to argh is pirate

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April 8, 2015 · 9:42 pm

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

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.

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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.

swivel

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!

figurehead

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Dinghy Repairs

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.

gap

bolts

epoxy

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Final Anchorage

Sooner or later it happens to us all. We DIE! No escape. No bargaining. Kaput. It’s over.

Then what happens?

I’m not going to get into a philosophical discussion about heaven and hell or gods which, for the record, I believe are all male bovine excrement. NO, I mean what happens after your carcass is cold and immobile…??

Burial never appealed to me. It’s creepy when you consider cemeteries: all those people in boxes, six feet under, the dirt, all facing towards the rising sun. Nah, never wanted that.

When my mom died she did something that blew me away. My brothers Jimmy and Howard, both dying in infancy from viral pneumonia, were buried in my dad’s family plot in Woburn, Massachusetts. Mom’s family were planted in Westminster, Mass. She had herself cremated and part of her was laid to rest with the boys in Woburn and the rest in Westminster. How cool was that??? She was also ahead of her time. When Jimmy died, around 1945, despite her grief, she thought of others and donated his corneas so someone else might see! Because of this I’ve had “Organ Donor” on my driver’s licenses, both here in the states and in the Republic of Panama for years.

My dad was also cremated. Some of the ashes were scattered off the Venice, Florida, Inlet. He and mom lived there for years and she LOVED to fish, so the inlet had special meaning. Most of his ashes were interred in Woburn with his family. My brothers, David, Mark, Jeff, and I were each given small Ziplock͢™ bag with some of his ashes. We drove out to Westminster and scattered them on our mother’s grave so they were together again.

I’ve always wanted to be cremated and have my ashes scattered in the Gulf Stream off of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Symbolic in a way. I spent about 36 years of my life, off and on, in Lauderdale. I could envision my ashes drifting up the eastern seaboard that I’d traversed many times in a boat. Perhaps some tiny molecule would make it all the way over to England from whence both of my ancestral families came back in the 1630s.

I’ve read stories about people having their ashes put in bottles and thrown in the sea and the people who find them years later and miles away. Always thought that would be a cool way to go.

I even have a playlist of songs I want played as my ashes are scattered and Amazing Grace ISN’T one of them. No, I’d like:

https://youtu.be/BFTMWYna7kk

https://youtu.be/YwLgxyVjwk4

https://youtu.be/7eL1PS7AXBg

I’m makin’ you click on ‘em to find out what the messages are…and they ARE messages.

Planning for the future has never been one of my strong points. That’s why I’ve ended up living on a small sailboat at anchor and depending totally on Social Security to survive. Like most people, I suppose, I never spent much time thinking about what would happen when my cold, lifeless corpse was discovered. I’d become someone else’s problem. After all, I’D be dead, and the dead don’t seem to care much about anything.

I’ve known about the Neptune Society for years. They do cremations and ocean scattering. But while they’re less expensive than regular funerals they still cost a couple of grand. I don’t have that much set aside and it’s not right to lay that tab on my brothers.

Is there an answer? Well, yes. A little while back I came across a link to Medcure.org. It’s a “whole body” donation program in which you donate your remains to medical science. ALL expenses are taken care of including cremation and, as they mention on their site, scattering ashes at sea.

Perfect. I’ve signed up.

 

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Bad Weather Blues

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.

wreckIt’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.

afloat

 

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Blustery Weather

At least it isn’t freezing, but it’s definitely not comfortable. All day yesterday we had the dreaded southeast winds kicking up a storm in the Bradenton Beach anchorage. People were really struggling to row and paddle out to their boats against the wind that was gusting into the mid thirties. My anchors, at the ends of their rope and 1/4-inch chain rodes were well dug in but I kept an eye on my position for possible dragging…..eternal vigilance, ya know.

Went to bed bouncing. Around 3 a.m. a brief rain squall blew through. Sometime between then and the next three hours the wind did a 180 and while still blowing a steady mid 20s it was coming now from the northwest. The surface of the anchorage, while not a mill pond, is comfortable. The wind’s supposed to stick around for the next few days, though, but I’ve got plenty of food and eight gallons of drinking water so I’m fine.

weather 1

weather2

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Outboard Motor Troubles

A couple of months ago I couldn’t get my normally trusty 9.9 Mercury outboard to start no matter what I did. Choked it. Squirted it full of starter fluid. Changed the plugs. Needed to, anyway, but nothing. I even went on a trek to Harbor Freight to buy a spark tester. Didn’t work. Or it was probably too light to see if the light was shining when I pulled the starter cord.

