Sunday, January 31, 2010


Can you think of anything more foolish than working hard and carefully to prepare a wood surface, meticulously clean it and varnish it (6 times in a row) then, in 6 months, take a piece of sand paper to your masterpiece and scratch it all up? Well, that becomes your life when you have varnish on your boat. The real killer is that to gain any real type of protection for the wood you have to build up more than 6 coats of varnish! Here in the south we have to put on a refresher coat every 6 months since the sun is more intense down here. The Snow Goose has acres of varnish and at times I feel like Sisyphus who had to push the boulder up a hill everyday just to have it roll down again at night. So, my advice to you if you’re coming south…..Paint it!


In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew landed at the island of the Lotus-eaters. Once there, many of his men ate a meal of the lotus plant and fell under a spell. They stopped caring about leaving or even getting back to their land of Ithaca. Marathon is the mythical land of Lotus-eaters.
The harbor at Marathon is well protected and efficiently run by the city. The harbor also has room for those who want to anchor out too. The amenities provided by the city are excellent and the price is good too! Your days start cool then become sunny and warm filled with lots of entertainment that a busy harbor can provide. The people and businesses of Marathon are boater friendly and almost everything that you might need is within walking distant. They have a pot-luck on Wed. an impromptu musical get together on Sat. down by the water under the tiki hut. The morning cruiser net gives information to anyone who wants to listen. The water is filled with every type of boat from derelict boat bums to 60foot gold plated beauties and all seem to get along well. To top it off, they are dog friendly, and encourage you to stay for a day, a month or a year. I’m trying hard not to eat of the Lotus plant but,,, Oh boy does it ever look good!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


What everyone in the real world (those people who live in houses) takes for granted is that big cold box in the kitchen, you know… the “fridge”. The ability to refrigerate and freeze things on a boat though, is a challenge. On a boat your “fridge” seldom sits level and at times it’s violently moved around. It has to work in changing environments and run on everything from 11.8 volts up to 14.5 volts DC. This box also is a power hungry little beast. A typical system can consume from 40 to 80 amp/hours of electricity per day. Doesn’t sound like much but it is the total usable energy in a typical battery and you have to replace that energy when it is gone because the next day (like a 2 year old) the little beast is hungry again!

I built (what I thought was) a bullet proof system on the Snow Goose and until last Thursday it ran flawlessly (you can see where I’m going with this). On Thursday, the compressor locked up and we went from having a refrigerator to having a built in ice chest. The problem is that the refrigerator was the only thing that I truly “built in” to the boat and the removal/ installation of a new refrigeration system is going to be time consuming, costly and very ugly. We will probably spend a bit more time in Marathon Key dealing with this problem than we had planned. We both agree that having a working refrigerator is a luxury that we would rather not loose.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


As much as I disagree with Donald Rumsfeld I do like one of his sayings, “you go to war with the army that you have not the one that you wish for”. Cruising is a lot like his statement. For exampal, our dinghy and outboard fit that description perfectly. Our dinghy leaks, is too small, has over 1 dozen patches on it and it’s over 20 years old. The outboard situation though, is even worse. It’s a ‘cruise & carry’ “The 12 lbs wonder!” (as the advertisement for it proclaimed). This 1.5 HP outboard, (seemingly a converted chainsaw motor) has been my friend and nemesis for the last 15 years. It's about 20+ years old now and consistently dies on me but I manage to resurrect it from the grave every time. If we had a choice we would have a 4 stroke 8 HP beast that is quiet and reliable and a roomier RIB dinghy. The reality of cruising is quite and bit different, for like Rumsfeld said (just paraphrased a bit), “you go cruising with the equipment that you have not always what you want”.

Friday, January 22, 2010


We have been at anchor behind Marco Island for the last 4 days. Anna wanted a break to do a bit of shelling and I had a few more maintenance items to take care of plus, the weather isn’t cooperating. We have had strong south winds just when we wanted to go south so, we are enjoying Marco Island and all of its shells. By Monday, the next front will go through and we will be on our way to the everglades. Here is just a small sample of the variety of shells that you can find here.

PS, the sunsets are great!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Well, it happens to every sailor only this time it really happened to us. I ran us aground. We touched the bottom and then began to slide free so I gave her more throttle and managed to push us up onto the next sand bar really tight... Oh, and to make matters worse, the tide was falling. I tried to wiggle free but to no avail. Then I placed an anchor out and tried to kedge off, nothing. Then I hooked the anchor to the halyard and pulled the Goose over about 10 deg gave her full motor and bow jet…nothing! All of this had taken about 20 minutes to accomplish and by then the tide had gone out another few inches and we were stuck solid for the night. The good thing was that the tide only had another 5 inches to drop and then it would be on the rise to its highest point of the day. The bad news was that it was now 6 PM and it would be 1 AM when this high tide occurred. At 1 AM the alarm went off and I got up. Anna, (somehow) slept through the alarm. So, I threw on clothes and pulled us off the sand bar and started the motor (that’s when Anna came up from below). Together, in the pitch dark, we found a deeper spot to dropped anchor, and went back to bed. It was one of those nights when having a house that doesn’t move sounds like a pretty good idea.

