07/01/2012, Texarkana, Texas
Well, we made it. Jamie has finished her orientation and Bud and I finished our first week on duty. Jamie had an unexpected overnight retreat. Happily, Eric, her husband, had arranged to take the next day off in anticipation of having a rough night with Adler. The night went okay, but Bud and I took advantage of Eric's being home to drive to Tyler and try fishing in Lake Palestine. We lived in Tyler 34 years ago. It was so changed we didn't recognize much. And when we got to Lake Palestine we found they no longer rented boats. Boat rental seems to be a thing of the past. So we drove down to the dam to see how the fishing was there. It was nothing like the outflow at Wright-Patman Lake. The river below was very shallow. I took a couple of pictures that I put in the gallery. There was a public fishing dock on the lake just above the dam and Bud went fishing there. He snagged this chair, which he brought home and cleaned up. The first fishing trip in Texas and he got a keeper.
Adler and I did fine the days we were together. We played a lot of games. I did take a picture - Adler being a dinosaur roaring in his nest made up of our bed pillows. I've changed the rules of the games, I am never an opponent, I am always the grandmother needing his help and protection. It's much safer that way. Three-year-old boys tend to get carried away fighting opponents; so all the opponents are now imaginary.
Next week will be pretty challenging as Jamie starts at 4:30 AM Monday through Thursday. Eric has the Fourth off and Jamie has Friday off, so though the days will be long, I have some breaks. I also can go to the gym and put Adler in their nursery. A strong incentive to continue exercising. After I'm done Adler and I can swim for an hour or two. That's nice when a day in the low 90's is a cool day! I never thought I'd look forward to winter, but here, winter is when everyone comes out to play.
06/23/2012, Texarkana, Texas
We've been here two weeks and I haven't updated the blog. I guess it's time to do it. We're still getting used to things here, trying to set up routines and getting ready for when Jamie starts work. She goes for a week of orientation starting Monday.
The house here is a very nice duplex, but has an unusual floor plan. It's quite large. The picture is of the front of it looking up the street. The front entrance is into a hallway between the bedrooms! A right turn puts you between Adler's (our grandson's) room and ours. Our room is large and we have our bed and dresser, a new TV/entertainment stand (Wal-Mart special- fine chipboard furniture) we bought with our new 32-inch LED flat screen TV, a chair with ottoman, and a little computer desk (also new, but this one at least solid wood) and one of Jamie's kitchen chairs. Even with all that there is plenty of room. There is a bathroom with a door from our room as well as from the hall (we keep the hall door locked) and a third door between the sink area and the tub and toilet.
A left turn in the hallway leads to the living room, but on the left before you get there is the very large master bedroom with it's own huge bathroom with a tub with water jets. Adler loves the tub, which can produce piles of bubbles for his baths.
Past the large living room with a wet bar on one end is the dining room, set up as Adler's playroom, then the kitchen with room for the kitchen table at the very back of the duplex. Behind the master bedroom and to the left of the dining room are the laundry and the entrance to the good sized, two-car garage. There is an attic area accessed from the garage, but no basement. Houses here are built on slabs.
The whole thing is quite long from front to back and makes a great runway for games of tag and hide and seek that Adler loves to play with me, with odd little twists to the rules he thinks up.
Jamie and I are both getting nervous. She is also really looking forward to working, to having a break from being a full-time mommy, and to getting on with her career. I am just nervous. Adler and I do quite well together but he is a high energy, very intense 3-year-old. Taller and much more verbal than his peers, but emotionally still a 3-year-old. His height and loquacious manner tend to make others think he is four or five, and he can pull it off for a while. Then he acts like someone who just turned three, and they are taken aback. I just hope I can keep up with him and keep him under control.
The whole family joined a Sportsplex, because they have a daycare center for Adler. He will probably go once a week to give me a break and him some structured time with other kids. I had three sessions with a personal trainer that come with the membership. Muscles ache that I didn't know I had. Bud hasn't gone yet. Jamie and I are trying to persuade him to try it.
Last Sunday Bud and I drove around looking for places to fish. We went to the dam at Wright-Patman Lake. We checked out the spillway and the lake. Then we drove up to the Red River, which more or less forms the border with Arkansas here. Obviously the river moves, as the border takes odd contortions that are no longer part of the river. The two roads we were on that crossed the river were in places where the river was over into the Arkansas side. Bud bought a Texas fishing license, and there's no reciprocal agreement between the states, so those won't be good fishing spots.
I took pictures of the lake and the river that I'll put in the gallery in a new album. I don't have any new pictures of Adler. I realized being with Adler is something like coming in to a new port on the boat; a great opportunity for photos, but I'm usually way too busy to take any. I'll try to do better in the future.
