BACK TO NEEDY BOAT IN FLORIDA
INDIANTOWN MARINA, FLORIDA USA
Wednesday 15 October 2014
Abes’s suggestion to take the over-wing seat K15 directly behind the curtained off business class seats on BA2037 turned out to be, on balance, a good one. Excepting the incommunicative sole neighbour – a hairy-legged Brit-on-holiday who ate his way to the Americas – compared to my usual seat right at the back I got fed first instead of last, and on arrival found myself in the first dozen in the dreaded Customs Queue and astonishingly was out the other side in minutes, instead of the full hour or more of last year.
I even managed to find the right road out of the spaghetti of exit highways, more by luck than judgement though. A satnav would be a real boon here in flat Florida but balked at the $12 per day hire charge. Instead, there was my trusty old monochrome marine GPS set up with the Lat Long of Indiantown, giving an arrow to follow, and distance to go in nautical miles, better than nothing. But its main usefulness was as a compass.
It was just getting dark on arrival, a lonely affair as with any boatyard. So long ago was it that Pinball and I parted - 9½ months – that I couldn’t be sure where I’d left him, but there he was anyway, looking sturdy and still potent. As I fumbled with various keys to unlock the B&Q ladder, with impeccable timing the heavens opened, but the padlock opened surprisingly easily and up we went before the Fire ants could have a go.
I’d spent much of the time in UK time worrying about the 5 brand new batteries fitted this time last year as a result of a failure in the solar panel charging, so it was an anxious moment when the master switch was thrown, but the lights came on just fine. Phew! Happiness is a good battery. I had thought of asking the marina to get someone to check the connections for me, but hadn’t as I wasn’t that keen on strangers fiddling with Pinball. It should have been alright, and it was.
Even standing before the still shut up companionway hatch the smell of diesel engine and mould had hit. Inside was fetid and would take several days to clear. Though full of equipment that normally resides on deck, learning from previous years I’d left the starboard cabin bunk free, a rather good idea as body-clock time was gone midnight. But first thing to do was get some air in there, so for’d hatch open and hunt for the mosquito netting, then both cabin fans on full – what a blessing they had been, so essential for tropical climes. Americans have their air conditioning of course, but not Pinball. Don’t need it, life with the fans is just fine. I’m so British!
On the sole in the galley were the remains of a parting gift to the ‘cockies’ - potato and boric acid. Tough little buggers, even they couldn’t survive 9 months without food, so it was probably unnecessary.
Saturday 18th October 2014
So tempting is it at the ranch style eating shack CRACKERS in downtown Indiantown, especially if you live on a needy old boat with not much food in it, that once again it was that I found myself back there just after 10 am. The theme all around is meat, steers, horns, a bulls head and perplexingly a line of small skeletons on a string, with a company T-shirt on the wall explaining ‘YOU KILL IT WE GRILL IT’.
The young waitress came over.
‘Bacon sausage eggs over easy, hashbrowns sliced tomato’ I said with just a twang of accent to help the girl.
‘What kinda sausage?’
‘Um..the joined up ones?’..struggling to remember what Americans call them.
‘The long round ones all joined up’
‘Ah…linked’. She smiled pityingly.
When it came there was no bacon. I complained.
‘Ah sorry, I thought you said sausage?’
‘Bacon and sausage’.
A couple in their thirties came in, holding hands. I thought how unusual this was here, at least I hadn’t seen it much at all.
Sunday: Sunny. Wasted a fair bit, on the excuse that it was Sunday. Fruit only all day, with as usual a Cambell’s ‘Chunky’ soup and veg for evening meal. Fight the post natal fat!
Cleaned the mould off the clothes locker for’d. Sorted clothes, chucking a lot. Finally cleared the port cabin seat.
After soup went down to the communal fridge in the marina common room to recover some yoghurt and on the way out passing two well oiled guys I didn’t know. .
‘Hey buddy, take a seat’.
I make an excuse not to.
‘What, you got a hot date there then?’
‘That would be nice, but no’.
‘I could get you one’… bleary eyes stare up at me.
