Friday, November 30, 2012

The Final Stages!

November 20th 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’.
               W 82° 37.075’.
Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

View Larger Map

Leaving! The time is seems there is not enough time to accomplish everything that is necessary to enable actually casting off. It has become apparent that more ‘stuff’ has to go as we will not have enough room to store all the provisions, spare parts and, of course, the beer and wine! Our guest cabin, den, office is pivotal in the storage department; it is our pantry, computer centre and, what needs to change, our ‘junk’ room! We have both realized there is no junk room on a boat! We had been keeping all our old tax returns and ‘important’ papers which have been stacked in files occupying valuable shelf space, do we really need it? The answer is no, in most cases one only needs to hold onto tax returns for three years. While we owned a large home and had a dedicated office, storage of all this stuff was not a problem, now things are different...old tax returns, more food, old tax returns, more food, get it! So, we are busy paring; it is refreshing actually, don’t be scared of doing it when your time comes, getting rid of stuff is one of the events that Lavinia and I have enjoyed the most and have talk to others about affectionately, strange but true. What we are doing is freeing, shedding the unnecessary trappings of life enables one to focus on life the very living of it, the smaller and arguably the more important things that go on around us all day that in shore side life we all miss or choose to miss. It seems the human race is so focused on financial progress/survival that simple life is passed by. Transiting to a lesser fixed income and not having a daily job to focus on enables one to wake up to life. All of a sudden there is nothing to worry about! I say nothing to worry about; of course there are things, the engine, the generator the water maker...the necessities to our life on board. There isn’t the social station to maintain the expenses of one’s station to meet. What a change, I love it, HT and I have time to talk, time to enjoy each other, what a concept! Meals are no longer a rush we really are able to take time and smell the roses. I have spent so much of my life serving others and attending to their needs, either as a business owner, manager or employee, don’t get me wrong I have loved it. It is, however, such a pleasant change to be able to be a little selfish and focus on self and the things important to me.  Life is in stages and I thank all the clients, customers and all the people who have made mine and HT’s dream possible and above all, become a reality. Retirement is a stage of life every person deserves, a time to be a little selfish, a time to fulfil all the things that, for a life time have been subordinated in favour of raising a family, maintaining a career and generally providing to others, retirement is ‘our’ time!  

Although both Lavinia and I have travelled the world extensively we feel that we have barely scraped the surface. For the first time now we have the ability to take as much time as we want to explore fascinating places and really get to know the people of the countries we visit. Travelling by boat is still the safest form of transportation and travelling on one’s home makes the ‘journey’ so much more enjoyable.  

The Bimini top is due next week and the engine room will be fully attended to with both ‘Stonewall Jackson’ and ‘Faraday’ having had a ‘birthday’. I changed all fuel filters, including the four Racors. Although functioning perfectly I serviced the heat exchangers and water pumps on both engines too – she is ready to go! We are having the pilot house cushions recovered too and the Admiral and I have chosen a beige ultra suede material which will go well with all the wood trim. Jim Ingram from Marine Electronics Installation, Inc dropped me an e-mail this week to say that the auto pilot equipment and the AIS should be in from the manufacturers soon so I am expecting a call any time to set the installation day! We also have a WirieAP which will increase our range for picking up a wifi connection to about 5 miles. Danny the rigger we are using to install an electric hoist to our mast boom for lowering and lifting the dinghy has set me the task of choosing the hoist I want and ordering it. The choice is mind boggling and I have stalled! I even wrote a post on the Krogen Cruisers Net asking for advice. I received much help and can now narrow down the choices. The job is not difficult and should be done in a day once the hoist arrives. The davits that we had mounted on the swimming platform and the transom are gone, sold the first day they were advertised on Craig’s List, amazing! Two beautiful new stainless steel fishing rod holders are now mounted on the aft deck stanchions; an additional one is mounted on the port side for the new Magma grill we have just bought! There are a lot of barbeques ahead in our future, grilled fish, grilled fish and more grilled fish – sounds good doesn’t it. Of course though, that will all be predicated on whether I can catch anything!

