to argh is pirate

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April 8, 2015 · 9:42 pm

Final Chapter?

I’m getting ready to start out on my third “Good Adventure.” It will be the next to last. The first adventure detailed here was my retirement and eight wonderful years living in the Republic of Panama. The biggest adventure while there was transiting The Canal in 2014.

When health problems, COPD, made me decide to repatriate I bought a small sailboat and spent the next four years doing some cruising, but mainly living at anchor off of Anna Maria Island, Florida a bit south of Tampa Bay. During that adventure I rode out Hurricane Irma tucked so safely away in the mangroves that I actually slept through the height of the storm. 

I knew the end of this adventure was coming to an end when I rode out Tropical Storm Eta at anchor. I was in semi-protected water by the Coquina North Boat Ramp where I was in a bit of lee from the worst of the wave action because of Leftis Key a quarter mile south of my location. Those who were up in the main anchorage off the Bridge Street Pier didn’t fare as well. NINE boats, including that of my friends Shawn and Pete, sank.

One problem I had down at the lower anchorage was an engineless, 28-foot Carver power boat that was constantly dragging anchor. One day they came within 20 feet of drifting down on to me.

They stopped RIGHT OVER where my anchor was buried in the sand! I’d gone up to check for chaffing of my anchor rode where it went over the side and to think about letting out more line to avoid the dragging boat if necessary. My COPD is such that in the short distance from the cockpit to the bow and back, perhaps 20 feet round-trip, I had to spend five minutes gasping desperately for my breathing to return to normal. THAT was when I said “I can’t do this anymore. I have to move ashore.” If something had gone seriously tits-up I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

When I posted this on Facebook a “Friend” wrote that he had a spot off the Saint Johns River in central Florida where I could keep both a boat and a van. So I took him up on the offer. Another friend, who owns a boat rental business on Anna Maria Island, towed me over to DeBary, and here I sit tied to the bank of a canal deep in the swamp. SO DEEP that alligators are constant neighbors and there was a black bear within 25 feet of my gangplank one afternoon! It’s also over three miles to the nearest paved road.

Of course my first instinct was to think of buying a cargo van to convert to camping. I enlisted a nephew who is a total gear head who lives in North Carolina to search for one. But then an old friend offered me, FREE, his 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It has NEW tires, a NEW, not rebuilt, starter, a NEW a/c compressor and a bunch of other goodies. I brought it up to the swamp recently.

Now, believe me, I’m VERY grateful to have gotten this car, and the idea I’m about to expound on only occurred to me AFTER I’d brought the car to the swamp. 

I want to do some land cruising. I’ve been around the eastern half of the United States by water. It’s called “The Great Loop.” It’s time to see what’s on the land side of the shoreline after a lifetime on the water. I had talked about throwing my tri-fold mattress in the back along with the 12-volt fridge and taking off for the summer. But I began to realize this isn’t the vehicle I need to do that. And there are a lot of reasons.

One, it’s a Mitsubishi. I’ve always remembered a remark my dad made when one of my brothers was contemplating buying a Peugot…”Good luck getting it fixed in East Podunk!” I feel it would be the same with the Mitsubishi in West Whatthehell, Wyoming. Not that I ever plan on going to Wyoming, you understand. Hell, Dick Cheney could be out hunting there. On the other hand, something like a Honda or a Toyota would be fixable just about anywhere in North America.

I’ve ditched the idea, for now, of a large van and am downsizing the idea. I think, after lots of web browsing and searching, the vehicle I want is a mini-van. Since most of my initial travels will be in the eastern part of the country with not nearly as many National Parks or other Federal lands to perch on, and campgrounds can easily eat up the monthly SS check “Stealth” overnighting will be essential. A minivan “blends in” with everything and would surely reduce the chances of getting the dreaded midnight “knock.”

