Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Cursed Crossing- Break, Break, Break

We spoke with our good friend Andy Allen, owner of MV seeDee. He agreed to go with us on the crossing to the Abacos. We picked him up on Thursday night, had a great dinner at a Dominican Republic restaurant in Jacksonville, FL. Christie Comrie drove our car to the condo after we left (Thank you, Christie). Tim Popp from Cloud X also helped us out with getting the car prepared for the winter storage at the condo. (Thanks Tim).

After a good night sleep, we left the dock by 6:30 a.m. and had a great cruise up the St. John's River to Jacksonville. As we passed the Navy base in Jacksonville, we enjoyed a flyby show of Navy planes.
As we approached the Intercoastal Waterway, we were able to clearly see where the salt water began and the fresh water ends.
We started seeing a little white spoke from our Starboard (Right) Engine. Wink had changed the oil and filters and felt he had overfilled the engine. After a short while, Wink decided to consult a Yanmar repair expert. The expert was concerned that the fuel injectors were having a problem and suggested we keep a watch on them. We anchored our first night north of St. Augustine. When we awoke in the morning, the batteries were lower voltage than they should have been.
As we continued on our cruise, we continued to monitor the engines and we kept a closer watch on the batteries and when we awoke on the third morning, indeed the batteries were again not where they should be. We continued on our trip with the plan to stop near Andy's home and have the engines and the batteries checked. Andy directed us to Telemar Bay Marina in Indian Harbor Beach. It's a great place and Sara really liked it because she was only 10 feet from the grass.
Wilma spent some of her time in front of the sewing machine making 10 new fender covers. These covers keep the fenders from squeaking when rubbed against the dock and boat. They also look a lot better and keep the boat nice and clean.
Wink dived on the boat to check out the shaft seals and discovered that one of the zincs was loose and pretty well used up. He replaced the zinc with a new one.
After the Marine Pro expert came and looked over the engines, it was decided that we did need to have all eight fuel injectors cleaned and reworked. We also determined that our house bank of batteries needed to be replaced. The picture below shows the batteries removed and the area cleaned and ready for new batteries.We decided to also have our battery for the generator replaced as well. Thirteen batteries total. We were going to be taking a break from the crossing because the repairs would take two weeks. Andy was near his home now and his window of opportunity to cross had closed. We rented a car for the week and did some errands. Our coffee pot even decided to break. We have a spare purculator on board, but if we used it we wouldn't have a spare so we just bought another one.
Wilma called her family to let them know that we would not be crossing for another two weeks. Wilma's family decided to have an early Thanksgiving with all of her siblings coming in from various locations for a family reunion. Wilma's parents are on the loveseat above. They have been married for over 63 years. Their children from left: Billy, Betty, Timmy, Geraldine, Mickey, Wilma and Hardy. Wilma's family also had a celebration of their fathers 84th birthday.
Once Wilma returned, we decided to get underway on Tuesday, November 25th so Wilma rode her new bicycle to Publix for fresh vegetable and milk. We left early at 6:30 a.m. and cruised to Ft. Pierce, FL. We arrived at the Ft. Pierce inlet around 1:00 p.m. and kept going as we knew this was our only chance as the weather was due to deteriorate in the evening.

The crossing went well with 3-4 ft swells. Wink had driven during the morning until we got to the ICW and into the ocean for a couple of hours then Wilma took over and drove until about 9:00 p.m. We reached the Little Bahama Bank about 10:00 p.m.
Our intention was to anchor anywhere on the bank and get some rest, but the winds and waves were too rough to anchor. We had to keep going. We drove as if in the ocean, radar was on, the chart was plotted, the navigation screens covered to keep out the light. We checked the radar, the navigation, and checked for lights in the dark night every few minutes. Wink and Wilma both took turns and tried to rest some in between. We set our course and speed to arrive at Great Sale Cay (a good anchorage) about daylight Wednesday. We were so happy to finally see day light and have a chance to rest. We anchored on the west side of Great Sale Cay for protection from the east winds. We attempted to turn on the generator to cool the boat down for better sleeping - keyword "attempted". After a short time diagnosing the problem, we decided it couldn't be repaired quickly so we pulled up anchor and headed to Spanish Cay. In route to Spanish, we decided to dump our holding tank. Guess What? You got it, the macerator wouldn't work. Just one more thing to repair at Spanish Cay.
We arrived at Spanish Cay and cleared customs 32 hours after we left our dock on Tuesday morning. By now we were so wired by the coffee and the excitement of actually arriving that we couldn't sleep. Wink was able to replace the impeller on the generator and luckily we had bought a spare macerateor so he changed that out also. The rain came about 5:00 p.m. and continued all night. Thank you, God for washing the boat down for us. Finally around 11:00 p.m. we enjoyed a nice, relaxing sleep.
Spanish Cay put a nice Thanksgiving Dinner together for about 9 boaters. It was very nice to meet some new people and have a great dinner and to give thanks for a safe - yet long crossing to the Abacos. On Friday, we decided to go lobster hunting. We prepared the skiff and when we tried to start it, it wouldn't work (what else is new?) After examination, Wink discovered that the cable to the motor from the shifter was broken into. This must have happen on the transient as the skiff was working fine in Florida. This repair will have to wait until we get to Marsh Harbour. On Saturday Wink needed a little more light in the Saloon, but the light switch wouldn't work - luckily this only took a few minutes to repair. We stayed at Spanish Cay for several days and then headed south on a calm day to make the Whale Cay crossing. As we approached Green Turtle Cay, we passed Ken Fickett (Builder of our boat). He was the Captain for a charter group on Spoonbill. The water was so clear and we had dolphins under our bow twice on the course to Marsh Harbour. A special thanks to David from Tar Heel for coming out to take our Skiff into Boat Harbour so we could back into our slip. He also brought Fred from Chippka Fire III (thank you Fred) to help out with the lines since Wilma is steal healing from her dual arm surgeries.
All our friends at Boat Harbour were there to greet us and catch our lines and once more we were home. After a day, a night, and a happy hour, it seems as if we never left........