I decided the carb was probably clogged because I didn’t run it dry the last time I had it going and it’s common for the needle valve to gum up and stick as the volatile gas evaporates and leaves the two-stroke oil in the carb. So I ordered a rebuild kit from Sierra.

I read the repair manual and watched a few videos about that model motor on YouTube and then took the damned thing off the motor. It wasn’t hard at all. The carb was surprisingly clean inside. But I used carb cleaner anyway and replaced all the gaskets. Actually I took it apart a couple of times because I wasn’t really sure about the situation of the needle valve and the float.

As I was getting ready to put it back on the engine I was in my dinghy and noticed that the switch where the kill switch lanyard goes wasn’t in the “up” position where it’s supposed to be in order to run. At this point I’m 95% certain that’s why it wouldn’t start. Oh, well, new plugs won’t hurt. I just hope I didn’t mess up the carb by taking it apart.

I attached the fuel line and the linkages and let it sit. Truth be told I was scared to try it out and find out it wasn’t working. It has been sitting there for close to two months, I guess. On nice days I’d say “you really should try and see it the outboard will start. But fear overcame me.

Today I couldn’t hold off any longer. I hooked up the gas tank, pumped the fuel line bulb until it was solid and pulled on the starter cord. Nothing. Checked to see if the switch was properly set. It was. Gave it a squirt of starter fluid. Pulled the cord and BRRRRRROOOM we have lift off!!!

 

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Dead Computer…

I’m writing this on bright but chilly morning here in the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage on my new “almost” a computer. An Acer R11 Chromebook.

The day before yesterday (Friday 1-4) my Macbook Air took a bath. Don’t ask…It’s the second time that’s happened. I took it apart for the second time and dried everything off but it won’t start. There’s a good possibility that it needs a needs a new I/O board like the last time. They’re cheap so I’ll try and get an new one. BUT the thing is I NEED a computer. I LIVE on my computer because there are days when I can’t get ashore, as you know.

Yes, I have my iPad but it’s getting kind of funny and having problems charging. Sometimes I have to wiggle the connection around to get it to work properly. The problem may be in the pad itself, or it could be in the plug. There are 16 gold contacts (eight on each side) and after a while they wear down and problems arise. I’ve gone through probably a dozen sets of chords since I bought the thing down in Panama about six years ago.

The Macbook Air is maybe a year older and that’s ancient in computer terms. But I loved it. Best computer I ever owned and I’ve owned a bunch. But after the first drenching and getting it up and running again it had problems that I didn’t bother to correct. The keyboard no longer worked so I bought a cheap one to plug into the computer. For some reason the Bluetooth program disappeared so I had to go with a keyboard with a cord. A pain in the ass, frankly, but it worked. Also left-hand speaker died as did the fan. But it was still kinda workable.

So, when the thing went down for the second time I knew it was time for a replacement. But I sure didn’t have $1,300 lying around doing nothing so a new Macbook Air was certainly out of the question. Even a regular Windows computer runs around $600 which is half of what I get each month in Social Security. Why not stick with the iPad until I can save enough? Well, the virtual keyboard thing sucks. That’s why some of my posts are riddled with spelling errors. I do have a Bluetooth keyboard but it’s big and clunky and doesn’t work very well.

Looking at computer ads the most reasonably price jobber doos were Chromebooks. They’re “Almost” computers but everything is done on the “Cloud.” Maybe I’m a 21st century Luddite, but I’ve never grasped the concept of the “Cloud” and I don’t trust it. And Chromebooks really need to be online to work. But the Chromebooks only cost a couple of hundred bucks and, with my Christmas largesse and some money I actually had left over from last month’s economic life I could swing that. And I gave serious consideration to how I actually use my computer.

First of all I’m almost always online. That’s why I spend $70/month for a hotspot on my phone although right now I’m piggybacking on a nearby open wifi site and my phone is turned off. Most of what I do is zero in on Facebook, news sites like Yahoo, emails, and writing like now. A “real” computer is a bit of overkill for what I do. I don’t play a lot of games other than Angry Birds 2 and some card games like Spades Plus, so a Chromebook will do okay.  I went over to the mainland in the afternoon and, as much as I hate to admit it, went to Wally World that advertised the lowest prices for Chromebooks.

I’d done some research via the iPad on different models. Acer has a good reputation and the R11 model has some things I like. Such as a touch screen so I can embiggen (as the Simpsons would say) what’s on the page to help my feeble eyesight. Looking at the array in the store, the Acer had the sharpest, most vibrant display of any, and at just over $200 it was something I could afford. So, here I am happily pecking away on a decent keyboard and content.

When the tide comes in a bit more so I can easily get up on the dinghy dock I’ll go ashore and do a little grocery shopping. I need to do laundry but that can wait until tomorrow.

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