21 April 2002 (Update #16)...
Just spent 3 weeks in beautiful sunny San Francisco where we thought we'd freeze! It was mostly a dentist & doctor kind of trip, plus a chance for Celia to check in with her mom over in Pinole. We did get to spend some time with Celia's close friend Sue and with mutual friends Paul & Sharon. I was scheduled to get a couple crowns, but thanks to an unexpected ache in my jaw a week before returning, David had to add a root canal to the list (thank you for juggling your schedule, David!). This is a shot of the beach and the Great Highway and about 6 blocks from the Admiral's house. Checkout the heavy coat on the bicycle rider!
The week before heading to SF was a little hectic. We drove to Ft. Myers to see friends Michael & Layne (they also live on a Gemini... MIKI G), then drove 2 days to Annapolis to recover Celia's car, have dinner with friends Fran & Char, return the rental car that got us there, have lunch the following day with friends Ric & Mary (Ric kept an eye on our car while it was in Maryland), then drove 2 more days back to Stuart. Took nearly a week to get it all done so we could fly out of West Palm Beach on Friday at 6:45 am. Yuck!
Had a bit of a surprise at the Motel 6 in N. Ft. Myers while visiting Michael & Layne. At 3:00 in the afternoon we got the last room. They had 3 baseball teams taking up most of the motel. Baseball takes over much of Florida starting the first of March until regular season starts in April. There are major league teams plus all their farm teams. For sure the Minnesota Twins are here because friends Dennis & Arlyce cruising another Gemini SEA YA had a job working for the Twins during spring training.
We didn't get back to Stuart from SF until midnight Saturday (4/13). Lucky us: the dinghy was filled with water and the bottom was covered with all sorts of alien creatures. The critters must have loved 3 uninterrupted weeks of carefree multiplication in warm Florida waters. Yikes! I couldn't dump the water out at the dock because it weighed too much to lift. So I waded into the boat and splashed my way back to Goosebumps where I could use the davits to lift the dinghy part way out of the water to let it drain. And drain and drain and drain. Finally headed back to get Celia, but I decided to wait till I'd had some rest before tackling the luggage. Oops. Woke up to pouring rain which continued most of the day. We were on Goosebumps until 4:00 pm waiting for a break. You'd think finding the dinghy full of water would have been a clear sign that there was more rain on the way, but I didn't let a little thing like that sway my thinking at all! Fortunately I did remove the drain plug from the dinghy (yes, it was hanging in the davits!), so it didn't fill with water a second time.
Celia wanted to pick up a few groceries so I ran her in while I did a few chores. When she called to say she was back at the dock, I headed in with the dinghy... but the engine died part way there. Arrgggh! So we've been roughing it for the last week+ while the engine gets repaired and serviced. We did manage to tie up at the city dock overnight while we scrubbed the now foul water tanks (what a mess; the water was unusable). But other than that one night, it's been a lot of work getting back and forth between the dock and our mooring (the furthest out of course). It has slowed the wheels of progress to a painful grind.
Celia took pity on me one night and offered to row back to the boat. Cool! Very relaxing trip and I could concentrate on 'advising' her. Scenic trip too... we circulated around the anchorage and visited all the boats. Some would say she was rowing in circles, but I prefer to think she's just friendly and wanted to say 'hi!' to everyone. Yeah, it was 10:30 pm and everyone was in bed, but she tried! She hasn't volunteered to row since. And after this honorarium I suspect it will be a v-e-e-e-ry long time before she offers again!
At the moment we're getting ready (very slowly!) to head for Ft. Myers. We'll meet friends Michael & Layne there to travel to the Bahamas. Let's see if the infamous Goosebumps Weather Curse can be broken! We're hoping it will be and that we'll actually make it to the Bahamas.
The plan is to leave Ft. Myers about 1 May and stop at Sanibel Is. for the night Then we'll do an overnight sail to Marathon (near Key West) in the Florida Keys. We'll rest up there, then head to Cay Sal about 70 nm south and a little east of Marathon. Cay Sal is unique in that it's the only atoll in the Atlantic. It has several small cays surrounding a small bank to form the atoll.
