Sunday, January 29, 2012

Owning a steel boat

Maintenance is the key work when you own a steel boat that has a lot of varnish work on it. Today I am repairing the last “chain plate”. This is the part of the boat that you hook the rigging to. The chain plates were rusting and needed to have the rust chipped away, then a grinder taken to them to get back to bare metal and finally a coat of epoxy and 2 coats of paint.

Not too bad on a regular boat but since we have two masts I have double the number of chain plates to deal with. I started this job back in NC and am just now coming to the last one. After this it’s on to the semi-annual coat of varnish.

Appalachian hike

My back pack is almost ready for the start of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve been in conditioning mode for the last month doing lots of biking, walking with a small pack and now, biking and hiking with the full pack. Before the sun comes up I’m on my bike with my full pack and hiking stick for a 4mile bike ride and then a 4 mile walk to the end of the bridge to Pigon Key.

My step off date is only 6 weeks away and I’m getting a bit antsy and worried. At 56+ years old am I still capable of a challenge of this magnitude? All of the books that I’ve read about the trail talk about the large elevation gains and drops that occur in the first 500 miles of the trail. I hope and pray that I’m able to complete this journey.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I’ve been doing many different types of repairs to the boat, sail repairs, water maker, varnish work, rebuilding the poop pump (the pubber impeller vanes were broken off)
rust removal and of course painting. I had just finished a small white paint job and after putting away the paint sat down to read for a bit.
Edie, the sailing wonder dog, walked up to me wanting some attention. To my astonishment she had a white butt!
She had gone and laid down right into my fresh paint job. At least it wasn’t as bad as the time she walked through the fresh white paint on the fore deck and left little doggie paw prints across my nice wood deck! Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flagler’s bridge

As we sailed towards the passageway between two keys so as to go from Florida Bay into the Gulf of Mexico we came upon this. It is the remains of the “eight wonder of the world”… Flagler’s overseas railroad.
Flagler was co-founder of standard oil company back in the late 1800’s.
After leaving Standard Oil he saw opportunity in the State of Florida so, he pushed his railroad line south along the east coast of Florida and built several great hotels along the way. this is a postcard from 1909 of his resort in Saint Augustine.

With the coming opening of the Panama Canal Flagler decided that if he could developed the southernmost deep water port in the USA he would capture the freight traffic that the canal would bring. Key West was the best port meeting these requirements but it was over 100 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico and would require the construction of a series of bridges connecting the islands of the Keys together. The longest of these would have to stretch 7 miles! Over the course of years he constructed this “eighth wonder of the world”… an overseas railroad that could withstand the great storms of the region. Many of the bridges that he built were fashioned after the Roman viaducts, simple concrete arches stretching for miles between the islands of the keys. Here's how they were constructed.First the cofferdams and support posts were driven into the limestone and the foundations were poured.
Then the support collums were poured.
Finally the arches were constructed and concrete poured.
During this time period a new product came on the market; low cost, mass produced steel. He used this to create steel span bridges where the waters were deeper as a method to save money and time.

The final product.
This great project never realized his dream of opening up a great southern deep water port. Freighters merely continued up the eastern seacoast to deliver their cargo nearer to its final destination but he did open up all of southern Florida to the emerging population of the USA.

As the years went by, the railroad went bankrupt and the State of Florida took over the right-of-way and rebuilt the bridges to accommodate cars instead of rail traffic.(Notic the original "box" style of construction of the steel spans.
To convert the railroad bridges into car bridges they layed steel beams across the spans and placed concrete slabs 22 feet wide on top of them.(biking out to Pigon Key on the old steel span bridge)
They used the railroad tracks as the guard rails on this new road.

Now, all of the old bridges are replaced with modern bridges and all that remains are the great “roman viaduct” style bridges and some of the steel span bridges which are used as fishing piers.

