Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shake Up Cruise (Day5) Animal Planet



The main concern I had for our current anchorage was the snob factor involved when dropping the hook in a small waterway where the shoreline consists of estates vying shoulder to shoulder with each other and nothing more than shrubbery discretely keeps them from peering into each other's windows. What I mean is; these people pay god knows what in property taxes and flood insurance in order to enjoy the view and bragging rights, and then people like us have the nerve to anchor for nothing in said water.

I'm more sensitive to this since I'll never forget the time we dared to anchor in Sunset Lake in Miami and made poor Fred K's life a living hell the whole few days we were there. And from what I've read, things have really escalated cruiser wise in Sunset Lake and Fred has spent quite a chunk of change with all kinds of devices intended to keep filthy cruisers out. In my opinion he will always be an ass.


After we managed to get into our little anchorage here without running aground we took a small dinghy tour and found out quite quickly that there are no dinghy docks as this is very restricted and residential. If you need to get to a store you'd better anchor elsewhere.

But we were all set with everything and really just wanted to relax.

Now, something I noticed here that I've picked up in other areas of what I'll call considerable wealth is this; the only people we ever see are the hired staff. Today all we saw were yard workers and pool cleaners. All those lovely patio sets and swimming pools sat completely unused. The only thing that was utilized today was the home alarm system in one of the houses on shore that's been going off for most of the day. Quite frankly, these particular filthy cruisers are finding it to be quite offensive and it upset an otherwise idyllic day. For shame!


After we dropped our anchor we noticed a huge bird nest in the mangroves behind us but since it appeared to be vacant we forgot about it until we saw a hawk flying over us several times. I laughed and stated that the Knotty Cat might be a bit more than than it could handle and then we heard a lot of insistent high pitched screeching bird noises. Sitting in what we had thought was an empty nest was obviously a mama hawk, and daddy hawk was apparently late bringing home dinner.

Mama is none too happy in her nest (sorry, bad picture)

Mama Hawk screaming from her nest: "Where the hell are you, you bastard? You said you'd be right back and these kids are hungry!"

Daddy Hawk (whom we'd witnessed dawdling about for quite some time) yelling back from the piling of the house in front of us: "A guy can't even smoke a cigarette fer Christ's sake, give me a break!"

Mama Hawk: "I know you're out there! You'd better not be screwing around with that whore in the next tree over!" (Right about then Mama Bird's Boy Toy dropped in for a visit)

Daddy Hawk obviously pecking at a delicious morsel of fish trapped between his talons that he just caught: "Shut up already! When I catch something I'll bring it home to you and the brats!"

Mama Hawk (after telling her boy toy he needs to get the hell out of the nest before her deadbeat husband returns): "Tell that to my lawyer!"

And then with a lot of screeching and screaming, Daddy Hawk arrived home with the remainder of his juicy catch just after Boy Toy took off and headed on over to the ever popular whore's nest.

As far as I know everyone lived happily ever after.


We were also visited several times by three dolphins. It's so quiet here we could hear them coming up for air all around our boat. Wilbur was fascinated as always and stood stock still as he watched them.

After our little dinghy trip around the area Hans took some pictures of the Knotty Cat


I needed to add this. Our mooring at Marina Jack's from the previous night. Typical Florida weather system.


From stern...

... to stem.

This is what we wake to on a daily basis in our berth.

Needless to say this has been the quietest anchorage we've ever experienced and the water was completely flat once the sun set. All the lights of the houses came on and we still never saw any people and no one asked us to leave. We aren't going to wear out our welcome though and will be leaving this afternoon.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shake Up Cruise (Day 3 &4)


With a storm rushing in this guy was trying to get home fast


Holiday weekends.

I guess I've been out of touch for too long and forgot how much I hate them.

But thanks to the past couple of days, I've been brought back up to speed (speed being the operative word here).

First of all, I had Day 3's post all ready to go when BAM! I deleted it. So now I'm back to sqaure one so I'll just combine two days into one and call it a day.