06/11/2012, Texarkana, Texas
I must apologize for taking so long to update the blog. Bud and I have had a busy week. Last Monday we found out about 20 minutes before the morning slack tide that they could pull the boat then, if we were ready. Fortunately, everything that had to be done while the boat was in the water was done. Bud had changed the oil in the engine and generator, and the fluid in the transmission. On Sunday we'd washed and dried the jib and main, taken the jib off, folded and stowed it and lowered the main back into the stack pack. Bud ran the dingy (and went cast netting for finger mullet in case he and Gary got a chance to go fishing). Then we pulled the outboard up to the stern rail and Bud changed the oil and the gear oil, flushed the salt water out of the cooling system and put RV antifreeze in it.
Gary called when they had Earendil up in the travel-lift. He was in town, so came over to see the show. He stayed after the boat was blocked and helped us take the main down. It's a good thing he did; it took three of us to lower it. Gary was on the spinnaker halyard, which was around the front of the stack pack, I was on the main halyard which was around the stack pack further back, and Bud moved the sail. First we pulled all the slides off the track on the mast, then we pulled it forward off the boom, and finally we lowered over the side of the boat and onto Gary's truck. The photo is of Gary and Bud getting ready to drive it the few blocks up to the Irish Sail Lady who will store it and put some drain and vent holes along the bottom of the stack pack so the rainwater doesn't collect inside it in the future.
Bud and I spent the rest of the week finishing up all the jobs to leave the boat on land. We had to prepare it for both summer and winter conditions, because we don't expect to be back for next winter's cruising season. The engine, generator and fresh water systems all had to be flushed (and the water tanks washed) and filled with RV antifreeze. We put antifreeze in the shower sump pumps and the bilge pumps, too. The holding tanks we pumped, flushed and pumped again when we pulled the boat. We had to drain the water from the base of the toilets (ugh). All the linens on the boat we washed and packed into vacuum bags. We even rolled and vacuum bagged our memory foam mattress topper.
We cleaned out the cupboards, packed clothes, packed, gave away or threw out food. We vacuum packed our reference books and our charts. We packed the Ford Crown Victoria (the good old Land Barge) with everything we were taking, and even managed to fit in my folding bicycle.
Bud pulled the prop shaft out of the transmission so it could be checked and straightened (or replaced if we needed to) and we spent one bad afternoon taking turns with our heads in the bilge trying to get first the shaft key, then two wrenches and the smashed light bulb that Bud dropped in there during the course of removing the shaft and the coupler. We bought a good magnet and a good shop vac and managed to get everything back up.
This time we didn't try to stay on board while we were doing all this, it's just too hard. We stayed at a local motel. We got to the boat each morning at around 7 AM, hoping to leave by mid-afternoon before it got too hot. I think that worked Tuesday. The other days we left between 4:30 and 6 PM, so they were long, hard, hot days. We hoped to leave Friday by around 1, and managed to get out by 4. We left a dehumidifier running, and had trouble with the power and with using our big 30 AMP shore power cords as extension cords with adapters on either end. I ended up going to Home Depot to buy a 100 foot 15 AMP contractor's extension cord. We still had the ground fault on the outlet flip several times, so left with Pete's (Customer Service Manager at the Marine Center) promise to get the power checked out. Both Pete and Gary have keys to the boat and the dinghy locks. The dinghy is wrapped in a tarp and chained under the boat.
We left in such a hurry that I didn't even get a parting photo. We drove about 40 minutes to Green Cove Springs and picked up our mail and then drove another 3 and-a-half hours to Marianna, Florida, where we spent the night. On Saturday, we drove the rest of the way to Texarkana.
I know this is a sailing blog, but I think I'll try to do weekly updates while we're here, so friends and family can keep track of us. Our cruising friend Ed (whose thumbs were bruised and cut, but not broken in the storm a few weeks ago) assures me the time will pass quickly and we'll soon enough be back aboard. I hope!
06/01/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
We finally had a meeting with the General Manager here at St. Augustine Marine Center, and it seems he had intended to pay for all the work done in Vero Beach (and thought he had, not knowing two separate bills were sent). He also agreed to do the modifications now being recommended for the exhaust system. We are happy. We are going to keep the boat here. We looked at another yard, which is much less expensive but only if you don't get power, and we intend to run a 110-volt cord into the boat to a dehumidifier. Right now we expect to have to leave the boat for 18 months and we've heard that if you don't take measures to fight the humidity you can return to a boat whose interior is black with mold. So we'll buy a dehumidifier and plumb it out the sink drain. Gary has offered to come and check on the boat periodically, which is a great relief.
That settled we had to set up a time to have the boat hauled. It will be sometime next week. We got the staysail and jib washed and the staysail down and folded, but it's since been windy and rainy and we haven't been able to wash the main or fold the jib. Sunday it's supposed to be dry and relatively still, so we'll get the rest of the sails off and be ready to pull it. We're scheduled for slack tide on Wednesday, but there may be an opening sooner. We've been packing our clothes and some of the things we will take with us and packing some things that will stay aboard in vacuum bags to keep them safe.
I'm anxious to move on, but will miss it here in some ways. I'll miss the birds. I took this picture today of one of the couple of Roseate Spoonbills we see almost every day. We also have a resident Great Egret. He is missing a toe and we remembered him from last fall. A local fisherman told us he's been feeding Toby for at least 10 years. There are also some Snowy Egrets, a Tricolor Heron and a Great Blue Heron. There are dolphins that fish in the river here and lots of little crabs that scurry into cracks on the dock in the mornings. I'll miss the city of St. Augustine, too. I've been riding my bike around town again; I do love the old houses and the older trees. I love the flowers and vines that grow here. I won't miss living at a boatyard (not a marina) and walking far across the yard to a not very clean bathroom. And I won't miss having to carry Fuzzy off the dock, sometimes in the middle of the night, if he seems like he has to pee.
So a couple of more days of waiting, a few days of intense work to ready the boat for long term storage, and we will officially be CLODs, cruisers living on dirt.
05/28/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
We're still sitting at the dock at St. Augustine Marine Center waiting to see who will do what to set our boat straight. The discussion is between the marine center and Mastry, the Yanmar distributor that signed off on the installation. We have learned that the fix should not be too difficult, an increase in the height of the rise of the exhaust hose after it leaves the muffler, and a flap on the exit fitting at the transom. We also found out that there is nothing wrong with the linkage to the transmission, except this transmission has no positive stops for forward, reverse or neutral and instead depends on the action of the levers at the pedestal. But our levers don't have stops either. And we bent our new prop shaft when we broke the propeller. We should be able to have it straightened.
While we were sitting here a tropical storm came over us. Tropical storm Beryl went ashore about 35 miles north at Jacksonville last night. Bud and I went out at midday yesterday, as the storm approached and went to Vilano Beach near the St. Augustine inlet. I took this photo of the surf. The inlet is on the extreme right of the photo. It doesn't look inviting.
The worst we saw came last evening from about 8 PM until midnight. Since we were getting the southwest quadrant of the storm it wasn't too bad. We had double lines on the bow and stern, the dingy back strapped in the davits, and an extra fender. We had no problems, but the worst wind I saw on the instruments was a 45-knot gust (about 50 mph). I called our friends Ed and Karin who keep their boat Passages at a marina on St. Marys River just over the state line into Georgia. They got hit with the northwest quadrant of the storm. Ed spent the night on the boat. He saw 70 knots but wasn't looking during the worst of it. At 3 AM his bowlines broke the cleat on the dock. The wind and waves were so high that the boat heeled about 45 degrees, leaning towards the dock. The stern got caught under the dock. I think when the cleat burst it caught Ed's hands. When I talked to Karin this morning she was with him at the emergency room, they think he broke both his thumbs. He stayed the remainder of the night on the boat with broken thumbs and managed to retie his boat. There were 7 boats on a floating dock, 5 men stayed overnight to tend them. All came through the storm with minimal damage. Every other boat in the marina is either sunk or is washed up on land. We're feeling very fortunate.
Hopefully I'll be able to update the blog soon with the resolution to our problems and our plans going forward.
05/19/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
Well we made it back. We have very mixed feelings. We're glad the engine and prop held together and we're anxious to get everything squared away, we're sad the good sailing is done for a while.
It was an uneventful day. We left Daytona at 6:30 this morning. We had wind against us all day, starting out at 10 knots and increasing to almost 20 knots. We had current against us most of the day. The tide was running out, but the Matanzas Inlet we were heading towards is very shallow, so it seems most of the water was running out behind us to the Ponce de Leon Inlet. We went about 40 of the 53 miles against the current.
We got back to St. Augustine Marine Center at about 2:30. We had planned to go up to the City Marina for a pump-out (free) and fuel before we came in here. But the wind was up to 20 knots in the open area as we approached St. Augustine and we were afraid it would be really hard to get the boat back off the dock there. So we just came up the San Sebastian River to the St. Augustine Marine Center. Pete, the customer service manager, was here to grab our lines. He had us come to one of the new docks they put in.
Fuzzy seems in a good mood. I guess he's glad to be back. I am impressed again at all the wildlife in Florida, the fish, the birds, the dolphins and manatees, but there's no turquoise water - I miss the Bahamas.