with people coming up to visit the beautiful goldens sitting so contentedly on the nice clean sailboat. Made a chicken and rice casserole last night - my first. I think I overcooked it, but it was still decent. The dogs had some in their food for dinner and breakfast and there's still lunch or a few more dog meals. Watched "I am Legend" last night before heading to bed. It was just ok. I've watched about 5 movies in the last week or so, which is more movies than I've watched in the last year or so. Well, it's still raining outside. I'm supposed to meet some people at the dog park in 20 minutes and I had an offer to take the dogs to the beach from some other people. Instead we'll have to occupy ourselves in here until things clear up. Hope you enjoy your Sunday as much as I'm likely to enjoy mine. I think I'm finally learning how to relax more.

The Nice Stainless Steel Coffee Press That Cousin Jodi Bought For the Motorhome But Which Is Now Used On TD
08/23/2008, Hilton Head

I have a Capresso, which is a combination grinder and coffee maker, but it is bulky, uses too much coffee, is too great of a draw on the batteries, and simply doesn't make as good coffee as french press - so the Capresso is stored in the rear cabin and the press is what I use to make coffee every morning. Frankly I'm shocked at the crappy coffee some cruisers drink. I try and buy the best. Presently I'm drinking Starbucks espresso roast. I've got a bag of verona when my current supply runs out. It's a nice routine to heat the water on the stove and smell the coffee brewing when I pour the piping hot water over the grounds in the press. Finding a place to discard the wet grinds is a problem, but I always find a way to get rid of them. I've been able to keep a steady supply of 1/2 and 1/2 going while cruising and I try and get good honey as a sweetener. The honey I have now is incredible - dark, complex wildflower taste. Probably more information about coffee on board than was necessary. I don't know if I mentioned it in an earlier post but my German/Canadian friend took me to refill my propane tank. It cost $5 and was probably 2/3 empty when I refilled it. It should last around 3 months of regular use before it needs refilling again.

Here Comes The Sun
clearing
08/23/2008, Hilton Head

It's noon on Saturday and so far today I've played on the computer checking e-mail, weather, and facebook; I've taken one short and one very long walk with the dogs around the marina and to the dog park; I've spoken to aunt Rhoda; and I've made an early breakfast as the sun came up and I just finished a late brunch. Now I'm going to wash the dishes. The afternoon... well I'll try and do something productive and then perhaps a moving or some reading or who knows. I'm just hanging out here until Monday or Tuesday when I depart southward again.

Our Front Door View
08/22/2008, Hilton Head

We are docked at the service dock, which is just a section of dock right off the main entrance to the marina. Most everyone who lives on boats comes down this ramp just outside my windows. During low tide the ramp is very steep, at high tide it is nearly horizontal. The dogs love to hang out on deck because they get to meet so many people who walk by. Tourists are inescapably drawn to the nice clean boat with the two beautiful golden retrievers waiting on deck. I can't tell you how many people have come by to pet them. They thrive on it. And after this much time here, we (the dogs and I) are starting to get to know pretty much everyone so the dog lovers in the neighborhood always stop to give Jake and Anne some attention. I've pretty much trained them to stay on the boat, except when Monty and the German/Canadian couple come by both dogs jump onto the dock and act as if they've known them for years. Tonight I'm supposed to be going with a new friend into town for some Mexican Food. If not, Friday and Saturday nights are the best nights to visit the bar and grill just beyond the docks depicted above.

