Like gazillions of people I like my caffeine fix first thing in the morning when I wake up. Kick starts the day.
It wasn’t always that way. When I was younger, the only thing I liked about coffee was the way the grounds smelled when you opened the can. The product had no appeal to me. Part of it might have been that my dad was a coffee addict. Drank it all day long at the restaurant at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass., out where the forearm of Cape Cod turns northwards in the cold Atlantic Ocean. He took his coffee with cream and sugar but he rarely drank the entire cup and you’d find these disgusting, half-filled cups sitting around, here and there, with cream curdled on the top.
I started drinking coffee when I was in my mid 40s and living over in Antibes, France, (between Cannes and Nice) on the French Riviera. Not surprisingly, the coffee I drank was brewed in a “French Press.”
Whenever I was someplace where they had an espresso machine, though, I’d always get a cup or two of that…my preferred coffee drink.
The last five years living in Fort Lauderdale I had a great countertop espresso maker and used it exclusively though I still kept the French press around.
When I moved to the Republic of Panama I started out as a house sitter in Potrerillos Arriba, in the mountains above the city of David (dah VEED). What a wonderful place that was! I was so fortunate to be able to spend an entire year up there. Actually, the year was divided into two six-month stays, the intervening six months was spent in Boquerón where I would spend the remaining six and a half years before repatriating to the U.S. In the mornings I’d sit out on the front porch with a freshly brewed cup of locally grown coffee (how I miss Panamanian coffee) and gaze down the mountainside all the way to the Pacific Ocean in the distance.When the coffee kicked in I’d move to the back porch under the loom of Volcan Barú where I wrote my book “Adversity’s Wake: The Calamitous Fourth Voyage of Christopher Columbus.” (Available through Amazon)
While up in the mountains I switched from the press to a moka pot…
[The moka pot is a stove-top coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. Named after the Yemenite city of Mocha, it was invented by an Italian engineer named Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Bialetti Industries continues to produce the same model under the name “Moka Express”.]
It wasn’t a Bialetti, but rather a cheap knock off that I think cost me under $10. It was a six cup model (that’s espresso-size cups!) and I used it daily until about a week ago when the handle broke off.
I made a bus trip out to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought a REAL Bialetti six-cup model. As you can see, it’s actually larger than my original pot.
Now, one of the problems I have with this size pot is that the brew nearly fills an American-sized coffee mug. That wasn’t a problem when I was living in Boquerón because when the coffee would cool down to below tepid I’d just nuke it for 30 seconds and I’d be good to go to the bottom of the cup. Not having a microwave on the boat ended up throwing away close to a half cup every day, and of course wasting the grounds to make the stuff. A moka pot on brews up what it’s designed for and you can’t adjust it.
I went online and ordered a 1-cup Bialetti model. It’s fine for making a thimble-size Café Cubano for an aprés dinner sip, but not nearly enough to get the day started. That, then, led to the purchase of the 3-cup model which is just right. It cuts down on the volume of grounds used, and if needed a second batch can be brewed up in no time.
Life is good anchored out…
People who live on land cannot know the anxiety felt by someone who lives their lives on a small boat that’s constantly at anchor when they read a weather forecast like this: ”
A chance of Showers and Thunderstorms early in the Morning, then Showers with a chance of Thunderstorms in the late morning and afternoon. Windy. Some Thunderstorms may be severe. Highs in the mid 80s. Temperature falling into the mid 70s in the afternoon. South Winds 15 to 25 Mph, becoming southwest in the afternoon. Gusts up to 45 Mph. Chance of rain near 100%.” Forty five mph winds are a Force 8 on the Beaufort Scale. . .A “Fresh Gale.” Tropical storm winds are anything over 39 mph.
Sitting in your solid house you wonder why that causes such anxiety? Well, consider this: When you live “On the hook,” your life and everything you own is literally hanging on the end of a hunk of metal dug into the sea bed with a piece of rope connecting it to your boat.
Last week I ordered a wind speed device; the Dwyer Wind Meter.
I owned one way back in ’92 when I was on my 9-month, single-handed trip from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico, Belize, and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and back. It’s the soul of simplicity. The only moving part is a small foam ball. It measures wind speed the same way a pitot tube does.Face directly into the wind with two small holes at the base of the gauge facing the wind and the little ball in the tube rises and you read the wind speed there. There were a lot of other wind speed jobbers on offer but they all have a few problems as far as I’m concerned. One, they need batteries to function. They all have LCD screens which are often hard to read in bright sunlight. The worst feature of all of them is they have little fans that the wind turns (cancer machines, maybe?). Anything that whirls around on an axle is prime fodder for a break down.
The reason I bought it was to see what the wind speed actually is where I am located. The online service uses recordings from the Sarasota Airport which is 10 miles away.