On arrival back at the boat decide to do something about the bimini hanging down – can’t find the wooden pole that holds it up. By the time I’m done and back inside its past dusk, my feet are bitten to hell and I’ve brought half a dozen mozzies in with me, so spend ages sitting with legs up as bait murdering them. There’s one left…
Can’t stop eating tonight.
Tuesday Thunder, heavy rain.
Knock on the hull and its my good friend Kanadian Kevin, arrived yesterday all the way from ALBERTA Canada. He then astonished me by announcing that after a 3000 mile journey in his gas guzzling truck and trailer (caravan) , they would NOT now be putting their boat HOPE in the water again this year! He was in complaining mood…
Drove to West Marine, Stuart, 20 miles away to make full use of the rental car but came away with virtually nothing – a solar shower! Ali would be pleased… Half the blinkin shop is clothes now, and kayaks.
Bought two good feather pillows on the recommendation of the till girl – the only one there - and anti mozzie stuff.
Wednesday 22 Oct 2014 Attack the galley!
Cleaned the port lights, fridge and chucked a load of old pots away. Cabin area is getting there, with just the starboard lockers to clean and all the underseat locker spaces. Still to go: heads, forepeak, cockpit and upper deck, antifouling and fix the gouges from the anchor on the bow.
More Clam Chowder soup – whatever the hell that is – with cauliflower. Trying not to eat much in the day.
Thursday, 23 October 2014 BROKEN STEERING CABLE REDEMPTION and BACONHAM
Finally and reluctantly get round to investigating the dreaded steering cable problem by squeezing in on top of the Yanmar inboard engine fighting claustrophobia, take some photos of the suspect cable ends, research a rigging company, then….discover that the ‘broken wire’ I’d discovered by feel back in January is not a broken wire at all but just the wire end in the swaged eye, being on the right side of the clamp, ie the end of the wire.
If I had just won the lottery I wouldn’t have been more pleased, and proved it by going around chanting ‘I don’t need to change the steering cable!’ at five minute intervals all day. This is wonderful news, as I was not looking forward to getting that wire out. However, I did notice that the current cable is not central when the rudder is, so will have to investigate whether this is a problem or not.
Got the fold-up bike out, some corrosion on the frame, brakes a bit jammed but still workable. Will give it a service.
I was so hungry in the shop, I stopped at the massive meat fridge and stared at this thick bacon for ages, as it looked more like ham. Says bacon. The packaging was full of warnings about not touching fresh meat etc. Was it cooked? It looked cooked. Finally I bought it. I was craving meat after a diet of Cambell’s Chunkies.
When I got back I wolfed down a thick slice just as it was, still a bit unsure as to whether it was cooked or not. Later managed to convince myself that I’d just eaten raw pig, and spent a happy few hours contemplating the likely consequences.
Well its 2130 now and no probs so far. I really don’t want food poisoning… Well if it was ham, it was a very chewy ham, and the rest of it took a good deal of cooking, Even then it didn’t taste right and I chucked it.
Friday, 24 October 2014
Cooler. Sunny periods. Dry. Winds picked up to 20kt gusty NE.
Got the spray hood out, fixed the dodgy supporting frame mount – outsize fitting – sewed the main zip closed and laced up one side, as well as giving the Perspex window a good wash down both sides and a hosing. Then put the blades back on the windgenerator, taking care to drop the allen key over the side in the process. As the ladder needed to go and get it was now firmly lashed to the windgenerator pole I was reluctant to untie it all again and decide to wait for some unsuspecting pedestrian to walk past to retrieve it for me, but it took a while.
No one walked past.
Finally a cruiser wife wandered within range. She thought I was just waving to her and waved back. ‘I can’t hear you!,’ she said as I pointed in vain at the allen key beneath. Bellowing helped.
Also tested the solar shower – smaller than I’d hoped, but works ok.
Had a lunch for the first time – tuna tortillas. So tonight not so hungry as I have been.
Saturday: Sunny. Cleaned the galley.
Then it was BBQ time, run by Don, aka Moose, on behalf of the Marina. Moose has a similar body mass and temperament to a moose, if I’m unkind. The food was wonderful for the half starved, and overly fed too.
Cleaned out port quarterberth.
Washed most of the seat covers, and some clothes. Refitting them was fun.
Monday 27 October 2014 SUNNY
Breakfast in CRACKERS. Great!
