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!