05/12/2011/8:36 pm, Ft Pierce, FL
We installed the new vent hose for the holding tank, and this is me in the pic - inside the stern locker. It didn't end up to be too terrible a job feeding it through from there under the engine and up from the bilge to the tank. It has a new route from the old one and perhaps a straighter one. We'll see, now, if the blasted thing works the way it should!
Our weather has been beautiful the last few days - breezy but warm and friendly. I had another fantastic beach walk while Jim rested on a sunny bench. The waves were thundering in, reaching up the sand with foamy fingers and then sucking back out to sea to regroup and do it all over again. I was stunned to look down mid stride and find a hamburger bean just sitting there all by itself on the wet sand. I've never found one in Florida before but those powerful waves carried it from Central America and flipped it up there at just the right time for me to find.
We peppered Julie and Mark (Rachel) with questions about the Western Caribbean as we sat in our cockpit yesterday, and they gave us an absolute wealth of information, from waypoints to charts to favourite anchorages to clearing-in procedures in several countries.
I visited the Art in the Park show at the beach, browsing among the various booths of paintings, jewellery, and pottery and then, on my way home, discovered another Art and Craft show at Riverside Park where I was lucky enough to be under a tent during a short but heavy rain shower. Here again, it was great fun to see the products of the artists' creativity. I bought a little dish from an elderly gentleman (older than me at least) who proudly exclaimed, "I made everything myself." It was an ordinary little dish, but I liked his enthusiasm so he made the sale.
Jim was feeling energetic enough to walk to the beach last evening and we joined a crowd of folks at Waldo's - the funky bar at the Driftwood Resort. We discovered this place a couple of years ago and make it a point to revisit it each time we come through. There is often some rousing music, the happy hour prices are good - and so is the coconut shrimp - and on a good day we can hear the waves crashing in. This time we thoroughly enjoyed all of the above along with the great company of Rachel, Lady Hawk, Celilo, Rising Tide, and ... hmmm ... can't remember the other boat. It was an altogether fine evening, and Jim was so tired by the end of the walk home that he had a good night's sleep.
We called Stuart again this morning and got the same answer, "No available moorings. Call again later." Later is fast catching up to us since our departure day is Friday, and we are becoming increasingly anxious about the uncertainty of where to leave Madcap. After another cup of coffee, we decided to bite the bullet, empty the wallet, and book a slip at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce. We'll head on down there later today.
A bit of Vero Beach Marina info for cruisers who are interested:
Daily rate is $13.90. Mobile pumpout boat makes the rounds on Tuesday and Thursday - and sometimes other days depending on available staff. Laundry room has 6 washers ($2.00 per load) and 7 dryers ($1.50 per load) takes quarters and the change machine sometimes works. The lounge has several shelves of take one/leave one books, internet and plugs, TV, pop machine, and a bulletin board where cruisers post wanted and for sale notices. The local free bus is a great way to get to grocery stores and the malls. Happy hour at the picnic table on Thursdays at 4 always attracts a large crowd so it is a great place to meet people.
P.S. We got to Ft Pierce, loaded up with fuel and pumped out the holding tank, and then made it successfully into a slip. Ahhhhh.....
03/12/2011/8:48 am, Vero Beach, Florida ... Still!!
You never know what's going to come at you next - good or bad - and we've had some of each this week.
First, the bad: Jim's little intestinal bug turned out to be a big one that has laid him low for almost a week now. As a result of the antibiotics he took for an ear infection back in Fernandina Beach in early Nov, the good bacteria in his gut were destroyed along with the bad bacteria in his ear! So after a couple of weeks of feeling fine, he got sick again, and instead of shaking it, he kept getting worse. He is now on a new round of antibiotics to fix his intestinal system - I wonder if that will trigger some other body part to rebel! It really hasn't been a laughing matter - he has had no energy at all and needed to be close to the head, and that leads us to the next bad part of the week. You guessed it - the tank filled up. It really shouldn't have filled that quickly despite the frequent use so we think the last pump out was not entirely successful - which means there is some other problem in the system.