Friday, January 15, 2010


A home, I thought nothing of tossing something into the waste basket. In fact, (like most families) we could routinely fill a large rolling trash bin for Waste Management to empty every week. Here on the boat it’s a different story. We have a limited capacity to store trash and yet (on some weeks) we seem to generate a lot of it. Unlike Oscar (of Sesame Street) who loves trash, my theme song is “I Hate trash”. On Snow Goose we use some methods to reduce the amount of unnecessary trash that seems to come with everyday living. We start by getting rid of it right off the bat by discarding most of the cardboard containers that our food comes in. This way we can discard a lot of our trash while still at an anchorage or dock. We also store some bulk items in zip lock bags or hard plastic containers such as rice, beans, pasta or cereal. Without the cardboard I find that I can store far more food in the same amount of space and because a boat is composed of curved sides these bags of food fit in much better than a box ever could. We also try to compact anything that goes into the waste basket before putting it in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Sometimes Edie and I have this love/hate relationship. I love her and I’m glad that we brought her along but I get tired of having to be a chauffeur for a furry mammal. My job is to drive her to shore twice daily for her walks. Here’s a good example of what I have to do every day. When the tide is out, I have to carry her through the mud to the shore and even when there is enough water I can't always make it to shore. Sometimes there are docks but they normally are not at a convenient height. Personally I think that this “job” is a good trade off for while I’m gone, Anna is cooking! Whether it’s tromping thru the mud with a dog under my arm or climbing docks it’s a good trade off for home cooked meals!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Yesterday we waited at the dock for the cold front (with its rain and wind) to pass and today we had planned to leave. At 7AM, when we awoke, the boat had a distinct bow down feel to her and she had a 10 deg list to starboard too! The strong north wind last night combined with the tide going out had dropped the water in the canal to a new low and we are well aground. The Goose is about 1 foot + out of the water and the propeller is starting to come out of the water! If we didn’t have the dock to lean against I’m sure that we might be on our side by now. Life is never dull when cruising.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Today, (a typical day), we had to go to shore to buy some things… a run to the store for perishables goods and find a station to pick up some gas for the dingy. Where as it might have taken me ½ hr max to go to the store and stop for some gas back home, today it took about 3+ hours. First, blow the dingy up (it has a leak), install the engine, load in both back packs, gas can, spare shoes, bag of trash, air pump for the dingy, both life jackets, the extra long cable with its lock and finally Anna and I. Then it’s off to shore only to find that the tide is going out and I have to drag the dingy the last 100 feet to shore (the last 50 feet, both of us have to drag it), carry it up on shore then lock it to something on shore, change from rubber boots to shore shoes, shoulder the packs and were off! One mile + to the store (stop to have some lunch) and another mile back then another ½ mile to PU some gas and back again. Unlock the dingy, store everything in it and change back into rubber boots only to find that the tide is further out and now I have to drag the dingy 200 feet out before it will float both of us. A lot of time and effort for a few veggies, bread and gas!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Abandoned boats

Today we sailed up the bay back to Port Charlotte / Punta Gorda area. We’ve anchored just off from the city park at Port Charlotte and there on shore was yet another boat. Everywhere we go there seems to be sailboats that have blown ashore. This boat seems to be in pretty good shape. The mast is still up and the hull appears to be in good shape. There is even a sign in the cockpit that says “no trespassing”. The boat is very close to a parking lot and it would be no problem to get a crane in and lift it onto a truck. It could even be moved during high tide if the proper preparation was taken. Instead, it will sit against the rocks until a hole is pounded in the side of the hull and the boat will then be trash. Sadly, it will just end up as another beached boat picture for our photo album.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Whether you live up north or in the south the weather really doesn’t affect you very much. When there happens to be rain or snow most of us tend to stay in their house or if you have to go somewhere you move into your car and enjoy a dry, warm ride to your destination. When you live on a boat the weather becomes a part of your daily life and it sets the rhythm of your day. Sunshine brings out the best in us as you can see, it is 49 Deg and Anna is out picking up trash on the island. Whereas, a cold blustery day (rain or not) makes your hibernation instincts kick in and all projects or destinations get put on a hold. Only the dog’s needs end up driving you out into the dingy and rowing her over to land.

Today, we had planned to go across the bay and take the State Park shuttle to the gulf coast to do a bit of shelling. The weather though, has changed our mind. It has turned cold and gray (50 Deg) with a steady 15 kt north wind. The wind is going to turn in another two days and place us on a lee shore with a lot of water in front of us (meaning big waves). Our big project today was using the dingy to sound out the bottom so that we could move to a deeper area a little bit closer to shore. Even this had to be done with long underwear, two coats and a stocking hat!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


The amount of wires and ropes that are needed to hold 2 masts up and to control up to 5 sails at one time are a handful to say the least. One of the biggest items on the ‘List’ is to pull maintenance and do a visual check on all of this “stuff” on a regular basis. Today after we had sailed 20 miles in high winds I dropped the anchor behind an island and started in on the Mizzen Mast. It needed to be adjusted so that the main mast boom would clear the forward mizzen shrouds (the wires on both sides). After adjusting the mast I retightened the standing rigging and was giving the wires a final pull when a turnbuckle snapped! The mast didn’t fall but all I could think of was “what would have happened if we had the sail up and loaded with wind”? The turnbuckle broke right thru the threaded part. At the site of the fracture you could see a weak spot where the bronze had begun to fail.