Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday on the Goose

For those of you who are snow bound or live a land life I thought I might show what a typical Saturday is like down here in the Keys:

Mornings always start out with a bit of reading or crafts as one or the other of us tries to talk the "other one" into making some breakfast. Today though, it was different. After a short reading period I got the dinghy down and we headed into the marina.
One of the dinghy "parking" areas at the marina
We had a morning breakfast date with Pat and Walt from “Waves of Grace” at 'IHOP'. They were featuring fancy French toast as is this months specialty… YUMMM! It’s a gentle 1 mile bike ride from the marina to the restaurant, just enough to work up an appetite.

Afterwards, back at the local city park there was a nautical/regular flea market in full swing. We always have a fun time walking around these. If we don’t find something “artsy” to look at or buy there’s always the off chance that I might find yet another tool to PU on the cheep.
Entertainment at the park

It was a cool but sunny day (almost 70 degs) so I started working on the rust that had formed on the Starboard mizzen chain plate. That’s the steel tang that you attach the wire to that holds up the back mast. A bit of scraping, chipping, priming and painting took care of the rust. Then I worked on the Mercury 3.5HP outboard that I had bought. I’ve been working on it for the last week and today  I got it to run! So, I stuck it on the dinghy and went for a ride. I bet that I have the only dinghy with dual motors on the back in the entire anchorage!

After I got back to the boat, a couple that we met the other day stopped over and asked if we’d like to come by their boat about 5 o’clock for snacks and “sundowners”…(that’s having drinks while you yak, tell stories and watch the sun go down). We had a great evening with Jack and Alois from “Rising Star” while telling stories about the Chesapeake and watching a beautiful sunset from the bridge of their trawler.
 This Saturday was a bit fuller than normal but not that unusual. Socializing and helping one another out when you’re a cruiser is the “norm” rather than being the abnormal (as it is on land). I guess, if I had to point to the one thing that truly draws me to this life of wind and waves, it’s the people you meet that makes it unique. So, I’ll leave you with a toast often heard at sundowners:
Here's to the tall ships,
Here's to the small ships,
And all the ships in-between.
The BEST ships are the friendships
Between you and me!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Key West

With Anna just out of the hospital it was not the best time for a sailing vacation but, life is what it is so, when Ken and Sue arrived down here from Michigan, (a grueling 1,575 miles) only to find that the Snow Goose was ‘harbor bound’ for the next 4 weeks, we had to make some other plans. That was the bad part, the good part was that with a car to use Anna could get around town easier and we could sight see. One day Ken, Sue and I (Anna didn’t feel up to the journey) decided to drive out to Key West to do a bit of sight seeing and people watching.

The famous "Sloppy Joe's" ... It was PACKED!
We found this bronze statue of the 3 monkeys... only $20,000.00+
It was a perfect day for Key West, cool air temps and warm sunshine. I dragged them into every art gallery that was on Duval St. We ended up on Mallory Square for the nightly show of street performers and watching the sunset.

Thousands flock to this place every sunset to watch the street performers
Snacks on the Square

This was weird, The "Cat Man" of Mallory Sq.

A great night for the sunset

These Tall ships take people on sunset cruises every night.
It was a great day I just wished that Anna was up to coming along.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A mangrove adventure

When Ken and Sue were visiting I suggested that we take the dingy and go explore in the mangroves. (Anna still didn’t feel too good so she stayed at the boat). For those of you that don’t know, mangroves are a type of tree that grows in salt water and will grow roots out from the  base of the main tree so that the roots become a huge collection of “ropy” loops that form around the base.
A salt water channel thru the mangroves
Next to the Boot Key harbor is (surprisingly) Boot Key which is mostly made up of mangroves that are cut thru with salt water tidal channels. There’s actually a printed guide to the kayak trails that run thru the island but lacking that we just went exploring.
Engine up and paddling thru the mangroves
Low branches in the mangroves
After ½ hour of pulling ourselves through he mangrove trails and motoring thru 2 tidal lakes we finally reached a channel that was getting too tight to pull the dinghy thru any farther. That’s when we saw the leopard!!!

He was sitting up on a branch looking us over. His tail hung down with a slight “J” and he just sat there staring at us with his yellow eyes. "What a way to end my sailing career", I thought. Well, Ken screamed like a little girl (just after I did).... Someone had put a large stuffed toy leopard up in a tree right above the mangrove channel! What FUN! Where else can you explore tidal jungle trails and almost get eaten by a stuffed Leopard… only in Boot Key!