Jeff, from ‘Now and Then’ two boats down the dock, helped me lay out my two anchor chains which needed re-marking. Of course, the dock police spotted the operation and issued the mandatory words: “You are not supposed to be doing that on the dock; you will end up getting paint on it”. The marina employees here are all really friendly and helpful they want to be accommodating ‘all of the time’. The dock master doesn’t venture out much from his office and rarely comes to the docks, so what he doesn’t see he doesn’t grieve. We successfully completed the job, had time to let the paint dry, and had the anchors re-stowed in no time, no paint on the docks either. Somehow or other the Chelsea Ships Strike clock chimed 8 bells for midday! What did that mean you might ask, well, getting the job done in the AM and the sun now passed the yardarm, time for a beer of course, in fact two! Jeff and I sat on the ‘back porch’ enjoying the beer and the superb weather we had that day. 

The Holidays are looming and we would love to spend them in the Bahamas, whether that will be possible we don’t know yet? It seems hard to throw off the lines, there always seems to be another job that needs to be addressed. Lavinia had a good point though, “Some of these jobs can be done on the way as long as you have the parts” what a concept; of course we are taking our home with us and it is not like I have another job!   

Thursday 15th The replacement horns I mentioned back in September, which did arrive, have been sitting in my pilothouse until yesterday. The reason for the procrastination in getting them installed is that they are different! I thought that I was ordering the exact same ones and it would be a simple matter of swapping them out...oh no! Yesterday was the day to once and for all end the procrastination. Not long after I had carried all the necessary tools to the boat deck and had begun to try and fathom out how to remove the old horns Jeff my knowledgeable and very helpful neighbour stopped by and asked “what are you up to”? From that point on there were two pairs of eyes and minds on the job. Between the two of us we got the job finished, not easy I might say as much modification to the mounting block and general installation was necessary. It took three hours in the end. Oh, what a great sound – I think ‘Partners’ smiled when the new horns sounded, she was a real boat again now with her voice back...more beer on the back deck! Lavinia joined us too having spent the whole day below sorting through papers etc., in the guest cabin, trying to pare down the amount of unnecessary ‘stuff’ we have in there so that the space can be used for our provisions. The cabin doubles as our pantry too. Enough work for one day so the three of us sat on our back ‘porch’ enjoying the beer, conversation and the great weather.

Saturday 17th Our new Magma grill is here! I installed another fishing rod holder on the port side of the aft deck to accommodate the installation and ‘hey presto’ we are ready to grill!  
The new Bimini top is installed! We're almost complete!
The Lexan which covers the flying bridge instruments has, over the years, clouded up to the point of where it is now difficult to see through, now is the time to replace it. A trip to Sarasota Glass & Mirror quickly provided the replacement pieces. Whilst there, I am in the process of making a looky bucket, I bought a ¼’’ x 9½” circular glass which I will 5200 onto the outside of the bottom of my 5 gallon bucket. We will then be able to look at our anchor to ensure it is set properly and anything else in the clear waters of the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Monday 27th HT continues to provision! We are taking on so much that because the majority of the available storage is on the starboard side we are developing a list! I will be trying to compensate by moving engine room supplies and spare parts over to the port side. Lavinia is constantly worried and in fear of not doing a good job...I guess this responsibility will become second nature as time goes by.  (I am having the same concerns with my weather forecasting skills!)

Today I retired from real estate! I have decided to put my license in a voluntary inactivate state while we cruise. I thought about keeping it active in a referral mode but communication while we are cruising will be difficult and in reality I really won’t be able to provide a service. I visited the office to see my broker Gloria and all the support staff to say goodbye, sad but exciting. I could not have wished for a more pleasant bunch of people to work with. In fact without their patience and watchful eye I would have been in ‘trouble’ many times. Thank you to you all...I’ll miss youL.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The importance of timing!

