Category Archives: adventure

Staying Aboard

I often write about how I’m confined on my boat anchored here at the lower end of Anna Maria Island, Florida, because high winds prevent me from being able to paddle my dinghy the 130 yards to the boat ramp dock…

But then there are beautiful days like today. There’s a pretty blue sky filled with puffy white clouds and hardly a breath of air. I’m not leaving the boat simply because there’s no reason to. I have food, water and there’s a plague still raging on the land. I’m content being where I am…So I’ll just sit here picking at my ukulele from time to time and arguing with people I don’t know about politics on Facebook.

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Anchor Work

It’s nice to sit down to lunch and bask in the feeling that you actually got something important taken care of in the morning other than arguing politics with people you don’t know on Facebook.

When I’m going to be sedentary, like I have been over the winter anchored here at the lower end of Anna Maria Island, Florida, I like to employ two anchors. I set my 25 lb Manson Boss anchor and its 25 feet of 5/16” chain and ½” nylon rode out to take the weather coming from the south. The 25 lb Danforth with its 25 feet of 1/4” chain and ⅜” nylon rode was deployed to the north to handle weather from that direction.

It all worked as it was supposed to through the winter months, but for the past month or two I’ve noticed that the Danforth’s line has been more or less lying parallel to the Manson’s line. But when I’d pull on it from the bow it appeared as if the two were at a decent angle to provide good holding from storms coming in from the north or south. In addition to the wind blowing the boat in one direction of another the tidal currents flood twice a day towards the north and twice a day ebb to the south. Whichever direction the boat is facing depends on which of the two, current or wind, is strongest at the time. So over the course of a day the boat can swing around to all points of the compass. This can cause the lines to twist around one another even if care is taken to keep unwrapping them every day or so.

For a time this morning it seemed I might be forced to move MY boat because a fleet of semi-derelicts was drifting down towards me and the owner of the mess wasn’t around and calls to his phone went to voicemail. So I scooted up to the bow and started hauling in on the Danforth’s ⅜” line. The Danforth is my secondary anchor. It wasn’t easy. When I got to the chain it seemed as if the anchor was snagged on something below. It wasn’t, but over months of being pushed and pulled in one direction and another the chain had been dragged around and become fouled on the stock and flukes. It was one large ball of galvanized metal weighing around 50 pounds. The flukes of the anchor were NOT dug into the sand and undoubtedly it was simply the sheer weight of the anchor and chain that were providing any holding power. For the uninitiated these are the parts of a Danforth anchor…

 

A younger person in better health might not have been too fazed at this. But I’ll be 78 in just over a month and I have serious issues with COPD. This was going to be a challenge. One thing I HAVE LEARNED with age is to not simply plunge into something like this. So I sat there looking at this galvanized lump swinging just above the water and thought about every step I needed to take to achieve my goal. . . I cut the nylon line where it was attached to the chain through a clevis. I led the bitter end of the rode behind the pulpit railings so I could raise the anchor up on to the deck more close to amidship and left the bitter end dangling over the side.

In the dinghy I pulled myself hand over hand to where the end of the line was hanging over the side. I tied it through the clevis at the head of the stock and then went back aboard. At the bow again I let the chain that was gathered on deck fall into the water and, after a mighty heave to bring the big anchor on board, I retrieved all of the chain. It’s done it’s job. After nearly three years being submerged in salt water some of the links are perhaps only half their thickness.Time to bring it to shore. 

I put an anchor bend on the clevis and for now will keep the big Danforth on deck ready to be deployed in an emergency. The Manson Boss anchors have a good record for resetting themselves if pulled out of position. But I’m anchored in good sand and mud where I am. It’s shallow, too. Often at real low tides I’ve been aground without even knowing it until I looked over the side. I’m still good here even with one anchor on the bottom.

 

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Another Blustery Day

Third blustery, windy day in a row anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island, Florida Thankfully I have water on board and enough food for several days. It’s been a week since I did any grocery shopping, though.

Two days ago I had to get towed out to the boat. I’d gone ashore to the hardware store to buy some fiberglass resin to make repairs to my shopping cart. I bought it last September because it was supposed to be aluminum. Maybe some part is, but I don’t know which. Overall I’ve been satisfied with it. It’s the fourth cart I’ve had in three years. The others rusted out fast and literally collapsed. This one had the wheels fall off on a trip one time but the Chinese company that makes the carts sent me replacement parts for free. It did take a couple of weeks to get the though.

Trying to stop the cart from rusting out I’ve been keeping it encased in a heavy-duty construction-grade plastic trash bag. I have to keep it in the dinghy, after all, because there’s no room for it on the boat. Not completely successful but it has slowed the deterioration down some. Not entirely, though. There’s lots of rust all over. On my last trip to Publix, last week, lifting it onto the trolley I felt something give way. On inspection back at the boat I found there are several rust-through spots as you can see.

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The wind was a bit blustery and gusting into the teens but it was blowing directly from the east; ninety degrees across the path to the dock. I paddled ashore to go to the hardware store and buy some polyester resin to make some fiberglass repairs to the holes while adding strength. I already had matt and cloth in my tool locker.

The trolley is only running once an hour so, after the hardware excursion and a stop at Dollar Tree for junk food replenishment it was over two hours since I’d started. The wind had shifted into the NNE and increased to a steady mid-teens range.

I started paddling out to my boat about 100 yards away and struggled to get a third of the way when a strong gust pushed me back a good 15 to 20 yards despite my putting everything I had into fighting back. It was no use. So I quickly drifted back to the dock and waited. Perhaps a half hour later a pontoon boat came in to be recovered to its trailer. I asked if they would give an old man with COPD a hand and tow me out to my boat. They were understanding and a few minutes later I was tied off and back on board my boat.

I didn’t try and go ashore at all yesterday (May 13th) as it was blowing steadily in the mid teens. And I’m definitely not going anywhere today. I just took a reading on my handheld anemometer and got a gust of 24 mph!!!

Since I’m bouncing around on the waves, as you can see from the video, I can’t get up on the foredeck where I put the cart to repair it until things settle down some.

p.s. I just ordered an ALL ALUMINUM cart. Will be up to two weeks before it gets here.

The joys of living on the hook full time…I’m fine, thanks.

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A Journey Begun

Three years ago, today, May, 3, 2017, I set out from Ft. Lauderdale, FL., on my little Venture22 sailboat and eventually ended up anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island over on the Gulf side of the peninsula.

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The original destination was to be Breton Island, Louisiana, where I’d worked running a crew boat in the Kerr-McGee oil production field back in ’77/’78. I actually LIVED on the island for nearly a year…working 7 days on and 7 days at home.

Back then the island was about a half mile long and, perhaps, a quarter mile wide at its widest. But over the intervening years hurricanes had reduced it to a sand spit a couple of hundred yards long. I wanted to see it.

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I made it as far as Carrabelle in the eastern panhandle of the state.That’s where, 18 miles off the coast, on July 6, 2017, a Coast Guard-dispatched boat took me aboard their boat and dropped me off at the dock in Panacea, Florida where an ambulance was waiting to take me to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital suffering from total kidney shutdown due to severe dehydration. I spent 17 days at TMH and Health South, a rehab facility, until I’d regained enough strength before returning to the boat to continue my voyage. I decided to head south.

rescued

I made it to Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island where I’ve been ever since with one excursion, last year, to Cayo Costa to the south. About a 200 mile round trip.

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FREE Books (Mine)

Recently a dear friend wrote and asked how I was progressing with my proposed book tentatively titled, “Four Feet of Less: A Gunkholer’s Guide to Florida’s West Coast.” Shamefacedly I had to confess, “Not very well.”

There are a number of reasons, and it’s hard to say which one carries most of the onus. So I’ll just say…I haven’t visited a lot of places I wanted to include in the a guide (Yet?). Last year I went to Cayo Costa, about 100 miles south. I was there for a couple of days and the water was taking on a strange, pinkish hue and my eyes started to burn as well as my lungs which isn’t good when you have serious COPD issues. It was Red Tide. So I pulled anchor and returned to Bradenton Beach. The tide followed me. In fact, at its worst it covered nearly 150 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast and littered the littoral with thousands of dead fish.

I thought it would at least be a good time to get started with the writing. Then my beloved MacBook Air died! I’m an old guy living on a tiny 22-foot sailboat and subsisting entirely on Social Security. I didn’t have an extra $1,300 lying around to buy a replacement Mac. I thought about how I mainly used the Mac and it boiled down to emails and getting into arguments over politics with strangers online…So I sprung for an Acer Chromebook for less than $300. For the most part it does what I need it to do. The big BUT, though, is that instead of Microsoft Word, that I used to write my book “Adversity’s Wake,” I have to use Google Docs. Not nearly as good. And there has been a learning curve. It’s not easy to assemble and edit chapters. Move one thing and everything gets discombobulated resulting in extreme frustration so I move on to doing something else.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do since the gunkhole book is quite a ways from complete. This will take a little effort on your part, though.

I am offering my book “Adversity’s Wake” and the short story “Sailing Alone to Isla” FREE to anyone who wants them. BUT, you have to go and sign up with the site “SMASHWORDS.COM.” Don’t worry, they WON’T spam you or give your name to anyone else.

When you’ve registered, go to my page and select the two books. When you go to “check out” there is a space for entering a coupon number. Do that and when you complete your checkout you will NOT BE CHARGED for the books. This is a LIMITED TIME OFFER. After August 1 the price will go back to $4.99 for Adversity’s wake and 99¢ for Sailing Alone to Isla.

For Adversity’s Wake the Coupon Code is: QH93D (NOT case sensitive)
For Sailing Alone to Isla the code is: BB62U (NOT case sensitive)

There are different formats to choose from to read them. If you like them an HONEST review would be appreciated.

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Sunshine State My Aging White Pooper!

Gonna be a wet, nasty day anchored here at the south end of Anna Maria Island, FL. But that’s life on the hook in Florida. The MyRadar site is predicting 1 to 2 inches of rain today and 1-2 inches overnight. The challenge isn’t to stay safe. It’s to stay DRY and keep the dinghy bailed out.

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Staying Sane While Quarantined

Since mentioning that I have taken up trying to learn how to play the ukulele and how it helps while away the time here at anchor off of Anna Maria Island, FL, a member of one of the Facebook boating groups I run keeps pestering me about not posting uke videos. There are a few reasons for that: primarily because my voice SUCKS. I can’t carry a note with a co-signer. Also, I don’t have decent equipment to do a recording, but, never the less, being in self quarantine and needing something to do, I used my iPad to record this. Volume for the voice is low, but I’m not going to go our and buy a mike.

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Staying Fed At Anchor

One of the questions I’m sometimes asked is, “Do you cook out there on your boat?” My answer is, “Do you see any empty pizza boxes floating around?”

Actually, I’m a pretty good cook. Not as good as my first French girlfriend who was the chef on a 180-foot mega yacht over in Antibes, France, but I rarely cook something up and have to say, “Well, THAT, sucked!”

My dad was a chef and while he only taught me and my brothers how to cook the world’s best fried foods, watching him and my mother, no slouch in the kitchen in her own right, some of what he did was sort of absorbed almost by osmosis. I can’t tell you how often we’d have a supper and say, “Wow! That was great. Can we have that again?” and his answer would be, “No. You can have something LIKE that again, but you can’t have that.” The reason was that as a chef he was constantly creative. A little of THIS, a pinch of THAT, eye of newt, etc. Whatever inspired him at that instant went into the meal so it was impossible to duplicate it. There was no recipe.

