Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Approaching Holidays, 2018


Almost in the holiday mode, Thanksgiving happens around here, tomorrow... Ugh.

Fairly decent year in these parts, plenty of fun and activities at home and on the water. Barco Sin Vela  is now snug in a berth a couple miles away and we hope to move to our dock at the homestead in the near future.

In September, we had a pretty serious setback on the health side but we bounced back bigly to see a very busy and enjoyable October both on and off the Boat. It all started with bringing Barco to Sadler Point for a much needed bottom job and fluid change in all diesel devices located therein the bilge area. This happened around mid-month giving us plenty of time to get the maintenance completed for an expected three week cruise to the Keys.

Not-so-fast, Buddy... First, we talk about some happenings in the past couple months;

After getting the boat underway after the planned stuff, we found that we had a serious water leak in the aft cabin, the type of leak that caused damage to the floor and gave us some rotted wood. Actually, we knew about A Leak, but presumed it had been fixed, earlier by others who had done some plumbing repairs. So the repairs were not done because nobody thought about the engine exhaust hose leaking, the one built behind the cabinets covered by wood panels.

I get my new boating friend, John to come up and help me move Barco back to the Sadler Point facility.

John S.

Back in the water...

Pull the boat out of the water again...

Additional $1600 bucks, please.

After that was done, we put the boat back into the water and found out the port engine impeller had failed along with the intake hose. $1700 bucks for that bit of fun.

Around the same day of learning the port engine cooling failure we discovered that the water leak had returned to the starboard side, back cabin, in the same area of the previous leak(s).

"Really?",  I venomously growled.

This POS failed.

This time it was a plumbing malfunction in which a connecting t-pipe had decided to spray everywhere under the built in furniture, and this necessitated multiple trips to Home Depot for various copper fittings, and I had to have a second person (Beaujolais' Captain from the South Pacific!) assist me in making repairs.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I was being thrown out of the Yacht Club Marina in Jax in honor of Hurricane Irma, which was about to make landfall the next day. While we were trying to get the Port Engine running along with making the water system operative...

We got all of this emergent maintenance completed by Tuesday evening and got underway for Palatka the next day, everything was finally right. It was a six hour trip to the South on a Wednesday, during which the Florida Panhandle got smashed with the afore mentioned Hurricane. Upon arrival at our dock in Palatka, we began loading stores and victuals for our impending journey to the Florida Keys.

Friday morning came, we loaded the fresh laundry and sandwich goods and the Crew of the Barco soon headed back to Jacksonville for an overnight visit back at the Yacht Club, which had previously tossed us out to face the weather.

Finally, back to Jax

At the Yacht Club, ready for dinner

Headed to St Augustine

St Augustine Approach

We had a wonderful dinner at the Yacht Club and left early the next morning to St Augustine where we planned a two night visit to iron out any other wrinkles in the Barco running systems. It was a very nice trip South on the Intracoastal Waterway, temperatures were very mild due to the recent Hurricane. We even managed to catch favorable tides all the way to our destination at the Municipal Marina in that fair city. Of course, our first stop was dinner at the Greek restaurant on Menendez St, next to the Cathedral. Afterwards... Tradewinds Bar for an evening with Mark Hart!
Mark Hart

Barco Crew

Raucous time, with dancing... Yeah, that's the ticket... Dancing. We made tracks back to the Marina after we watched a hammered patron at the next table do his rendition of a Technicolor Yawn into a napkin bin.

The next morning we were up-n-attem around 0800, we went to the old town (St George Street) and found a reasonable place for brekkies, and afterwards hiked about in the warm sunshine and took in the sights.  About an hour or two later, we heard a familiar voice sing out, "...this here IS the Drinkin' Part of THIS Song...!!!"
Yep, he saw us...

We looked into the courtyard cafe of "Mi Casa" on George street and locked eyes with none other than our friend from the night before... Mark Hart! Up on stage, looking rough from a night of partying, looking at US and we slid over to our places in front of the dais, ordering our Eleven O'Clock beers and we appraised each other thusly. (We looked better the night before, I assure you...)