Scrubbed out the heads. Filled up with water and hoisted the boom, but can’t fix it without some better.
Got bleach in my eye, so hoisted the new SOLAR SHOWER and tried that out on it. TOO DAMN HOT!!!
On deck doing the boom when I noticed an attractive blonde with a large dog staring up at me. In view of the unusualness of the situation I gave her a welcoming smirk and after a minute or two she asks me if she can ask a question.
‘Hmmm, let me think.…’ pretending to consider this request in depth.
‘Ok yes you can’.
She wanted to know if the wind gen got in the way of the sails.
Been here nearly 2 weeks and not a huge amount to show for it. Still got the car.
I’ve been thinking about going to Cuba, then go see Oily and Val and their dogs on the Caymans, plus the sad remains of Donal Crowhurst’s ‘Teignmouth Electron’ if poss. Why not!
Tuesday 28 October 2014 WALMART’ed.
Drove to Stuart looking for a T Mobile place to get some minutes on my US phone, and went to Walmart. Walmart is huge. Just the car parks take up a square mile or two. Walmart has everything, clothes, food, cameras, fishing rods, miles of it. I saw a few things I wanted and went back for a trolley and bought a Canon printer for $35, some ink, a flare gun for the boat and one or two other things. I wanted to buy a Go Pro camera – just $200 – but the assistant couldn’t find the key to unlock it from the security wire. He was even trying to prise it open with a screwdriver. I waited patiently through all this, then gave up and left without it. How pathetic. At the checkout the queue – selected by me for its relative shortness – just didn’t move. Two in front left for another queue. It took 20 minutes to make the till, and I was first in line - I had selected the trainee staff hadn’t I. After that I went to Avis, then WestMarine. So expensive. Just two small shackles cost over $70! I put them back, even though I really need them.
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Bed early, 10 last night, up at dawn. Breakfast at CRACKERS! Then drove to PUBLIX store just outside Stuart and did the big shop, enough for about 6-7 weeks.
Bought THE BIG GREEN BUCKET at the hardware and used it to hoist all the food aboard using the port aft cockpit winch, which worked well and impressed Kevin who came over for a chat. Then stowed it. Tomorrow the car goes back as I’ve run out of excuses for keeping it, even though its cheap. A better day, and productive.
Saturday, 01 November 2014
Cold front arriving – temp a cool 15 deg C overnight and for the first time slept WELL. Woke very late around 0915.
Cycled (no car now as of yesterday) up to RADIOSHACK hoping to get some connectors elec. as yesterday I had an investigation into why the windgen was constantly shutting down and discovered the fuse was badly corroded, and the box was bare of replacements. Restocked with all sorts of electrical connectors.
Then to CRACKERS for breakfast.
‘Breakfast is finished’.
Had a sandwich instead, then chips as well which I really didn’t need. Breakfast there is great, but lunch…no.
Fixed the windgen pm, plus another loose wire in the battery box. Tightened up the pushpit which was getting rickety – loose bolts. Hucked out the lazerette which was disgusting, fitted the US propane bottles for the first time (better pressure) mended the gas compartment and refitted rope lashings internally. Ditched a lot of gash and two very rusty Campingas bottles. One left now, the one I ‘found’ in the shed here in the marina, which was in good nick and nearly full!
Forgot there was a BBQ on tonight, but would rather get on with the boat anyway.
Quite cold so boards in and a nice dinner of Chunky Sausage Something, and reading Max Hastings’ Falklands book.
Sunday COLD NIGHT – Socks on and zipped up. 9deg on waking. But Sunny! Boards in.
Stripped the old non-slip covering off the lazarette hatch and filled a few holes in the surface. Made a lamp holder out of soft wood to take the new cheapy oil lamp ($8). Wood split so then had to glue overnight.
Finally found the wood for the bimini, stbd quarterberth.
All day cutting and glueing the new bit of supergrip for the lazarette hatchtop. The Resin took ages to go off, even though the leftovers in the pot went off in 20 minutes, and got red hot!
Kev and Velma’s for a good evening eating chicken and rice and playing Canadian dominoes – they go up to 12 instead of 6, so I take ages to do anything as I have to count the dots.