From Cay Sal I think we'll head roughly east to Andros Is. The plan is to cut through the middle of the island. Though it's a large island, there's nothing much here but small isolated coastal settlements and a few US Navy bases. There's essentially nothing mentioned in the cruising guides which is a large part of the appeal.
From Andros we'll head east to one of the more familiar Bahamian islands eventually arriving at George Town on Exuma Island. From George Town I believe Miki G will head further south to the Dominican Republic before returning to their new berth in Key West. We'll start heading north from George Town and work our way though the northern Bahamas before trying to catch a ride north on the Gulf Stream. The prevailing winds are out of the east to southeast and we'll try to catch a weather pattern like we've had the last 8 days. It would be nice to get back north of the Chesapeake in single hop!
Of course, all this is plans and who knows how it will actually work out?! Thanks to the magic of radio-mail and the generosity of participating amateur radio stations, we'll keep you posted along the way.
25 April 2002 (Update #17)...
It took a mighty effort, but we managed to get the Goose off that terrible mound of coffee grounds that had her stuck in Stuart. But the escape was not without a price tag...
We found we couldn't go over 4 kts as we headed up the St. Lucie River toward L. Okeechobee (we usually motor along at 6 kts). From the stream of bubbles following the boat it was pretty clear we had a few freeloaders along for the ride. A quick look along the waterline showed millions of barnacles happily waving at me. I tried drumming a cadence with my foot on the floor of the cockpit as we motored along, but they just didn't seem to get the idea to all stroke together. I'm convinced Florida barnacles cannot follow the beat... never make dancers nor galley slaves!
Our speed did manage to creep up to just over 4 kts over the next few hours, but not good enough if we're going to keep up with our friends on MIKI G. Looks like we'll have to have the Goose... hauled to get the bottom cleaned and repainted, probably in Ft. Myers. We had the bottom painted about 6 months ago using Micron+ with Biolux. At $150/gallon we expected we were getting something that would last awhile. We thought 9 to 12 months was a reasonable expectation... not 6. Either Micron is formulated for cooler water (it's 89.7 deg F where we are at the moment) or the paint went dead from the boat sitting still too long (Micron+ is ablative paint and functions by allowing the water to wash away minute amounts as the boat moves through the water).
Celia took the news of the unexpected haulout very well, actually. The only 3 words she said were "motel; restaurant; rental car." Hmmm... I think there's a message here.
Some of you who have been receiving these updates for awhile may recall my uncertainty about the clearance we would need to pass under the railroad lift bridge here at Port Mayaca. The bridge allows 49' underneath and I was unsure if we would fit under that or possibly hit the antenna or masthead light. Friend Fran Tschida finally 'splained that while I may have thought we had a mast as tall as the big kids have on their boats, we in fact only needed 46' of clearance (sometimes called 'air draft').
So, with Fran's assurance in my hip pocket, I finally accepted we had worried needlessly and we crept slowly under the bridge. About the time the mast was directly under the bridge a siren let out 3 short wails. Scared a good 3 years growth out of me. Celia thought it was an alarm that was warning us we wouldn't clear the bridge. That's when I looked up to the right and saw the real reason: a train was sitting about 100 yards up the tracks! I shoved the throttle forward and we were out of harms way in a matter of seconds. We looked at one another with eyes about the size of saucers, then realized a moment later that, since it's a manually operated bridge, the train crew was probably waiting for us to get out of their way so they could lower the bridge and pass over the canal. I wonder how many boats they've caught that way over the years! :-)
We'll set off across the Lake tomorrow. We motored up near the lock earlier and could see that the gates are open out to the lake. Should be nothing more than a 'mother-may-I' permission to pass through tomorrow.
More along the way...
5 May 2002 (Update #18)...
To paraphrase Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters 35 years ago: Clean mind; clean bottom. Take your pick.