While Jim languished in a hotel room bed (a boat without a functioning head is no place to be when you feel that miserable so we relocated for a couple of nights) I set to work to try to identify where the problem was. When I went in search of a hose clamp, Ed and Karin (Passages) not only offered the clamp, but came over to help. We've decided to confer sainthood status upon them because only saints would get that close to someone else's head problems! We thought we were done with those after replacing the lines this year, but it turns out, the vent tube was not replaced and so that may still be the problem. At any rate, 15 feet of new tubing is now sitting in the cockpit waiting for installation, and the pumpout yesterday got the level down enough that the head is now useable at least. (I am really so sick and tired of head and holding tank problems!)
So ... now that I have told you far more than you ever wanted to know about our latest glitches, let's (ahem) move on. May I just say that Jim is improving a little bit every day now, and we hope that in another few days he will be back to his old self again.
And now for the good: We are blessed with wonderful neighbours, Dennis and Vivian (Aliva) as well as other friends in the mooring field who have offered help and good wishes, and we know there are many others in the area we could have called upon if needed. Jim received excellent medical care at the Indian River Walk in Clinic just up the street from the Fresh Market on Miracle Mile. (He had to hand over his Visa card at the end of the first visit, but they didn't charge him for the second one) and the folks at the pharmacy at Publix made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I've been there 3 times over the last few days picking up drugs for Jim. The pharmacist wanted me to call and let him know if the first ones worked (they didn't) and on the last visit, the technician asked, "How is he doing now?" When I replied that he was finally improving, she responded, "Oh, I'm glad to hear that! We've seen you far too often this week!" We are itinerants here, and we are still made to feel welcome and cared about.
Bruce (Zingara) arrived a couple of days ago and although we've had just one quick conversation, it was so good to see his smiling face again. Mark and Julie (Rachel) dropped by this afternoon to say hello. We met them our first year out - in Exuma Land and Sea Park - and since then they've been exploring the western Caribbean. We hope to sit down with them soon to look at some waypoints for our trip this year. The way we connect and reconnect in this cruising life never ceases to delight us!
Jim is feeling enough improved to want a change of scenery now and then so we took a little dinghy ride up the river (creek? stream? bay?) past the north end of the mooring field and around to starboard. We have never gone up there before, but Dennis told us there is a spot where one can tie up to a palm tree, walk across the road and be at the beach so we went in search of it. Sure enough - there it was - along a lovely waterway lined with beautiful homes. We kept on going to the end and discovered a couple of sailboats, and after stopping to chat with one fellow who was working on his boat, we discovered that the folks on the catamaran farther along are fellow Nova Scotians. Of course we had to go check it out, and so it was that we met Sheila and Chris (Never bored) from Canso. (That's the pic at the top of this posting.) You just never know whom you'll meet along this waterway!
On the way home, we stopped to say hello to Don and Nancy (Maja) on the Bayfield 40 just past us, and arrived home at Madcap in time to have a salmon and pasta dinner before the brightly lighted boats in the Christmas boat parade started to come by the marina. Horns honked throughout the mooring field and we waved wildly at the boats that came up this far.
We're still planning to get to Stuart before we fly home on Dec 9th. There were no moorings available today, but with luck we'll get one in the next couple of days.
P.S. still no available moorings in Stuart on Saturday morning, and if something does open up, it will likely be gone by the time we get there. It is more than a little irritating that they won't even take same day reservations.
Oh dear - this sounds so horribly whining ... things will get better and next posting will be upbeat ... shadows and light go hand in hand.
27/11/2011/8:24 pm, Vero Beach, Florida
We're on easy street now. Leak found and fixed. Pension cheques started landing in bank account. Batteries maintaining charge. Hooeee!