We spent a full day on Monday motoring down the gulf because there was no wind. That didn't stop Hans from putting up our brand new main because when you have a brand new main you're itching to use it. We're very fortunate to have an electric winch and all I have to do is push a button while Hans stands by the boom and guides the sail up the mast.

Should be easy.

But when Hans had difficulty threading the halyard's shackle through the too small loop at the top of the sail he let go of the boom and TIMBAH!!!! I've know Hans long enough to recognize when he's losing his balance and heaven help you you better get out of the way. Down he went but luckily he was able to pivot a bit and instead of falling off the starboard side of the boat and doing god knows what to himself, he ended up sliding down the dodger's windshield where his butt landed right on the cleats that control the halyard and furling lines and directly in front of my face thus giving me a full and entertaining view of a very large plumber's crack. From now on I don't care how overly cautious it appears, he's going to wear his life vest when hoisting the main (and perhaps a belt).

We exited the gulf and went into the Longboat Key pass. Of course it wasn't until we were finally anchored later on that I read you should only use this passage with local knowledge as it's greatly shoaled. No kidding! We saw depths of under 2 feet and we're pretty sure we scraped bottom at one point. Once we got through the bridge after fighting a very strong 2 knot current and literally weaving our way through fishing boats that insisted on motoring just feet from our bow we emerged onto one of the strangest scenes ever. It was like something out of an Ira Levin book (This Perfect Day meets Rosmary's Baby). Every kind of power boat imaginable were jockeying and jostling for position with people, kids, dogs and whatnot, crawling on and off and over and around like starving ants at a picnic. We hooked a left turn and got out of there as fast as the Knotty Cat could go.

Motoring through the Intracoastal to our anchorage meant zigzagging for about 15 miles through all the wake created while once again every idiot with a motor boat had to see how fast they could blast past us. Add to that all the jet skis buzzing us like angry wasps, needless to say we were very happy to get to our anchorage.

A lot of wind and rain cooled things down

We ended up with a late afternoon storm on Monday night. Our anchor held nicely through 27 knot winds, and Windy our generator was in heaven pumping up to 15 amps into our batteries. We did start our engines though 'just in case' since this was a new anchorage for us, and Wilbur sat very quietly through the whole thing.


Tuesday was a much quieter day as most of the motor heads must have gone back to work. We headed into Marina Jacks in Sarasota and picked up a mooring for the night. We put the dinghy in the water with minimal drama and the only casualty was a boat hook that we dropped but luckily it floats and we got it back. We ended up eating dinner at O'Leary's which is pet friendly and Wilbur enjoyed attention from many fans and was rewarded with his own water bowl and salty sticks (french fries).

Of course another storm was brewing so we finished up quickly and took off in the dinghy back to the boat. Just in time too, because the skies opened up and we could barely see the boats beside us.


So after a pleasantly cool night we will be leaving the mooring and heading to another anchorage just a short distance away. It's actually in a tiny body of water surrounded by huge 'estates'.

Why do I wonder what they're going to think of the Knotty Cat dirtying the view. I'll let you know.

So far this has been a very memorable Memorial Day Weekend.


This is Wilbur's favorite perch while underway. That's the captain's cooler and it's full of ice. It makes a comfy spot for a hot pitty.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Shake Up Cruise (Day Two)


Wilbur doesn't care what you do to him as long as he has contact with his peeps. Here, Hans sports his bloody lip from Sunday's adventure.


Why Hans doesn't just bitch slap me I'll never know. I'm pretty sure if we lived in a dog's world I'd be the irritating ankle biter and Hans would be the wise old Collie.

After our dinghy fiasco of 'Day One' we were sitting in the cockpit discussing our cruising plan for the following days when the wind kicked up. We looked up at the sky and admired all the different kinds of clouds and also noted some lightning off in the distance. Thunder started rumbling and Hans mentioned that perhaps we should roll up our solar panels. I disagreed and felt that they could be anchored down by the remnants of our sun pad (the main pad had abandoned us in the Chesapeake years ago thus proving as I've said before that inanimate objects are smarter than people). Hans, and this time he used his Captains voice, said once again that the solar panels needed to be stowed away. I continued to argue and insisted that we needed them to catch the early morning rays of the sun and insinuated that he was being overly cautious and petty.

