There is always something!
31 December 2018 | Stuart, FL
Living on a boat is not all grapes and reclining in the sun with fans to keep you cool. In fact, we experience very little of that! It is almost always the case that something needs to be checked, tightened, fixed, or replaced. And that seems to be the case most often when a boat just sits.
When in operation, all systems are exercised and keep up their functionality — until they don’t. But, when a boat is not used, things tend to get creaky and stiff. (Sound familiar?) Because Gratitude had not been used for over a year and a half before this trip, we had a list of deferred maintenance items that needed tending. Our stop in Stuart, FL has provided a good opportunity to play catch up.
We arrived here December 17 and flew to LI, NY on the 22d to celebrate Christmas with our daughter, Kea, and her sons, Ethan and Hunter. We had a grand time with them, and even had the privilege of helping the boys (both teenagers) literally shovel out their room, which is set up like a dormitory, only messier. The good news is that they had no hesitation throwing away stuff (old pens and pencils, puzzles missing pieces, broken computer parts, etc.) and clothing that was too small was bagged for the thrift store. The bad news is we all had to spend the better part of a day on the project. However, once done, all agreed it was well worth the effort!
Returning to Stuart on the 27th, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner out with Nancy and Burger Zapf, sailing friends who have graciously loaned us a car for the myriad of errands over great distances while we are here. We have replenished the LP, done laundry, done some grocery shopping, been to the hardware store and West Marine for necessary parts, etc. We have washed the boat, checked the oil, tightened “fan” belts, bought and stored more oil for future changes, checked various fittings (only to find three hose clamps broken and in need of replacement; fortunately, they were backed up by others), tightened the “dripless” shaft gland, found a broken bolt on a head pump so ordered a new one, and a host of other items too numerous and boring to name. Suffice to say, it has been a worthwhile few days.
One item we had to attend was to move the boat to another marina to have the head holding tanks pumped out. (The county pump out boat utterly failed to provide the necessary service, so it was a significant undertaking to get that done. For example, along the way, we had to pass three bridges in close succession — one a railroad bridge that is closed by the railroad, so one must pay attention to the unscheduled train crossings, and another a highway bridge that opens on demand, much to the consternation of the vehicle drivers.) We took the opportunity to fill up on diesel while there, so we will have plenty for our ultimate trip to the Bahamas.
Now, we await the “weather window” for a safe and comfortable crossing of the Gulf Stream (that flows northward, so winds from the north [heading south] can build some fierce waves, nicknamed “elephants” for their shape and size. We saw enough elephants in South Africa and have no need to ride any now). While we wait, we are amazed periodically by the size of the trains that rumble through here on an unscheduled basis. Yesterday, I counted one with four engines, with fuel tank cars between them, hauling a train that took 5 minutes to pass at about 10-15 MPH. Many of the cars were filled with sand, and who knows what was in the tank cars, box cars, and assorted others. It was an impressive sight, and one we see repeated daily or even more often here in Stuart.
At the moment, it looks like we may be able to move on Thursday, but that is open to debate. When we can go, we will go. We are in no hurry and we have this slip for a month, so no one is pushing us out. Stay tuned!