Monday, October 31, 2011

Rain and Fog

Outside a steady rain drizzles down. There is a low hanging fog adding to the dreariness of the day.  I had planned to leave this morning but it's just too nasty.  My job today is to check out the wiring for the bilge pump.  The batteries are down to 12.5 volts so I will have to save my "juice" for lights and my anchor light. Tomorrow maybe there will be some sun to my batteries. But I'll need some to run the auto pilot early.  So no radio today, and no music either. Bummer day. Tomorrow will be better.  Time to do some reading from my well stocked library and Kindle.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waiting out the weather

I tried it this morning.  Went out without reefing. The wind was slated to be 20-22 knots.  Turns out it's more like twenty-five.  That must be what the "small craft advisory" was all about.  To keep it simple, lets say the boat was overpowered by the wind and the bilge started filling with water.  So, I hang it up for today.  Should have slept in and forgot the whole thing like I was inclined.  Here's something I hate to admit.  On the way back I guess I took a short cut...well I did take a short cut, unthinkingly that I have taken for years in a SeaPearl 21 (with 6 inch draft.  Now I am waiting for the tide to rise.  It's almost off. going aground on low tide is an inconvenience. Going aground at high tide is a frantic call to Tow Boat US.  Darn I am going to have to pay attention better. 
I will probably spend the next 2 or 3 days at anchor. I am not going out until the wind is under 20 knots. 
Interesting thing happened with the bilge filled with salt water.  For sum reason the power was out to the radio. I checked the booster box and no power was coming out of it. On opening it I found a blown 25 amp fuse.  After that the radio worked but the TinyTrack was dead. Another blown fuse in the Rigrunner.  Not sure what caused all this but luckily I have all the equipment to service most problems on Belle.  More later on my time spent getting everything ready to go again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Some times you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't"

I got sick of the crowding in the boat so took it over to the dock and went and got the truck. I carried off the generator, the 6 gallon container of extra water, the battery charger and some other small items. It looks a world better in here now!
The composting head is working great using sawdust instead of peat.  Peat is mostly inert and won't compost. I tried and found out for myself last trip on the St. John's river. 
For the hams that wanted to talk to me today. both 20 meters and 40 meters are wall to wall contesting this w/e so I am not turning the radio on (except for APRS until Monday.  The Innova Sunny kayak has been a great dinghy (see Karen, I spelled it right).  Now it is deflated and packed under the vee berth.  We are ready to leave in the morning!

Rainy Days and Mondays

I'm sitting at the Big Deck restaurant in Cedar Key eating a Philly cheese steak  with curly fries.  I just finished a lot of work on the boat like duck taping the hatch shut and straitening out the big mess.  I got the radio back to working on 30 meters.  Don't know what was wrong but it is broadcasting my GPS coordinates every 20 minutes on APRS.FI  If you don't click on this link you will need to enter WB4FGF-8.
I am also messaging with my SPOT device.  You can reach my share page here. I will try to remember to press the OK button ever once in a while especially at anchorages.
It rained  quite a bit last night.  I woke up with wet feet realizing the fore hatch was leaking. I cranked it down tighter but it kept up a slow drip drip.  Today when checking it out I saw that a small rope got caught under the gasket and broke the seal.  I think it is OK now but just to be sure I sealed it with duck tape. Small craft advisories are out for tonight, so I'm staying put until it is safe to move.  I still have some still have some stuff to take back to the truck. There's just TOO MUCH STUFF in the boat!!
I'm planing on some radio work this afternoon around 5pm. On 7.165 up to 7.200 mHz for those of you who would like to make contact me.  I'll try to change the message re: what frequency I'm on in aprs and let it beacon at least once before I change over to sideband. 
I hope to leave tomorrow.  We will see how it goes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Launched and ready to go?

This last two days had been a blur of too much work and not enough sleep.  Yesterday I got up at 2pm and went up to West Marine to pick up the G2 chip for my new Garmin 78.  I pressure washed the boat and scurried around doing tasks until I dropped into bed about 8pm to a fitful sleep.  This morning I was up at 1:30 AM to leave.  The trip featured a flat tire on the boat trailer which gave me a hassle because I forgot to put the key in to remove the lock nut on the wheel.  Luckily, my giat channel locks took it off anyway. As I approached the Cedar Key turn off I impulsively turned off and called the Hardware store in CK. I was referred to the manager who graciously offered me a parking spot for a month at $60. 
Well, here I am at anchor right next to the dock in Cedar Key.

I ate a wonderful blackened grouper sanwich at my favorite resteraunt The Big Deck

This is a typical street scene on the dock at Cedar Key. 

