On the road again

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 26 Feb 2015 20:06
After eight months and a certain number of days in Titusville in and out of the water (the ‘Admiral’, bless her, has the exact time to the minute and second and has no problem reminding ‘Skip’) we are finally on our way southwards. Today we are a full sixty miles away from Titusville – just an hours drive but a two day meander down the ICW for us. Being this late in the season does have its advantages in that we are not swamped by wash every few minutes from large trawlers and sports fishers (the worst culprits!) blasting down the ICW as fast as they can legally go, leaving a stream of fist waving yachties in their wake. We were overtaken by just one boat in two days – oh, and a Goodyear airship of all things which could be heard coming from miles away. Why are their engines so blooming noisy? Our American friends call them ‘Blimps’ but we prefer Airships.
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Our very own airship fly past – it was a good year for airships!!!
However, we are getting far ahead of ourselves as our last few hectic days in Titusville need to be recounted. Having launched successfully we moved over to the only catamaran sized space available in Westland Marina. It isn’t really a space at all and we were blocking in about ten boats from going to sea. Most, to be truthful haven’t been to sea for a very long time so we weren’t likely to have too much trouble not now we can move at a moments notice (except on a Sunday when we were at the Supermarket and talking to the Mums in the UK!). Being back on the water meant we were back with the Pelicans that fish relentlessly around us and take off narrowly missing our rigging and that of the nearby boat.
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Lift off ! We have lift off and Ajaya is off to the water again...........                                         ..........where Pelicans would entertain us daily
Unfortunately we were also closer to the Ospreys. Master fishers themselves, but unlike the Pelicans that flop into the water and devour their catch before taking off again, the Osprey flies to a convenient high spot – in our case the adjacent boat to us.  Here it will systematically tear it’s prey apart with its razor sharp beak. This sends various parts of the fish, initially the entrails, cascading down onto our deck in one instance almost hitting ‘Skip’ working on the aft deck. Nearing the end of it’s feast it becomes more fussy (don’t we all) and we received a further dousing of fish parts from above. We know people travel miles to see Ospreys in the UK but we can now take them or leave them.
There was another rocket launch although not wanting to become blasé about such events we did limit the number of pictures we took this time round.
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This was a Falcon 9 launched by SpaceX (founded by the same chap as founded PayPal) with some hush hush military hardware onboard
It’s just amazing that those things are half way round the planet thirty minutes after launch before we’ve even boiled a kettle and made a cup of tea so we should stay in awe of such events. They are still trying to get the first stage booster having been discarded from the main rocket to land vertically onto the football field sized barge out in the Atlantic but there’s more work to do on that project.
Also going up vertically but thankfully not at the same speed or without sitting on as much rocket fuel was ‘Skip’. It was time to go up the mast to re-reave the missing genoa halyard which had parted company last season in the Bahamas. This task can never be considered as being enjoyable as being held aloft fifty feet up on two pieces of string sitting in a canvas nappy is not for the feint-hearted. In fact, on regaining solid ground again he could not even remember taking the time to survey the local surroundings. However, the job was successfully accomplished and we now have our full compliment of halyards again.  After a nasty cats cradle of mouse lines was untangled and a few fishing weights collected from the foot by removing a group of sheaves.  No job ever goes 100% right. ‘Skip’ also has a full compliment of bruises on the chest but we won’t go into that. Thanks to the ground crew for keeping tight lines throughout.
Despite being back afloat we still had along list of jobs. The day before departure paint was still being rollered onto the new ‘hard-top’ having only just attached the third solar panel. Also on the list was installing new water calorifiers, a new bilge pump and a new water pump (which arrived in the nick of time). The old calorifier fittings didn’t fit the new ones and the wiring was different, the bilge pump cradle (‘Skip’ had built to keep it level in the bilge) fractured but the new water pump was fine. One out of three – not bad.
Finally, but certainly not least our close friends at Titusville turned up the evening before we were setting off to sup a few glasses of bubbly and wish us Bon Voyage and good riddance, also presenting us with a ‘diploma’ which is self explanatory from the pic. Thank you so much Sly, Terry, Gayle & Darrell we will miss you folks but will see you again later in the year.
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The Farewell committee visits Ajaya for a final round of cocktails & aperitifs. Clearly Christmas lingers on in Titusville – well, why not for goodness sake. Those hats cost money!
That same evening, before they arrived a zipper on the Bimini enclosure went – or more precisely the material the zip was attached to parted company from the zip itself. Our first post launch setback. The ‘Admiral’ was sure there was somebody in Vero Beach that could mend canvas. We decided not to delay the morning departure which promised ideal weather after early fog, but head southwards and get it fixed there. Sure enough we did find somebody there to stitch two new zippers to the panel. However, our first venture ashore from our mooring ball was delayed by a two hour ordeal of trying to get the outboard motor to run. What with all of the project work we had undertaken over the past eight months we had laid not one greasy mitt on our faithful Yamaha two stroke motor. Yes, it was on the list to run up before leaving but we just never got to that item and the little blighter decided to make us pay for it in Vero. After an hour of successive pulling on the string and changing/cleaning the spark plugs without success it was time to dig out the manual to see how to remove the carburetor. To his chagrin ‘Skip’ read the following under the maintenance section..”.....there is no way on this green earth for a mechanical engine, particularly an outboard motor to be left sitting idle for an extended period of time, say six months and then be ready for instant satisfactory service.” Hmm, well that told ‘Skip’ what he was guilty of – basically, cruelty to outboards. It was time for the laying on of caring hands with whispered promises of new plugs, impellors and anything else it required if we could just get through the next twelve weeks without needing to row the dinghy ashore with an eighty pound deadweight sitting at the stern. No not the ‘Admiral’ for goodness sake, the engine weighs eighty pounds you see!!
Well, the zippers are fixed, the outboard is now running after draining off some foul smelling fluid that was once called gasoline in these parts and we are ready for the off.  Once the cold front that is sprinkling rain over us moves away later today. It’s great to be ‘On the road again’. (‘Canned Heat’ in case you are racking your brains on the song title).
Finally, spotted en-route  .......
                                                                                Pirate ship making facility on the Indian River for small pirates!  If only Blackbeard could see such a sight.