I tracked the order and it said it had arrived at Bradenton, but not at the address yet. My mail drop doesn’t open until 10a.m. so I waited until 10 to leave the boat hoping it would have been delivered by the time I got there. It was windy, around 15 to 20 mph with whitecaps everywhere. Of course I didn’t NEED it, but I WANTED IT!!!
Getting to shore wasn’t a problem. Unfastened the painter and gave the dinghy a shove and the wind blew me right to the dock tout suite.Only had to paddle a few strokes to be in a position to tie off.
Since chances are good that I’ll be boat-bound tomorrow, possibly Saturday, too, I stopped in at Dollar Tree to stock up on junk food.
Back at the dinghy dock I hung around for close to an hour hoping one of the boats that had an outboard would be heading to their boat and give me a tow, but no such luck. According to the new wind gauge it’s blowing mid teens to 20 mph. With my COPD trying to paddle against that breeze would put a severe strain on lungs and heart. But I wanted to got back to my mother ship.
Generally I don’t go ashore when the conditions are like this but I’d thought about using the following procedure, though.
I handed myself down the length of the next two dock south of the dinghy dock to where I was nearly parallel with the Venture. Now it was a matter of paddling ACROSS the wind, not into it as you can see from illustration. The only thing wrong with the illustration is that the heads on arrows for the wind direction should be 180 degrees in the other direction fro what’s shown.
It’s time to cook supper now, and of course the wind has dropped to nearly nothing.
Then, on Friday, this comes through on the internet….”Tornado watch in effect until 4 p.m. as strong cold front approaches. Hail possible and gusts in excess of 45 mph.”
Uncomfortably bouncy here at the Bradenton Beach, FL anchorage this morning. It started getting lumpy around 4 a.m. and I had to get up at 4:30 to see how bad it was. It wasn’t nice.
Though the forecast calls for near 100% chance of rain today it’s bright and sunny. Radar shows heavy bands of rain at the edges of its range heading this way but wont get to us for at least another couple of hours. There’s no telling, yet, how wide the band is, though.
The wind is puffing away. The reports from Sarasota Airport, 10 away, say the wind is blowing at 18 mph with gusts of 29.9 mph. My Dwyer gauge shows 15 mph with a couple of gusts in the mid 20s.
So far it’s no worse than other nastily windy days. I have three anchors over the side and check landmarks on shore from time to time and not dragging an inch.
Then: The worst is over. Though it’s still quite breezy, gusting into the mid 20 mph range, the sun came back out around 5 p.m.
I took down my tarp and lowered the Bimini top around 11 a.m. to reduce “sail area” of the boat due to the high winds as the cold front approached the Bradenton Beach, FL anchorage.
It started raining heavily around 1 p.m. and the temperature dropped noticeably. I was hunkered down, snug as the proverbial bug in a rug while the heavy swells tossed stuff around in the cockpit and cabin.
Slowly, almost reluctantly, the wind edged around from southeast where it came across the 12+ mile fetch across Sarasota Bay to the southwest where it was coming across Anna Maria Island from the Gulf of Mexico. Now, with only a mile and a half of open water between the land and the anchorage the bouncing was almost completely reduced. Now the wind is in the northwest quadrant and there’s just a slight movement of the boat. Put the Bimini back up and got the tarp back in place. All’s right with the world.
Saturday morning and it’s bright sunshine, crisply chilly for a mid-April Bradenton Beach, Florida day. Wind’s still gusting up into the mid 20 mph range but coming from the northwest the wave action is minimal. With food and water on board and the battery bank charging well from the solar panels there’s no urgent need to go ashore today. Tomorrow winds are predicted to be less than half of what they are today and the temperature will be a bit warmer. A good Easter Sunday for those of you who believe in that stuff.
When I was returning to the boat at Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage after doing some grocery shopping Friday I noticed that the ½” line that leads to 40’ of ¼-inch chain that’s fastened to my 22-lb Manson Boss anchor was hanging oddly in the water. When I pulled on it I found, to my horror, that it was no longer attached to the chain. Somehow the shackle had become unhitched despite having the pin secured with a heavy plastic wire tie.
It was late in the day so I couldn’t go searching for the lost anchor and chain. The ⅜” line was still pulling well on the 30 feet of chain that links it to the 13-lb Danforth so I figured it was holding me well. I attached the bitter end of the ½” line to the 25-lb Danforth that was on deck and tossed it over the side as an extra precaution.
Saturday morning broke bright and nearly windless and the tide was almost dead low. The water was crystal clear and the bottom only about four feet below me. I hopped into the dinghy and went searching.