October 20th 2012

Position  N 27° 22.225’.
              W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

View Larger Map


There is one thing that cannot be stopped and that is the passage of time. For any of you reading this and other cruising blogs you will come across a theme. What I am referring to is ‘get going’, the passage of time brings on a much higher probability of failing health. Most of us work and work until we think we have enough money to retire. A better plan is to set the date that you will retire and begin following your life time dream at a level you can afford then; don’t continue to accumulate wealth and strive for perfection. For example, in our case, to own an affordable boat and be cruising, is better than striving to own a larger more expensive one. The point I am making is, as follows, and I hate bringing it up and only do so in the interest of making the point that time is so valuable and that there is no time like the present to get going. I am in generally good health am active and can perform the daily chores required as a cruiser, although I have had a near miss with bladder cancer, I am now on a two year interval visit to my urologist for checkups and have been clear of cancer for 10 years. I have had prostate cancer too and that has required me to have several two year treatment regimens consisting of three month interval injections of a hormone drug which has kept the cancer at bay and still allows me to function normally although a little more fatigued than I would like. These treatments occur with approximately two year breaks in-between. Our cruising has to revolve around these inconveniences’ and longer treks are difficult to do so in the future some of our ‘dream’ trips may not become reality. Yesterday I was diagnosed with a melanoma on my right shoulder and will be having it removed next week. The prognosis is good as the dermatologist advises me that it has been caught early. The inconvenience, even if the worry of the cancer returning does not become a reality, is now I have another thing to watch over that requires a three month check-up and provides more interruption to our cruising plans. I can see how so many boats are advertised for sale with the note in the description “change of owner’s plans due to health”. Don’t let this be you, if you and your spouse/significant other, if you have one, are among the lucky ones enjoying good unrestrictive health get out there and live! To not have the health worry is a breath of fresh air, something which unfortunately is in my past. I will continue to cruise but have to live with the inconveniences and the knowledge that the incurable prostate cancer I have will eventually become resistant to the available treatments and I will have to face finishing our cruising days earlier than I would like. No sympathy required I am fine and am living my dream; I just want any of you planning to become adventure seeking cruisers to get out there sooner rather than later! Tempus fugit!

This blog entry’s techno is toilet related, I wrote in September about servicing the sewage system and that George from Delmar would, upon his return from vacation, come back and replace the holding tank vent pipe. Yesterday was the day...George arrived at 10:30 and went to work, together we first cleaned the hull vent fitting by removing a panel in the starboard aft corner of the master stateroom to give access to the vent pipe where it connects to the hull fitting which actually was brass and not ‘pot metal’ as I wrote in the Sept 15th entry. George removed the hose from the fitting and began cleaning the crud out and then he went to the outboard side and, with me literally holding his legs, leant over the side of ‘Partners’ and cleaned the vent from the outside too. All not easy as the vent is a 90° fitting and required a variety of tools to reach all the way in and through. George then connected a pump to the inboard side of the fitting and made sure that air was passing through freely, it was. Now a decision had to be made to either try and remove and replace the vent hose or just blow it through with the pump to ensure the flow of air. George decided that even though he may be able to remove the hose clamp holding the hose to the tank fitting, that once disconnected, he may not be able to reconnect it. The contortions necessary to reach the vent pipe position on the holding tank were extreme, and there was no visibility. We both agreed to not attempt a replacement of the hose. George checked the airflow through the vent pipe using a manual dinghy inflator pump and all was good. We quickly reassembled the hose to the fitting and checked the system operation. Finally George checked the vacuum pressure in the Vacuflush toilet we have in the forward head and it was fine. It has now been 24 hours since George’s service visit and all is well. The Admiral is a happy camper! 

I did manage to finish off varnishing the four aft deck chairs last week so now we have ‘like new’ furniture on the back porch! The table and chairs really do look good although I say it myself. With the painting over, last Saturday was cleaning day so from top to bottom ‘Partners’ received a ‘birthday’. Lavinia and I hosed and washed all surfaces and scrubbed the teak decks, across the grain of course, and boy did she look good after. The job took us all day and we were both tired out at the end; it was nice though to stand back and admire our labours! Somehow, we both agreed, the cold beer ‘sundowners’ that evening tasted the best!

We will be heading to Chevy Chase Maryland on Thursday to visit HT’s younger sister P Kaye and family, well actually her husband Greg and son Jack 17; Tess their daughter has just started university in Gainesville, FL at the University of Florida...she’s a Gator now and won’t be there!  This is a very important trip as we will be taking the last of our belongings, the impossible to part with items, the priceless treasuresJ, to their basement for storage until our return. ‘Partners’ will then be at her cruising weight having shed all excess pounds. We will drive nonstop in one day and will be staying through Sunday driving back nonstop on Monday; I love to drive and it will be the last long road trip we will make before selling our cars.  

October 26th. We are safely home at Longboat Key from our Washington DC trip, we had a great time, Greg & P Kaye, as usual, were very generous hosts. We attended their son Jacks Friday night football game, watched him play and win! Jack’s girlfriend is one of the cheerleaders so our curiosity of ‘who our 16 year old nephew was dating’ was satisfied, she seemed a great girl and pretty too! On Saturday it was football again, Greg works for the University of Maryland and is able to obtain good tickets for the games. The ‘Terrapins’ played the University of NC, the game was very even and exciting with end to end plays, sadly the home team lost in the last seconds as a result of a missed field goal attempt which would have won them the game. The score was 20 to 18. Lavinia’s cousin Henry, Pulitzer prize winner and now retired from the Washington Post, came over with his wife Deborah, one of his sons and two of his grandchildren for a visit and dinner on Sunday night; we had a great meal and, of course, a lot of fun. All in all we had a super visit and I know Lavinia and P Kaye enjoyed seeing each other; these rare get-togethers are precious...

This week we have been busy continuing our preparation for beginning our cruising life and at the weekend we will be off to the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. We have a list of things to buy which include a new outboard motor for our Novurania dinghy; we have decided to not buy a whole new rig, we were considering an A/B with a consol and bigger motor but we just can’t justify the expense. We will be looking for LED bulb replacements for our incandescent ones, also a good deal on C-Map Extra Wide charts for the Caribbean and as far north as the Canadian Maritimes. Oh, and two new fishing rods and reels! We are also hoping to find a deal on a magma grill, we’ll see! We will take time out to look at the newer boats too as they always provide idea’s that we can or may incorporate into ‘Partners’, it is fun to watch the evolution and improvements that occur every year. In the boat industry most changes and improvements are as a result of owner input and I have been amazed over the years of how attentive the better manufacturers are to listening to their owner base and implementing changes. No one boat is the same as the next, at least in the larger boats, manufactures are always willing to modify interior designs and accommodation layout changes, it is fascinating to see each owners ‘ideal’ layout and decor tastes. 

The sights we see...
Last night we had a gathering on board ‘Partners’, quite spontaneously Ron and Pam, Rudy and Teresa from the two boats either side of us and Jeff a little farther down the dock all appeared to enjoy the wonderful weather and sundowners. Sooo, before too long all were on our foredeck and we just talked and talked, laughed and joked until 20:00hrs! Lavinia managed to find some snacks, chips and nut mix but the hit was the Cajun crab and lobster dip it had just the required ‘kick’ to go with the alcohol! By now the 151 rum was out!  Funny how a party can get going when a bunch of boaters get together. Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic is bringing us NW to NE winds up to about 30 Knots at times it is also drying out the air. Yesterday and last night in particular was perfect, today I think will be the same, 81° is the forecast high.

The Boat Show was tiring as usual but productive; first we have decided to look into putting a St. Croix consol and seat into our 10’ Novuania dinghy and installing a 20 hp Tohatsu outboard with power tilt and trim. We bought several cruising guides and electronic charts; Bluewater Books had discounts that ensured we made a trip to their store off 17th street and oh yes...a few hundred dollars later we escaped!