07/01/2010/8:11 am, Fernandina Beach, FL
I had a great time Tuesday night at the Island Art Association Portrait Drawing Workshop. A group gathers every Tuesday night and my friend, Tina, is a regular. According to the association newsletter, there are lots of other opportunities to get involved in various classes and groups. I'm not sure that portraiture is my thing (in fact I'm pretty sure it's not!) but the group was so friendly and welcoming that I'd go back in a minute. With Tina's encouragement, I'm going to be quicker to get out my art supplies along with my camera and pen as we travel this winter.
Which leads me to the next learning experience ... another interruption in travel.
When I got home, it was to find a discouraged husband. While Jim had been happily reading his book, he heard the water pump start up and keep running. Since there were no taps turned on, it was a puzzle. As he pondered the cause, and then followed the sound, he traced it to the hot water tank. Upon opening the locker where it lives, he discovered that it was belching steam - like our own resident dragon. It turns out that the temperature must have gotten too hot and the escape valve was doing it's proper job, but why?
After some sleuthing yesterday by Jim and Ken (Oz) they determined that one of our water tanks was not filling properly. The vent line was blocked by backed up water from the other tank. Then, of course, it would run out of water too early. (We had already been curious that we seemed to have to switch tanks far more often than we'd expected.) That's what happened here we think. The hot water tank didn't have enough water pumping in and what was there got overheated. They did a simple fix on the vent hose for now, but we'll probably have to put in dedicated fill holes and vents for each tank later on. And if the dragon starts up again, we'll know we have a different problem entirely.
So the upshot of all that was that we didn't leave yesterday! Instead, after all the fixit work was done and the boat put back together, we took the advice of the many friends who said "Avatar" is a must see, and went to the movie theatre. Wow!! You were all correct! It is a truly amazing film and must surely be stretching boundaries in the movie business. The photography/scenery is astounding; the story has all the elements of any good story - adventure, battles between good and evil, love, tragedy - and lots of humour in the stereotypical characterization and names. It's done with amazing 3D animation and an imagination that combines elements of history and future into a remarkably entertaining story. We add our voices to the "Go see it!" group.
It has warmed up a little here and the wind has dropped. The pelicans that were huddled in next to the lounge building trying to keep warm have moved back to the pier.
Right now, (8:30 am Thursday) our keel is still nestled in the mud but as soon as the tide rises enough to float us, we'll head down the ICW in the direction of St. Augustine. It will be good to be on the move again.
05/01/2010/9:32 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
I've whined and moaned about weather long enough. We often say that's the main topic of conversation for Canadians and I've been a prime example lately. Let me just say that we have stayed in Fernandina Beach because of weather and that has not been a bad thing and this is why:
This morning, we woke up knowing that we weren't going to St Augustine today. The wind was howling and despite the heater, it was cold. So we made the decision; no fussing or doing the "will we/won't we" about it. Jim got up at 6:30 to tune in the SSB (single sideband radio) to listen to Chris Parker - the southern weather guru. It's the first morning this year that we've listened and it was a nice, familiar thing to do. He brewed some excellent coffee - another nice, familiar thing. We breakfasted on bread from the local bakery, spread with Peach/Angelica Jam from the Tangled Garden in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
After checking email at the boaters lounge, we got in our rental car (from yesterday's run to West Marine) and drove out Atlantic St. to Main Beach on the ocean side of Amelia Island. The wind was blowing from the Northwest so that side was more sheltered, and it was there that everything really jiggled into perspective. As we walked down the beach, listening to the waves roll in, it all just settled into place. Yes, we had hats and gloves and scarves on, and a couple layers of fleece, AND we were walking down a beautiful deserted sandy beach with the sun on our faces, listening to the waves roll in, watching the birds skitter along, and keeping an eye out for pretty shells. We had no agenda - no place we had to be - and we were on a beach. That's what we set out to find this winter, and that is exactly what we have!
Interestingly, the three boats (Nelleke, Further and Passages) that had planned to leave here today and go outside for a 40 hour+ trip to Lake Worth (shiver, shudder) changed their minds and stayed put. We are not the only ones who adapt to our environment!
I'm going painting with Tina tonight. As for tomorrow ... we'll see!
04/01/2010/9:24 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
It occurred to me the other night that we cruisers have a somewhat unique connection with our environment. Perhaps it is closer to what our ancestors had in the days before well-insulated houses and central heating.
When I'm at home and hear a noise on the roof, I don't get out of bed, throw on a jacket and go up there to fix it. Here, that's exactly what I do. We have all these halyards (lines/ropes) running down the mast, and when the wind catches them just right, they rattle mightily. My preferred fix is to shove a sponge between the halyard and the mast. I've tried tightening up the lines and tying them off to the shrouds but nothing seems to work quite as well as a simple sponge for keeping them off the mast entirely. I've got three of them up there now. (I say "I" for this job because Jim has a remarkable tolerance for those rattly noises - and I have none!)
Because Madcap is uninsulated - with no central heating or air conditioning, we notice when it is hot or cold or humid or dry. Condensation forms on the metal frames of the ports and hatches. We've taken to keeping a little cloth tucked in the book rack above our berth so when that condensation drips onto our faces, a quick wipe eliminates the problem for a while. My first morning job is to go round all the hatches and sop up the drips.
I was awakened the other night when that beautiful, full, blue moon moved across the sky until it shone right down on my face through the hatch over my head. Maybe some folks have skylights over their beds and know that sensation, but for me, its a boat thing. Sometimes when it happens, I have to put on my glasses, kneel on the bed and open the screen and push open the hatch, just to gaze at the moon and the stars. Jim has been known to sit above on the foredeck for hours watching and contemplating. Right now, it's enough to watch through the closed hatch!
We can tell by the feel of the boat which way the wind is blowing or the current flowing. Are we bumping against the fenders between the hull and the dock? Or are we straining away from it? Do we feel a pull on the anchor line? Or the subtle shudder from a mooring line? Or banging against a mooring ball when current is stronger than wind? Or is everything absolutely still?
It's easy to tell if its raining - the patter (or beating) of raindrops over our heads is clear, and with the hatches all closed because of the cold, it isn't raindrops falling directly on my head that lets me know what's happening! We have yet to see snowflakes up there!! I always liked to be at the cottage when it rained and it is the same on the boat.
I know not to put the chocolate bars against the outside wall of the cupboard because when the sun shines on the hull, the chocolate melts! Crackers and cereal get tightly wrapped in ziplock bags because the sea air makes them soggy. We seriously watch how much water we use to wash dishes, clothes and ourselves because we have a finite amount on board and when its gone we need to find a tap and, in some places, pay for what comes out of it.
We tote garbage to a dumpster ashore, or carry it along in the dinghy until we find a dumpster. Reduce, reuse and recycle (and sometimes refuse to buy) are real here!
It goes without saying that we pay attention to weather and water conditions and to the workings of the boat itself. If we put our little floating homes into danger, we can break them or lose them. Who wants to do that?
On the "What did we do today?" scene - I went with Karin (Pasages)and Cori (Further) to Walmart and Staples and Five Point Pantry to check out propane canisters and wifi range extenders. They were stocking up on fleece for their planned trip from here to Lake Worth. When I had no success, we rented a car and Jim, Ken (Oz) and I drove to West Marine on Big Island Drive in Jacksonville. That is one gorgeous store! We bought a 10 lb aluminum canister so now when the propane runs out in the middle of dinner preparations (as it surely will) we have a backup supply. FYI - we filled it at Five Point Pantry at the corner of 8th and Sadler for $8.00 and that included purging it. What a deal!