02/25/2013, Marathon, Fl. Keys
Here are some updates to our travels since our last email and blog entry. We have been in Marathon for almost a month now and are "suffering" from social overload. We (read Walt) is suffering from social overload. Some of our days and a lot of the evenings are occupied by happy hours shared with friends, concerts, lunches with our HAM and cruising organizations. To recap, our work is completed and we are launched on a Tuesday after 10 days in the marina at Rybovich in Riveria Beach Fl. There is a bit of separation anxiety as we leave the marina, but all goes very well. The rest of the trip to Marathon goes without incident and we begin to enjoy the experience again. We arrive in Biscayne Bay with the wind blowing 15+ and a bit of chop on the water. It is a rocky night. We leave early in the morning to begin the trip down Hawk Channel the last 100+ miles to Marathon. The first 2 to 3 hours are miserable with the seas throwing the boat around like being in a washing machine. Finally we are past Stiltsville and where several sport fishing yachts pass us with huge wakes. The jib is rolled out and the boat calms down a little. It's too rough to make a real lunch, so we have peanut butter crackers. We make it 58 miles to Rodriguez Key our anchorage for the night. The next day we have a quieter sail the final 50 miles to Marathon. This is the first sailing we have done since leaving the Chesapeake Bay in late November. We arrive at the marina about 4pm. Our friends Tom and Elinor Adensam meet us at the dock to help tie the boat up and present Mary with flowers. It is very nice to see a familiar face. All we want to do is clean up and have dinner in the marina restaurant. Finally we can relax a bit.
The next day our friends take us to the rental car agency and we pick up the car we have had reserved for almost a year. We are mobile again. We have quite a list of projects to be completed while in Marathon, but for now we concentrate on visits with friends, Wednesday lunch with the members of Waterway Radio and Cruising Club, Friday lunch with friends in Seven Seas Cruising Club and lots of happy hours with Northern Neck friends who are in Marathon for the winter. Oh yes, lots of cruising friends here by boat to too see.
About that list of projects. . . file taxes, get the wind generator working, following up on refrigeration issues, wash boat, connect solar panels, install AIS and connect to our GPS display, plot a course to the Bahamas, enjoy Marathon, go to the Orlando HAM fest and go on a ½ day fishing trip on the Marathon Lady head boat. Mary is playing Mahjong at the Yacht Club and Walt is going to the Men's Breakfast at Seven Mile Grill. We spent 3 days in Orlando and had a good time. We didn't but any radios this year, we only bought small bits and bobs. It was nice to be off the boat again for a few days. While in Orlando we went to a Sam's Club to stock up on a breakfast juices which we were running low on. When we walked in we had to pass a newly installed Hearing Center. Since Walt knew his hearing is impaired and is reminded more frequently, he was interested. Walt listened to the sales pitch, looked over the aids available and their costs. Before he could say "maybe someday" he was in the booth taking a free comprehensive hearing test. Good news, they can program an aid to correct my losses. With that, I choose a behind-the-ear style, have it programed and take another test to confirm the aids for both ears are programed correctly. BINGO! Within an hour I can hear things I have been missing for a few years. Within minutes I am telling Mary to talk softer as I can hear her now. The TV is turned down, conversation is easier, and I hear every sound of paper tearing, leaves rustling and shoes shuffling. It is a new world for Walt.
We attended the annual CBTSC Valentine's Day dinner with 4 other couples this year. This is our 5th year to attend. I guess our winter trip to the Keys has become a regular part of our lifestyle. We wouldn't know what to do with ourselves in cold weather any more. With some of our cruising friends continuing to the west coast of Fl., or beginning the trip back north, we can focus on that project list. We promise to keep you more current with our whereabouts and activities.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||
01/17/2013, Palm Beaches Florida
There has been a lot of water under the keel and we have been under a lot of bridges since our last update. It seems like this should be a "double issue", but I'll try to include only the important activities. After returning to Daytona Beach after a holiday visit to family and friends in Texas, we took advantage of having a rental car to do some errands before leaving Daytona. We bought Mary an Apple iPad while in Austin, so we went to the Verizon store to activate the cell access to 3G data. It works great. The next day we went back to get a Verizon JetPack MiFi 4GLTE so we can connect our new computer to the internet via cell connection when we don't have access to an internet WiFi signal. One last communication like errand. We went to the Daytona flea market to find the "antenna man". He sells small antennas made from PVC pipe that receive digital TV signals very well. Here in Riviera Beach we receive about 30+ stations on "over the air" TV. Amazing for a $22 antenna sitting in the cabin of our boat.