In the Midsts Of My First Tropical Storm Experience
08/22/2008, Hilton Head

The general consensus among those living at this marina is that "this is nothing." One neighbor just told me of a time when she had to crawl down the dock to get to and from her houseboat. It hasn't been even close to that bad, just rainy and windy. Right now its just cloudy and not raining or windy at all - but it comes in bands. And it looks like I'm staying until Monday at least and possibly until Tuesday. There's one more project that I want to get done here (replacing the old chart plotter with the new Lawrance color one I salvaged from the Catalina 25 - my other sailboat, for sale at the sailboat shop in Phoenix). Practically, it just doesn't make sense to rush south tomorrow or Sunday in light of what you see above. It means I will have been in Hilton Head for close to two weeks by the time I depart, but holding for a bit this far north is probably a wise idea this time of year as the nice gentleman wrote in the comment below. I really should hold here until October, but I don't have that many boat projects and I think I would start to get bored. It has been an interesting experience with all this time on my hands. Somehow the days slip by even though I'm not doing much of anything productive. I read in another blog that the most dangerous piece of equipment on a sailboat is a calendar. Fortunately, I have time to waste, I've got nowhere to be and nothing much else to do. Last night I was invited to dinner at the boat of the kind German/Canadian couple I've been dog walking with. It was so nice and civilized. I discovered that salad on a sailboat is a very special treat. And ice cream - they served ice cream for dessert after a great fish, sauce, and rice dinner. My freezer could take some fudge bars if I sacrificed an ice tray or two, but I'll need to get a separate freezer unit if I want to freeze foods in bulk. The only other relatively interesting thing I have to report is that in the heart of this tropical storm, my three water tanks comprising over 80 gallons of water went dry, so I stood out there in the drizzling rain with a hose filling up the tanks. It's been two weeks since I filled those tanks at the gas docks in Charleston. Without conserving water I went that long between refill. If I seriously conserved water, I could go a month - especially if I add four 5 gallon reserve jugs (which can be brought by dingy to the shore for filling - more about that later). I would say 75% of the water went towards washing dishes so if I used paper or stopped being so liberal with my water use when washing dishes I could go a whole lot longer on the water I have. Probably 20% is used for drinking for myself and the dogs, and another 5% for showers. I haven't used any diesel in well over a week, so I've got that going for me. On a completely different note, my high school 20th year reunion is taking place this week. I've been getting back in touch with a lot of old high school friends through Facebook. It's nice. I'm very glad I'm here and not at the reunion in Tucson, but there is a scintilla of nastalga...

The Knot Meter Gets Cleaned
Keith, Tropical Storm or what's left of it
08/21/2008, Hilton Head

With a bit of time on my hands this afternoon, I got some help servicing my knot meter. This is a mechanical bit that turns as the water goes past the boat. It is an important component because it helps me determine the difference between my speed over ground (obtained by the GPS) and the speed through the water, which ultimately tells the tide speed. I've been having trouble with the knot meter. It sometimes hasn't worked and sometimes it just comes on randomly after a bit of cruising. It is designed to be serviced by pulling the unit out and sticking a sophisticated plug in its place but I was reluctant to do it myself for fear of flooding the boat. With some help, I was able to get the unit out and the plug in. Sure enough, it was heavily blocked with gunk. There was even a complete barnacle growing between one of the blades. I cleaned the whole apparatus with Q-tips so that it works like a top again. The stuff that came off it it smelled very fishy. Supposedly they are bringing some special paint to protect the paddle wheel from further growth. From what I've seen so far, I don't think there's a good way to avoid build up. It is placed in a spot that will catch a lot of water and thus also all the microscopic sea life that lives along the way. Anyway, its still blowing away and raining from time to time, but we're technically ready to travel. Maybe one or two more mechanical fixes before we head out in a day or two. In the meantime, I've been puttering around and watching movies off the of the internet. It's been so long since I watched movies. What a relaxing treat. The dogs have been great, just hanging out with me. Later tonight I'm invited to dinner with the kind and generous German couple.

New Raw Water Pump
Tropical Stormy
08/21/2008, Hilton Head, SC

Some of you may be wondering, what's with all of this engine work. He's only getting started and he's already having all these problems. Well, I don't think so. This boat is 12 years old. I would have liked to buy a new Catalina 36, but it would have cost double what I paid to get this boat and there still would have been maintenance issues to work out. Although I'm started on the cruising adventure, this is really just the testing out phase for all of the boat systems. If I can get everything in good running order before I leave for the Bahamas, I will have a lot more confidence when we do more offshore type sailing. Speaking of which, I expect that at some point there will be another refit to get the sails, standing and running rigging, and mast the once over. That probably won't be necessary until later when we actually start using the sails more. Although I would rather be cruising, getting all the maintenance and mechanical kinks worked out now is a good thing. Also, I'm learning a lot about the boat that may help me when I get farther from outside help. So here's to lemonade!

The View From Outside My Window Today
08/21/2008, Hilton Head, SC

This certainly would not have been a nice day to be on the water. There are periods where it stops raining, but the bad weather is slowly coming more and more. No big deal. We are cozy inside the boat. I just heated up the leftover chicken and vegetable fried rice I made this morning (from the stir fry last night) in the microwave. The mechanic is coming back after lunch to finish some more things.

Abandoned Row Boat
Keith, wet and windy
08/21/2008, Hilton Head Near The Boat Ramp

Every once in a while you see an abandoned boat at low tide. I just thought this made a nice photo. Jake naturally walked down into the mud to check out what I was so interested in so I had him wash off down the boat ramp nearby.

 

 
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