Here are some of the downsides of the Montero Sport…

No roof rack. So adding a carrier isn’t possible. I think that’s going to be a necessity since I’m going to want to have things like a tent. I mean there are campground that REQUIRE you to have a tent so you pop one up and then sleep in the van. A tent is also a place you can poop in private or cook supper when it’s raining. I looked on Amazon for roof racks that aren’t permanent and none of the ones offered even got a 50% five star rating. 

While mine isn’t one, the Montero Sport also came in a 4 wheel drive version. The body on both are the same but with the 4 wheel version larger sized tired are common and the body is built to take them. That means the wheel wells are HUGE in order to take them and they intrude into the available space behind the front seats. Makes setting up living quarters difficult even with the rear seats removed. 

There are no roof rails. I think they’re important because somewhere along the line, and soon, I suspect, I’ll want to get one of those roof pods to carry things like a tent and an awning. An awning makes things comfortable but there needs to be an attachment point on the van and that’s usually a roof rail. Also, the roof pod is a place to secure a solar panel. I have a 100-watt solid panel and a 160-watt flex panel I’m going to be taking along.

Looking at various van-living sites I’ve found these are considered the best minivans for camping conversion: 

Toyota Sienna

Nissan Quest

Mazda 5

Chrysler Pacifica

Kia Sedona

Honda Odyssey

Dodge Grand Caravan

Ford Transit Connect

Ram ProMaster City

Mercedes-Benz Metris

If I could afford to buy a Mercedes I wouldn’t be writing any of this, so scratch that one.

After spending hours online looking at the rating for various minivans I’ve narrowed my search to these three: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and the Kia Sedona. The Kia comes in a distant third, however even though it offers the largest interior and has many fans. 

In that twilight zone just before dropping off into full-blown sleep the outline for the next “Good Adventure” came to mind. It combines land and water aspects. In the autumn of 1974 I took a 43-foot Hatteras tri-cabin from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale via the Great Lakes. Well, three of them, anyway. I traveled the lengths of lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie before entering the Erie Canal. But that’s just three of the five Great Lakes. I need to get on the other two, Ontario and Superior. So, why not take a road trip and do a huge loop? Leave Florida, visit family in North Carolina and Virginia and travel up to Lake Ontario. Rent a boat up there and go for a ride. One down. 

I got my passport renewal application the other day. Renew the passport and run up into Canada and visit a Facebook friend who lives in the town with the longest freshwater beach in the world. It’s on Georgian Bay, a rustic and scenic part of Lake Huron. Roy has a great houseboat he built and sells plans for with several being built even overseas. Perhaps I could get a day trip with him.

From there I’d mosey on over to Lake Superior, rent another boat and hit the water topping off the list. 

After that I’d go to Wyoming, Minnesota, or thereabouts and wander down legendary Highway 61. It would, like Bob Dylan’s song, be “Revisited.” I lived right on Highway 61 for two years while attending college in Canton, Missouri. Could stop in at the old alma mater, even. Then roam on down to New Orleans which is the terminus of the route. I even know where there’s a small concrete cenotaph marking the spot. 

I would hit as many national and state parks and US Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds as possible. Also try and find FB “friends” along the way where I could crash in their driveways for a night. One of the groups I run has a couple of thousand members (that number completely blows me away) and I bet there are some along the route, too.

We’ll see what happens.

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Time To Move

Over the past few months my COPD has been catching up with me here in my small, anchored sailboat near the Coquina North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL. Simple tasks like going forward to check the anchor rode leave me gasping for air. More and more I’d say to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Since I exist totally on a small Social Security deposit each month and a pittance in food stamps renting a room or an apartment ashore is financially out of the question. So, my choices boil down to returning to the Republic of Panama where I lived for eight years or “living in a van down by the river.”

I have three arterial stents, and I’m carrying some rather large kidney and bladder stones. The medical care I encountered in Panama was excellent and very reasonably priced, especially compared with the U.S. And I liked the fact that I was given the doctor’s cell phone numbers. I also liked that meds are all “over the counter.” No doctor’s prescription needed.