Now I am typing under the bluish tint of the led light in the cabin.  The hot spot is working well on 3G only. I feel lucky to have internet at all. Cedar Key has poor cell coverage. I guess the big antenna 30 feet up is helping. 
I am completely bushed so am going to sleep.  More tomorrow and hopefully some radio work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Enough is enough!

This is my final night at work.  I had to get up at 3pm and work like a dog to get the last of the chores done.  There were 12 tires to check and properly inflate (trailer and truck).  The boat was a dirty mess so I pressure washed it as best I could in the time available.  Finally, I put all my clothes on board.  All that is left is my medicines and computer stuff (not inconsequential with a laptop, and Netbook and a portable printer and all the 12 volt cords and accessory cables.
I will need to program the GPS's using Sea Clear II and therefore need cables to upload way points.  Well, I'm the one that likes all these toys. So I shouldn't complain, should I? Note to self: leave some decompression time at the beginning of a trip as well as the end.  Now, 12 hours of work.
In the morning I have to stop by the credit union.  In the afternoon it's off to the lake to West Marine the $1000 store to pick up a G2 coastal US waters map chip for my new Garmin 78. Darn, should have gotten the 78sCX which has everything on it.  Anyway, the truck is hooked up, the lights work and I'm all but gone.
I leave at 2AM Friday morning.  Follow me on   WB4FGF-8 and -10.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What to take on a voyage

I'm sitting here thinking about the anxiety that can arise when one ponders the consequences of forgetting something vital.  Well, nothing is really completely catastrophic.  I once found to my chagrin, that I had forgotten to bring any underwear.  That was on a week long trip across the Florida Panhandle.  Does the term "commando" come to mind?

 To be honest, over the years I have mostly been exasperated by the excess junk I have brought along.  I really believe too much is almost worse than not enough.  It really helps to have some time to think it over.  A list is a good idea too.  Karen is the list maker, so we are cataloging everything that goes on to Belle and then everything that comes off.  Notes are being made along the way about what works and what doesn't.  Talking about it helps too. Today I was talking to my friend Jim at Marine Concepts and he offhandedly mentioned someone needing to use a sail palm and needle. Note to self: find the sewing kit I have hidden away and take it on this trip.  A handy list needs to be added to when the thought arises. You know how it is with us older folks--out of sight, out of mind.  I hope someone can get something out of my notes on this blog. I must admit; I love other peoples lists. Ron Hoddenott wrote an article for Small Craft Adviser about how to camp in a SeaPearl 21. I have that list and have added to it, and other peoples lists, shaping a well thought out plan for various time spans aboard.  Karen puts these on Excel so we can modify as needed.

Actually, planning can be almost as much fun as actually doing the trip.  I feel pretty comfortable with my packing so far.  Booms and sails, check.  Main and mizzen sheets, check.  Boom pins, check.  Bailing and washing buckets, check. Well, you get the idea.  You'll know as well as I will how it turns out, because this blog is my journal and log.  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A wonderful weekend

We had a wonderful weekend in the Smokies.  Our first day after checking into the Baymont Inn in Cherokee, we explored Cove Creek and imagined ourselves camping in the many secluded campgrounds by the river. 
The second day we took in the beauty of US 441 over the mountains with some time out to climb the magnificent Clingmans Dome. Lunch was in Gatlinburg at the Smokey Mountain Brewery --Restaurant.  The micro brew and  Phily Cheese Steak were amazing!

Saturday we took the long road to Asheville, North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway was aflame with color and since neither of us had gone this way before, we were wowed by the vistas and the spectacular color and scenerey.
 Monday, Karen finished her custom bedding for Belle.  We loaded the last of the food and supplies, and short of personal items, she is ready to go.  On board are the aforemention food and supplies as well as 42 gallons of water, 30 gallons of fuel, an inflatable kayak and a dingy with all paddles necessary, a 2.5 hp outboard for the dingy etc. etc.  Ok you get the idea; a lot of work and effort at lists making and checking off!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

 Transportation for the trip.  The 6 foot dingy looks to be perfect for one person.  Both the Innova Sunny inflatable kayak and the 6 foot Mercury dingy live under the Vee berth.  The paddles and the oars as well as the snorkeling gear fit nicely below.  I found a nice fit for the 2.5 hp short shaft Tohatsu engine in the starboard quarter locker.  

The bags of food are nicely ensconced in the lockers under the quarter berth seats.  There is far and away enough food for 30 days.  I judge two could live well for a month on these supplies.
 This week off has helped immensely in getting ready for the trip.