Tag Archives: adventure

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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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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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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Little difference because of lockdown…

It’s a nice day anchored here at the south end of Anna Maria Island, FL., and the coronavirus is far away. It’s a bit chilly for my taste at 62F at nearly 9:30 a.m. but the sun’s shinning, pelicans skim inches off the surface of the sparkling water and occasionally dive for some fish. I hear the resident osprey’s twitter gliding in the breeze from it’s lookout perch atop a nearby sailboat mast. An anhinga pops up close by with a small hapless fish it snatched out of the school…”Hey, anybody seen Harry lately?” A dolphin’s exhale puff tumbles into my cabin. No motor noises. The boat ramp, 125 yards away, is closed. Nearly everything ashore is shut down on governmental orders but I have well-stocked lockers filled with food for a while and I wouldn’t be doing anything ashore, anyway. Just sitting around playing on my computer and trying to learn the cord melody version of Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train” on my ukulele.

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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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Winter’s Coming…

Temperature at Bradenton Beach, FL, in low 50F this morning. Really a shock climbing out of the sleeping bag at 6:30. Dug out the thermals and fleece-lined booties before cranking up the stove for my morning mug of espresso. Don’t think low 50s is cold? Just a couple of weeks ago we were dealing with heat index figures of 108F!

Just before 8 last night I stood up in the hatchway to secure the shade tarp into its “rain” configuration which, while acting as a dodger, also serves like a spoiler directing the wind up and over the Bimini top. JUST as I was doing this the wind did a 180 and swung around into the NNE and went from nearly dead calm to mid to upper teens in wind speed in a matter of seconds. Shortly after that the temperature began to drop and a stiff chop developed bouncing my little craft uncomfortably. So uncomfortably that I couldn’t fall asleep for several hours.

Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to do old man stuff and there, less than 200 feet away and nestled into the mangroves was this derelict. And I mean mangrove branches are touching the hull! There are several like this up in the big anchorage by the pier. People come in with boats they no longer want or can’t afford, drop a hook and abandon them. It’s a big problem. THIS ONE has been up there for over a year and a half!

In the light of morning you can see that the lower ends of the two anchor lines hanging from the bow are BOTH about 4 feet ABOVE the waterline which leads me to believe that they had been deliberately cut in the night.

It’s a good thing the boat didn’t hit me. If it had I’d have been forced to track down whomever cut the lines and kill them!!!

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Further Adventures In DIY Boat Maintenance

Exactly a month ago I wrote about removing the old, frozen outboard motor bracket from the boat…  https://onemoregoodadventure.com/2019/10/01/the-cruising-life/. As of yesterday the new bracket is now sitting jauntily on the transom. It wasn’t easy!

You have to know a bit about me to understand how difficult the job was. I’m 77 years old. I operate on lungs with a bit less than 40% of capacity due to COPD. I have three arterial stents and my fingers are gnarled from arthritis. I live full time on a Venture22 sailboat anchored off of Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida, a bit south of Tampa Bay. Most of my adult life I made my living on the water either operating boats or repairing the damned things.

I tried to install it a week or so earlier but couldn’t do it. I I thought if I could get one or two of the 5/16″ bolts through the holes it might hold up well enough until I could climb down under the port seat in the cockpit to get the nuts on. And I’m trying to do this in a dinghy! The damned thing is heavy at 20 lbs and wakes coming in from the nearby Intracoastal Waterway had me bouncing up and down. Kersploosh! One of the bolts drops off into Davy Jones’s locker. Certainly a pain, but from years in the business, even though there are only four holes to be filled I bought FIVE bolts.

This wasn’t going to work so I gave up for the time being. I made a couple of calls to guys I know who are anchored up above but got no reply. So I’m thinking over the next couple of days, “What would I do if I was off on some deserted island by myself? How would I be able to cope and get the job done?

I pondered for a couple of days and then it hit me. I’d been going at it from the wrong direction! If I had a bolt sticking OUT of the transom it should be easier to get one of the holes to slip over IT than to try and get a bolt to slip into what is a small, moving hole. In my container of assorted odds and ends I found a 3” long bolt and nut and a couple of fender washers. The strange thing I notice as I’m digging through the stuff is that I’ve got a good assortment of bolts but, oddly, very few nuts to fit anything.

So, I have to climb down under the portside cockpit seat and it’s not easy. For the benefit of those who didn’t read the previous post this is the challenge…

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Best case scenario is that I’ll only have to do this three times. Did I tell you I still believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny?

I toss the bolt back to the transom and dive into the hole head first and inchworm my way aft. Though it’s a bare 7 feet, a half century of inhaling the smoke of licit and illicit substances has taken its toll and I have to pause a couple of minutes until my breath returns to normal. Or a reasonable facsimile of normal, anyway. Struggle my way out of the hole, into the cabin and up into the cockpit where I have to rest up for a few minutes.

I then wrestled the 20 pound  bracket down into the dinghy and, hand over hand, pulled my way to the stern. I tied the bow and stern of the dinghy off to keep from moving around as much as possible and then tied a length of paracord to the bracket and secured it to the stern railing so that if I lost my grip on the thing it wouldn’t fall into the water.

I lift the bracket up to set it on the protruding bolt and it nearly slides back into the hole. I forgot to secure it with duct tape as I’d planned.