But the problem with Panama is it’s a “Pay up front” system. I’d have no insurance if I was down there. No company is going to insure a 78 year old guy with COPD and three arterial stents. If something serious happened to me there I’d have had to put up, IN CASH, a couple of thousand bucks to be admitted into one of the two private hospitals in David (dah VEED). You don’t even want to think about having to go to the government-supported hospital there. Sometimes, it’s been said, you have to provide your own bed linens. Panamanian officials and doctors really don’t like expats who have no health insurance and end up in a situation where the government has to take care of them when they need to be hospitalized. Who can blame them? I don’t want to be one of those people. It was one of the incentives for my repatriation three years ago.

One of the smart things, and there haven’t been that many in my life, that I did when I moved to Panama was to keep paying Medicare Part B. Many who expatriate drop this coverage to save the $140+ a month. But then, if they have to repatriate and sign on again, they are accessed a penalty and it’s hefty. I didn’t sign up for the Part D, prescriptions, when I turned 65 because wasn’t on any meds then. Now, because of the penalty, I’ll pay $100/month, FOREVER! Well, at least until I die…

So, really, the only solution is to remain here and move into a van. Lots of people have, and why not? It would actually have more living space than this 22-foot sailboat. I have a nephew in North Carolina who is a total gearhead. I’m going to rely on him to find a van for me. I have total faith that whatever he would choose will be sound and a good value. I’m in no big hurry so he can take his time.

It’s over three and a half years that I’ve not had to pay any rent, living anchored here off of Anna Maria Island, Florida. You can kinda do that in a van by “stealth” parking in urban areas or camping at state and national parks and on Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers areas. My dad did that quite a bit in his travels. But he was vacationing, not doing it because he had to.

When I posted on Facebook that I was going to have to move ashore and live in a van the owner of a campground near Ocala, Florida wrote and said they rent van spaces for $295/month. That’s do-able on my limited income. If I was in Panama I’d be spending up to $350/month for a place to live. Shortly after that a Facebook “Friend” I’ve been following and corresponding with for several years wrote and said that I could keep a van AND the boat at some land he owns on the Saint Johns River. It wouldn’t be free, of course. I’d pay half the electric (he lives on a boat there, too) and internet connection and “maybe $100/month to help with taxes.”  Seems like a pretty good deal to live at THIS spot…

new home

There are two ways I could get there. I have a boat friend, here, that has a trailer that could easily haul my boat. Load it up at the nearby ramp and we’d be at the new location within three hours. I’d pay him, of course though I don’t know how much. Didn’t ask. But knowing him for the last three years and being friends it wouldn’t be excessive. 

But where’s the challenge in that? Where’s the romance? Where’s the ADVENTURE?

No, I’m going to get the boat over on its on bottom. It’s roughly a 650 mile voyage. It won’t be a fast trip. I generally can’t go faster than five miles an hour when everything’s going well. And there won’t be any long days at the tiller like when I was nearly four years younger and headed out on my first trip on the boat towards what I’d hoped would take me to Louisiana. We all know that ended up being rescued off the boat and taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital suffering from complete renal shutdown caused by severer dehydration. I put in some 10 and 12 hour days on that trip. No more of that. The last trip I made, about a year and a half ago was down to Cayo Costa, about 75 miles away. I took did with five and six hour runs. Pecking away at the journey in baby steps. 

I could leave almost immediately, but in the recent Tropical Storm Eta, my kick-up rudder was damaged. I need to repair it. It’s an easy fix. But I still came out better than the NINE boats that sank up at the big anchorage by the Bridge Street Pier. In one instance a large catamaran broke loose from its mooring slammed into a good friend’s boat which caused them to be separated from their mooring and drove them into the nearby “Day Dock” at the city pier. Pete got off and helped get Shawn off the boat and onto the dock only seconds before the nearly six foot high waves forced their sailboat, and home, beneath the dock sinking it. A total loss but at least they’re alive. Fortunately her family lives in Bradenton so they weren’t forced into a cheap motel.

 
With the exception of a 15 mile section of the Rim Route around the eastern and southern edge of Lake Okeechobee I couldn’t traverse because a swing bridge with just 11 feet of vertical clearance was being worked on and couldn’t open, until I get to the Saint Johns is back tracking over ground I’ve already covered.
 
I’ll be able to do that part of the Rim Route now that my mast is down and my air draft is a hair over 7 feet. I can sneak under it now. I might have to open the Fort Denaud swing bridge on the land cut section of the waterway. It has vertical clearance of only 9 feet. But I snuck under the 9-foot bridge at Blackburn point on my way too and from my last trip to Cayo Costa. Other than that I don’t think I’ll have to open any bridges.
 
I took my mast down three years ago when Hurricane Irma was set to roll over us here on the island. I decided not to put it back up for a couple of reasons. One is that on my 600 mile journey from Lauderdale to Carrabelle and back to Anna Maria I didn’t have the sails up but, perhaps a half dozen times. Then, with my COPD, raising the damned things left me tuckered out, and my arthritic fingers made the job painful. Since I’d done practically the whole trip under power I just decided to use the boat as a “terminal trawler.”
All along the Indian River there are dozens of spoil islands where I can spend the night. Many of them are set up with picnic tables and charcoal grilling facilities. I’m looking forward to that section of the trip.
There will be days when I won’t travel at all because of weather. I’m not going to be spending my time plowing through a rainy day. And since it’s winter there will be cold fronts passing through every couple of weeks that will keep me holed up somewhere. On the first trip I spent almost a month anchored in the Suwannee River waiting on the weather. A couple of weeks in each direction.
 
I also avoid travel on weekends. That’s when all the amateurs are out and many of them believe the boat is incapable of moving if they don’t have an alcoholic beverage in their hands. Better to drop anchor in some peaceful gunkhole Friday afternoon and wait until Monday before continuing on.
 
I love the planning of a trip. I use a program called Pro Charts on my iPad for plotting routes. Coupled with my small GPS receiver via Bluetooth it acts as a plot charter while underway giving me information such as speed, courses to steer, time to destination, etc.
 
I also rely on a site called Waterway Guide. This is indispensable. It shows where there are free anchorages and docks. Marinas if you want them, bridges and, most importantly, places along the way to refuel.
There are things to get done before hoisting the hook and I think I’ll wait until Christmas is over and the new year begun before heading out. Should pull into the new home port sometime in the middle of February.
 
This is the route I’ll be taking…
thumbnail
 

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Filed under adventure, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coping with COPD, Coquina Beach, cruising, Living on the hook, Uncategorized

Breakfast

The little sailboat I live on, anchored near the Coquina North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL, has grounded out at low tide. Poked me head out of the hatch to take a look around and saw this yellow crowned night heron searching for breakfast…

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Different Strokes

I love people who are a little off kilter. Like this guy who came and dropped anchor not too far from me at the Coquina North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL, and spent the night.

Sometimes you just have to get away even if it’s on board a 17-foot open bow rider. I couldn’t see if he had a cooler or way to cook, but I did make out he was eating something for an evening meal. He slept in rather late despite the bright sun, gulls squawking, and the dumpster trucks swapping containers out at 6 am. He had something to drink as he sat quietly in this tranquil spot, then he raised his anchor and motored off.

This is what gunkholing is all about. The name of the boat is “Out on Business.”

Three years ago I was holed up at Englewood, down south, for the Memorial Day weekend. I DON’T go cruising around when the world is filled with people who don’t believe their boats will go unless they have an alcoholic beverage in their hand. There’s a popular anchorage there (Top red block)

and in the late afternoon an older couple, retirees, probably, came in on their pontoon boat and dropped anchor. Nothing unusual about that. But then they set up a small tent, like people use when they go camping in the woods, in after part of the boat and put a camp stove on the boat’s table. They spent the next two days at anchor and then went home.

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Chillin’

I was puzzled a while back when someone asked me if I was ready for the fall. It took me a while to realize they were talking about autumn and not the collapse of civilization…Well, autumn has arrived here on Anna Maria Island, Florida.

It blew in about 3 a.m. on the Wednesday morning of September 30, 2020. I guess all the wind that The Great Orange Wart spewed during his “debate” with Biden finally made it from Cleveland to the island.

Living close by the Coquina North Boat Ramp I’m often awakened in the early hours by boats trailing their wakes as they disregard the “No Wake” zone on their way for a day out on the salt. So when I became aware of the first few bounces through my sleep that’s what I chalked it up to. But when the motion continued unabated I stuck my head up through the hatch and saw whitecaps all around reflected by the nearly full moon.  It was blowing like stink. I checked the time: 3:15. I grabbed the handheld anemometer and saw that the wind over the deck was clocking in at a stead 20+mph with a couple of gusts close to 30! 

I generally keep the dinghy tied up “on the hip”

instead of having it dangling astern on its painter. Since it was pounding up and down in the two to three foot chop churned up by the wind I untied it and let it bob behind in the lee of the bigger boat. 

My biggest concern was for the semi-derelict, engineless power boat to windward. It has been dragging anchor for the last couple of months and worries me when I’m in its path downwind. The couple that supposedly own the boat, I call them “Itchy and Scratchy” are only aboard occasionally and were not there to help if things went belly up.  I keep a large, very sharp knife in the cockpit so I can cut its anchor line if it drifts down on me. I turned on my mobile “hotspot” and checked “Willy Weather” for tide data. It was at half tide and falling. So, for the next five or six hours, with my 1-foot draft, I would be in water too shallow for the big boat’s draft to handle and by then the wind might have abated somewhat.  

It was considerably colder, too. Just the night before I’d gone to bed with my 12-volt fan for a breeze but now, for the first time in months, I slipped into the comfort of my warm weather sleeping bag. And while Tuesday had a heat index reading in the low 100℉ range, Wednesday, with 15 mph breezes, remained a “keep your tee shirt on for comfort” day. 

We’ve still got a couple of months before the really cold, for us, anyway, temperatures set in but it’s time to think about digging the long johns out and taking them to the laundry in preparation. It will be my THIRD winter here on the hook.

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Filed under Anchor, Anchoring, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coquina Beach, Uncategorized

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This…

I know it seems that I’m always posting about Guabancex, the Taino* Indian goddess of wind and hurricanes constantly making life difficult for we who chose to live our lives at anchor as I do here off of Anna Maria Island, FL. But it’s not always like that. Much of the time I wake up to days like this…

(*Taino: The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Taíno were the first New World peoples to be encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. And there’s no need for rants about what a horrible person Columbus was, and the genocide of the indigenous tribes, yada, yada, yada, ad nauseum!)

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Filed under adventure, Anchor, Anchoring, Anna Maria Island, boats, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coquina Beach, cruising, Living on the hook, Uncategorized

Keeping A Weather Eye

Off the top of my head I can only think of two others of my FB friends who live on a boat full time like I do and they’re on the same boat together. On a Caribbean Island, no less. So I post things like this so landlocked people get an idea of what it’s like to live at the end of an anchor. And I have to stress that if I felt I was in any danger I wouldn’t be in this location, I’d be tucked away far up in the mangroves somewhere. I’m securely anchored in about 5 feet of water at high tide and I sit on the bottom at low. Right now that exposed oyster flat is no more than 25 feet astern. If things really got bad I can literally wade ashore.

For people who live on the land weather isn’t as personal is it is to people on boats. For them it’s “Oh, yeah, it’s a bit breezy today,” as they go from their stable home to their air-conditioned automobile. Weather is only noted in passing for the most part.

For us out here on the hook it’s much more intimate. Here’s what we’re looking at here at the Coquina North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL…

And while “Gale Watch” may sound quite sinister, I’ve been through thunder squalls right here much more severe. A couple of weeks ago one blew through with 60 mph winds and toppled huge lifeguard towers only a couple of hundred yards away and I did just fine..