And so began a legendary five hour journey where  we met new friends, watched families sing along to Mark's old set and enjoyed the drama of people trying to keep up with the Barco Crew as we set sail on an ocean of beer and wine to our own, personal, Margaritaville.

It. Was. Ugly/Grand.

We made it back for dinner at sundown and we slept very snugly on the Barco in readiness for a 0800 departure on Monday morning.

First challenge that was un-met was getting a pump-out of the holding tank. The staff was unable to let us do that because there was no extra staff available to run the pump rig. We got underway after waiting an hour. The head pump shut itself off from over heating (the tank was full) so we had a six hour trip with no facilities. When we got to Halifax Y.C. they informed us they had no pump out, either. Good thing the Club has nice shore facilities...

The next morning, after a nice shower and cup of coffee we departed in the dark and headed to the Municipal Marina next door, took on 120 gallons of diesel and did  pump out that nasty holding tank. Our heads were back on, baby! With that completed, off to Eau Gallie Yacht Club and a beautiful six hour passage to Dragon's Point, on the Indian River.

We get instructions...

We had a beautiful dinner at the Eau Gallie Club and left at a reasonable Ten A.M and were on a five hour trip to the Moorings Yacht Club to meet up with some old friends from Jacksonville, who happened to have a beautiful private dock for us to moor. We had a great dinner at the beach and were able to get some laundry done while we did the catch up thing with Scott and Jill. Thanks, Guys for a great visit!

Barco at Moorings

Dinner Crew at Vero Beach.

We had a slight scheduling problem; That Hurricane the week before set us seriously back on the trip schedule, She Who Will Be Obeyed had an important meeting scheduled the next day in Lauderdale, starting at 0930. We were going to have to push hard to go from Vero Beach, pass by Fort Pierce, Jupiter and Palm Beach, (These were all places to stop on the way!) and make the fourteen hour trip direct to Coral Ridge Yacht Club. Yikes.

We departed at 0645 and made best time we could and made our arrival at 2000 (8:00 P.M.) and were completely tired out from the long day. We had a nice dinner at the bar and turned in. She Who Will Be Obeyed made her meeting, Roger and I did a store run, loaded the wine and sandwiches on board, did a quick pump out and departed Lauderdale at 1100. Next stop; Key Biscayne!

Key Biscayne Y.C.

SWWBO at Key Biscayne

Headed towards Card Sound

We arrived at 1600 at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club and promptly made a fuel stop. Afterwards we moved to the overnight berth and readied for dinner. We discovered that the yacht club had been demolished (!) and that dinner would be at the pool bar. We ordered dinner, made our reacquaintance with Darren, the Club General Manager and then had a pleasant evening by the pool, luxuriating in the warm tropical breeze coming off the Gulfstream.

Normally, we would have left or a night at Elliott Key. The scheduling conflict from the previously mentioned storm made it that we would have to depart in the darkness and make the best of a twelve hour journey to Marathon Yacht Club.

Did I plan properly for a night departure, you might ask?

No. I decided to wing it.

It was like two monkeys plooking a football as Roger and I tried to find the channel South on Biscayne Bay, which happened to be as dark as you could imagine. Next time, I will put a few waypoints into the chart plotter and not try to locate yellow flashing lights in the middle of an urban/country body of water that is known as Biscayne Bay.

Sunrise happened just as we were making Key Largo and the narrower approaches to the ICW portion of Florida Keys. Beautiful!

We spent a goodly part of the next eight hours dodging crab traps in the middle of the channel and it was pretty tough on the crew having to mostly hand steer and feel the Barco bouncing along in the sandy shallows, running softly aground in the low tides. We arrived safely at @ 1600 and were helped by the Cruising Captain of the Marathon Yacht Club who gave us the run-down on that club's schedule for the evening.


Sternly watching other sterns...

Okay, half way point has been achieved and we departed the next morning planing on an expensive stop at Tavernier. It was a short journey, maybe five hours. We got there and refueled and did yet another ugly pump-out while docked. $420 bucks later we were shown our parking spot at a very difficult location which did not have a finger pier. We got in with only a little ugliness, this having to do with bad crosswinds and the person helping with tying Barco up leaving us with some challenges after he tied us on the wrong cleat... No problem. Twenty minutes later we were enjoying cool beverages and winding down after the docking excitement. No hits, no errors and no damage.