Unfasten the bracket. Back around to the side of the boat and up into the cockpit. Down into the cabin where I rest for a couple of minutes before plunging into the hole again. A couple of pieces of tape over the head of the bolt only take a couple of seconds. That done, it’s inch my way topside again and tie up astern once more. Resecure the bracket to the stern railing and lift the bracket up onto the bolt. Holding it in place with one hand I slide a fender washer over the bolt and finger tighten the nut to hold the bracket steady while I put the bolts into the upper and lower outboard holes of the bracket. The holes aren’t exactly lined up but a couple of light taps with the small hammer I’ve brought along takes care of that, and the bolts are head-deep in the holes.

The problem comes with the inboard bottom hole. The way the thing is built the bolt (yellow arrow) protrudes too far to allow the head of the bolt to pass by and enter the pre-drilled hole (red arrow).

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Back into the boat cabin and dig out the cordless drill and a bit that will fit through the hole. I’ll drill all the way through the transom from the outside in the hole just above the intended one. It will be a pilot hole. Then, when I’m inside the hole again, with the proper sized bit, because that one won’t fit through the bracket hole, I’ll enlarge the hole until the bit bottoms out on the metal of the bracket.

Now I’m back in the hole for the THIRD TIME. Tighten the two lock tight bolts after fitting aluminum backing plates over the bolts and enlarge the new hole. I remove the tape from the pilot bolt and use some two-part epoxy stick putty to fill the hole that’s useless.

Outside and tied up to the transom again I remove the pilot bolt and put the new bolts into the holes. Back around to the side of the boat. Up into the cockpit. Down into the cabin. Squeeze into the hole. Inchworm my way to the transom and tighten the two final bolts.

DONE!! It looks cool back there. Today I just gave the go ahead to Cannon Marine down in nearby Longboat Key to order me a Yamaha 6 horsepower, long shaft, four stroke outboard. The price is nearly $300 less than a similar model Mercury outboard from West Marine or Bradenton Beach Marine. Monday I’ll know when it will be delivered. It has to be ordered from Yamaha as it’s not in stock but will be coming in with some other, larger engines they’re going to be ordering. When I get it I plan on doing a bit of cruising around the area. Up into the Manatee that goes through Bradenton and into Sarasota and the Hillsborough River that flows through downtown Tampa. I want to go up there and check out the Jean Street Boat Yard. It’s the only one close by (40 miles away) that will let you work on your boat yourself. I need to paint the bottom to fend off the barnacles and other flora and fauna that grow on it in these warm, shallow waters. An interesting side bar to the Jean Street yard is that it’s the oldest boat yard in the entire state of Florida, opening its doors for business in 1848!!!

 

 

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More of the Cruising Life

One nice thing about being retired is that there’s no big rush to get things accomplished ASAP. I’m under no deadlines as far as working on my boat, especially since no one’s paying me to do it.

I’ve needed to scrape the bottom of my dinghy for a while. When was the last time you went out and scraped junk off of the bottom of your car or pickup truck? All last week I watched a piece of seaweed that can best be described as looking like a leaf of very ripe lettuce grow larger and larger. Really nothing I could do about it then. There’s a tiny, postage-stamp bit of beach on the south side of the boat launch ramp, but it’s only usable at low tide, and the tides weren’t synced right last week. But today it was dead low at 0830 so I went in around 10 on a rising tide. There was enough of the “beach” left to put the things I keep in the dinghy, shopping cart, life jacket and throwable flotation required by the USCG, spare paddle, etc. on shore.Flipped it upside down and went to work with the scraper. For most people reading this it wouldn’t have taken you more than about 15 or 20 minutes to get the wildlife (barnacles) and vegetables off the bottom, but I’m working with about 40% lung capacity so several breaks to catch my breath extended the job to about an hour. It’s amazing how much easier it paddles with all that stuff gone.

As I wrote, recently, I need to replace the original outboard motor bracket that came with the boat. The last year with the old Honda 9.9 at more than 100 lbs rocking and rolling in the passing wakes bent the arms of the bracket so I couldn’t raise or lower it. I’d always had a problem with it and had resorted to a block and tackle arrangement to use it. Even then it was extremely difficult.

I described how I got the jackplate (as the brackets are sometimes called) off the transom, elsewhere. Of course the bolt holes of the new bracket aren’t the same as the old one. So last week I bought some epoxy stick. Break a bit off the stick and knead it until the color from the two parts blend into a solid color and then stuffed it into the old holes.

This afternoon I climbed into the dinghy with the bracket to which I’d attached some rope to tie to the stern railing to keep it from taking a swim.

The first hole was easy. I moved the bracket around until it looked good. . .i.e. there was enough room to operated the lift arm properly. . . and made sure it was about an inch away from one of the original holes and went at it with the 11/32 drill bitt. Of course it needs to be a bit bigger than the 5/16″ bolt so it can slide through the hole in the transom easily.

With that hole drilled I slipped one of the 5/16 bolts through to help hold the bracket in place so I could determine where the next three holes needed to be drilled. Using a smaller bitt I drilled into the center of the holes and then removed the bracket completely off the transom. Back to the 11/32 bitt I used the smaller holes as guides and drilled completely through the transom.

t was the middle of the afternoon when I finished this up and I didn’t feel like moving all the detritus necessary to climb into that 16-1/2″ entrance to where I’ll be accessing the bolts to tighten things up. I’ll get that done sometime in the next few days. No hurry.

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