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Riders On The Storm

Sept. 13, 2020

Riding out the fringes of Tropical Storm Sally.

First became aware of the winds around 3:00 am. Don’t know how strong they were, but the noise of the canvas rain tarp flapping around woke me. Trying to get back to sleep with the waves from the winds coming in from the SSE across Sarasota Bay was a bit difficult.

Heard the rain start up about 5:30. At 8:30 my handheld anemometer read a steady 20.5 mph gusting to 26.7. Looking at radar images the poorly defined eye of the storm is roughly level with me here on Anna Maria Island, FL, but far out in the Gulf of Mexico. The sooths from the sayers are predicting as much as 4 inches of rain in this area over the next couple of days. Flash Flood Warnings are up and there was a news story that one local bridge had been damaged from currents undermining the banks it spans. I’m safe, thanks, with stuff to read and food and water on board.

The solar panels are struggling, but as long as there’s light they produce SOME energy. Yesterday evening at sunset four boats were anchored here near the Coquina North Boat Ramp: A small runabout to the south, an engineless Carver 26 just to the north and a small, mastless sailboat even with the Carver bt farther our in the bay. Right now there are THREE. The heavy winds and seas broke the sailboat loose and I see it a couple of hundred yards to the north in amongst the piers.

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Making Life Better

When I dropped anchor here at Anna Maria Island, FL three years ago I needed a cooler to keep my fresh foods from spoiling. At the time I depended on a small generator (I eventually burned through THREE of them. They AREN’T designed for heavy duty use), so I sprung for a Yeti Tundra 45 cooler. Let me say, after three years, Yeti products are WAY overrated. I could have bought another brand at half the price that receives ratings as good as the Yeti. And the size of the Tundra 45 meant the only place I could put it on my 22-foot sailboat was in the cockpit where it takes up about half of the sole and sits higher than the bench seats. An awkward pain in the ass.

For the past three years I have been buying ten pound bags of ice, on average, every other day. Sometimes, in the heat of August and September I’ve been buying a bag a day. The Yeti will hold 20 lbs of ice and leave a little room left over for food storage. Not the best situation, but one deals with what one has. In the last year, after moving down from the large anchorage by the Bridge Street Pier to the Coquina North Boat Ramp, I have been buying ice at the kiosk at the trailer parking area. It’s the best deal on the island. . .a 10 lb. bag for a buck fifty as opposed to the Circle K two 10 lb. bags for $5. And the kiosk ice is cleaner, purer! Nevertheless, I’ve been spending $40-$45 a month to keep stuff from rotting. But there have been times where the ice has been very low. I’d look at the value of the stuff I need to keep chilled and weigh it against the hassle of rowing to shore, sometimes in trying conditions, and spending the buck and a half and just blow it off.

Readers who follow me know that in the past couple of years I have switched from using a generator to completely solar. Three hundred and ten watts of paneling, in fact. They have done a great job in keeping the batteries for my notebook, iPad, and phone with its wifi hotspot going strong, even on cloudy days. While the huge orange wart in the Oval Office believes that when the sun goes down you can’t watch television if you use solar power, even on the cloudiest of days the panels collect energy and direct it to your battery bank. MUCH slower than on sunny days, but they still collect and store energy.

After doing a lot of online research about 12volt-capable refrigerators I decided that the Ansten 30 liter fridge/freezer would be what I needed. It was compact and would fit inside my boat. The description said it will hold 42 12-ounce cans of soda. Not knowing how much volume that is, I went to the Publix Supermarket and bought my usual weekly supply of perishables. I then went to the canned soda isle and visually checked the volume of the cans with what I had in the shopping cart and the 30 litre fridge would be more than adequate. 