I guess I need to explain. When we left Stuart we had an amazing colony of barnacles happily expanding all over the bottom of the boat. Top speed under power had dropped to something less than 4 mph. As we motored toward L. Okeechobee, our speed increased a tiny fraction, but we knew we were in trouble as far as going to the Bahamas. By the time we arrived in Ft. Myers (yes, I've been misspelling it for months!), we decided that we had to do something about it and opted to haul at Ft. Myers Yacht. They squeezed us into their schedule and did the cleaning and painting for us, this time with 2 coats of ACP-50 bottom paint instead of the single coat we had applied last October.
So, we picked a clean bottom over a clean mind and now we see a 30% increase in speed. Plus we don't hear barnacle shells being crushed when we raise or lower the center boards!
Michael & Layne had arranged a berth for us at Paradise Yacht Club, which, btw, is neither paradise nor a yacht club... just a marina. Michael came aboard before we arrived to help us find this hole-in-the-wall but very protected marina. What a job getting the GOOSE... to cooperate with all the tight turns to get into the berth! Michael was temporarily impressed with how well I did getting the boat into the space. I fixed that misimpression when we returned from the boat yard and careened off several pilings as I used my best pool shots to get the GOOSE... parked. Yikes!
The day we arrived the temperature was in the 90s: "Very unseasonable... this usually doesn't happen till July!" Yeah, right! First stop was West Marine where we plunked down $1,100 for a portable marine air conditioner. Amazing contraption that, unfortunately, is only usable while in a marina (there's a hose that dangles out a window to pump sea water through the condenser, so it can't be used underway). It was worth every exorbitant penny! We expect to stay in the Jacksonville area for a couple months after we return from the Bahamas so I can get established with a new HMO (exams by new doctors). So we'll get plenty of use out of it starting in late June.
After a one day shopping spree for fresh foods and snack goodies plus a tour of the Edison Estate, we set off with MIKI G (Michael & Layne) headed for points south. The hope was to find some comfortable sea breeze to help beat the heat, but so far the southerly winds have been both hot and on the nose. We pounded into them all day and finally said "Enough!" Our 120 mile overnight trip to Marathon became a very tiring all day trip 30 miles south to Gordon's Pass near Naples, FL. We will probably take an inside route about 8 miles to Marco Island, then see what happens with the weather. We were hoping for easterlies and that's what the the weatherman says we should be seeing. Not so!
We've been suffering all morning with the wonderful smell of meat cooking on MIKI G. Layne is a fantastic cook and we thought, wow! Michael sure gets a great breakfast! Unfortunately that isn't what's going on. The fridge stopped cooling last night and their frozen meats defrosted. Yikes! So Layne was busy cooking everything this AM. These gas fridges are very durable, but they do need some annual maintenance involving the gas burner and vacuuming the flue. All the pounding yesterday must have loosened some of the scale and caused the burner to not operate properly. As soon as they get caught up we'll take off.
7 May 2002 (Update #19)...
Like the Marines in Korea, we aren't really retreating but merely advancing in the direction from which we came. Which means...
We stopped for a few hours at Capri Pass near Marco Island yesterday (Sunday) just to see how we all felt about either resting or moving on to Marathon. The vote was to move on, but we took advantage of the stop to dip in the water and cool ourselves a little. Turned out to be a big mistake. The floor got a little wet and, as she was going to close the hatch so we could leave, Celia slipped and broke her leg.
A local couple had stopped to visit with MIKI G for a few minutes and I went over to see if they could tell me if there was an emergency room in Marco or if I should head back to Naples (about 8 miles). They immediately offered the use of their private dock on a nearby canal plus a lift to the emergency room. 4 and a half hours later we knew that Celia had suffered a clean break of the fibula and would have to wear a restraint (not a cast... the Admiral calls it a "green burrito") for 3-4 weeks while it heals. As broken legs go, she got off pretty easy but it's clear that a trip to the Bahamas is not going to happen this year.