We had a good trip down to Vero Beach. We visited with friends from Kilmarnock who are on a mooring, had happy hour with cursing friends Jeff and Wendy on another Westsail and worked on a nagging refrigeration problem. The fridge was beginning to run more than 75% of the time putting too much load on our batteries. We called in a professional. He recharged the system and did a leak test. There is definitely a leak in in the connections in the box itself, but the compressor is OK. Something else to be fixed in Marathon.
Heading south again, we make good time and find some nice anchorages. As we approach the last 100+ miles to Miami, we have to negotiate many bridges. The worst part of this is that most of them only open on the hour and half hour. If you are 5 minutes late, you wait for the next scheduled opening. We wasted more than an hour of precious daylight travel time each day waiting for a bridge schedule. We passed through the beautiful bustling area of the Palm Beaches. As we couldn't make it to our next possible anchorage before dark, we anchored below a bridge and had the whole area to ourselves at 3:30 or so. Now the drama begins.. . .
Mary noticed that the bilge pump was coming on pretty often, maybe every 15 minutes and pumping a lot of water when it did. I tried to ignore it and figure out what could be causing it to cycle. After a couple of cycles, I was compelled to check it out. I opened the engine compartment so I could see around the prop shaft, the source of leaks in the past. "OMG" water is pouring in around the now infamous "drip less packing gland". The bilge pump is keeping up for now, but we must take action to get the boat out of the water. It is now almost 4pm on Friday afternoon. I start the engine and Mary gets out the Cruising guide which has lists of marinas in our area along with the critical info on ability to pull our boat out of the water. She is on the phone and contacts Rybovich Marina Center. They understand our problem and agree to have the travel lift and crew ready when we arrive. We begin the 5 mile trip back through 4 bridges which are all on schedules, one set that we must wait and hour to transit. We arrive at the marina at 6pm and it is fully dark. The staff sees our navigation lights coming through their approach channel and called us on the phone to "talk" us around their docks and shallow water so we are safely in the sling of the travel lift. We breath a little easier now as we make our way off the boat. By 7pm we are hauled out of the water, blocked and have our shore power connected so we can continue to live on the boat while repairs are done. We acquaint ourselves with the marina on Saturday, use the free shuttle to the main marina about 3 mile south of where we are. Oh boy! This is the marina where the 100 to 300 foot ships not boats are berthed. Power and sail, they are super yachts in every sense of the word. The café has great food and is mostly used by the off duty crews. The is a pool and gym and shower areas, that look like a spa. We use the showers there as the ones in our marina are a little run down. Life is good again. With the boat out of the water, I can see that the stern tube has become loose from the keel and the calking has worked its ways out and is missing. This would definitely be the path of the water entering the boat. I believe this is all a result of damage from our original November broken engine mount. Our project manager introduces us to our main tech , Tommy, a blond "hunk" from Norway (remember our cruise there last year). Everyone in the organization is so customer oriented, respectful of customers and each other, it is a great environment even is you are "damaged goods".
Work begins. Tommy conducts a review of the events, surveys the engine compartment and shaft installation and writes up his findings. The engine is installed more than 5 degrees off the centerline of the boat. It has been this way since we bought the boat. A quick call to other Westsail owners confirms that it should be on centerline. We call Bud Taplin the Westsail production manager when our boat was built. He confirms the engine should be on centerline, but can be used as is if the stern tube is seated in the keel aligned to the off center engine. So after much discussion with the yard we have a plan to leave the engine as is and re-bed the stern tube aligned to the engine. This is called "floating the shaft". We decide to have the bottom painted while we are hauled out of the water because it is showing signs of needing paint. The shaft is pulled along with the coupling and sent to the machine shop. The shaft is OK. The coupling must be replaced. The PYI drip less shaft seal must be replaced as it has been slightly damaged from all the mis-alignment and engine shaking. The fiberglass tech rebuilds the keel where the misaligned stern tube had caused some cracks. He also prepares the keel for the "float shaft" installation to be done later.
More drama. As we are living on the boat, we use the head (bathroom) on the boat at night. All other times we go down the ladder, across the lot to the Captains lounge bath rooms. Now the holding tank is getting full. A plan is devised for pumping out into buckets and dumping them into the marina toilets. A dirty job, and Walt has to do it. After everyone has left for the day, the dirty job is completed with no embarrassing incidents or spills.
