Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ed on the half dole

Ed and Claudia (Door into Summer) returned late last evening.  We adjourned to the bar at the New Bern Hilton.  George, the food and beverage manager has done a great job of cutting the prices from "Hilton Hotel" to "very competitive with the local market - in fact a great deal! - GO GEORGE!" so we hung out waiting for midnight when Ed would officially be retired from FedEx (aka Federal Express.)  Since Ed is a pilot official retirement is at age 60.  This also is when retired reserve military personnel become eligible for retirement pay (but not the semi-decent health care.  They only get the pretty awful health care until age 65, then the semi-decent care.)  So we applaud the fact that Ed is now on the half dole - military retirement and awful health care from the government!  At least until the idiots in Washington try to take away military retirement because "it costs too much."  Thanks John McCain - but then you have managed to be a millionaire so you really don't care, do you.

The down side is that Ed never got to take his "final flight."  Usually when a pilot retires they have a ceremony at the gate when he rolls in the last time.  The airport fire trucks spray water in an arch over the plane and so forth.  Of course Ed wanted to make sure that he was healthy before losing his semi-excellent FedEx medical insurance and going the the more-than-semi-shitty military health care.  You guessed it - Ed had been complaining about pain in his knee - snap - microsurgery.  For some reason FedEx thinks that pilots need both legs working to fly so he was put on medical leave for the last couple of days of his career.

The plan is for Door into Summer and Reboot to head out at the next weather window for Florida.  The weather here is quite cold - 30's at night and 50's in the day - so we would like to get things wrapped up and head for slightly warmer climes.  Also we are looking forward to seeing Bill (KI4MMZ) in Flagler Beach.  You may remember that Bill is our voice on shore radio link when we travel offshore.  We have a couple of days of projects and then we will be looking for a weather window.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving and Flying

One problem with blogging is that one does not want to disclose one's location if it leaves one's property exposed.  (That sure was a lot of "one's.")  In the instant case I have been in Chicago recovering from heart surgery while Reboot is in North Carolina.  That is, I was in Chicago.  The problem of course is exposing the fact that Reboot, although locked and alarmed, does not have someone on board all of the time. It seems to me to be an invitation to theft.

I had originally planned to visit Trevor and Spencer for Thanksgiving.  For the past three years they have prepared Thanksgiving Dinner for themselves.  Since they only cook one day per year the first two years were quite the events.  Having heard such great stories I decided that I had to attend this year's festivities.  When I made the decision to fly up at the beginning of November to have my heart checked out I expected that I would be long gone before Thanksgiving. Little did I know that I was moving onto Trevor's couch for the month of November.

Thanksgiving was great.  I was sticker shocked by the cost of a turkey.  Some of this may have been that all the small ones had been purchased so we ended up paying $50 for our turkey.  Since there were only three of us we limited the sides - nothing green - no shrimp or cheese platter before hand.  This was actually pretty good since the cardiologist has reinforced keeping a healthy diet.  The boys did all the cooking and - would you believe - it all came out at the same time!  Wow - I don't know that I could have done that but they did.

I brought XO with me as I didn't know how long I was going to be in Chicago.  Since the airlines now charge $200 per round trip for him on top of my fare and I have to return to Chicago a couple of times over the next couple of months XO is now staying with Trevor.  What a rip off.  $100 per trip, the animal is your carry on baggage - that is it counts for your carry on bag so most people then have to pay to check the bag that would be their carry on bag.  I could understand a charge if the animal was traveling as baggage but they are in a carrier under your feet (and for me there is no legroom anyway.)  What a massive rip off.  XO is at least happy.  With Spencer here for Thanksgiving he had three grown men (and Baiyu) holding him, petting him and playing with him all day and most of the night.  He is quite content.

I will be meeting up with Claudia and Ed (Door into Summer) and we will start heading South in the next few days.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Surprise Visit

It all started with an abnormal EKG.

How to scare the hell out of yourself. Go in to the hospital for a heart catheterization, have the cardiologist tell you that he almost called in the cardiothoraic surgeon. That is the guy (girl) that opens your chest up with a can opener to work on your heart. And yes, one of the arteries that was badly blocked is know in the trade as the "widow maker." The good news is that I don't have anyone to leave a widow (though I am shopping!) but I have two sons I don't want to stop enjoying. I guess not painting the bottom of Reboot by myself was a good move. I will stay in Chicago/Madison/Milwaukee for a couple of more weeks to heal, the down to pick up Reboot and head for Key West.

Fair winds and following seas

Friday, November 11, 2011

On the dole

Today is my 65th birthday so I am officially on the government dole - Social Security and Medicare.  Work hard all you young people to keep my life funded.  LOL

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cruiser's Health

One unfortunate fact about many cruisers is that we are old - most of us have worked a career and raised our families and then upon retirement moved on to our boats.  This means that like many "old people" health issues tend to muck up our plans.

After returning Reboot to the New Bern Grand Marina XO and I flew up to Chicago to visit Trevor and Spencer and for me to sort out some problems I have been having, in particular a irregular EKG, a very deep cough, and minor chest pain.  The long and short of the story is that I am now on antibiotics for the chest cough, have had another irregular EKG, and am scheduled for a stress test and a follow up visit with my internist next week.  My plan is to stay here until I get this all sorted out and then return to transit Reboot to Florida - probably Key West for a while this winter.

The good news: XO is having a great time running all over Trevor's apartment.  It is a much larger space than Reboot.   He also fooled both of us in finding a toy mouse that we had purchased for him to play with when I was up for Spencer's graduation in the late Spring.  Trevor and I also took in Puss in Boots.  It was fun but not as much as Shrek.

Bock Marine #5

Reboot's "availability" in the yard is over.  She spent a night in the slings so that the bottom of the keel could be painted with Interlux Micron 66 and it had time to dry before launch.  We put her back in the water and I left in the mid-morning to take advantage of a favorable current up Adams Creek.  Reboot  is back at the New Bern Grand Marina in New Bern.

One of the most frequently asked questions on cruising web sites is the cost of cruising.  This "availability" cost about $4,500 US.  The breakdown was:

  • $500 Haul, power wash, block on jack stands, daily rent, re-launch.
  • $2,500 Clean, and sand the bottom down to the barrier coat, apply two coats of Interlux Micron 66.  This could have been much cheaper if (a) I had used a much less expensive bottom paint and/or (b) I had done most of the work myself rather than letting the yard do it.  More on that decision below.
  • $500 Repair several gouges in the external fiberglass.  I was going to do this work myself.  I am glad that I contracted it out.  It is very easy to fill the holes and scrapes.  What is hard (and beyond my skill level) is to finish the surface so that it looks like there was no damage in the first place.
  • $500 Build a protective enclosure around the autopilot steering ram.  I have been hesitant to put much in the stern lockers for fear that something would shift and jam the steering ram.  The enclosure will make it possible to store a lot more stuff in the stern lockers.
  • $500 Remove the fixed prop, clean, lubricate, and install the Max-prop. 
I have rounded all of these numbers.  They include the costs of materials and labor.  We did some other minor things the cost for which I just added to the above.

I decided to let the yard do almost all of the work.  My decision was based in the fact that I was having terrible bronchitis and was concerned about chest pain.  I did not want to over strain myself and end up having a heart attack.  If I had contributed "sweat equity" my guess is the cost would have been about $3,000, the high cost almost entirely driven by the cost of the Interlux Micron 66.  This stuff better work real well!

Fair winds and following seas.