When I was outfitting this boat I bought a two-burner Coleman propane camp stove. stove

It uses those little 1 lb green cans.

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The bottles last a couple of weeks when you cook every day and they power my Little Buddy heater for those occasional cold snaps we get here on Anna Maria Island, Florida in the winter months.

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I’d make a trip over to the Walmart on mainland Bradenton where a pair of those tanks could be purchased for $3.60. I’d buy three or four pairs at a time so I’d have a couple months worth stored away. The biggest drawback to these things is that if I’d been cooking for a while and wanted to make something that required a long time to prepare, like turkey thighs, I’d have to take off whatever bottle was attached to the stove and put on a brand new one because there’s nothing worse than having the gas run out in the middle of cooking.

Eventually, of course, I learned, via YouTube, how to refill those little cans despite the warning NOT to do it printed on their labels. So I went out and bought a 20 lb tank. This cut the cost per tank down by about 2/3rds. It’s awkward to do this, especially working in the cockpit of a 22-foot boat, and I was rarely able to get the tanks more than 3/4 full. But that’s okay if you’ve got plenty of them.

The major downside of the two burner stove, besides all the room it took up, was keeping it clean. And it was a hassle dragging it topside for a complete scrubbing down.

After nearly three years it slowly dawned on me that I rarely used both burners at the same time. So I bought a top-quality, single-burner stove the GasOne dual fuel stove. And got all the extra hoses to hook it up to the 20 lb tank…

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I liked making one-pot meals such as “Unstuffed cabbage rolls,” Unstuffed green peppers,” stovetop tuna casserole, etc. When I make my stir fry chicken or pork I’d generally cook the rice, first and set it aside to steam then do the stir fry. I love using sweet chili sauce to make a sweet and sour type meal.

Not every meal has to be gourmet. I happen to like this: Cook up some pasta. Shells, elbows, bow ties, etc. add a small can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilis (if you like hot) or small can of diced tomatoes. Add a can of tuna or some diced ham, and then pour some cheese dip out of a jar until everything’s coated and yummy.

On the other hand I recently braised some sea scallops in olive oil and butter, at the last minute added some freshly minced garlic and oregano until fragrant and splashed with lime juice. Served over yellow rice with a small salad on the side. Honestly, you couldn’t have gotten anything more delicious at a restaurant.

So, how does it work when you NEED two burners? You need to use some ingenuity. For instance, last night I had spaghetti with meat balls. Now, I don’t use much prepared foods but sometimes it’s the easiest way to go. I bought some ready-made meatballs at the grocery and some spaghetti sauces that were on BOGO. I can make excellent spaghetti sauce but there are times I don’t want to do all the prep work and use a ready-made sauce whose label isn’t filled with words of chemicals I can’t pronounce in the ingredients list. Why not, huh?

Now, bring your pasta water to a boil then cover and set aside. Put the meatballs and sauce in a pan and heat until the meatballs are done. Cover and set aside. Put the pasta water back on the burner. It’s stayed hot and won’t take but a couple of minutes to get back to a boil. Cook your pasta. Now, when that’s done put the sauce back on the burner while you drain the pasta. It, too, will still be hot. Top the pasta with the sauce et Voilà as we used to say over in Antibes.

One thing I DO MISS on the boat, though, is the lack of an oven. There are some casseroles that can be adapted to stove tops, like tuna noodle, stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls, but some can’t be duplicated and I miss them.

I experiment a lot with my meals and most of the time their fair to excellent, but I’ll admit, a couple of times a year I have to say, “Well, THAT really sucked!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Staying Fit On A Small Boat

Multi-billionaire, David Geffen, recently stirred up a shit storm of outrage when he posted about self-isolating himself and the 45 members of the crew of his $519 million, 453 foot mega yacht in the Caribbean. Seems most of the world view him as an enormous jerk!

I bet that somewhere on his yacht he has a full-equipped gymnasium so he can stay in shape. But what about us folks that are self-isolating on a 22 foot boat anchored off of Anna Maria Island, FL? How do we keep our muscles from atrophying because of inactivity?

Up on deck if the boat’s not bouncing around too badly I can do pushups to keep the upper body toned. I DON’T, but I COULD if I wasn’t such a lazy SOB.

When the wind’s not real bad I paddle to shore in my dinghy which gives me some upper body workout and certainly gets my COPD clogged lungs a workout. Then, on shore, I can walk in the boat trailer parking lot for fitness.

Recently, though, when we went through a patch of windy weather where going ashore would have been on an emergency need only, I discovered that walking in place is just as effective as walking on a track; all you need is enough space to march, supportive shoes and comfortable clothing. Every time I stand up after reading or working on the computer for a while I will start my metronome for 5 minutes at a speed of 70 beats per minute. It get’s my breathing up and at the end of that time my right hip is bothering me as much as when I’m walking around on land. I do this EVERY TIME I stand up in the hatchway and that comes to a couple of dozen times a day.

The Y, of which I’m a member so I can use their gym and take hot showers, is closed for the foreseeable future, and while this isn’t as good as the gym David Geffen has access to I’m staying as fit as I can…92128254_819098755268908_1653492121820200960_n90839384_10206979444922657_6275735019537301504_o

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Just Another Night

Even without the Covfefe19 shelter in place directives this is a “don’t go ashore” morning here at the Coquina Beach North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL.

The last week to 10 days have been unusual. Days on end with barely a ripple on the water and no rain. But that all changed last night just before midnight. The wind did a 180 and started blowing from the Northeast. And blow, indeed. Immediately the intensity of the waves lapping against the hull increased and a few minutes later the first fat drops of rain started rebounding off the cabin top. Where the boat’s motion had been solid, as though planted in the sandy bottom of the bay, now it was rocking up and down in the wavelets and the sound of the rain soon had me sound asleep.

A large, loud BANG on the side of the boat at around 04:30 had me instantly awake. The wind and waves had increased quite a bit. I generally keep the dinghy tied up on the starboard quarter (see pic) but the wave action had caused the fender at the bow to be flipped inside the dinghy and the two bare hulls were now slamming together.

The solution, of course was to turn it loose on its painter so it would bob, unfettered, astern. I took unfastened the painter from the cleat on the cabin top, careful not to let it fly away. Instantly the bow flew off downwind. But the stern didn’t. it looked as though it was caught under the propeller of the Mercury outboard. I pulled the bow back in and it seemed as though the stern came free from the Merc so I let the bow go, again, and the same thing happened. Remember, it’s about 4:30 in the morning and I’ve been roused out of a sound sleep just a couple of minutes ago so it took a third unsuccessful attempt before it dawned on me that the line from the dinghy’s transom was still fastened to the main boat.

Thankfully the rain had stopped but the temperature had plunged. Not winter cold front cold, but chilly. Working in the dark i tried to unfasten the line from the cleat but somehow the fender had gotten tangled up. And it’s my BEST fender, too, and I don’t want to lose it. I managed to get it unfastened and flipped into the dinghy. Back at the cabin top I let the line loose once again and the dinghy slipped back and rode easily astern.

The wind was really piping away. I tried to get a reading with my hand-held anemometer but couldn’t get the screen to light up. Looking at windfinder just now I see that the winds were recorded as gusting up to 28 mph. Now folks, I AM safe. I’ve explained my anchoring system. I’m in NO DANGER. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but SAFE.

It’s about 15 degrees colder now than the last week. Winds are gusting TOWARDS, but not HITTING, 20 mph. But the sun is shining and it’s just a good day to be on the water.91748595_203351307779291_7343569060187078656_n

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