So both boats will head out the pass tomorrow. MIKI G will turn south to Marathon and GOOSEBUMPS will advance in the afore mentioned direction from which she came and head 40+ miles north to Ft. Myers. We'll stay at a marina there for a month or so, then move on down the west coast of Florida to the keys. Once there we think we'll move east and north up to the Jacksonville area by early July. I've had to change my HMO coverage from California to Florida and really need to schedule physicals with the new doctors. We'll take advantage of the time to get up close and personal with our new air conditioner... talk about a decadent life!
We'll keep the updates coming... lots to see right here in Florida!
16 May 2002 (Update #20)...
Greetings from Paradise!
We're safely tied to the dock at Paradise Yacht Club in the primo location of the whole marina. About 20 feet to the rec room, 30 feet to the rest rooms and about the same to the car. Pretty nice. Plus the new manager here has taken pity on we old toots and makes sure that we have everything we need to make life comfortable for Celia. We expect to be here for about a month.
The sympathy level will probably drop this week, though. Celia saw the orthopedist yesterday. He says she doesn't need to wear the green burrito (Celia's name for the wrap-around restraint) and he wants her to start putting some weight on her broken leg. We'll be back to see Dr. Fenning next week for an X-ray, but he didn't see anything that was troubling about the break. His biggest concern was the chance of phlebitis. He was relieved when he learned that she routinely takes aspirin and thought the pain in her calf was related to the trauma from the break and not blood clots.
So this morning I found the admiral cruising up and down the port hull "walking" on both feet. Of course she was supporting part of her weight with her arms, but that's still a big change for her. I'm already making plans for her to take over galley duty real soon! :-)
It's the middle of May but weather patterns are starting to look more and more like summer is already here. The daily temperature continues in the 90's and we're starting to see occasional showers in the afternoon. By the time we leave here, thunderstorms ought to be a daily occurrence. Thankfully we haven't seen the usual lightning that normally accompanies a thunderstorm, but that's just fine with us!
21 May 2002 (Update #21)... Hope this Update finds everyone in good cheer. That's the case here on the GOOSE... where Celia's broken leg is doing better and better each day. Of course, now that her knee isn't hurting so much she finds here ankle and foot have been complaining all along.
But her foot didn't complain so much that she couldn't tackle making a batch of bread. The temperature dropped a little yesterday and remains down in the 80s again today, so the Admiral is taking advantage of the cooler weather (yes, the high 80s constitute 'cool'!) to fire up the oven and replenish the bread box. Of course it doesn't really save much in terms of grocery shopping since a fresh loaf of her bread lasts all of about 4 hours. And yes, the captain appreciates the effort! :-)
For those that have been worrying about Celia finding a restaurant serving decent Chinese food, you can relax. Shouldn't be any tantrums here in North Ft. Myers. We found a place very nearby and once we got the names of a couple dishes sorted out we were both happy campers. We sure don't want a repeat of what has become known as "The Deep Creek Incident". She must have sulked for week after that lousy meal!
Friends Michael & Layne (shown here in May at Marco, FL) have sailed from Key West and are waiting for weather in Marathon. Hmmmm... 'waiting for weather'. Where have we heard that line before?! I think we must have passed our little dark cloud of window-less weather patterns to MIKI G! We heard from them 2 nights ago... they told us they were hit with a 57 kt gust in Boot Key harbor. Yikes! And for those that care about such things, their new 15# alloy SPADE anchor held just fine.
Also heard from Sue Smith today. She mentioned that Michael & Layne are tentatively scheduled to speak at the 2nd Gemini Rendezvous scheduled for 31 August in Annapolis, MD. Can't miss that, so I guess we'll have to be there.
4 June 2002 (Update #22)... Hello from GOOSEBUMPS!
We're still in Ft. Myers at the Paradise Yacht Club enjoying all the conveniences of marina living: the batteries are always charged, the bathrooms are 30' away and the washers & dryers are even closer than that. Also, we took advantage of our stay here to install a satellite dish antenna plus a tracking system to keep it pointed at the satellite so we now have great TV reception even in the boondocks!
We may be leaving here very soon, however. Celia's broken leg is all but forgotten and the only concern at the moment seems to be if the pain she feel in her foot will go away soon or if there's something else going on we didn't know about. In any case, she's walking around like her old self. We'll see the doctor tomorrow, and if he confirms that there's nothing else to do but be patient, then we will be off for Key West this coming Monday (weather permitting).
In the interest of complete disclosure, I really need to report on "The Great COSTCO Shopping Incident". I mean, what are friends for if they can't commiserate with the intrepid admiral of Goosebumps! While the admiral may not be ready to run, she's got no problem going shopping!
We'd gone to the local COSTCO warehouse with more than a little trepidation. Anyone that's been in a COSTCO knows those stores are h-u-u-u-g-e! Thankfully, the guy at the door took one look at the crutches and asked Celia if she'd like to use one of the electric carts. Yee haw!!
So we left the crutches in the corner where there was already a stack of canes, walkers and crutches large enough to suggest that maybe Oral Roberts had just made a house call. Clearly these electric carts are pretty popular here in Florida! Took about 20 seconds of instruction and off she went. Being somewhat timid, I watched from a safe distance. No way Mrs. Bowman's little boy was getting in front of that thing with a woman at the controls that hadn't been able to get around on her own in weeks! I just trailed behind at a safe distance and made the appropriate apologies to those that were still conscious.
After a few minutes the Admiral was getting pretty comfortable handling the cart. She'd learned to ignore the sudden look of terror on the faces of those she had lined up in her sights. Really, all she needed was a WWII aviator helmet and a pair of goggles and anyone over the age of 20 would have thought it was Snoopy hot on the trail of The Red Baron.
Eventually nature called so I walked around and checked out the rest rooms. The Men's Room was very well designed... it had enough room to get the electric cart inside the entrance so, assuming the Ladies Room was similar, she'd have only a few feet to hobble to the toilet. I reported all this to the admiral and off she went to the Ladies Room while I waited.
And waited and waited and waited. Finally, here she comes with a grin on her face in the company of some kind stranger. Turns out that these 2 culprits decided that Celia ought to be able to drive the cart all the way inside the stall. Uh-oh. They must have put 15 miles on the cart while scooting back and forth trying to first maneuver the thing into the stall, which they successfully did, then (oh my God!) get the thing back out. When the tire started climbing up on the wall of the stall, she got off the cart and the 2 of them (broken leg and all!) dragged the sucker back onto the level floor so she could try again. By the time she was out of there, they'd used the cart to do a stress test on the bolts that hold the partitions, slightly rearranged the sink against the wall, and generally proved that the COSTCO rest rooms are (mostly) well suited to the needs of the physically challenged.
I probably don't need to mention we got out of there as quick as we could!
13 June 2002 (Update #23)... Well, wouldn't you just know. Last Wednesday Celia was in to see Dr. Fenning (the orthopedist) for the last time while I, the indestructible, sea hardened skipper, languished on the emergency room examination table to see just what it is that is going on with the belly ache I'd developed the day before.
Any of you who have known me for more than a few years may recall that I've had an on-going problem with an occasional abdominal pain for over 22 years. For many years they diagnosed it as "chronic appendicitis". But the surgeons wouldn't operate because 'something's just not quite right'. Sure enough, within 6-8 hours of onset, I was fine. As though nothing had happened. Then the day I retired I had another occurrence and the doctors at Stanford went ahead and removed the appendix. After correcting a complication of their own creation I was assured my troubles were behind me. That's not quite how it played out. Before I got out of Stanford Hospital I had another belly pain that, like all the others, was gone a few hours later.
Then 4 years later I was back at Stanford ER yet again with
the same complaint. It went something
"Aha!" says the ER doctor, holding up 2 fingers to describe a circle about the size of a golf ball.
"We've found a big kidney stone! That's the reason for your pain".
"Well, how come it hurts in my belly instead of the kidneys?"
"Cuz the nerves aren't very smart".
For this sort of insight, med students pay whatever they do for doctor school at Stanford?!!!
Well, I couldn't be much smarter than those nerves in my belly cuz I bought in and, after discovering and correcting some other problems like high blood pressure, I went through a lithotripsy treatment. That fixed the kidney stone just fine, but the urologist suggested that I may not have seen the last of the abdominal pain. Sure enough, a year later it was back again: showed up for a few hours then left.
Then on the fateful day, the now familiar belly ache showed up yet again. And again I prepared for the familiar routine: take a couple Maalox and grumble for a few hours. It would certainly be gone in the morning. Except this time it didn't go away. The good doctor manning the emergency room (and thank God he was good cuz Dr. Olson- another sailor- was also the only doctor staffing the 17-bed ER) decided that it was one of 3 things and within minutes they had me admitted into Lee Memorial Hospital. A day later they did something called an ERCP which translates to a lot of Latin that means they looked inside the bile duct and found (and removed) a gall stone blocking the duct. They gave the infection, pretty far along at this point, a few days to calm down then last Monday they removed the gall bladder. No exciting scar across the belly to graphically enhance conversation at a cocktail party. Instead I have just 3 little tiny incisions to get the fancy micro-instruments into place and a 4th to drag the offending bugger outta there!
Past experience would suggest that I not yet start counting my chickens. We'll see what the future has to say about it. However, at this point I feel pretty good about the diagnosis and feel great physically. It'll take a few weeks to heal the small incisions, then the GOOSE... should be on the way to Key West. Stay tuned for more exciting news about the cruising life! :-)
25 June 2002 (Update #24)... Amazing. I always imagined that summer in Florida was sunny, hot and humid. Well, the hot and humid part is right, but we haven't seen the sun in 2 weeks. They must not have to worry too much about ultra violet exposure! If it weren't so bloody hot we'd swear we were back in San Francisco in the Sunset district.
Guess we shouldn't complain, though. The cloud cover keeps the temperature outside down in the 80s so that our tiny air conditioner does just fine. Without the A/C I suspect we'd be forced back up in the Chesapeake or further north. On the 2 occasions that the power tripped off, the temperature & humidity jumped up immediately and the mildew took over in a heartbeat. But with the A/C on, mildew problems have essentially disappeared.
Unfortunately, the A/C requires far more power than batteries can supply, making it a marina-only luxury. So when we leave Ft. Myers in a week or so to head for Key West we're going to be roughing it. Watch us whine once the power cord gets disconnected!
The visit to the doctor last Thursday didn't bring the closure I'd hoped for. Looks like I'll have to go back next week for another visit before being able to leave Ft. Myers. It's unfortunate too since I feel great. I really expect that I've seen the last of the unexplained abdominal pain.
Just as well there's a small delay since we have several things to do before leaving here. Primarily we want to add a new, lighter anchor to the boat since the current setup is too difficult for the Admiral to manage on her own if she had to. We'll also add a manual windlass for retrieving the anchor so that those within earshot will be spared all the grunting and groaning that seems necessary to lubricate the bow roller when getting the anchor back aboard. How considerate of the skipper!
Even more considerate is the planned repair of the head (marine toilet). Not looking forward to that, but the poor pump is just plain worn out and seems to agitate instead of empty the bowl. Yuk! I guess you can tell the intrepid skipper is definitely not looking forward to this!
We talk to friends Michael and Layne 2 or 3 times a week via marine SSB as they work their way through the Bahamas. Latest news is that they are in the Exumas (part of the Bahamas) and may get as far as George Town before they have to turn back to the keys to go to work. So far there's been no named-storm activity, so they don't have any threats to push them out sooner.
Btw, friends Fran & Char Tschida, also Gemini owners, tell us they've designed and had built a new bow rail addition to help keep the crew aboard on the foredeck when the going gets a little nasty. Looking forward to seeing this latest creation when we drive up to the Chesapeake at the end of August for the 2nd Gemini rendezvous at the factory.