Getting Ready to Go to Abaco, Bahamas

John Henry was pulled for a new paint bottom job and the running gear cleaned by Holland Marine. While on the hard, Wink and Wilma did a lot of cleaning. All the portholes had their screens removed, cleaned and replaced along with the stainless ports polished. The rub rail was cleaned and treated with F21 cleaner and protectorant. The alleyways were cleaned and all their trim work painted inside the hatch covers. All the teak and holly floors were cleaned and oiled.

We also went to Sarasota to deal with a few medical appointments. While we were there, Wink’s cousin Rudy came for a visit.
This is the view from our Pent House Condo. Upon closer inspection, you will see that the kayak is being paddled by Wink. Wink also has started a new hobby of making jewelry.
Above: Some of the pendants that Wink has created.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

October - Returning South - Part 2

As we headed south, we stopped and visited our friends Jan and Vinny Gaglioni, owners of Crystal Bee Supply, Peabody, MA. We use to keep Honey Bees in our early days. Jan and Vinny were our teachers and mentors when we first started the Hobby.

Heading south, we decided to go back to Ogdensburg, NJ for another visit to Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Due to the power outage on our first visit, we weren’t able to take the tour of the mine or see the mineral museum. We took lots of great pictures and here is a little sampling of what you can see – we do recommend you go if you’re in the area.

The Oreck Family (Vacuum cleaner Oreck’s) has a mineral exhibit in the museum that’s amazingly cool and extremely large. It’s the best exhibit that we’ve ever seen. (Above)
The Sterling Hill Mine is famous for the flourescent minerals show above. Sterling Hill and the Franklin Mines are now both educational based museums and the the main sources for flouresecent mineral mines in the USA . The mine is extremely deep (I think it is about 8 levels deep), but since it’s not a working mine, the mine has filled with water to within 50 feet below the main level. The water is extremely clear and the flooded passages can be seen clearly for a long way down. It’s strange to see a row boat tied on the second level (especially in a tunnel). After we left New Jersey, we went west to New York City. Yes, we have friends everywhere. Fred and Sherry Sztul invited us over for a couple of night to visit. Fred and Sherry are fellow RMHYC members and they dock their boat near us in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. They treated us like royalty. We had a huge lunch the day we arrived and then we all went out to China Town for dinner and then over to Little Italy for dessert. The next day we went to Boynton Beach for Russian lunch to be followed by dinner cooked by Sherry. Everything was great and we look forward to seeing them in Marsh Harbour. As we headed south again, we remembered the great time we had at Cotton Patch Gold Mine so we stopped for another visit with our niece Lee Ann and of course, she was very interested in going back to mine with us. Another great day – and highly recommended good fun.
Returning to Green Cove Springs, FL in time for a Jacksonville Gem & Minerals Club Picnic and Tailgate Swap. Wilma and Dianna know the true meaning of Tailgate Party.

September - Road Trip North Part 1

In early September, Wink, Wilma and Sara the Boat Dog took a road trip north. Our first stop was Charlotte, NC where we visited with our good friend Nancy Burns. Nancy use to be Wink’s Assistant when we lived in Hernando, Mississippi and they both worked for Arkwright Mutual Insurance. Sara the boat dog enjoyed the green luscious grass on her small lake.