Wednesday 5 November 2014
Give Kevin a hand with the wasps nest inside his boom on HOPE. He REALLY doesn’t like wasps. With some poking with a batten and a hose we succeed. Quite a few angry wasps – really big, maybe hornets? About four times the size of ours.
Dinner and Dominoes with Kev and Velma.
Thursday 6 November 2014
Hucked out the lazarette some more – which was disgusting underneath the nine extra fuel cans, and found FOUR with shattered caps so ditched them as useless, leaving 3 large 20 litre reds and the two small black containers, all full. Decanted the rest into the main tank using the magic siphon tube which works well. Rear two floorboards both skanky after a summer underneath a flat fender with the gas tanks on top. Still no sign of a SANDER! All broken, Steve of the Workyard tells me.
Friday 7 November 2014
Got a sander! Don’t bend the pipe, don’t do this. Don’t do that.. Worked well and sanded down the whole boat, mainly the bootstrap, then did all the woodwork too, all in one day. Old ….. 2 boats up spent a whole month sanding his boat, to perfection. Good effort.
Monday 10 November 2014 SUN MAKES A COMEBACK
Last year I left my old anchor chain stretched out on deck for a week prior to disposing of it at sea. BIG mistake. The rust flaked off in tiny particles which then proceeded to migrate to the rest of the deck, there to bed in and rust even more in a most unsightly way. Today it took all day with bits of emery cloth to scrub it off, in the process taking off two layers of paint. So now the deck is a patchy blue-green, but at least not rusty. Even whilst doing this, the scrubbings had to be immediately washed overboard else the process would start again, downstream of the area being cleaned. Never again!
Ordered online: book on marine SSB radio; new wide range thermostat for fridge.
Also 2 gal more paint – red – from Antoinette.
Booked boatlift in for Thursday 1pm.
First coat of antifoul goes on. Actually, I’m only putting one coat on! Bits and pieces to finish plus bootstrap (painted line marking the waterline) tomorrow.
One of the two damaged ‘floorboards’ for the cockpit now rebuilt. One to go.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 SUNNY 19 deg
Port cockpit drain seacock seized, then dropped the ****ing locknut into the bilge whilst freeing it off, and therefore into eternal absence as it is not possible to reach with fingers, and of course being bronze is not magnetic so can’t use my magnetic rod. No, I don’t have another. Have to fit a stainless steel nut, covered with anti-corrosion stuff, as dissimilar metals corrode. Bah.
Thursday, 13 November 2014 LAUNCH DAY! SUNNY AND HOT
Booked for 1300, Pinball strangely had disappeared off the weeks launch board in the office, but Antoinette was there and made things fine, charging me a whopping $1200 odd for everything so far – basically a month’s stay in the Work Area, paint and bits and pieces, and the launch. All morning I was stressed – as I always am on launch day – and was up at dawn with too long a work list still to do for my liking:-
Remove masking tape from bootstrap
Paint the gouges out with green paint topsides
Wash the topsides
Change engine oil and filter
Remove seawater coolant pipe and replace in bucket full of water
Run engine briefly (slow to start, turnover rather slow)
Rerig the boom central
Visit office, pay bill, discuss berth
Clear up paint etc.
Wash out buckets of sedimented bleach
Set fenders and dock lines (nearly forgot!)
But I managed, and it all went ok, and happily moored ‘on the floating dock’. Nice sunny day and happy again It is SO much better to be on the water, even though its more expensive.
Next to me is the British boat owned by Craig and Christa, soon to be renamed SIMUNYA. Everywhere on the dock was a mess of lines and junk, so to show them all up I prettied up mine like Catherine-wheels. Next time I looked Christa had done theirs the same.
Finally went up the mizzen with climb rope attached to TWO smaller lines on blocks, and got that damned mis-routed halyard routed properly AT LAST. Its been like that ever since Portland! Arrived back on deck at sunset, bitten to hell and bloody legged, knackered but content.
Friday, 14 November 2014 ON THE FLOATING DOCK
Saturday 15 November 2014 Sunny and hot.
Teak oiled the cockpit table and companionway boards in proper Teak oil – much prettier than Tropical Teak Oil, if not as long lasting.
Rigged the Vang and main sheet in preparation for fitting the mainsail.