It was when I was flinging and huffing my way to the bow in order to roll and stow those stupid (and not cheap) solar panels away, that a huge gust of wind picked one of them up and tossed it overboard.

I nearly choked and ran like a scalded dog (okay, scalded ankle biter) in hopes of catching it. I am one lucky pup because just a few months ago we had to have the connections to the panels replaced and these new ones are very secure. If we'd had the old ones, that panel would have been history. It fell into the water wiggling like an eel but thanks to that sturdy connection I was able to drag it back into the boat. I immediately rolled it and its partner up in a heart beat and slammed them into a locker.

Here are our portable solar panels. It doesn't take much wind to cause a problem


The new connections we had installed are what saved my butt!

Hans, being the nice person (or Collie) that he is, did not give me a hard time and don't think I'm not grateful; I gave him a huge kiss (avoiding the scabs left behind from Wilbur's rescue attempts on Day One) and let him mix me a Wilbur Wow-Wow.

Actually, today after a full day of motoring (the wind didn't kick in until after we anchored, go figure) I told him I needed to update the blog and was desirous, yet once again, of a Wilbur Wow-Wow.

My wish was his command.

Never, ever, underestimate an ankle biter!


Wilbur is stuck with us. The poor thing wonders what the hell we have planned next.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shake Up Cruise (Day One)


At least one good moment


Hans finally managed to get a week of vacation and we decided to use it and take a small cruise down towards Caya Costa. We haven't gone away on the boat for more than a weekend since Thanksgiving of 2012 which I fondly recall as 'The Turkey Tour'. This trip is going to be remembered as the Shake Up Cruise (we've already experienced a couple of shake down cruises, this one is just shaking me up).

And just like the Turkey Tour where we managed to run aground within the first few miles and Hans broke a tooth, we've already had our first brush with excitement at our anchorage just around the corner from our marina. We had been sitting here on the hook for just a couple of hours and I thought I should write something on our blog to commemorate our first day of vacation but what's to write about sitting in an achorage you've sat in a bazillion times before?

And then honest to god, I'd just fired up my iPad when I heard Hans say, "What the hell?" I looked up and noticed a dinghy floating a few feet behind us and stupidly asked, "Why isn't there anyone in that dinghy?" And then I realized it was ours. Our painter had simply come apart in the middle and and the dinghy was bobbing away from us in a very jaunty see you later kinda way.

Everything happened at once; Hans jumped into his swimsuit, I opened the lazarette and dug around for his flippers, and Wilbur got in everyone's way. At first it appeared the dinghy was right behind us and not moving but in that minute or so of scrambling around it had drifted quite far from our stern. Hans leaped off the boat and took off swimming. And wouldn't you know it, Wilbur scrambled down the steps and only paused for a moment before he did his best Underdog impression and took a great dramatic leap into the water. Hans couldn't hear me yelling to him and found out the hard way that Wilbur had followed him when great big pitty paws raked down his back. I grabbed my camera and got a couple of quick videos but I had to put it down because things weren't going well.

Hans had to keep fending Wilbur off and then he had to turn around and swim back toward the boat in order to get Wilbur to come back to me. While I was yanking the dog back onto the boat I had to point Hans in the direction of where one of his flippers was floating because of course it fell off during his fracas with Wilbur. By now the dinghy was almost a distant memory and I could barely see it on the horizon where it was heading toward the eastern shore as there was apparently some kind of dinghy party it was late getting to. Now I was starting to worry about sharks (I always worry about sharks) and Hans was getting harder for me to see. I shot down below and turned on the instruments in case I was going to need to broadcast our location and when I came back up my heart jumped into my throat when I didn't see Hans. It took a moment but I spotted that bald head and he was still no where close to the dinghy. My heart jumped again when he turned around and waved his hands over his head in what I thought was a distress signal. I was about to grab the radio but I could see he was making good progress back to the Knotty Cat and soon he was back aboard. I forgot about the dinghy for a minute when I saw Hans' lip bleeding and his chest and back covered in bloody welts thanks to Wilbur's lifesaving efforts. If I'd been worried about sharks before... As for his arm waving, Hans was trying to tell me he couldn't see the dinghy and was trying get me to point it out. I'm just as glad I didn't know what he wanted because he was never going to get there on his own, and even if he did the current was so strong I don't know how he could have rowed back.