Think about your refrigerator. How much of the total volume of the fridge is simply unused? You have shelves with jars and Tupperware containers and everything above their tops is just empty space. You also store a lot of stuff in there you don’t need to. Things that are heavy on vinegar such as mustard, ketchup, salad dressings really don’t need to be refrigerated despite what it says on the label. Since it’s just ME and not stocking food for a family of five, this little unit fills the bill.

Last week my good friend, Stephen, sprang for the fridge and yesterday I picked it up at my maildrop and wrestled it to its new home. After waiting seven hours to let all the juices settle after the unit had been turned every which way for who knows how long, I turned it on. The digital display (in Centigrade) said that the internal temperature was 86F (30C). In less than half an hour the temperature had dropped to 33.8F (1C)! I’m impressed. And it’s QUIET, too. Certainly won’t disturb my sleep. I was running it through the 110volt inverter because I need to rewire the cigarette lighter outlet before I can use it. The unit cycled a couple of times before the inverter alarm for low voltage went off and I shut it down.

There will definitely be times when there will be problems with this setup. It has been raining off and on all day and night since last Tuesday, and it’s been a challenge to keep the battery bank topped off. There’s been enough for the light stuff as cited above, but the draw from the fridge is a challenge.

While it looks as though Tropical Storm, potential Hurricane, Laura is going to miss us here we’re still going to have a lot of clouds and rain.

Now, as we approach noon it’s heavily overcast and will likely stay that way for the rest of the day and for the next few days to come. Life’s not perfect but there are more sunny days than gloomy ones so I’ll do fine.

 

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Filed under Living off the grid, Living on the hook, Living Small, Minimalist Cruising, Retirement Afloat, sailboats, Small boat kitchen, Small Sailboats, Uncategorized

Doing “Salty” Stuff

Spent several hours doing “Salty” stuff here by the Coquina Beach North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL, this sunny Sunday afternoon.

In the last year, here, with the storms of winter and the squalls of summer, my Manson Boss anchor with its 20 feet of ¼-inch chain has dragged through the muddy/sandy bottom about 100 feet or so from where I originally dropped the hook. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you have severe COPD like I do rowing a cockleshell dinghy into a stiff breeze is difficult. I’ve been contemplating relocating the boat for the last couple of weeks. Today was a good time to attempt it. The breeze was only about 5 mph out of the SE and the tide was flooding. The combination will work at helping the anchor dig in.

What I meant about “Salty” stuff is that I didn’t lower the outboard motor into position, start it up, and let it idle while going forward to raise the anchor and then rush back to the helm to then motor a hundred feet or so isn’t what I did. Where’s the seamanship in that? Instead I used the millennia-old system of moving a boat known as “Kedging.” 

kedge (kɛdʒ) nautical

vb

(Nautical Terms) to draw (a vessel) along by hauling in on the cable of a light anchor that has been dropped at some distance from it, or (of a vessel) to be drawn in this fashion.

I did it in three stages. The first two got me further to the south to about where I was originally and then I pulled myself closer to the shore. The way it worked was: I’d haul in the big anchor until the chain was “up and down.” Into the dinghy with the small Danforth “Lunch Hook” and row it forward to the full extent of the line I had attached to it. About 100 feet. Then back on board the big boat and haul the big anchor until it was clear of the bottom. No need to bring it on board since I was going to be dropping it right away. Just clear of the bottom was good enough. Then I hauled on the lunch hook line until IT was up and down. Drop the big anchor and wait for it to set.

Watch the shoreline to see if I’m drifting and my breathing has returned to what passes for normal these days. Did it a second time to get where I wanted to be but in looking aft I was right in line with the derelict Carver. So I took the lunch hook in towards shore and got it out of the way. I may have brought in a bit TOO CLOSE and will possibly take the ground at low tide But since the retractable keel it all the way up, the boat is basically flat bottomed, and the bottom of the bay is soft sand and mud without any rocks it’s okay. I’ve taken the ground before. We’ll see.

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Filed under Anchor, Anchoring, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coping with COPD, Living on the hook, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising