Category Archives: boats

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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Finally Gone

The beached boat is finally gone after many unsuccessful attempts to free it from the oyster bar.

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Months ago this boat, semi-derelict, was anchored up among the boats at the Bradenton Beach, Florida, anchorage. In a very violent storm it dragged anchor and came to lay against another anchored boat. In order to save himself and his boat, he person living on the anchored boat severed the yellow boat’s anchor lines and let it drift free. It came to rest on an oyster bar behind me. This all happened in the dark, so you can imagine how surprised I was when I woke up in the morning to discover this behind me. I have no idea how close it must have come to me as it passed by in the night.

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There have been many attempt to move it and all failed until this afternoon when a BoatUS tug started pulling on it. It wasn’t easy, believe me, but finally it started to move.

 

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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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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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Yuck

I absolutely HATE days like this as I sit anchored at the south end of Anna Maria Island, Florida. Wind is out of the NNE gusting into the upper teens and low twenties. Heavily overcast. Overall there’s a 60% chance of rain and it’s been sixty percenting off and on so far this morning. But what I REALLY hate is that I’ve been up for a couple of hours (It’s now 9:30) and I just put on a sweat shirt. A bit earlier I donned the bottoms of my long johns. It’s the MIDDLE OF APRIL, DAMNIT!!!

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Outside Comfort Zone

For the first time in a couple of weeks the winds are picking up. It was dead calm four hours ago but now it’s up to a point from the NNE here anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island, FL, where I’d start to struggle against it to get back the 125 yards from the dock to the boat. The forecast for tomorrow is calling for winds gusting up to 30 mph, Been there, survived that…

But I’m ready. Had to leave my comfort zone a couple of times this week. On Wednesday, since the weather was clear and calm, I took the #6 bus over to The Dark Side (mainland) and went to Wally World. I needed to buy a pair of slacks since I can’t wear jeans to my upcoming court date to fight the “No visible anchor light” extortion summons I received.

While I was there I stocked up on a half dozen Hormel “Compleats” dinners. I’m not much into prepared foods but with this mandated “Stay at Home” deal that cuts down on trips to the grocery store for fresh stuff. The Compleats aren’t too bad and they don’t have too many ingredients listed that are impossible to pronounce. Shelf life exceeds that of Twinkies which is something like four years after the sun is scheduled to go supernova and eliminate the solar system.

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Nearly all processed food manufacturers believe that everyone in the known universe owns a microwave oven. Well, news item, people that live anchored on 22-foot sailboats DON’T! But the meals are packaged in plastic trays with a thick plastic lining on top. Put an inch or two of water in a pot big enough to take the package, bring the water to a boil, plop in the tray and let it boil away for eight to ten minutes. Another long life sorta food  are Ready Meals. They come in plastic bags and I do rather like the fiesta steak.

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Quite spice. Just drop into boiling water for awhile and same results. Synthetic food…Soylent Green is People!

I then did some involuntary sightseeing. I’m waiting at the DeSoto Station which is one of the termini for many of Manatee County Area Transportation’s bus lines, and reading a story on my iPad. I sense a bus entering the terminal and I glance up and see a green “6” on the sign. I get on. When the bus takes off it goes in an unexpected direction.

At first I think nothing of it because down at the intersection of Cortez where the bus would normally turn there’s a ton of construction going on. So I think perhaps the driver’s taking a different route to avoid that. Then, though, when she passes the logical place to join Cortez Road she keeps on going.

“Isn’t this the #6 bus?” I ask.
“No,” it’s the SixTEEN.”
Rats. I’m going to have to ride the whole route, and I wish I’d brought a sweater because it’s FREEZING on the bus…Fortunately with the virus situation they aren’t charging for the rides these days.

Now I’m looking at my “My Stop” app on my phone. The buses have transponders so you can follow a bus on its travels. It’s a race to see who gets to the terminal first…the bus I’m on or the #6 that I need to take me back out to the island. It’s neck-and-neck. The buses are only running once every hour and if I miss this one I have to hang around the terminal for another hour. Well, we beat the number six in by no more than three minutes so my sagging, aging ass was saved!

On Thursday I got a text message from CVS that my blood pressure med prescription was ready. So off I went. The usual trolley schedule of 20 minutes has been reduced for an hour. No big deal. My stop app says it starts off from the South Coquina stop below me on the hour. Went and got my meds then slipped over to Publix next door and really loaded up on groceries. Got some more prepared foods but also a whole fresh chicken which is in the pressure cooker right now. A couple of pork chops that will become sweet and sour stir fry and some ground beef that will be transformed into hamburger stroganoff. Weill be boat bound until Monday or Tuesday. That’s when my Enya carbon fibre ukulele is scheduled for delivery. I’ll go pick it up, make a quick dash into the Dollar Store and stock up on junk food and then I’ll be dug in for a couple or three weeks.

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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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