Wilbur was frantic and screaming up a storm while Hans was in the water and I had to tie him up to keep him from jumping back in


While getting the anchor up I managed to keep an eye on the dinghy and by now it was nearly on shore but still in water deep enough for us to manage. We were pretty close when a sailboat motored right past, snagged it for us and then shoved it to us as they went by. I caught it with a boat hook and secured it to the stern. Needless to say when we re-anchored that sucker got trussed up tighter than its ever been.


After his lip stopped bleeding


What a mess


By the time things settled down the boat was filthy. Wilbur shook salty dog hair everywhere, for some reason the floor of the cockpit was covered in muddy water, and all the stuff that I'd yanked from the lazarette was tossed everywhere.

When we finally got everthing squared away Hans stated, "Well, this was day one and we're only a couple of miles into this journey, what do you suppose will happen tomorrow?"

He probably shouldn't have asked that.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Still Loving Maine


I've always felt like I march to a different drummer and this trip to one of the northernmost points of the lower 48 states just confirms that.

Normally during travel and upon the first day or so at our destination, I experience a small feeling of nostalgia for 'home'. When we landed here in Maine I felt no such thing. Actually I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I'm loving it here and walking along the shore makes me feel very Ghost and Mrs. Muirish. Now, I realize there's no snow on the ground (I mean it's only the middle of May!) but I can't get enough of the tangy and clear cold air. For the last two days, I've walked around downtown Bah Hahbah (Bar Harbor for those who don't get my humor) for hours and never once broke a sweat (even though I was wearing a hoody), my hair didn't stick to my neck, and the sun wasn't boring a hole through my hide. Since moving to Florida nearly three years ago, this kind of experience has become a totally alien to me. I'm not kidding when I say that, in Florida, I go get ice, and dump our garbage based on how sweaty I do or don't want to get. And we're talking about something like a tenth of a mile walk. A trip to Home Depot or West Marine even in an air conditioned vehicle? Once again, it just depends on the heat and humidity of that day. Last week I realized that I hadn't been to the beach in months so I went. But not before I slathered on tons of sunscreen and put on a long sleeved shirt that's supposed to protect you against the sun. I arrived home a hot mess and it isn't even summer yet.

This is the sandbar to Bar Island (in the background). It's accessible during low tide only which gives you about 4 hours to explore. Otherwise you have to wait for the next low tide to get back. No one will go there to get you if you're stupid enough to get stuck.

At the entrance to the sand bar during low tide.

And now during high tide.

Why I love cemeteries, I'll never know, but I find them to be very peaceful. Poor Elmer here died at the age of 15. However, I was very surprised to discover a few plots where the decedents lived well into their 80's. And this was back in the 1800's. Incredible.


Captain Hans will always be a little kid at heart. I still remember the time he drove the Ducky Boat in Pittsburgh.



What a bonus! Every night I open our balcony door for the fresh air and so I can hear the 'tree peeps' . Then I turn on the fireplace. I'm really gonna miss this.



Finding this made our trip complete.

And finally; a few years ago Wilbur made an attempt to show us how smart he was by spelling DOG or maybe GOD with our Scrabble tiles. He managed to nibble the D and the G tiles before we caught him and somewhere along the way an N disappeared. Yesterday I happened upon a quilt fabric store and low and behold they happened to have a bin of letters.

So this trip was obviously a complete success and very worth the purchase of a 55 cent Scrabble tile.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Where in the world are Hans and Laura


So what might that be sitting in our cockpit?