The next morning, we slipped our moor and headed directly into the Northeast wind and our destination was Lauderdale Yacht Club. It was a very long day, about fourteen hours. We arrived in the darkness, tied up. Got showers and an Uber to the local Indian Restaurant. Just so happened that there was a Wine Warehouse adjacent to the restaurant so we got EVERYTHING we needed in one stop!

Underway the next morning, the winds were still a bit bumpy so we decided on continuing up the ICW with our next stop being Vero Beach. The sun went down before we got there so we enjoyed a couple hours of very dark passage making using a spot light, flashlight and paper charts to ensure a safe passage. No problem, we arrived at our target yacht club at 2100 (9:00 P.M.) Next morning, we took long showers and had the Barco over at the Municipal Dock (Next Door) for the routine fuel and pump-out. Underway for Eau Gallie at 1000...

Arrived Eau Gallie, (We've been there before...) late in the afternoon, had a few beers and departed for haircut and clothes shopping for our crew. Another dinner in the Club House... Followed by an early bed. Long trip tomorrow, so we were up before dawn. It was a rainy journey up to Titusville, then we crossed over Haulover Cut at Cape Canaveral and really hit the rain when we got past New Smyrna. It was a complete soaker when we arrived at Halifax River Yacht Club at 1700. We tied up, did some laundry and we got drenched on the ten yard walk to the clubhouse for dinner. It was an early evening since we were going to Municipal Marina first thing in the morning for the routine fueling and pump... out.

At Eau Gallie

We got back to St Augustine Municipal Marina about six hours later where we awaited the arrival of another passenger who wanted to be with us for the final leg to Florida Yacht Club. It just so happened that it was Florida-Georgia football weekend along with the Naval Air Station hosting the Blue Angels airshow, so it was going to be busy and crowded on this particular leg.

Simply Susan

Blue Angels do the Low Program

We were underway first thing in the morning and happened to catch a good tide the entire way which means instead of seven or eight hours it was closer to just under seven hours, or so. We got massively waked by a know-nothing giant sport boat loaded with well-to-do football fans who just had to blow by us at full speed while they were totally focused on that stupid football game. Jerks.

We got to the Yacht Club and tied up early in the afternoon. Our trip was almost completed and we busied ourselves with the party atmosphere of the Florida Yacht Club on a Saturday night, during the Airshow and Football weekend. Ouch.

We were so partied out on Sunday morning we did not even bother to stay for the beautiful sunny airshow. We got underway for Palatka at 0815 looking forward to six hours win the river with the tide on our nose for the full day... It was indeed, beautiful, but I had home on my mind. We got back at 1600, did a quick tie up and headed back to the Barco Landing for home, cats and clean laundry. The promise of an early bed was also featured on our minds... Mission Complete.

I haven't calculated the miles, fuel usage, wine and beer consumption. But I do have signatures from every Yacht Club along the way and look forward to turning in our Yachtsman of the Year Package to the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs over the next month, or so.

So now, we prepare for tomorrow's feast. We have our house keeper cleaning downstairs, her husband cleaning the outside of our home while three pies cool in the kitchen along with twenty jars of home canned cranberry sauce. Whew!

Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas, Buckaroos. And also, please that all of youse has a great, safe and healthy new year... Barco Sin Vela, Out.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Fred is in da' howse!

Fred is a Gator. An average gator, about six feet. Fred visits our canal on a regular basis. Don't swim in our canal unless you want to meet Fred.

Always something happening in our little patch, stop by every-so-often for updates.

Barco Out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Boating Report

Well, Buckaroos... Greetings, again.
Captain Big-shot  here reporting almost live about the expedition to the center of F-L-A in the sultry heat of the Sunshine State onboard our favorite river conveyance, Barco Sin Vela.

There was really nothing planned, nor intended about this entire 32 hour quest, we have been neglecting the ole girl for way too long and felt we needed to knock some cobwebs off and move some petroleum through the twin Perkins engines. See, we have only taken the Barco out  on the water, maybe five or six times since November 2016. Criminal negligence, if you ask me...