Jim and I went through the boat from bow to stern, inspecting all thruhulls and shining a flashlight on every little bit of water we found. That is how we spotted a little trickle of constantly moving water coming from under the bath tub (yes, the Bayfield 36 does indeed have a mini bath tub) and dripping past the thruhull under the sink in the head down into the bilge by the mast. (That is how we also found a small leak at one of the chain plates, and another small leak under our berth when the deck wash pump is turned on - not the problems we were looking for but next on the fixit list.)
Two lines ran up that way - one to bring water into the toilet to flush it, and one to the deck wash. Jim figured the most likely source was the deck wash, and while Karin and I went for a walk, he and Ed (Passages) pulled out the line to have a look. Sure enough, there was a crack about 12 inches long that had been allowing water to seep out for who knows how long? Months anyway. There is a new Ace Hardware store on the road to the beach so when we got the call from Jim, Karin and I bought enough ¾ inch tubing to replace the old one and hustled home. With Ed on one end and Jim on the other, they wrestled the new tubing from the deck wash connection under our bed, under the bathtub, through the locker behind the toilet and attached it to the T under the sink. By the time they were done, the wine was poured (well - poured and half finished, if you want the truth!) and we celebrated a job well done. Next morning we turned on that bilge pump and not a drop came out. Yippee!
American Thanksgiving dinner was a fabulous success - enough turkey to go around and dozens of tasty contributions from boaters. I took a rutabaga/apple dish and fell in love with a roasted brussels sprouts/pomegranate seed one. We learned that even though dinner was at 2 according to the poster, one needs to snag seats much earlier than that. Thanks to Tom and Chris (Polar Pacer) we had seats with them, Ed and Karin (Passages), and Russ and Lori (Ortolan) - making a happy table. We chatted with Vic and Marilyn (Whisper) and Jeannie and Randy (Mutual Fun) during the evening and met up with Eric (Further) as well. Eric lives here now and has a successful business making vases, decorative tiles and sinks - just gorgeous pieces. See his work at commongroundpottery.com . There were over 100 people there and it was a wonderful grand time of thanksgiving and feasting.
Many eyes were on the sky Saturday morning as we watched the Mars rocket soar upward from Cape Canaveral. No matter how many times we watch the tiny specks of light shoot up into the sky, leaving behind trails of wispy white fluff, it is always thrilling to see these rockets headed for outer space.
We walked to the Farmer's Market at Humiston Park along the beach where I restocked my produce baskets with cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, spicy lettuce mixes and multi coloured peppers. Like many markets, several of the stands had produce from the wholesalers, but I shopped at the small one that sold local, close to organic, produce. In the evening, we dined on tender pork chops, creamy pasta and fresh salad with Karin and Ed chez Passages.
Today, Sunday, I went for a fine walk on the beach while Jim rested. He has a bit of an intestinal bug and is trying to shake that before we go off on more adventures. It was a beautiful beach day and many children splashed and played in the breakers while older ones chased waves on their boogie boards. I crept up on a few little sandpipers as they skittered across the sand, and had a cursory look for interesting shells, but it just felt so good to get out there and walk as fast as I could - stretching out some tightened muscles and getting oxygen into every corner of my lungs, that I came back with empty pockets and unused camera - and a wonderfully fatigued sense of well being. We enjoyed having Cathy and Paul (Lucia) join us for Sundowners. We laughed at one more of those small world experiences. They are from Moncton, NB and we grew up in Amherst, NS - about 40 minutes away. When the usual "Did you go to Mount A?" question arose, Paul said his brother did, and it turned out Peter was not only a classmate of Jim's at Mount A but also at UNB Law School. Definitely a small world!
Tomorrow is laundry day here at the marina and a grocery store run on the little local FREE bus. We'll stay here another few days and then head on down to Stuart - just a short trip - to stay another while. We are into leisurely travelling until after Christmas.
This picture is of the birds that fish from the little mangrove islet just behind our mooring. I can pass away many hours watching the birdlife!