After saying farewell to Nancy, we went to our niece Lee Ann’s home for a few days. Lee Ann went with us the Cotton Patch Gold Mine east of Charlotte and we had a great day panning for Gold.

After leaving Charlotte, we traveled west into the Appalachian Mountains to hunt for Garnet, Rubies, and Sapphires. We accomplished our finds by digging piles of dirt and then sluicing the dirt leaving only the good stuff. We found a few gems that look interesting, but their quality cannot be confirms at this time.

From North Carolina, we traveled north to Ogdensburg, NJ to visit the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. We arrived on Wilma’s birthday, September 11th. The day was cold and rainy, but our silver lining was that we had the place all to ourselves. As we were working outside collecting rocks from the mining piles we would go inside to view them in a dark room since we were looking for fluorescent minerals. Due to the rain, the power transformer exploded so we didn’t have electric power to view our finds. Not to worry, those guys had battery operated equipment that we could use. The colors were incredible and the experience is unforgettable. Hey Girls, I asked for a big rock for my birthday and got about 150 lbs. worth. (Check out October’s Blog for more NJ pictures).
When we arrived in Derry, New Hampshire to visit the grandchildren, they had a cake and presents ready for a party.

Wilma traveled down to Massachusetts to visit with previous co-workers. In Waltham, she met up with Elaine Schoener (they use to work together at Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company). Wilma also met up with Christine and Jim Grinnell. (Wilma and Chris use to work together at Belmont Animal Hospital). Wilma also caught up with Therese and John McGuire but didn’t get a photo – sorry guys.

It was Apple picking time in New Hampshire, so we picked bushel of great tasting apples. We made Apple Crumb Pie, Apple Crisp, Apple Brownies, and more Apple Crumb Pies not to mention eating Apples.

Wink designed and built our grandchildren a new bed-bookshelf-desk combination where each child has their own desk and bookshelves on each side of the bed. Amber demonstrates her side of the bed. She calls her desk area her office, while Emma calls her area “the Fort”. Toni wasn’t left out; Wink designed and built her a desk to accommodate her needs for completing her college studies. Wilma was able to get the girls furniture painted, but was unable to get Toni’s painted.
Since we were in New Hampshire for early October, we decided to take a little trip into the White Mountains to enjoy the foliage. Toni’s father has a cabin up there and we were able to stay a couple of days touring and enjoying the colors. Wilma and Emma enjoy a Pajama night in the White Mountains. While site seeing, Wilma, Toni and Amber enjoyed an art festival; and Wink found an interesting Train Museum. The colors were brilliant and beautiful, but alas the cold weather told us to head south.

August - Green Cove Activities

Wilma spent the first week back from Texas cleaning the left over dregs from the Blind Mosquitoes infestation that started in June and lasted until after we left for Texas. Luckily, our friend Tim from Cloud X, hosed off the boat once the mosquitoes left the area.

Wink and Wilma took Country Western dance lessons for the Two Step as well as learning a few advanced moves we hope to show off at the Western Dance in Marsh Harbour in March. We also joined the Jacksonville Gem and Mineral Club. The club sponsors activities every week for Rock Hounding, Rock Swaps, Club Picnics and lots of Jewelry making classes. We enjoyed attending a series of fine metals wire wrapping classes.

Several Royal March Harbour Yacht Club members were docked in Brunswick, Georgia so we made several trips to the Marina to see Sue and Paul Graham and other RMHYC members. Sara the Boat Dog (her knew name as it was pointed out to us that she really doesn't like the sea) really likes Sue's new sofas pillows. Robert Wilson and Dave Bluto enjoy the evening.

We took John Henry out for a shake-down as well as to have a bit of fun in the middle of the month. We invited some of the neighboring boaters to join us. From right to left, Tim from Cloud X along with Frank and Frank, Jr. from the end of the dock. We anchored John Henry and took a swim.
As you may remember, John Henry sports a 6’ bathtub. Last year, we had the bathtub modified for easier drainage – unfortunately, it was not a good idea. Wink spent about three days redoing the Fiberglass to get it back to the way it was. We’re much happier with the original design.

Wink and Wilma cleaned out alleyways, drawers, and clutter though-out the boat. We took a car load of stuff out of the boat and stored it at our condo which is still FOR SALE in Sarasota. Wink and Wilma also had their annual medical appointments. We’re both in great health. – Yeah.

We stopped in to check on Wink’s mom. She is about the same – we believe she is well cared for in the Alzheimer’s Unit and seems happy.

We also made a trip to Live Oak, FL to see Wink’s Aunt Ella Mae who was having her 94th birthday. She says, “Getting old aint for sissies”.