UPS and DOWNS in Titusville

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 20 Dec 2014 15:38
Yep! – we are still here, firmly ashore. Someone (or something) is thwarting our efforts to launch this year let alone get back to the Bahamas. If its not the weather it is things breaking preventing progress with the ‘hard-top’.  We are soldiering on however, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel – at least the daylight hours will start to get longer in a few days!
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There is wet and muddy and there is very wet and very muddy...................................
November always brings Thanksgiving and the start to the ‘Holidays’. The marina put on a turkey spread on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.  Traditionally this is held on the dock but the rain Gods had other ideas, this year it poured down.  So the ‘Customer Lounge’ (where us cruisers can go and ‘lounge’ with TV, wifi and air conditioning) was hastily turned into something resembling a soup kitchen. People perched where ever they could as dish after dish of assorted vegetables arrived along with three huge turkeys.  These had been cooked on the marina BBQ and were said to be very tasty. The staff did a fantastic job in such cramped conditions.  All we had to bring was ourselves and a beverage!
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The crowded lounge with picnic tables from outside and the marina hand carving a box full of turkeys!
Thanksgiving day itself dawned sunny at last.  Before the wind got up it was time to get the ‘hard-top’ down. We enlisted the help of our good friends who ably assisted with the top and the removal of the stainless frame.  The stainless frame had not been taken down in six years so was a little challenging.  It was needed to ensure that the temporarily unstable top kept its shape whilst being worked on. The cockpit certainly feels very exposed with out it.  After ‘Skip’ had chocked the top to his satisfaction, having scoured the marina for odd pieces of timber for the chocks we declared an afternoon off and convened under our friends boat for an impromptu Thanksgiving feast of non-traditional fare. How does this sound? Shrimp gumbo, jalapeno corn bread, rice, Greek salad with baklava for afters! That’s what six of us had.
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Its down, chocked and covered..............................
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Down comes the gumbo sauce and the impromptu galley.........
Whilst relaxing with an aperitif and de-veining shrimp we had to move our location several times to get maximum protection from the birds.  They were doing their best to ruin our day and clothes.  Under the bow worked, so that’s where we sat until dusk when it got so chilly we sat in the car to finish our last celebratory drink. Thanks guys it was novel and good fun.
It was back to work the next day............
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Positioning the lighting ‘boxes’ and stainless frame holding shape and on with the epoxy............................................
Even the launch of Orion didn’t stop work as it was scheduled early in the morning.  It was due to go up on Thursday the 4th.  The foreshore and bridge was lined with spectators from 6:00 until 9:45 when the ‘window’ closed.  It was stopped three times due to weather and a technical fault so remained firmly on the ground until the next day. Orion is one of the most exciting developments in space exploration since the moon landings and shuttle. This one is going to Mars! This was a test launch with a planned re-entry into the Pacific a few hours later.  It worked! Friday the 5th was cloudy so we saw very little except a very bright light as it left the ground but were able to see it on the TV and hear the roar.
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What we saw before Orion disappeared into the clouds and from the TV
Work progresses daily with lots of sanding, faring and epoxying. Unfortunately, the repaired hot water tank failed again shortly followed by its water pump so ‘Skip’ was pulled in for jury rig duties once more.  Down to one hot water tank and one working water pump – that’ll do for now. Hark is that the bilge pump we hear? Unbelievably the second hot water tank had fractured. Both brand new only six years ago and unavailable in the USA. Down to no hot water and one water pump. Still we can always boil a kettle – but we are on our last propane bottle and we can’t get them filled in Florida only in the Bahamas – ‘health & safety’ gurus strike again. Anyway we like salad. Or will we be delayed further by having to fit a USA approved propane system?  At least we can keep warm now as the spare arrived for the starboard diesel heater. No such luck, the glow plug fitted but in the process the flame detector pin broke due to Skip’s over enthusiasm with a hammer in trying to remove the old glow plug. Murphy and his law are alive and well and living in Titusville.
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Here comes the rain again – friends hire a car and take the time to drive up from Vero Beach with pizza and sympathy after having sailed by earlier in the month.......
At least our problems aren’t half as bad as this poor boat owner.  The recently launched Cruisers power boat was being worked on at the haul out dock and had been there for a few weeks.  The crane had come and gone a few times that morning hauling and launching.  Nothing was untoward at that time.  It went down in about 20 minutes but took the rest of the day to get divers in, pumps and finally empty out enough water for it to be lifted. It is said that the water cooling intake hose to the engine that was being worked on had come adrift or failed. It now sits forlornly ashore – probably a write off.
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Going down .........
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And coming up with water gushing down the rear steps from inside
No new critters this month although there are several new varieties of bird showing up in the park on their migrations south.  A pink flamingo has been seen flying with the large white egrets and it’s duck shooting season again. The dawn hours regularly reverberating to the sound of guns from the swamps.  As far as the pesky crows go, with no top over the cockpit we just have to keep washing it down.  Others have tried several deterrents, the fake owls don’t work, the large balloons with mirror eyes have some success, glittery streamers seem to fare the best.  One cruisers has even hauled an inflatable snake to the cross trees.  Declared too life like by ‘Skip’ with the concern it may attract other snakes! Unfortunately,  we only have two working halyards left with which to deploy any of these deterrents so out with the bucket and sponge again.  Another job to add to the list before we can go to sea – new halyards not cleaning guano, although we’re sure that will have to be done too.
The squirrels seem to avoid us now.  One recently had an unexpected flying lesson when ‘Skip’ got him firmly up the behind with the water hose.  It didn’t bother to take the steps just threw itself over the side with legs splayed!  One particularly wet day we’d stupidly left a bag of trash on the back deck.  The door was closed as it was raining.  Out of the corner of his eye ‘Skip’ noticed one rummaging gleefully through the contents of the now torn bag. They don’t like used Sainsbury’s Red Label tea bags but like to open and spread them all over the deck.  In the pouring rain it was chased off only to hide in the dry under the derelict boat next to us munching on a celery off cut whilst we cleared up his mess. Rubbish now goes twice daily to the bins and is never left on deck. Vermin.
Well, Christmas is upon us and the ‘Admiral’ did buy those lights when it became apparent that we were going nowhere near the water anytime soon.  The tree, that hasn’t seen the light of day for several years, is up and looks very festive.  Most towns in the USA don’t need too much of an excuse for a parade and Christmas is no exception.  So six of us headed up town last Saturday for the Titusville offering.  Complete with folding lawn chairs we settled in the road near the old part of town.  Surprisingly not too far from the Micro Brewery! Over two hours it was great fun, spasmodic, noisy, slightly chaotic and made a real mess of the main street!  We didn’t realise there were so many people in Titusville – just as well they were all there as most of the police were too.
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Three wise men?   One of the nautical entries.........................
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Hillbillies and the Shriners in their little cars.....................
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Err ‘Frosty’ and lots of cheer leaders..............................
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends and family that take the time to read this a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2015.  The blog has not been as ‘adventurous’ lately but we hope it portrays the life of ordinary transitory boating folk on this side of the pond.  Not only the ups and downs, trials, tribulations, disappointments and hard work but the good friendships and laughs along the way.  Thanks everyone.