The last time I’d seen the anchors, a couple of months ago, they seemed to be fairly close together. I figured the best bet would be to run down the ⅜” line and search out from that point. I was surprised to find both anchors together and amidst a big ball of chain. I was JUST able to hook the mess with my boat hook but I couldn’t raise it to the surface in my tipy little cockleshell, and since the tide was rising I abandoned the effort for the moment. With light winds in the forecast and the Manson Boss seemingly well dug in I felt fairly confident nothing disastrous would happen. Realistically I was fastened to 35-lbs of anchors and 45-lbs worth of chain. In effect an 80-lb anchor.
My guess is that over the past couple of months with tidal currents pushing the mother ship back and forth four times a day coupled with the rough, blustery winds we’ve been having out of the southeast and northeast the lines got pulled this way and that until everything got all messed up.
It occured to me as I was having supper that I could probably lift the metal mess from the bow of the mother ship, a more stable platform than the dinghy.
First thing Sunday morning, after my mug of espresso, of course, I hauled the iron mess up out of the water. It took several tries to break it free of the sandy bottom and I had to rest several times and suck on my inhaler. Fifty years of smoking licit and illicit substances was NOT a good idea. You can see from the photo what I was facing. I wasn’t able to get it out further than this, though.
I untangled a lot of it, but not all. I’m going to need the assistance of my friend, Todd to get it all done. His dinghy is much more stable than mine and we can haul it out. Plus, he’s much younger and stronger than I am. Since it is essentially one solid mass of metal right now I got it positioned so the Manson Boss is set in the sand and I’m good for the moment. We’ll go at it tomorrow. Sunday isn’t good because every jerk that owns a boat in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is out on the water on this beautiful day and the wakes would make the work nearly impossible. But it’s coming along.
It will be no surprise to anyone when I say I LOVE weird boats and the people who construct them. So Imagine how much I enjoyed seeing this boat drift into the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage this morning and beach out in front of the Bridge Tender Waterfront Bar.
The owner’s name is Dean and he likes traveling around and poking into out of the way places with his canoe. But, he said, it was too unstable to allow him to go certain places. So, he took a Standup Paddleboard and but it in half along the centerline. Topped it off with some light plywood. The amas are held in place with construction extrusions and everything is put together with hurricane clips and wing nuts so it can be easily assembled and disassembled.The mast sail comes from a small day sailer. The jib is an old shower curtain and is self furling with a snap shackle fitting.
The lee boards were made from pine that he bought at Home Depot and glassed over. EVERYTHING was either scrounged, donated or came from a big box hardware store. He has a sleeping bag and a tarp to hide under when it rains. He spent the previous night anchored down in Sarasota Bay somewhere and was heading back there soon after we finished out conversation.
Never forget, whether you’re Dean on your cobbled together trimaran or a multi million dollar yacht the sunset’s exactly the same…
Oh, and as far as I’m concerned the crowning touch is the little mermaid figurehead!
When I bought my boat nearly two years ago and took off on my ill-fated journey that ended up at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital I had no dinghy.A dinghy didn’t become essential until I got to Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage. Then I bought a cockleshell piece of junk for $150. It’s ugly as sin, needs to have gunwales installed and a bunch of other things, but all in all it has served me well.
One of the problems the dinghy had was what serves as a seat in the bow was separating from the hull on the port side. It has bugged me for ages but I just let it go. A month or so ago when I went out to buy some new shoes I found myself not too far from West Marine so I went there and bought some Six10 thickened epoxy adhesive.
I’m a big fan of thickened epoxy. When my friend Stephen and I had a marine repair business in Fort Lauderdale decades ago we used a LOT of the stuff in rebuilding things like sport fishing boat cockpit decks. Stef had the West System Epoxy pump system that automatically mixed the proper 5:1 blend with the push of a lever. Add colloidal silica or micro fibers and go to town with the stuff. But buying the individual chemicals and glop to do a small job was not worth spending the money…epoxy, hardener, thickener. I’d seen the Six10 in the West online catalog and it was an all-in-one tube you use with a caulking gun. I sprung for the $26 and bought some and an extra couple of nozzles because the job of repairing the dinghy wasn’t going to use all of it.
Those nozzles are pretty ingenious. As you look at one it has lots of little chambers along the way. The tube is divided into two parts: epoxy and hardener. They get mixed as the goo is squeezed out of the tube. The chambers (19 of them) shift the resin and the hardener from one side to the other to combine the two.
As you can see it’s a pretty big gap that needs to be filled. A quarter of an inch, at least. Because of the location how do I get the seat and the side of the boat to hold together close enough while the epoxy is hardening…Five hours according to the instructions on the tube? Obviously I don’t have clamps big enough to do the job.
The solution was pretty easy. I had a bunch of #8 machine screws, nuts, and flat washers. I drilled through the seat flange and the hull and then stuck the bolt through.Squirted the epoxy down into the gap and tightened the nut and bolt until the epoxy started to be squeezed out. Tightened JUST ENOUGH for the stuff to be compressed and stopped. There’s still a good-size gap, but the integrity of the hull will be strengthened when the epoxy “kicks off.”
One of the biggest errors amateurs make when using caulking or, in this case gap-filling, is that people put a nice, thick layer of caulking around something and then they tighten the screws, or bolts, down till they’re completely tightened thus squeezing 99.8% of the caulk out and leaving a paper thin layer of goop. Then they wonder why it still leaks. You need to put that caulk down and tighten it up JUST ENOUGH to have the caulking ooze out around the lip of whatever’s being bedded and then STOP!!! Let is sit for a couple or three days until it’s cured THEN go back and tighten the screws or bolts as tight as they’ll go. You’ve created a gasket now and it WON’T leak.
Had to hold off writing and posting this while there was a break between storms. Yesterday was easily the WORST DAY I’ve been through here at the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage.
If you’re tired of reading about my complaints on the nasty southeast winds take a guess how I feel having to go through them.
They’ve been blowing hard the last couple of days and I avoided going ashore because of the “Couldn’t make it back to the boat” syndrome. But with fresh food in the cooler and no ice I needed to do a shore run. There seemed to be a bit of a break in the weather and I made a sprint to the dinghy dock. By the time I got back, and it’s only about a five block round trip, the winds were back up in the 20 mph range. My dinghy is a cockleshell and trying to paddle against it is nearly impossible at times. Yes, I’d like to have a small outboard but 1) they cost money I don’t have, 2) If you have any kind of motor on your boat you have to register the vessel. 3) I don’t have a title for the dinghy so there’d be an added level of bureaucratic bullshit. 4) Oars would be better but it was a choice between a $22 kayak paddle and $120 for a set of oars, oarlocks and the lumber and time needed to attach a gunwale and all. So I stick with the paddles. Fortunately when I got back with my bag of ice and four gallons of purloined drinking water one of the charter boat captains was just discharging his passengers and volunteered to tow me out to my boat. I didn’t hesitate to agree to the help.
Things continued to deteriorate hourly after that.
Shortly after sunset, 7 p.m., the large Danforth secured on deck started moving around and rasping over the non-skid decking forward. Brrrrrrrddddgg! Brrrrrrrddddgg! Brrrrrrrddddgg! There was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep with that going on. I slid the hatch back and stuck my head outside. The waves were well over three feet high and the wind was screaming. The boat seemed out of control, but the anchors were holding and other than rising and falling I wasn’t dragging. Discretion being the better part of valor I decided that the anchor wasn’t doing any more than frazzling my nerves and it wasn’t worth risking my life by going out on deck to do anything with it. The last time I was confronted with a similar situation I attached the bitter end of my ½-inch line to the anchor and tossed it overboard to be retrieved later. It was too late now to do the same thing, though.
Hour after hour the wind howled and gusts rattle my little boat. I fully expected the mast gallows to collapse. I went to bed fully clothed in case I had to get up and go outside and do something to rescue myself. I finally fell asleep.
Around 3 a.m. the rain started pelting the deck. It put me back to sleep. I love that sound. It was still raining when I got up for good around 7 a.m. The wind had done nearly a 180 and was coming out of the northwest and had died to practically nothing.
When the rain had slacked off to a drizzle I stuck my head outside. Nearby was the large charter catamaran that’s been tied to the dock near shore since I arrived here a year and a half ago was no anchored just a few yards away. Strange, it hadn’t been there when I went to bed. And where was “Grace,” the little 22-footer that was usually there? Huh! Perhaps hiding on the other side of the cat though I couldn’t see “Grace’s” mast.
I checked one of the two weather sites I read and found that the wind had been gusting to MORE THAN 45 mph during the night!
Since I was down to only half a tab of my blood pressure medicine and with the wind down and the rain not threatening I decided to make a run to the pharmacy while I had the chance. Before I left, though, I went forward and hooked the Danforth to the bitter end of the ½-inch line again. As I looked up I saw, over on the rocks of the Bradenton Beach fishing pier parking lot, “Grace.” She’d lost her anchor in the night and the winds and waves pushed her ashore and onto the rocks. I’d damned near come to that fate a year ago. I was dragging anchor and fetched up about 60 feet from the rocks when my “desperation” anchor bit and took hold. That was the day before I bought the Boss anchor and the 70 feet of chain.
It’s four p.m. The sky’s gloomy with rain clouds though the weather radar on line doesn’t show any rainfall in the area. And when I looked towards the pier I saw that with the high tide they got “Grace” floating again. Apparently she hadn’t been holed. Tod, one of the genuine characters here in the anchorage had a line over to “Grace’s” bow and was towing her to a new spot to anchor. Hopefully they won’t go through that exercise more than once.