Once again we are mobile. We rent a car here in Riviera Beach to run errands, see sights and visit friends in Boca Raton. We go to the grocery, Home Depot, West Marine, eat lunch and dinner out and make plans to see local sights. A review of the work schedule with our project manager indicates we will not launch before Monday or Tuesday. OK, make plans for a weekend in the Palm Beach area!
Use this link to Rybovich Marine Center to see the super yachts and faculity we have been enjoying. After meeting some of the other captain/owners of the boats having work done in the yard where we are hauled out at (boats to 100 feet) , we see that the main difference between them and us is the size of our bills. It can cost over $150,ooo dollars to have one of the super yachts painted, something that needs to be done maybe every 5 to 7 years. It cost $50,000 just to have the yachts hauled out of the water and blocked. We learn that one of the yachts has two bad prop shafts. One is being made "seaworthy" for a new owner after sitting idle in France for 3 years then shipped to Rybovich. One is having its bottom painted like us.
Stay tuned for more of our ICW Adventures.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||
We had an uneventful trip from Palm Coast to Daytona Halifax Marina after replacing the engine fresh water pump.. We had a reservation and Marina staff were ready for us. Tied up, cleaned up and out for drinks and diner. It was 80 degrees, what a great way to start our Christmas break with family and friends. The next morning we picked up our rental car, a Ford Focus. We became comfortable in it quickly, which was good as our travels would eventually cover mare than 2500 miles. With the car rented, we went back to the boat to gather bags and presents, and get on the road. First day, we make it to Mobile. Traffic was light. We took some secondary roads suggested by the GPS and it turned out great. We bought Florida fruit, Louisiana Satsumas (a type of tangerine), sweet potatoes and pecans. Much to our likening, we hardly saw a franchise restaurant. We arrived at Walt's sister's house in Frisco Texas by early evening. A bowl of soup and early to bed. Next day we went to our favorite electronics store, Fry's and had a great Tex Mex lunch. Then Christmas Eve. Their tradition is to go out to dinner and open presents under the tree. We went to a Chinese restaurant where we were the only gringos there. It was authentic and delicious. Opening presents was a blast with my sister's son and daughter's family and grand daughter to make it a true family event.
Christmas day was special. We were treated to a white Christmas with 3 to 4 inches of snow in northern Texas. Most had melted by the next afternoon. Christmas dinner was a great turkey and trimmings. Another day of visiting and a dinner out to have a Texas Fried steak and potato. Then on to Austin to visit friends Ann and John Riney and guess what, another visit to the local Fry's store. While there I called high school friend Bill Craig thanks to my sisters Facebook activity. We had dinner out with Bill and Laura Craig which included 4+ hours of stories and catching up with each others lives spanning a 47 year gap. We vow to stay closer connected.
The trip home was also uneventful. We were passing through Baton Rouge on New Year's Eve at dinner time, so we celebrated a little by going to Acme Oyster House. Oysters two ways and some good Cajun food. Early to bed before the bars close and the streets become dangerous. We arrived back to the boat New Years Day in time o complete some chores and plan on completing shopping and such. On the list, visit Verizon Wireless store to add our new Ipad to our Iphone data plan and share data. The visit to this Verizon was a pleasure as our clerk was very knowledgeable and professional. A real change from an experience we hade in Baltimore. OK, we also learned that our Verizon Air Card that works great with our Windows 7 computer may not work with our Windows 8 computer. This is exactly what we were experiencing. Back to Verizon to purchase a MiFi hot spot. It works great to provide a WiFi hot spot wherever a Verizon signal is available. Best part, no contract, pay as you go, as needed.
Saturday we turn in the rental car and continue south. Only 350 miles to Marathon, about 10 days.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||
12/19/2012, Palm Coast Florida
This is how it all started. It was a warm and sunny day. We heard a squeal coming from the engine compartment. When it got louder, Walt investigated and learned that the engine water pump bearing and seal had failed. We throttled way back and limped into Palm Coast Marina, Florida. That was Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning we located a Yanmar parts supplier in Jacksonville, Fl. We learned it would be Monday morning before the warehouse in Tampa could confirm they had all the necessary parts. Monday noon; Tampa confirms they have all parts and delivery to the marina is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Stuck here, we contact our Palm Coast friends Nancy and Peter Colket on Friday afternoon. We had dinner with them, tour their new house and catch up on what they have been doing since moving to the area this year. We spend most of Saturday with our friends Patricia and Ernie Gallo who shuttle us around to run errands, have lunch out and dinner at their house. We catch up with their busy lives. Finally we spend the afternoon Tuesday with Mary's coworker Ann Buttler who took us to two of Palm Coast's parks and tourist attractions. We had a good time visiting our friends here.
