Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fitting Out in Fort Myers

After we arrived in Ft. Myers, it rained for three days.  We then spent some time cleaning and waxing, until the weather turned too hot!  With near record highs in the upper 80s, Jack decided it was time to install bilge pumps in both hulls.  Two trips to West marine and hours of snaking wires and tubes occupied the next couple of days.  The project ended successfully with two new, functioning bilge pumps.

During the second day of the project, the air conditioner could no longer keep the boat cool.  Fellow boaters and the marina recommended air conditioning repairmen, but the idea of paying 65 dollars just for someone to come to the boat, and then 65 dollars an hour to fix it didn't have much appeal.  Finally, we called Mermaid, the manufacturer who happens to be in Fort Myers.  They said to bring it in and they would have a look.  Sounds easy, right?

As you can see, the reverse cycle unit and electric contol box are crammed into this little box.  We had to disconnect the wiring and remove the electrical box first, followed by the unit itself, which barely squeezed through the opening .  The next morning we arrived at Mermaid at 8:30 a.m.  Dave the technician found the coolant leak in no time, and we left the machine in his capable hands.  Two hours later he called to say it was done.  He had also cleaned the raw water system with Actibrite and repainted the unit, which looked brand new. Talk about great service!  We can't say enough good things about Mermaid.  Reinstalling the unit was not too difficult once we figured out how to get it back into the little box, and now it works great.

Our other major project was to replace our standing rigging.  Our friend Captain Joe Hanko does rigging and, after inspecting the rig, stated that we could probably go another year or two; but we wanted to be proactive so that we had confidence in the rig.  The rigging job took longer than anticipated because of supplier issues, but we also learned a lot.

Here Joe is demonstrating how to assemble a Sta-Loc fitting.  The blue head covering is a new look for Joe, whose scalp was sensitive from previous sun exposure.

Joe hauled himself up and down the mast innumerable times with his 4 to 1 ratio block system and climbing harness.  When the last wire was replaced, we tuned the rig.  That too was a great learning experience.

With the rigging job completed, we could bend on the sails.  With the sails out of the way, Sue began to stock the boat in earnest for our impending departure for the Florida Keys!  One of our last jobs was to test the outboard.  Our always reliable two stroke Mercury would not start!  Fortunately, our friend Tom Nelson of North Fort Myers repairs marine engines.  Tom graciously took on the job immediately, and two hours later he had disassembled the carburetor, cleaned the jets, reassembled everything, had her purring like a kitten!  It is great to have friends like Tom and Connie.

Despite the work, we have managed to maintain an active social life too.  We enjoyed several "happy hour" discussions with Dale and Antha Koonce off the PDQ 32 Mongoose Magic before they left to visit their daughter for the holidays.

The marina sponsored a pot luck Christmas party on December 17th that was very well attended.  We hosted a shrimp boil at Craig and Helen Wilson's home in North Fort Myers that was great fun and great eating.  The arrival of John and Brenda from Sudbury, Ontario, aboard the Gemini Catamaran "Some Dream" accelerated the social activities even more. 

John and Brenda know how to have fun.  "Happy Hour" is always a very entertaining event.  We have enjoyed many of those.  John and Brenda took us to dinner on Christmas Eve at Icabod's.  Then we walked past the Edison and Ford estates and their glittering decorations and through a neighborhood where many of the residents place candles in paperbags and thus line the street each Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day the Admiral cooked a turkey breast aboard "Passage", and we enjoyed another fun filled dinner with Brenda and John.

Phil Dolsen, a friend from home who sails "Changes" out of our yacht club on Lake Erie drove down from north of Tampa to spend one afternoon with us.  It was great getting all the news from home. 

We also enjoyed brunch in Punta Gorda with good friends Lee and Betty Booth, who met us half way between Arcadia and Fort Myers.  We savored a fine breakfast at IHOP and then checked out the boats and shops at Fisherman's Village.  It was a beautful day with clear skies and cool temperatures.  Lee and Jack especially shared many laughs after not seeing each other for over a month.

