Sunday, March 31, 2013

Doing Stuff

 I decided that it was about time I let you know that I am NOT just along for the ride!  You probably wonder "what in the heck does that woman do all day" ???

Since I am not allowed to help with most projects, anyone who knows the captain of this ship knows that he is very particular in how things are done, hence he prefers doing them himself.  Which is fine by me especially when it comes to toilets and other 'stinky' stuff.  Although I do always offer, and I shouldn't probably say this, but since he doesn't read the blog he won't know ..shhhh....

I offer on the yucky stuff because I KNOW he will not take me up on it!

Anyway, ...I DO do stuff...lots of it.

I give blood..Keys Style
I received a cute bow wrap and an awesome Sea Turtle T-shirt by a local artist.

I do Yoga.

But I think Ozzie the yoga leaders dog does a much better
'Downward Dog'  than I do!!!!

I bail the dinghy

Making pine needle baskets with my friend Elaine 
aboard  ' Elle & I'

Not to mention the usual 'domestic engineer' stuff.  I once mentioned to Gary it would be nice if he'd show an interest in cooking.  I'll NEVER do that again.  He said he'd be glad to if I wanted to take over fixing the toilets....we all know that would be a very bad decision!l  
Leave it to the experts I say.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Captain Jack

Captain Jack
As this picture was being taken he told the camera man  "don't hurry"......

You meet so many interesting people in the boating community.  Some young, some not so young, some with small children, many with animals and one in particular who is a bit of a fixture at Boot Key Harbor.

Captain Jack, is 91 years young.  He loves to give the ladies a Hibiscus flower and you can watch him walk around with the flower trying to decide who he will bestow it upon that day.  Some days you may be lucky and he'll give out two or even three which gives you a much better chance of being one of the favored ones that day.  Actually I don't know how he decides but I have been lucky enough to receive three during my time here.

He told me his story one day.  He arrived here in 1956. He was alone and broke sailing his sailboat up the keys, when he got caught in a terrible storm in the Atlantic.  He threw the anchor over the side on the Sombrero Reef and sat it out during a very frightening night.  He woke up the next day to a beautiful calm day only to find that his rudder had broken off during the storm and he was stranded on the reef.  Someone finally towed him into Boot Key Harbor. Knowing he would have to make some money to stay he started weaving and selling palm leaf hats.  He asked how much I thought he sold them for and then smiled and said $5.00, then he asked how much I thought they'd go for today and he again smiled and said $5.00.  Talk about inflation!!!!

He obviously did well enough with the hats to begin a life in Marathon.  He worked here, and for a while at a Miami boat yard, had a boat here, owned a home for a while and five years ago he bought his current boat and resides on the wall at Marathon City Marina. 

He walks the grounds every day, and rides his bike to the store for groceries just like all the other cruisers although he did complain a little about the 'darned wind' making that ride difficult (since none of us are as steady as we used to be). We were commiserating over the need to pull out those jeans when shorts are the normal attire, but he as they say "goes with the flow".  
Known, by all who use the facilities at the harbor by sight and by the very lucky, personally, he is a treasure and with 91 years of 'experience' very interesting to get to know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Comment Winner From Last Post

 In my last post I asked that you leave a comment as to what a big HOORAY meant.  The answer....we found the source of our  'head' ...nautical term for bathroom for you landlubbers...odors. My niece Lindsay solved the puzzle! Yea Lindz.
It ends up that the toilet was not the culprit at all and yes I have apologized to it profusely for falsely accusing it.  There is a piece of equipment in a boat called a shower sump which collects 'grey' water from the shower.
This is the new sump the white and blue 'float' is what hung up on the old one.  It was pretty nasty too so no pictures to assault your eyes.

Since we are in a harbor where we have access to land showers we do not shower on the boat. This is a big water saver and allows us to survive for 2+  weeks on 240 gallons of water and saves us from having to go up to the water dock to fill up with water.  But before we got here we did shower on the boat.  SO, anyway, our shower sump was of course ancient and Gary totally remembers me saying it'll do we don't need to spend money on a new one....famous last words!
It seems that the sump which hides under the raised floor in the bilge had a float that was hanging up and the water was overflowing into the bilge.  After taking everything out and apart we found that previous owners had drilled holes for numerous other pumps into the floor which is over the keel.   WELL.....the keel is full of some sort of stuff that reacted in a nauseously odorous manner with that sump water and voilĂ   we are transported to the land of super stink.
Once again, Gary gets the good job....although I always offer :-).........after 2 days of sucking yucky water up with a shop vac he filled the screw holes with silicone and put screws in them to seal them up.

The problem......Screw holes above hose 

Screwing new screws in silicone filled holes

Covering the holes with marine sealant

Finished job all hooked for the test
In a previous post I had said all you would hear from me when we solved it was a big HOORAY....obviously Jill and Lindsay were paying attention!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013


It is finished!!!  Yes our exploration into solar power has ended (for now) with two 215 watt solar panels that are installed and operational and solar cranking machines!  Top amperage coming in so far was almost case you wondered this is FABULOUS....we even were able to watch a movie without the generator running....and this was with power stored up in the batteries from the solar panels.  Before if we wanted to watch a movie we had to be plugged in at the dock or running the generator and we couldn't even hear the dialog of the movie....we gave up on that after one try.
Of course the installation did not go smoothly, you know the saying "The life of Riley", well from here on in there should be a new saying "the life of Merrill", because if it should be easy it isn't going to be for us.  

Gary painstakingly measured and built a mock up support out of plywood and took a drawing to the fabricator (they frown on having to come out to the boat to do measurements, too much like work I think) brought part of it back in the truck for a fitting, went back to the fabricator with some minor angle changes, picked up the finished product, drove it illegally down the highway (with a 3 foot overhang on each side of the truck bed and 3 feet off the back) got it back to the boat (this was the easy part as we had to go up to the dock for water and could just hoist it up onto the top from land) and guess what ........ 

Right, just fell into place.....NOT.

The angles on the cross member were not changed so they had to be beaten into submission (literally)
and the tabs to attach the panels were off .so only half of the solar panel could be "McGiver" Merrill swore a little, cursed his luck and figured it out!  Let's give it up for him!!  He had to drill more holes into the aluminum (with the panels half attached) in 18 mph winds standing on a 2" stainless rail.
Off a little I'd say

Clamping and a hammer did the trick

He assured me this was safe

We didn't know the tabs were wrong at this point you can see the little shadows sticking off the sides 

Our best buddies...the 2x4

Oh,oh...."we've got trouble in River City"

Fixing by feeling.  The little grey spots in the foreground are metal shavings from drilling new holes.

TA DA!!!!!!!      He had the frame built for 3 panels in case we want to add another.  Always thinkin' that guy.            


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Natural #77

As a departure from my usual boat laden posts I just had to blog about my granddaughter Sydney who  started T-Ball this year.  She says her favorite part of the game is "running the bases" ....looks like she is a natural doesn't it??  This was her first game and we are very proud of her !!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Never A Dull Moment

Not only did we have snow this morning but a sailor joined the 'Polar Bear Club'!! 

And we did too have snow....just not in the air but in our freezer which didn't get closed tightly last night (My bad).

But the camera doesn't lie...  this poor couple dropped the ball at 7:30 this morning only to find their boat belching black smoke when put into gear, unresponsive and drifting (pretty quickly as it is very windy this am) into the boat behind them.  Not a good way to start the day!!  
They got tied up to the boat they barely dodged and we heard the captain say he had a badly fouled prop. 

That's when he joined the 'Florida'  polar bear club....cause it is in' the 50's this morning and as I said a pretty nippy North wind chill factor.  It took him about 15 minutes in the water but he did get the boat moving .....up to the dock....where I guess he can tackle his problem of the day!

As for us, our problem of the day, as in many other days, is sanitation. Even all new lines and a brand new holding tank didn't solve that issue....when it does finally happen all you will hear on this end is a big HOORAY.

And you thought boating was all fun in the sun...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Key West...A Dog's Tale

I don't know if I'm up to going there again...Rooster's everywhere...and the way they chased the cats around I don't think I'm up to it.  Luckily they did NOT make me pose with a Rooster.  (Probably because Jann is afraid of them)...but they did take me on their bar hop and thought it was quite cute to make me pose with a beer....never touch the stuff....the best part was the Southernmost Point, except for all the people waiting for their photo op, we kind of snuck in the side, who cares if there are other people in the picture anyway....that's life isn't it? 
Aunt Meredith seemed quite taken with me, so I was on my best behavior, although at times I think she talked to me too. 
Well, anyway, it was nice to get a day off of the boat and seriously,  these people need to get a real dog!!

Gee whiz...does this mean only 1 stop??
Note the tail wagging....
use your imagination folks

When in Rome.....

It was a hike...well actually I traveled with my head hanging out of someone's purse  (I won't mention names)....but worth it.  Bet I'm the only boat dog here today who got to ride in a purse, and guzzle beer....although I did see a Maltese riding in a stroller...

Are they crazy or am I real???

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ten Days

Full moon sunset at the Sunset Grille with the
Seven Mile Bridge in the background.

I just realized it has been eleven days since my last post.  Time sure flies when you're having fun and have we ever had fun!  Mere arrived two days after Cory and Jess left.  We then embarked on 7 days of fun in the sun.  The weather warmed right up to the 80's and the sun refused to be hidden by the clouds until the day she left.  Since she had never been to the keys it was fun taking her to places we had been and seeing many new places with her.  That is the joy of having a vehicle here, you can see way more if your traveling isn't dictated by your ability to pedal!

In Key West we started our search for a parking space....that took a lot of driving around really narrow streets in a really big truck...we finally opted for a pay for the day lot near the Harbor.  We did the usual bar hopping because a trip to Key West with a 'newbie' isn't complete without that.
We started at Schooner Wharf where we were regaled with some really bad music, then we went to Irish Kevin's where the entertainment there was terrific. 

 We walked the entire length of Duval which is the main drag  to the Southernnost Point loaded with tourist traps bars and restaurants.....tres' Key West.


Meredith got to see the Roosters which had multiplied ten fold since the previous weekend,( I guess they like the warm weather better too)   Since Mallory Square and the big sunset (fiasco) was way too crowded for us we opted for the happy hour at Alonzo's Oyster Bar at the harbor where we got our first taste of Conch Ceviche (pronounced sa vee chey)......WOW  it was fabulous.  Raw conch marinated in lime juice and peppers, Delicious!! Then we decided we were full, tired and ready to call it a day!!

Back in Marathon we went to Bahia Honda State Park where dummy here forgot her camera.  On Sunday we took the boat out seven miles into the Atlantic and saw a huge Loggerhead Turtle and the Sombrero Reef Tower with boats enjoying a day of snorkeling.

Sombrero Reef Light 4 miles off of the West end of Vaca Key (Marathon).  They have mooring balls as you are not allowed to anchor near the reef.  Great snorkeling we hear.

Fresh Mahi (Dolphin Fish, not the Mammal) ready to go on the grill....yummm

Juvenile Manatee near the dinghy dock at Boot Key Harbor

So as you can see we ran her ragged, but the end result was worth the effort.
I think she had a good time...and will be back