It's our holding tank. And if you eventually end up as our neighbors, I assure you it's not staying there.

We finally decided to get the Knotty Cat hauled out in order to fix the leak she developed a few months ago. We're pretty sure one of the bolts that holds the port side propellor shaft in place has come loose and in order to fix it she needs to be out of the water.


At least it's empty

We also knew we'd better have the starboard bolts checked and that's when I had an 'Oh, shit' moment. I reminded Hans that we'd placed our new holding tank directly over the drive shaft when we installed it behind the starboard engine. I distinctly remember saying at the time that I hoped we'd never have to move it.

Well, guess what.

After disconnecting the hoses that pump into the tank, I covered them with Duct Tape in order to keep odors inside and not out. Peeeeeewww!

This could have been a real deal breaker for me. That's the pump out fitting at the bottom of the tank. I put Duct Tape on it also and thank God it held.

When we had our final pump out before leaving for the boat yard, I asked if we could make sure the tank was totally empty as we might need to move it. Not only did they pump it out they added some fresh water for a rinse and we were goood to go.

Let me add here, also, that we've been told we have the cleanest holding tank in the marina. I was feeling pretty smug about that and stated that we are very careful about what goes into the tank. Maybe someday I'll learn to keep my big mouth shut because this is what I discovered; holding tanks stink, and I don't care if you piss crystal clear filtered water and sh*t gold bricks, holding tanks stink!

We got the boat moved and when we found out the tank would definitely need to be out of the way I got busy and disconnected all the hoses. I immediately taped the openings to the tank and I was very relieved that the hoses themselves were super clean (I've gradually replaced them in the last couple of years) and nothing ran out of them.

Getting the tank out was a lot more trouble than I thought it would be and we had to tip it on its side a couple of times (at one point my face got crushed between the boat and the corner of the tank, ouch!). We finally got it into the cockpit and I insisted on hosing it out since I could see that there was about 2 to 3 inches of liquid sloshing around the bottom. The pump out fitting does not sit flush (I'm loving these play on words that's why I'm underlining them) to the bottom so it's never really totally empty. Like I said before, it's a damn good thing that tape stayed in place.

I grabbed a hose, ran a few inches of water along with some vinegar into the tank, and then tilted the pump out fitting downward to let the water out. Oh, Dear God, the stench! And what the hell was that sludge running out of it? Aha!!! Toilet paper. Gross disgusting semi-dissolved toilet paper of about a years vintage. Well, I hosed and hosed and hosed both the tank and our cockpit, heaving and very nearly throwing up thus almost adding to the mess because like the idiot I am, I forgot to buy a mask. And then to add insult to injury, when I hefted that sucker up on edge (it's a 32 gallon tank) it slipped and smashed down on my bare foot. I think I cried but I'm not sure because I was gagging so hard. Poor Hans felt so bad but I'd told him this was my job and to stay away. He tried to get me to stop but I knew we'd have to get that stinker back in and I wanted it clean.

And clean it is! And it's going to stay that way! I've read tons of boating blogs over the years and I must say I was always a bit disturbed when they mentioned that they don't allow toilet paper to be flushed, it get's thrown away instead. So, after pouring bleach all over the cockpit and scrubbing myself raw hoping to avoid e-coli, I informed Hans that toilet paper has no place in our tank and he agreed. I can't imagine what would have eventually happened had all that crap built up over the years and eventually compromised the pump out fitting at the bottom of the tank.

Let me tell you, if they thought our tank was clean before, they are in for a real treat now!

After the haul out. This is the starboard propeller.

A close up of where we think the leak is on the port side. It's the upper bolt and nut we believe came loose. We hope that's all it is.

So where are we while all this work is being done? The picture below is what I see when I look out our window.


The view inside looking out.


It's a good thing Wilbur isn't with us, there wouldn't be enough pillows to go around.

Pure decadence.

We are in Maine.

It's cold.

I can't begin to describe the spicy, piney smell in the air, but it sure as hell beats head odor.

I love it.