Monday, September 23, 2013

Negative Feedback

I have started my research about the San Blas Islands and transiting the Panama Canal. It has been quite an eye opener.


First, the fee for transit is now $1,000 US. The days when “little boats” could transit for a couple of hundred dollars are long gone. But what is more troubling is the web feedback. It can be summarized as follows:


  • Crime is rampant both on land and on the water
  • You don’t want to cruise without the company of other boats
  • The marinas are very expensive
  • The marinas are dirty, unfriendly, and in general undesirable.
  • The weather is terrible


Reading the web feedback one wonders why anyone would choose to go to the San Blas or Panama. Obviously lots of people do this trip. This brings to mind one of the major problems of the Internet – negative experiences are highlighted while positive experiences are overlooked. One remembers the posts of the two or three boats that had problems rather than the hundreds for whom a transit was uneventful.


More research to follow.


Fair winds and following seas.




Sunday, September 8, 2013

Internet Void

For some reason none of the restaurants in New Bern have WiFi. The Hilton (now Doubletree) does have WiFi but now they charge for its use. On the other hand Wendys, Hardies, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Burger King all have free WiFi. Go figure.


I had a number of errands to run so I rented a car from Enterprise on the weekend special. With the military discount it is only costing me $19 per day plus gas. As I was filling out the rental agreement I all of a sudden realized that I no longer have automobile insurance since I gave my car to Spencer. I called USAA. They told me that if I used my American Express or World MasterCard that I would be covered. Of course I had used neither card. So back to Enterprise to change the contract.


It has started to cool off in the evenings. When I go to sleep it is still warm but the last two nights I have woken up cold in the early morning. XO has taken to being a big warm fur ball under my chin. It is very nice. For some reason he has also become much more demanding. Each time I lie down to read or watch a movie he climbs up on my chest and hunkers down purring lake mad. I run the fans at night to keep the mosquitoes at bay. It is very wet here so we have quite a population. If would be nice if we could get a hard freeze to kill then all.


Today my dock neighbor Randy asked me for help with his GPS. He had moved his boat from the Chesapeake Bay where it worked perfectly. Several people on the dock suggested that it was an older unit and needed to be replaced. I said, just leave it on for the next 24 hours and I bet that it will work. Sure enough, after about 6 hours of searching for satellite it found one, updated the date and time, downloaded the almanac, and switched into 3D mode. Another satisfied customer.


Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jib up

This morning I took advantage of the relatively cool weather to put the jib back on the furler. It gives you real respect for the round the world alone crowd who do jib changes rather than furling a jib. Putting up a jib by oneself is quite a project. Flake out the jib, walk to the winch, crank till tight, rinse, repeat. Eventually it gets up all of the way. Of course I did not mark the furler sheet so I spent a good half hour getting the correct number of turns on the drum. In accordance with the “50 - 50 - 90 rule” the first time I spun the jib up on the furler I spun it the wrong way.


I also spent some time making sure that my re-bedding of the water fill was working. The compartment that was flooding is filled with electrical tools, not a good thing to get wet. I also laid down a good layer of bug kill. Until I went to the Caribbean I have never had any problem with bugs. Ever since I have been fighting to get rid of all the little things that have taken up residence. What is a bit ironic is that now I have spider webs on the boat in the mornings. I need to get Lori back on the boat to identify the little things for me.


Sopping wet – it is so hot that each day my T-shirt is ringing wet when I come in off the deck. I can not remember a time when I sweat so profusely.


Fair winds and following seas.


P.S. “50 - 50 - 90 rule”: If you have a 50 percent chance of being right and a 50 percent chance of being wrong 90 percent of the time you will be wrong.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gift to the sea gods

It is a sad fact of life that every once in a while one makes a donation to the sea gods. Today I was trying to put the jib back on the furler when I dropped a shackle in the water. I did not have the necessary rum to properly bless the donation. It remains to be seen if the gods will grant me good sailing as a result. To add to my frustration I asked a friend to drive me to West Marine so I could pick up a replacement. This is a 45 minute round trip as Fairfield Harbor is on the other side of the Neuse and Trent rivers from the New Bern shopping area. We arrived to discover that the staff at West Marine could not find the one shackle the computer said was in stock. They ordered me a shackle and it will be in on Friday. At least it is only a $14.part.


It continues to be very hot here – by 90 degrees at 11 AM in the morning. I have been trying to dry out several of the sheets. The ends have worn from use and I want to cut them back a foot or two. Since we keep getting afternoon and evening thunderstorms everything remains too wet.


The rain has made it possible for me to find the remaining water leaks around the windows. The frames seem to be sealed; now the leaks are around the rubber seals of the windows. I am considering sealing them permanently. I open them quite rarely and the water leaks are a royal pain.


