Thursday, December 30, 2010

36 Hours and 150 Miles

When I left Daytona Beach the air temperature was 30 degrees F and the the water temperature was 44 degrees F. Needless to say it was cold. Of course the hurricanes while I was in Canada and St. Pierre and waiting forever for pasts in Green Cove Springs means that I have been behind the power curve with respect to weather the entire time.

I am now motoring (there is no wind) past the Fort Worth inlet which is about 150 miles south of Daytona. The water temperature is 71 degrees and the air temperature is about 60 degrees. Why do I add the information about the water temperature? Reboot has no insulation so the interior is always about the same temperature as the water. Try living in a house with the thermostat set for 44 degrees! For the first time since I left St. John's Newfoundland it is actually comfortable to sit out on deck or to work in the cabin without being decked out in four or five layers of clothing. So nice!

What I find most amazing is that the difference in temperatures is only 150 miles apart. And that in the last 36 hours I have gone from freezing to actually comfortable.

Turquoise water at last!

I passed Miami this morning after a very long night of rocking and rolling in very short period beam seas. As usual when passing Port Everglades I was asked to alter course to avoid a cruise ship. These guys are three or four miles out in the ocean and act like they are in the channel. Such a pain in the neck.

I am heading down the Hawk Channel to Boca Chica Key. The waves have dropped in half behind the reef. But more important the water has turned from slate grey to that wonderful turquoise color associated with the Caribbean. Joy, oh Joy. The water temperature has actually dropped about 5 degrees F as I am moving away from the influence of the Gulf Stream but I will take 65 degrees with 75 degree air over what I have been experiencing for the last it seems several weeks.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cuba

Many Canadians that I meet tell me about their wonderful visit to Cuba.  Many suggest that I go - wink wink - the Cubans will welcome you and not stamp your passport.  You will have a wonderful time.  "Cuba is so pretty,  the people are so nice, it is so clean, you can go wherever you want."  It does so sound listening to the Canadians that it is the "workers paradise."  When I read O'Grady at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203418804576039552457877600.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop and others it makes me wonder who is really telling the truth.

Perhaps some day the US will lift the embargo and I will find out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Macbeth

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;



I spent the day with Bill (KI4MMZ) and Ashley (his helper) paying for my refrigerator repair, having a wonderful lunch, and stocking Reboot to get underway.  After paying another exorbitant fee to keep tied to the St. Augustine dock for another night I vowed to myself that tomorrow I will get underway and head south again.  I don't particularly care if I only make it one nautical mile, I just need to get moving!  After a month of not moving the inside of the boat is a mess but I will get it cleaned up along the way.  Anything to get over this feeling of being trapped in the Hotel California.

Coast Guard responds to beached vessels

These stories are always said. But like NASCAR we all have a fascination with them: Coast Guard responds to beached vessels

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Refrigeration

After a month of waiting for parts the new compressor and controller for the refrigerator finally came all together today.  Of course it didn't work.  The brand new compressor unit had a cheap telephone style connector which was broken and shorted out.  The manufacturers tech rep was on vacation and wasn't available - nor would he be available to help us until after the holidays.  (The entire controller only has six wires, you would think they could train more than one tech!)  But what do you expect for a $1,300 unit.  Oh, you mean customer service?  What is that?

After several hours of strange electrical readings we finally figured out that the connector was at fault.  The solution was to cut the connector out of the circuit and hard wire the cables together.  The system immediately came up operational.  I will see how it works out over the next day or two.

A special mention of the local technician who did the installation - John Butler of Green Cover Springs, FL.  He has been a prince the entire month.  I don't know how many hours he spent on the telephone with the supplier, distributor and manufacturer but I know that the time he spent did not show up in his invoice.  I highly recommend him to anyone who needs refrigeration or air conditioning work done on their boat.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sad and Strange

Sad: When you have been stuck in a port for a while you have a pretty good idea what is old and what is new.  This morning as I went out on deck I noticed this sailboat aground.  I think it was there last night but not the day before.  I looked through the binoculars and could see that there is still a mainsail on the boom.  Hopefully someone has contacted the owners and they will get it afloat again before additional damage is done.

Strange: Yesterday as I was dumping the garbage in the Municipal Marina dumpster I overheard a conversation about a sailboat about 15 miles offshore that was taking on water.  The local responders had attempted to go out the inlet in a small RIB but were driven back by the wave action.  Their 65' boat did go out as did an 85' USCG cutter and a USCG helicopter.  The helicopter dropped a dewatering pump The 65' boat reportedly did not have enough power to take the sailboat in tow so the USCG cutter was enroute to bring them in.  This morning my friend Bill (KI4MMZ) called me to tell me that the dewatering was unsuccessful and the Coast Guard was towing the sailboat to Ponce de Leon Inlet.  Now here is the strange part.  The people on board said that they had grounded in the ICW and then taken a wrong turn and ended up in the Atlantic Ocean.  Since they were at least 15 miles offshore and out of the sight of land I wonder when they caught on that they were in the wrong place?

You know guys, we never ask for directions!

More "Net Neutrality""

Opinion from the Wall Street Journal - The FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recommissioning the Dinghy

After several months of not needing to have the dinghy in the water I realized today that I was stuck on Reboot unless I get it up and running again. There was some concern that the engine would not start as it has not run in 6 months but after a few pulls it came to life. It did put out a bunch of smoke (its a two cycle) for the first couple of minutes but then cleaned up nicely. I did several laps of Reboot to make sure it would not die and then headed for shore.
One of the most annoying things about modern day cruising is that everyone has their hand out - in the instant case I was charged $10 to use the dinghy dock for 24 hours. The good news is that I got to use the showers and laundry. Of course I had to pay for the washer and dryer so why is $10 a good deal?

Friday, December 17, 2010

More on Internet Regulation - The Federalist Society

The Federalist Society recently held a seminar on Internet Regulation.  The link is here (click.)  Warning, this is a 1 1/2 hour presentation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

VHF Radio Pricing

My remote VHF microphone has been giving me trouble.  I was hoping that it was just that the cable contacts were corroded but I have been unable to clean them and get it working again - if in fact it is the contacts.  I have been researching replacements.  What I don't understand is why I can purchase an entire new VHF radio for less than the cost of replacing my remote microphone.  This is true no matter what brand I pick.  A new VHF without bells and whistles is about $100.  Remote microphones (presuming you have purchased the radio that goes with that particular microphone) start at about $120.  In some cases you then have to purchase and extension cable for even more money.  Something is very wrong with the pricing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Frostbiting

Jim (Hobo II) and I got tired of sitting around Jacksonville Landing waiting (yet again) for my refrigerator thermostat and electronic control. We decided to take off for St. Augustine, a trip of about 46 nautical miles. The St. John's River runs north to the ICW, then we backtracked south. As a result we are actually closer to Green Cove Springs Marina via land then we were in downtown Jacksonville.

We departed before dawn in 24 F temperatures so that we could make it under the Main Street bridge before morning "bridge hours." (Bridge hours are when they will not open, figure that.) It was a sunny day and we had good tides and currents so all in all it would have been a beautiful run except for the cold. By the time we made it to St. Augustine at about 3 PM EST it had warmed up to a balmy 33 F. I was able to layer up so that my body was warm but my feet and hands were freezing the entire trip. XO of course remained burrowed in the sleeping bags the entire trip. But once we were at anchor he ran around on the deck for about 1/2 hour. I guess fur is a lot warmer than skin.

We passed a whole bunch of McMansions on the way down. I can't understand why people build multi-million-dollar homes on such small plots of land that they can hear their neighbors having sex. Some of the houses were quite beautiful and most were well maintained. Just about every one had a dock with some kind of speedboat. I laughed when we passed one dock with a boat with 4 large outboard motors. I guess he won the "mine is biggest" contest on the block.

Jim and I had a great pasta dinner on Reboot last night and I could tell that he was ready to move on. This morning he raised anchor and headed south.

The latest is that my parts have once again been located and they may arrive this Friday or next Monday. Of course the last time I heard this story they shipped the wrong part. I think it is true, Green Cove Springs Marina is like the Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Curse for Leaving a Large Wake

From John Vigor's blog.

A CURSE FOR LEAVING A LARGE WAKE


Woe to you, thou beslubbering speedhog!
May your filters choke and your injectors freeze.
May every ill befalling a boat bring you to your knees.
May you run out of whisky, and ice cubes, too.
May there be no more pleasure for you or your crew.
May all your bronze tarnish and your varnish all flake.
May your batteries die and your propellers shake.
May your anchors drag and your bilges overflow.
May you rot in a hell where they make you go slow.
Curse you! Curse you! My curse be upon you wherever you go!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hobo II

As those of you who follow my blog know I have been buddy boating with Hobo II for several months.  Here is a picture of the Captain - Jim:
Jim

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Scene - Search and Rescue

DO you get a vicarious thrill out of reading accounts of rescues at sea?  The US Coast Guard used to publish On Scene to document their Search and Rescue (SAR) activities. They stopped publishing it to the regret of many of us who enjoyed their accounts.  The great news is that On Scene is back as a blog.  Here is the link: On Scene Link (click here)

I was surprised to find that not all SAR activity is ships at sea.  The current issue describes a pilot and a man whose car crashed during a blizzard.  They both used personal locator beacons (PLB's) to call for help.  Neat

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Garmin XM Weather Service

A couple of days ago my entire Garmin system stopped working.  I would turn it on, it would run about 15 seconds and then shut down.  After the refrigerator and the air conditioning failures I was aghast.  The Garmin system is by far the single most expensive thing on the boat.  At least, as long as I don't have to replace the diesel engine.  I contacted Garmin customer service and they gave me some debugging tips.  I also provided them with information from the event log.  We eventually isolated the problem to the XM weather and music service receiver.  I disconnected it and the system operated fine.

So of course Garmin contacted me and told me that it was identified as a possible software problem.  Of course they had no date for a fix.  Given that I spent my career explaining to CEO's when things broke that I had no idea how long it would take to fix them because if I knew it would be fixed I expected it to take a while.  So I contacted XM and put my subscription on hold - it costs me about $70 per month.  I no sooner got off the phone when Garmin let me know that XM was putting out some strange signal that was screwing up the receivers and that they had turned it off.  So I hooked everything up again and it worked perfectly.  So I had to call XM back and turn everything back on again.  A great waste of 6 hours.

I do have to compliment Garmin for being on top of the fix.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cold and more cold

We continue to be frustrated here at Green Cove Springs.  Jim got his rebuilt engine running today.  There is a part of the transmission that is designed to absorb the initial shock of shifting in and out of gear.  It was a bit worn so Jim ordered a new part.  Just before closing the Perkins Dealer called and said the part was in.  Jim went to pick it up, brought it back, and though superficially the same it is different.  So he called them and they told him they might be able to get the part by next Wednesday.  So it looks like he is stuck here and I will hang around in the Jacksonville area until Hobo II is back in the water and ready to go.

My refrigerator part should arrive tomorrow and unless we discover something else missing or wrong I should have a working refrigerator by tomorrow night.  This is a very expensive and unexpected repair but I can't live on a boat without refrigeration.  Ice is very hard to come by when you live at anchor most of the time.

I spent today revising the propane heater feed lines.  I had jury rigged them when I was in Newfoundland.  I got the lines run in the proper places but the safety solenoid is on recall so I can't do the full installation until I can get an proper solenoid.  But at least I can get heat when away from the dock.  Given the NOAA forecast for the next few days - lows in the 30's and highs in the 50's this is a good thing.

I continue to be without hot water as I wait for my second replacement fresh water pump.  After the first failed I did install a manual pump bypass so I can get water to rinse my hands or make coffee but to wash up the dishes I have to boil water on the stove.  And a shower is out of the question.  At least being here at the marina I can use their shower.  Since it is shared by a lot of people I have taken to showing between 2AM and 4AM.  Even then I sometimes meet people waiting to shower or using the shower.

Jim and I were depressed when we realized that we have been here so long that we both want to do another load of laundry.  We both did laundry when we first got in (me, you may remember for 4 hours.)  We have been stuck here so long we both have a load or two to do.  And it looks like even if the part for Jim's boat arrives on Tuesday we will be here for the better part of next week.

Since we have been running around for parts we have rented a car on and off and have used it to sample some of the local inexpensive restaurants.  They are certainly better than my cooking.

More to follow tomorrow.  Good night.

Snow Birding

A quick update from my post of last night:  It's 5:33 AM and the outside temperature is 35.4 F.  Last Winter I went to Key West for warmth, the lows were frequently in the 30's during January and February.  Growing up in the New York City area I had the apparent illusion that Florida was warm while the Northeast was freezing.  I guess I had a lot of illusions while I was growing up.

One lesson I have learned in my time living on board is how much the wind speed changes with the time of day. It was blowing like stink last night, this morning it is dead calm.  Frequently while transiting I have noticed that the wind will die at sunset only to come back like gangbusters in the middle of the night. That is why I, and many of my single handing companions, put in two reefs at sunset.  We bob around for a while but it is better than trying to put in reefs in high winds in the dark.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sometimes its good to be stuck

I am still at Green Cove Springs Marina.  It turns out that the manufacturer has changed the design of its product and we need additional parts to get the refrigerator running again.  Jim has been making progress on his engine repairs too, but they are going slowly.

The wind has been howling all day and the temperatures have been below 50 degrees.  The highest wind peak I have seen was over 30 knots.  The low for tonight is predicted to be 36 degrees.  All in all, not a bad time to be tied to a dock with shore power to run my electric heater.

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