What happened to September..... (and most of October for that matter)

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Wed 22 Oct 2014 17:55
Well, we know the answer to that one – we left Ajaya ashore in Titusville and flew back to the UK for a few weeks.  Just as well really as it was one of the wettest seasons in recent years resulting in weeks of flooding in the yard.  The day we left we waded through ankle deep puddles around the boat and ended up going to the airport in rags fit only for the bin. Our friends parked half under the boat in a vein attempt to keep our luggage and computers dry and kindly took charge of our wet towels and umbrella.  Shutting a boat down in torrential rain is not a happy affair.  We assured ourselves we would laugh about it ‘one day’ – let us know when ‘one day’ is due and we’ll prepare to crease ourselves.
We’d never left Ajaya this far south before during hurricane season.  It was a far more grueling task putting the boat ‘to bed’.  Anything that could be ripped off by high winds was removed and stowed below.  Prior to being lifted the new solar panels (well the two of them that have been fitted) had to be wired in to supply the batteries as there is no 50 amp supply in the yard. We need 50 amp to run our 220 volt British electrical circuitry.  Needless to say the ‘one job leads to another’ law kicked in yet again. As the wiring was being run copious amounts of unwelcome water was found in a previously ‘dry’ locker used to store all our pilot books. So in the the midst of all the ‘putting away’ was a lot of ‘pulling out’.  Meanwhile it was stinking hot, humid and extremely uncomfortable.  The final straw for the ‘Admiral’ was when the vacuum cleaner breathed its last.  Having travelled all the way from the UK with us 6 years ago it was unceremoniously thrown into the dumpster never to suck again. And the game of ‘Snakes & Ladders’ continued.
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A bit of a tight fit in the hauling dock – off we go ...............spot the solar array and the spare on the back platform..................our first resting place!
During all this frantic activity and by way of a little light relief our friends suggested a meal out and some night fishing! Now if you saw a sign for ‘Dogs R Us’ wouldn’t you think it was a pet shop? We did. It is a restaurant specializing in – yep, you guessed it hot dogs – silly us. They do some cracking fish and chips too.  Afterwards we headed for the long pier by the new high rise bridge that joins Titusville to Merritt Island over the Indian River.  A popular activity involving folding chairs, fishing rods (or ‘poles’ as they call them here), some shrimp for bait and a cooler full of ice and beverage of your choice.  There is a lovely cooling breeze and occasionally you might just get a nibble in between putting the world to rights.  It was a welcome break from the demands of Ajaya.  Quite a few fish of various sizes were caught but our team only managed a miniscule catfish which was returned once it had surrendered the hook.
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The intrepid fishing team at dusk and the only catch – sorry, it was dark by then and the cooler was almost empty!
Once we’d got to the airport, dried out and changed we were ready for our next adventure.  Having done extensive research on the internet the cheapest flights back to UK were courtesy of Norwegian Airlines via, not surprisingly, Oslo. To get the very cheapest deal from Oslo to Gatwick there was a bit of a wait for the connecting flight. Maybe that was false economy as the price of a small baguette and a coffee swallowed up the difference!  We’d read some damning reports on various travel websites so had low expectations.  The ‘Dreamliner’ flight from Orlando was fine, the entertainment was good, leg room not too bad and the food was OK.  Both flights were full so despite the poor reviews they must be doing something right.
Britain was bathed in autumnal sunshine.  In fact it only rained twice in the time we were there.  One storm was so violent we thought we were back in Florida. The torrential rain flooded many roads in a matter of minutes, even the local chandlers was struck by lightening.  Most unusual. We’d like to say sorry to the many friends we didn’t get a chance to meet up with this time.  Our time was limited for a number of reasons.  One of which was trying to find somewhere to live next summer.  For the time being our cruising is changing.  At the moment (well today anyway!) we plan to leave Ajaya here after we return from the Bahamas in the spring and take a break in the UK for 4/5/6 months. Hence the reason for all the mini refit type work occurring on the boat.  We aim to be able to come back, haul, stow and go.
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The stunning view over a friends garden of the Surrey countryside..................and an outing for the family gardeners to the garden centre for a cream tea and a boot full of stuff to plant!
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We ‘nearly’ bought one of these – boat size without the sails & engine – more research needed..................................
‘Skip’ returned from the UK a week before the ‘Admiral’ in the hope of getting some of this work done.  The boat had other ideas.  Having successfully got the large fridge working with new cooling fans and more insulation he moved on to tackle the dripping galley tap (spares only from UK).  That repaired the drinking water tap started to leak in sympathy.  Then the water pump wouldn’t stop cycling and dripping which set off the bilge pump. Jury rigged that and moved on to bottom work which is more important as we would like to get launched before Christmas. ‘Admiral’ returns, re-tidies cupboards, boat gets moved as someone else wants to be re-launched and we were in the way. Meanwhile, the water pump has been sending all the water from the starboard tank to the port tank which is full to bursting. ‘Admiral’ opens bilge locker to get a bottle of tonic out to put in the nicely cooling fridge for a sundowner when, horror of horrors, she encounters a rising tide of water. To make matters worse the seal on the inspection cap had been forced aside and the water under pressure was spraying out everywhere.  Now you’ve heard the story of the Dutch lad and the dam.  A few bottles of coke and tonic would have been OK.  It was the vast amount of assorted spares floating in 6 inches of water that caused the major sense of humour failure.  ‘Skip’ was abruptly called off bottom duties.  The water pump re-build went on way passed tea time.  We only know of one other boat that flooded whilst ashore!
Still, the weather is a lot cooler, more comfortable and we’ve only had one thunder storm.  After several days preparation and the demise of one orbital sander the bottom is ready for a new coat of Coppercoat as are the saildrive legs which are about to be epoxied. The undersides have all been cleaned and the rust and tannin stains removed. Just the odd acid burn as a consequence! The boat was moved yet again, hopefully, the last time before we launch. Now there is still the matter of the third solar panel and ‘hard-top’ to mount it on ............................................................