Fair winds and following seas.

CRT Burn

Back in the days of Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT’s) a major concern was CRT burn. When a static or near static image was displayed on a CRT for a long time the phosphors would burn off leaving a ghost of the image imprinted on the display. The only way to repair the damage was to replace the cathode ray tube itself. That was a very expensive proposition. I leave my chart plotter (actually multifunction display) on almost all of the time. It serves as my alarm clock, severe weather alert, and channel selector for the XM radio on board. In proof of the truth that old ideas die hard one morning I woke up and said to myself: “OMG I am burning a hole in the multifunction display as the chart of Fairfield Harbor never moves!” It took a couple of minutes to remember that LCD displays can’t burn. Lots of laughs.


Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sopping Wet

Yesterday I finished re-bedding the windows on the starboard side just before the rains came. I then unloaded the storage spaces under the main cabin settee. I found water under one seat but was not concerned. I presumed that it had drained down from the leaking windows. I left it open to dry out. Imagine my surprise when this morning it had water again. Investigation revealed that the water was coming from around the deck fill for the port side water tank. In normal boat fashion I had to disassemble part of the kitchen cabinets to get to the hose clamp for the deck fill. The fitting was mounted on the nonskid so cleaning up the old caulk took extra time. But what the heck, it is only 94 degrees outside. It must be 100 in the boat.


Thanks to Tim I have a borrowed “carry on” 5000 BTU air conditioner. This keeps the forward stateroom cool. It has made a big difference in sleeping. During the day there is a real temptation to stop working and go “chill” in the cabin. By noon every day the temperature is in the 90’s. Walking on the deck barefoot is impossible without burning your feet. Tools left out in the sun get hot enough to burn your hands when picked up. This is not an environment conducive to working hard all day.


Maury (Gypsysails) and I go to coffee with a group of men from Fairfield Village each morning from 6 AM to 7 AM. It is great as it gets me out of bed and the day started. Most of the coffee group is sailors so the conversation frequently takes a turn to people and ports. It is a lot of fun. Today after coffee Maury and I picked up my main and jib from his home. He had stored it for me while the boat was at Sailcraft so I would not be tripping over sail bags all day. I came back to Reboot only to have the heavens open so the sails are still in the bags. The good news was the rainstorm helped me figure out that it was the deck fill that was leaking. The bad news is I now have wet sail bags to trip over. I did unpack the stack pack and put it up in a lull in the weather. It is back from being repaired at Neil Pryde. The jib was also repaired so I want a nice day to go over the repairs before I hoist it again.


I am feeling the wanderlust from being tied to a dock for too long. I am thinking of taking Reboot down to the Outer Banks for a couple of days just to get away from the dock. Unfortunately the hot weather continues to spawn violent afternoon thunderstorms. I will take a pass on sailing in them.


Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, September 2, 2013

An easy fix?

Today I got motivated to get some repairs done. It has been pretty hot in the afternoons and I have been lazy in the mornings. This morning I was also pretty lazy. Around noon, after it got to 88 degrees, I said this is ridiculous, I need to start working.


After fixing the leaking windows my second highest priority was to get the hot water heater working. Trying to bathe, clean dishes, and so forth with no hot water is a pain in the neck. Of course one can boil water on the stove. That is no where near convenient. After crawling into the engine compartment and over the water heater I removed the cover for the heater element. Much to my surprise I found a circuit breaker that was tripped. I reset it and so far it appears that I once again have hot water. To celebrate I have been washing all the dishes, pots and pans in hot soapy water. Yes, we cruisers are a little crazy.


I emptied out the stern locker so it could dry and air. Other than the hard working of dragging everything out and putting it on deck it was not a big task. I did find a few things that will go to the dumpster. Someone had also decided to store an umbrella at the bottom of the locker; just the place for a quick grab when it starts to rain.


The windows are waiting for it to cool of a bit before I put them back in. I have been letting the frames dry in the sun. Actually I have been procrastinating as sealing them is a messy job. But as the famous joke remarks “tonight’s the night!”


Yesterday a local friend – Wes – and I went out for a beer or two to chat and catch up. The bar is one I have been to a couple of times with Tim so some of the patrons were familiar. Some I had not met before. Once again I am amazed at the lack of interest in the cruising life style. I was introduced to two women by a mutual acquaintance. One of the women remarked that I was quite tan. I responded “I live on a sailboat.” She said “that’s nice” and changed the topic. It this was a rare event I would not have commented in my blog. But what is quite rare is anyone saying “Really, that sounds cool, tell me more about it.” After a couple of minutes of questioning the ladies as to their occupations and background I moved on. I guess that if I had a smart phone I could have looked them up on Facebook and we could have avoided the conversation completely. I did get to play some pinball and Wes and I had a good time.


Fair winds and following seas.