Because we are not quite ready to leave Legacy Harbour Marina, we will miss the current weather window to head for Marathon.  Our next chance looks to be around New Year's Day.  We still have quite a bit of work in order to have Passage ready to cruise.  Hopefully, all of this socializing will not disrupt this scheduled departure.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Prepping Passage

Wednesday the 25th of November brought cloudy skies and rain.  When the rain stopped at about 10 a.m., we scrubbed Passage's decks for five hours before the skies opened up again.  Returning to the Best Western in Clewiston, we showered and walked under the umbrella to Sonny's Open Pit Barbecue for our second straight night of excellent pork.

Thursday morning we celebrated Thanksgiving by finishing the scrubbing of the decks.  As you can see from the before and after photos, Soft Scrub with Bleach does an amazing job when applied with adequate elbow grease.

After lunch I applied the first coat of cleaner wax to one side of a hull while Sue began cleaning the boat's interior.  Two tired sailors then headed back to Clewiston, where we feasted on on overcooked whole chicken from Wal-Mart and went to sleep early.

We drove down the two mile dirt road to the Glades Boat Storage yard on Friday determined to prep the boat to move aboard the next day.  As usual the Florida cows were unimpressed by our passage.

Sue spent most of the day cleaning and organizing the interior while I started the engine, the refrigerator,  checked the drive leg, and applied cleaner wax to the hulls.  By the end of the day we were moving our "stuff" from the car to the boat.

Saturday morning we moved aboard Passage.  The lack of water aboard made living in the "tree house" primitive, but Lucy was relieved.  She hates being put in her cage and traveling in the car.  She settled right in on her settee and was one contented kitty until the temperature dropped to 50 degrees overnight.  To combat the cold she sprinted around the boat with a ball in her mouth, complaining to anyone who would listen.  We pretended not to notice.

Sunday we prepared for the launch by loading the last of our goods aboard and by shopping for food in La Belle.  Then we applied the finish coat of Armada T wax to the hulls, which looked better than ever.  Jack painted the centerboards; and we were ready for launch day, as were our neighbors in the yard, Carl and Margaret aboard "Trust Me", who we will see again in Marathon.

Monday the intrepid , highly professional crew of Proctor, James and John appeared the with travelift.

The usual prelaunch activities occurred.

Passage was launched by about 9:30 a.m.  The water stayed on the outside of the boat, the engine started right up and another winter of living aboard and cruising was underway.  After three miles we passed through the Ortona Lock, which lowered us about 8 feet.

During our twenty eight mile passage, we motored through bridges at La Belle, Ft. DeNaud and Alva.  The bascule bridge at La Belle was fairly commonplace.

There were only a few boats at the free dock in La Belle immediately after the bridge.

The swing bridge at Ft. DeNaud is unique.  The bridge keeper must leave her house and walk out to the middle of the bridge to open her up.  We waited for her, as well as the Australian flagged sailboat we had passed two miles before the bridge.

We arrived at the surprisingly empty Franklin Lock Campground and Marina about 2:30.  We spent the rest of the day sterilizing and rinsing out our water tanks before enjoying a nice porterhouse steak dinner and falling exhaustedly into bed.

On December 1st we stayed put.  We did install our running rigging, but mostly we relaxed and enjoyed the people and scenery at the Franklin lock.

On  windy Wednesday, 12/02/09, we motored for two hours to Legacy Harbour Marina in downtown Fort Myers.  We backed into slip C-10 next to three other Gemini catamarans.

  That evening we enjoyed our first happy hour with Antha and Dale  Koonce of the PDQ 32 catamaran Mongoose Magic.  We discovered that we had met them briefly in Vero Beach in 2006!

We will spend most of December here working on the boat and visiting with friends in the marina and town.  It will be almost a month before we head for the Florida Keys.