This last weekend they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the opening of the “Overseas” railway with an open house on the museum island of Pigeon Key. Flagler used this island as his work camp and it held up to 500 workers at a time during the years of construction.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exciting afternoon

A storm front was approaching the small bay that we are anchored in so I put out another anchor and increased the scope on our main anchor. Beside of us a small 22 foot sailboat from Michigan was anchored and as the wind came up he began to drag. He tossed over another anchor and still was dragging but now he was fast approaching the mangroves so I had Anna hand me our back anchor and the 120 foot of rope that we keep with it and headed off to help him… and just in time for he was almost to the mangroves.
The trip back heading into 3 foot waves and a strong wind almost flipped the dinghy.

When I got back to the Goose, we watched as the boat anchored across the bay dragged all the way across (about ¼ mile) right towards us! Back in the dinghy and over to their boat I went only to find nobody was home.
I climbed up, went forward and dropped their second anchor. When I got back to the dinghy I found that it had flipped over! You know what they say… no good deed goes unpunished. So, I flipped it back upright and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get the engine to start as I watched the dinghy paddles slowly get blown away. Finally, the engine caught and it was a mad race to find the paddles before the rest of the storm hit. With Anna’s help (she saw them float by the Goose) I found them and headed back to the boat cold, soaking wet but happy.

After the storm passed, we had a great sunset.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sights going south

Last night a great looking schooner pulled into the anchorage. She appeared to be made of rolled steel (like the Goose) and was in great shape.
On the way out of Fort Lauderdale we stopped for fuel. We didn’t stop at a marina (where the price is high) instead, you pull up to a floating gas station! Carlos helped us fill our tanks while filling our ears with tales of “board paddling”. It’s a sport where you stand up on a surfboard and use a long paddle to move yourself around (a lot of people are doing it down here).
From Fort Lauderdale south to Miami it’s nothing but large buildings, bridges and big boats so we went outside for the trip south. By the time we made it to Miami the wind had come around on the nose and it wasn’t a fun ride anymore so, it was nice to get off the ocean and into Biscayne Bay. You know your finally south when all the trees are Palm Trees.
You could hear the BANG! as they stacked containers onto this ship from a ¼ mile away.
Finally, we anchored behind Biscayne Key with a beautiful view of Miami during the day and again, awash in light at night.

It was a good day to travel.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Engine troubles

Our engine, a Yanmar 4JH2TE (All those letters and numbers mean it’s a 4 cylinder diesel with a turbo charger). It’s been a great reliable engine up until today. On a flat ocean about 3 miles from Fort Lauderdale the oil alarm went off, I jumped up and killed the engine. When I opened up the compartment I found about a gal of oil under the engine! The oil pressure sensor had sprung a leak!

It took about an hour to make a temporary repair and we were off again. We hadn’t planned to spend time in Fort Lauderdale but if you had to pick a place to break down this is a pretty good place to have it happen. Next stop, the Keys.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Underway again

(The night before we left)… We had a great stay in Manatee Pocket and are heading south again. We waited until the cold front came through (2 days of strong winds) and now, it should be a pleasant ride with the wind at our backs and favorable waves….
(The next morning 7:30 AM) Well, we left thursday morning and it was COLD but we had a good wind from behind that kept switching from the aft port to the aft starboard most of the day. Fighting with the pole.

I did about a dozen sail changes switching the pole from one side to the other and putting up sails or taking down sails and as the wind dropped off throughout the day. We were finally down to 2 kts of speed just before the Palm Beach Harbor entrance when the dolfins came to visit. It was a nice day to be sailing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Swimming pigs

Here's something from our Bahamas trip, it’s a 1 minute video of the "swimming pigs" off from Staniel Cay. Hope that you like it. (courtesy of Ken and Sue, Thanks!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Unfinished work

I added a fresh water loop to the “head” to stop the calcium build up in our waste pipes that salt water causes. This change forced me to get under the bed to valve off the salt water from the fresh water every time that I wanted to use the wash down pump. So, when I found another water pump at a swap meet for $10 I knew what to do with it. One pump dedicated to fresh water in the head and one pump for the salt water that I use to wash the anchor chain off with. It was a bit of a problem fitting both pumps into the small area but now, both of the systems work great. The last job of the year!


This was just too nice to not share.