When we complete repairs, we will continue to Daytona where we will leave the boat for two weeks while we rent a car and drive to Texas to have Christmas with Walt's sister and family in Frisco (outside Dallas). We will continue by driving to Austin to on time friends Ann and John Riney. Keep your fingers crossed that parts arrive as scheduled and repairs go without a hitch.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||
12/12/2012, Fernandina Beach Florida
Hello from Fernandina Beach Florida. We made it through Georgia in 3 ½ days. The best part was our first visit to Thunderbolt marina. Why was this a highlight? Well we arrived on Saturday afternoon and they have a long standing tradition of delivering Krispy Cream donuts and a newspaper to your boat at 6:30 the next morning. So we received ½ dozen glazed donuts and a Sunday newspaper. There was heavy fog so we delayed our departure, enjoyed the paper and donuts. Well we had to time our arrival at Hell's Gate for mid tide rising to insure that one of the ICW's most infamous spots would have enough water for our transit. And it did. Another trouble spot is Jekyll Creek which runs behind Jekyll Island. We also timed our arrival as best we could to arrive at least 2 hours before low tide. The creek gave us a good scare with only 5 feet of water in a stretch of 50 feet when we need 5 ½ feet. We plowed through the short stretch and gave a big sigh of relief. We gave many sighs of relief in Georgia. We passed a "Barge train" in a narrow, twisty and shallow part of the ICW. We passed in the only part in the 2 mile section that was wide enough to allow passing without us going aground or we would have had to turn around and motor hard to keep in front of the tug boat till we got to a place we could pass. So what is a "barge train". Well it is a term I coined to describe a tug boat towing 4 barges connected together. There is also 2 to 4 smaller helper tug boats stationed on either of the barges to help steer them around sharp corners. We have passed a 4 and 5 barge train so far. They have always been barges of dredge equipment and helper pump dredges.
Now to share the more fun parts of this adventure. Why layover in Fernandina Beach? Well first we are tired after almost a month of traveling. Then there is the big pile of laundry that needs attention. Also, Walt didn't want to travel in the rain today. The best reason of all is to partake in some wonderful wild caught Florida shrimp at very good prices. Last night we treated ourselves to dinner in the famous Marina Restaurant. The special was buy one fried shrimp dinner get one free. Sold! They were wonderful, lightly battered and fried just right. It was easy to tell they were fresh and not the usual frozen prepared kind so often offered in a restaurant. Today we visited the local fish monger by the marina to buy more shrimp. One pound fresh 21/24 for now and 1 pound frozen 21/24 for later. Good prices also at $10 per pound. Mary made the best sautéed shrimp in butter, garlic, capers shallots and white wine for dinner. The frozen ones are for shrimp scampi later. We enjoyed the Christmas spirit with all the decorations in town. The main street is lined with trees all decked out in white twinkle lights. OK. . . .tomorrow we travel.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||
Friday December 7th, A bad day for America but a good day for ORION. We are in Beaufort S.C. today at the Downtown Marina. We are taking care of a few boat chores like changing the oil in the engine. It was very easy and "mess free" with the new oil change pump installed before this trip. That was a good move. At 4:30 p.m. he main street was closed and preparations were made for the annual Night On The Town celebration to kick off the Christmas Season. All the merchants were open and serving food and drinks. There were organizations selling food on the street. We both tried our first S.C. "Ladies Island" farm raised oysters and they were really good and salty. We had a chat with the fellow who raised them. The system they use is just like in Virginia. They put the small oysters in bags and cages on the river bed. They are market size in 9 to 12 months, faster than the 18 to 24 months needed in Virginia. We had a "low country" dinner in town and purchased a few small souvenirs before returning to the boat for an early evening.
We are at mile marker 536 here in Beaufort so are really making the miles now. Remember Miami is at MM 1096. We will make it to Thunderbolt Georgia tomorrow, Saturday. Three or four more days and we will be in Florida. We hope to make it to Daytona Beach by mid December where we will leave the boat, rent a car and drive to Texas to spend the holidays with Walt's sister and family in Frisco.
We hope your Holiday celebrations are underway. See you in a few days with more news of our travels.
|Orion's ICW 2012/2013 Adventure||