Cycled to the shop for a chicken, more yoghurts, cheese, tortillas, lemonade and veg.
5pm (6pm Ships Time) turned up for the Saturday night BBQ courtesy of Big Don aka Mouse, and it was superb! Best yet by miles as lots had brought more dishes, unlike me who hadn’t. Sat with Kevin and Velma and another couple.
Crusier called Steve came and sat with us only to drone on about his whole life all evening – single, boat, trucker for 6 months of the year, me me me… Boring. That is a bit of an American trait – willingness to tell their entire life stories without any sensitivity as to whether their often unwilling audience actually wants to hear it. Am I being mean? Actually, its probably just me.
Evening: fitted the new Target SSB RADIO receiver, but still have the antenna to sort out
Sunday, 16 November 2014
SO MUCH BETTER BEING ON THE WATER!
Second coat for the woodwork, then up the bloody mainmast to check the fittings but mainly to lube the track. Quite warm, over 30 deg.
Monday, 17 November 2014
Dream: There’s a party going somewhere in the UK, which I’d like to go to. Its host is not a close friend or anything but I want to get out, be there, have some fun. The problem is, I don’t know where the party is being held. No idea. So I’m asking people I know who I think might know about the party, but having no luck.
I’ve set off in a Seaking to find out where this party is, with a co-pilot who I don’t know hardly at all, and he cares for me not. We have landed way up country at some airport or base, the weather is foul with low cloud almost to the deck, and I have no proper maps and don’t even know where we are. I don’t even know the name of the place we’ve landed and I’m panicking. I am starting to look a right fool, and making a proper pigs ear of everything. I’m picking up maps, borrowed from the co-pilot, and studying them pretending to research routes, but in reality just trying to find out where the hell we are and what the name of the airbase is. The map I’m peering at I do not recognise at all, it has lakes and inlets and a topography alien to my eye. Eventually I realise its of a foreign country.
Then I notice across the table in the crewroom we are in, good ole *** sitting with a young student, and watching my antics in a bemused sort of way. He is a Trapper in the RN, and I am in the RN, and I mutter something like ‘better go back. We don’t want them thinking this is just a jolly!’ This is more for his benefit than anyone else.
Tuesday 18 November 2014
Discover Stbd quarterberth PAINT STORE has had an explosion/leakage of various horrible chemicals, including Green paint, glue, heavy oil and bleach, several inches deep. Cleaned it up, but then discovered that the glassfibre on the hull was delaminating!
Craig and Christa come over in the evening, Craig with his two didgeredoos, for a demo. No, I’ll never be able to do that.
Sunday 23 November 2014
Sunny and hot. Re fibreglassed the area of delamination in the paint locker.
Craig and Christa with Steve have a very well attended NAMING CEREMONY for SIMUNYA early evening right next to Pinball – excellent. Even a cheeky local alligator came and had a look at us, right next to the dock.
Pinball is set to leave the marina tomorrow.
Monday 24 November 2015
1400 DEPART INDIANTOWN. Sunny and hot. St LUCIE CANAL
Asked to move from the floating dock to the refuel spot, as I’m leaving today, and do so with Kevin’s help with no problems, even though this entailed a tight turn around from the floating dock. Our breakfast date with CRACKERS as a result never happened which was a shame. Last minute shop for gas etc also never happened as I decided to do it in STUART instead.
Departed without fanfare at 1400, this time not so gleefully as I would miss the company of Kevin, Craig, Christa and Steve.
1430: Someone starts shooting behind me near the banks of the St Lucie Canal, and I do actually wonder if I might be the target! Well you never know, could be a nut with a grudge. Rotten shot if he was.
Arrived at the mooring field of SUNSET BAY MARINA, Stuart, give them a call on #16 and I’m given mooring buoy 8. Pick up first time, but lose it again when I have to go look for a piece of rope to tie on with! But, no problem, pick up again even though I’m being goofer watched by Paul and Mary (who I meet later) on the boat behind. They are there for a year!
Matt in the office (works til 7pm) a burly squat guy talks so fast I find it hard to follow, was helpful. Gas (propane) I could get the next day if I go with him on his twice weekly bus into town. Bed early. A good day.