Anyway, Friday we came up with the idea of heading Southward to Hontoon Island State Park. This little trip used to take over fifteen hours from our previous home in Jax but now it would only cost about seven hours on the St Johns. We be figgerin' to crooz sutherly until da dinneh be ready, right? Ok, the weather looked pretty good and what the heck, let's go!

Literally, we threw two small bags together and hopped on the boat and left. Just a case of bottled water a bag of cherries and some potato chips for sustenance and our exposed skin sprayed with sunscreen to protect us from the blazing sun... We were off.

First thing I noticed was how dirty the Barco had become in our three month absence. I felt a bit guilty about that and what was I gonna do about it? We could either be cleaning the boat before we left-- or just get to some boatin' and ignore the glares of our fellow river travelers. (I did get to cleaning the plastic windows of the flybridge enclosure for safety) Oh, I also sprayed the Sundeck sink area with bleach cleaner, so we had that going for us, which is nice.

We passed the Seven Sisters islands and found ourselves whizzing by Welaka at a scorching 8 knots which was quite satisfying to the Barco Crew. We celebrated by cracking into the many plastic water bottles which were there for our refreshment. The time to Lake George was about three long hours and we were relieved to see a very placid lake under the growing cloud masses.

Looking at Georgetown, South of Welaka, Fl

The Lake Crossing took about an hour and we were able to cut in between two large thunderstorms with nary a drop landing in our faces. This was a good thing because storms can really ruin your day, as you all know, so it felt a real victory to miss the heavy winds, waves and rain. Another pleasing thing is that thunderstorms are a form of real air-conditiong which improves the livability of a Florida Summer day to almost comfortable. Ok, it was pretty nice, too...

Looking Southward at entry marker for Lake George

We're in the main channel of Lake George

We got through the Astor No-Wake Zone and and were well along our way to Lake Dexter and the rest of the smaller St Johns River which rolls through the Ocala National Forest. The only other boaters present were biker gangs of Jet Skis whizzing by us and jumping our wake. The Police were a very visible presence, too. Every corner we turned we would see a Police Boat lurking around and ensuring the good behavior of all vessels traveling the River. I don't know why they (Polizei) were out in force, perhaps there was some Jet Ski Club event that they were monitoring. There were hundreds of those almost annoying buzzing-boats heading towards Sanford.

Midway btwn Astor and Hontoon Landing

The weather cleared up and we arrived at Lake Beresford just in time for 4:20 celebrations, we hopped into the rain locker, cleaned up and shifted uniforms to glad rags so that we were presentable for a dinner with the local Yacht Club Commodore.

Lake Beresford Yacht Club

Lake Beresford looking to South

The Yacht Club feted us with the finest Filet and Lamb Chops, Andretti Cabernet and various other potent potables over the course of the evening. Taps was held at 2200...

0730 we were up with coffee and the Sun preparing to get underway at 0745, we slipped our lines and  headed back North...

Beautiful clear skies and a river free of Jet Skis... Of course, this couldn't last all day.

The trip North was uneventful until we made it about three miles from home. S-e-r-i-o-u-s thunderstorms closed in on us and we zipped the flybridge enclosure and tried not to touch any metal objects for fear of lightning zapping us. Visibility dropped to virtually nothing as we were completely drenched in a rain that was enveloping us in a wet and noisy roar combined with the high winds associated quality thunderstorms. It was a couple of sporty hours from Buffalo Bluff to downtown Palatka and the rain reduced to "annoying sprinkle" when we arrived at our home berth. We tied the Barco up, removed the empty water bottles and other trash and departed to the Barco Landing. Mission Complete, 14 hours were spent in transit both ways and it was indeed, a lovely cruise.

Barco Landing in the rain

After getting our gear off the boat we headed home to clean up and go back out for dinner. About an hour and a half later we were greeted with very clear skies, cool weather and a swarm of dragonflies! The dragonflies eat mosquitoes and gnats so I think the stormy weather brought out predators and prey. Victory goes to the dragonflies, I didn't see any biting bugs...

...In a while, crocodiles. Barco Out.