We named him "Hobbbes"

Monday, February 22, 2016

Goose has her ‘wings’ clipped

Feb 7th, 2016

This year we had planned to sail up the west coast of Fl. and visit the Crystal River area which is full of natural springs and manatees this time of year but now, with Anna still recovering from her heart procedure all sailing is off the table for the next month. Which, it turns out, was bad timing for our friends Ken and Sue who came down to visit us. They arrived on Super Bowl Sunday (the day after Anna’s release) to stay with us for a long week and do some sailing up the west coast. Now, that  we’re in “harbor” mode and instead of the excitement of sailing from island to island with the ocean breezes cutting thru your hair they get to dingy thru the mangroves, find key deer, meeting other cruisers and hunt down manatees for a photo shoot.
sunset over the anchorage

Chris singing a "heart" song to Anna

Chris and Divia also got a special heart shaped pizza for Anna

A "trail" through the mangroves

The elusive manatee (we found 7 of them)

impressive until you realize just how small they are

impressive until you realize just how small they are

Compare it to the size of the trash can! About the size of a big dog!

The tall ships off from Mallory Sq. in Key West at sunset.
 Well,,, After a week of this non stop excitement, they decided this lifestyle was just too hectic and stressfull and abandoned us for a 7 day cruise ship excursion out of Miami to the Virgin Islands! J

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trouble in the Keys

We made it to marathon Fl and found that the mooring field was full with a waiting list of 50+ boats. The anchorage was nearly full too but we managed to squeeze into a spot just before a big front was to come thru in a few days. That’s when the trouble started in Marathon.
A full anchorage, taken while helping another cruiser with their anchor light.
Anna’s heart condition began to flare up again. By the time that we arrived at the hospital (which is just around the corner) she had a stead heart beat of 150+. Not good. After drugs, and a cardiovert her heart wouldn't stabilize so, they decieded to send her to Miami again, to Mount Sinai hospital. They have a very good heart hospital at the complex. Within 3 days they had done a 'heart ablation' which has taken care of her extra heart beats and she was back into normal rythum. Now, we only have to deal with the side afects of the drugs!

Heading off to Miami Mt. Sinai Hospital

While in the hospital the next morning taking care of Anna I received a call from another boater in the anchorage. His first words were "Rich, don't worry, your boat's alright". Not the most reassuring thing to hear when your 110 miles away and you left your floating home in a crowded anchorage. Just before I left Marathon to head to Miami I had a bad feeling about leaving the boat so I set a second anchor... just in case... and because they were predicting a strong cold front to roar thru the anchorage that night... and it did! Another boat dragged it's anchor and in attempting to find another place to anchor at 3:00AM in a blinding rain, they snagged our anchor rope and ended up backwards tied up against the Snow Goose! The other Anchor'ers by us got into their dinghy's (at 3:00 am) helped out and insure that there wasn't any damage to our boat. The best part is that with two anchors out we didn't drag onto the mud flats just behind the boat. So, All turned out OK and Anna had a home to return to!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Heading south


It’s been a month+ since we dropped anchor in Stuart Fl. and I sent Anna off to Michigan to attend her brother’s passing. During that time, I’ve been a bachelor doing many boat projects and watching way too many movies at night. She’s flying back to the boat coming into Fort Lauderdale in a few days so I have to sail the Goose 100 mile south to pick her up…see ya there!

one of the nicer lighthouses on the way south from Manatee Pockets
All went well, it took 2 days of travel to reach Lake Silvia only to have a STRONG cold front come blasting through on the day of Anna arrival. 30 mile per hour winds with gusts into the 40's roared thru the anchorage. With the help of a large yacht (to help get her off from the dock) she is safely back on board, rested and ready to head south to the Keys. Now if only the winds will drop off a bit.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Laptop troubles

Jan. 15th 2016

You don't know what you have until it's gone.

Our laptop computer started to flicker constantly. It turned out to be the space key on the keyboard (of all silly things). I took the laptop apart to get the Part # off from the keyboard and tried to order another one. That’s when the trouble started. Without a working keyboard I couldn’t use the computer. Without the computer I couldn't find my password for the computer parts site that I use. Without the password the company wouldn’t sell the keyboard to me. (talk about a catch 22)
old keyboard going to the computer junkyard
 I finally had to have our son-in-law order it from Michigan and have it sent to Fl. Some days (like today) I think we are TOO tied into these electronic marvels.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Keeping busy

Dec, 2015

I’ve been down here in the Stuart area for the last 4 weeks and have gotten to know the area pretty well. All of the back roads to bike on and the business to go to. The thrift stores, flea markets, road side stands of fruits and vegetables not to mention the different bakeries and Mexican food trucks in the area. Most of my days are taken up with trying to get the varnish back in shape on the Snow Goose. I let it go too long and many areas have gone bad on the masts, dodger and cockpit. This entails the removal of the bad area and then the slow build up of coat after coat of varnish to achieve the ‘required thickness’ of 12 to 20 coats of varnish to protect the wood from the sun. Which means endless trips up the mast. I use a 4 part pulley system to pull myself up with. That way I'm only trying to pull 40 lbs. up the mast instead of my full weight.

Partway up the mast

Notice the pulley system that I use to pull myself up the mast?