Tuesday 25 November 2014
Up at dawn. Nearly miss the damn 9.00 marina bus as I’m faffing around. Get the gas from a happy-go-lucky young fellah full of the joys who tells me he’s a drummer in a band and has been to my country, in fact all over the world. ‘Hell, and I’m here selling propane’! he says with a grin. My re-homed half gallon tank (rescued from the dump yesterday) costs just $2 to fill. In UK it would cost £28. Do the maths!
Later I set off on the bike in the wonderfully warm Floridan air in winter. Seeing a rarity – music shop – I stop and go in asking for guitar strings, and settle for some 12’s, whatever they are.
‘This is scary’, the somewhat dishevelled music shop guy says conspiratorially, sensing my nationality. ‘In 2017 my family will have been here in America for 400 HUNDRED YEARS!’ I blink encouragingly. I’m thinking hang on, didn't the whites arrive 200 years ago..? But he was adamant. Apparently, his 400 year old ancestors came over here, had some kids and went back again to wherever they’d come from, and so….here he was! A descendant!
We are interrupted by Yul Brinner who walks in and just has to tell his story to the Music Shop. I’ve already heard it outside.
‘Yeah this black guy is coming through and has to stop for me, and then I stop and get OUT THE CAR and he’s backing off ‘cause he thinks I’m gonna go for him…’ he relates cockily, glancing over his shoulder several times. By the third telling, and a muted ‘..long as he don’t get a gun out’ from the Music Man, I had concluded he was actually hiding in the shop. I call it a shop. It actually looked more like squatters had moved in with a few music things in the front of an empty store.
At West Marine I finally, FINALLY, manage to cash in most of my Gold Account Advantage points – this has only taken about ten months – to buy some much needed charts and a pilot book. The long suffering girl cashier who for all the wrong reasons instantly recognised me from 15 yards, after at least 8 requests for my phone number and ages spent stabbing in numbers on her computer, discovered that I have no less than four accounts, and…well anyway, I got $80 off.
Cycling back along the wrong side of US 1 Highway in the dark, without a light, was interesting. Luckily you can use the footpath – not that anyone else does – but riding facing three lanes of headlights coming towards you doesn’t do the night vision much good. But I didn’t hit a lamppost.
All the major junctions have pedestrian crossings, press the button and wait jobs. One even chants ‘WAIT……WAIT…..WAIT’ every five seconds, changing to a strange clattering noise when it goes green. I guess this is for the blind, but any blind person venturing out here deserves a Congressional Medal of Honour.
But the really exciting bit comes at the turn off from US 1 Highway onto route 76, which has a slip road and therefore no lights or crossing point. If a vehicle doesn’t indicate, then you have about 0.5 of a second’s warning that he’s not going straight on but coming your way, it occurred to me halfway across. Time to play chicken.
Back at the pleasant Marina riverfront next to the impressive Roosevelt Bridge, who should be checking in the office but the SIMUNYE crew – Craig, Christa and their Scottish-Australian mentor, Steve. After an almost emotional meeting considering the 24 hour absence, I learn they are moored right next to Pinball. Excellent. Even better, we are all going out for dinner at CRABBY’s, with Marcia - their boats most supportive previous owner - driving us in her car.
Crabby’s was full.
’45 minute wait’ said Craig. We walked on to another restaurant the size of a barber shop on a crossroads complete with railway crossing, which the punters outside waiting outside to get in told us did excellent food.
’30 minute wait’ Craig now informed us. A bright-eyed full-on Geordie friend of Marcia’s bounced in to join us, her accent unaffected by a quarter century in the States, and proved entertaining company. Dinner was served in the street well over an hour later, just after one of those monster trains thundered slowly through town. I didn’t count, but there must have been around a hundred trucks, many of them double-deckers, all pulled by just one locomotive. Impressive. How I would just love to fit one of their devastating airhorns to Pinball! The grilled swordfish was excellent, as predicted.
Back at the marina I decided to show off by over-taking the Simunya’s dinghy on the way back to our boats, then slow down alongside to show I’m not a show-off or anything. This worked well until the outboard died due to lack of fuel. Turning the fuel on did the trick though, just in time to save face before Simunya arrived to rescue me.
NEXT: STUART TO LAKE WORTH VIA THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY