4 July 2002 (Update #24)... Shhhh! We just escaped from Ft. Myers!
Actually, this is our 2nd day. We managed to get away from the dock on Wednesday afternoon and headed west then south down to Ft. Myers Beach. We shared our dinner with the mosquitoes via direct blood donations, then collapsed from sheer exhaustion! Ft. Myers Beach is a very protected anchorage and we had a quiet night.
We were off to a late start (about 10:30), but thanks to a westerly wind we managed to motorsail from Ft. Myers Beach all the way to Capri Pass at Marco Is. Yep. Same place where Celia broke her leg back on 5 May. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of that incident!
Not sure how far we'll go tomorrow. Key West is still about 80 miles away, so we may try to stop at a couple more anchorages along the way.
Interesting phenomenon in Ft. Myers Beach. We have small walkie-talkie kind of communicators that are built into headsets with a small boom-mounted microphones. Work great for talking between me on the foredeck and Celia at the wheel... avoids the shouting necessary to otherwise be heard. But in Ft. Myers Beach these communicators were useless because a local AM station was coming in on top of us. These communicators, which are compliant with the new FCC type-approved devices called FRS communicators, are on a completely different frequency far away from the broadcast band. I suppose we were near their transmitter and the rf energy got into everything, but it got me to thinking about the previous trip into Ft. Myers Beach on the way back from Marco. On that occasion we lost the GPS which had been working fine and has continued to work fine ever since. I'm beginning to suspect that Ft. Myers Beach has a serious problem with off-frequency noise from that local AM station. Michael on MIKI G reported a similar problem with wind and speed instruments as he was leaving Marathon in the Keys. Marathon is the location of the transmitter for "radio Marti" whose broadcasts are aimed at Cuba, so he hypothesized that the rf energy from that station drove his instruments nuts, possibly damaging the wind instrument. Love to hear from anyone that might shed some light on this!
5 July 2002 (Update #26)... As I'm typing this we are sailing (not motor sailing!) south to Key West. Contrary to the weather forecast, the wind moved around to the WNW and has been a steady 10 kts most of the afternoon. We aren't in a big rush at the moment because we don't want to arrive too early at the entrance channel to Key West. We need daylight to see any obstructions, so taking a few hours longer will work out just fine.
This is the first time in a long while I've been able to look around 360 deg and see nothing but unbroken horizon. It looks like the last of the fishing boats have turned for home and we have the place to ourselves. The last time I had a view like this was in 7/97 when I crewed on Puffin on their return leg from Kauai to San Francisco. On that trip we had unexpectedly cool weather and were in our woollies by the 2nd night out of Hanalei Bay. This time, however, the weather is get-naked hot and we welcome the nice breeze that's pushing us along.
Instead of the city-provided fireworks event we had expected, the 4th of July celebration at Marco turned out to be a DIY kind of event. Several families were camped out on what can only be described as a sand bar with scrub brush. They had a great time with all their safe & sane fireworks and we had a good time watching all the kids! When we arrived there were probably 30 or more boats, but by 10:00 pm there were only 3 boats plus the folks camped out.
All in all we enjoyed this stop at Marco a lot. As you may recall, last time we were rushing around to emergency rooms and doing a lot of worrying about how to get Celia to someplace where she could be comfortable. This trip was much nicer! :-)
Hopefully the next update will be from the Sunset Marina at Key West...
9 July 2002 (Update #27)... Hello from Key West, the land of rain, thunderstorms, shallow water and expensive marinas! But at this point, who cares?!
The trip down from Marco was very pleasant for the most part. We had a very nice sail most of the way. The wind died at sunset and we went back to the engine, but since we couldn't see a thing (lots of cloud cover!) it made the trip more reassuring to just let the autopilot do the work.
Celia had her share of excitement, though. During her 2nd watch about 02:40 we were hit by the first of 3 thunderstorms. I was trying to sleep but realized it wasn't to be when I heard the waves start slapping the bridge deck. So I went into the cockpit and of course things settled down immediately. The big worry, though, was the lightning. Fortunately as we got to within 4 miles of the storm center it dissipated and we only had to deal with the left over lumps in the water. We were very fortunate as the strongest winds we saw were 25 kts. It's not unusual to have winds over 60 kts from a really bad thunderstorm.
At some point Celia let out a hoot that would wake the dead! Turned out that a flying fish had come scooting into the cockpit, flapped across the Admiral's lap and landed on the floor. Ever the friend of tiny animals, Celia grabbed her hat, scooped up the wayward traveler and dumped the critter back overboard.
I decided to stay up when I noticed there were several lights where there should have been none. So I let Celia sleep while I navigated through what turned out to be 8 large fishing boats that had trawls set. It couldn't have been 20 minutes after I handed things back to Celia when a 2nd thunderstorm hit followed closely by the circuit breaker for the autopilot, GPS and Radar tripping. Yikes! I was concerned about the breaker tripping again, so I stayed up until we were about 15 miles from Northwest Channel. Again, wind wasn't a real concern... probably 30 kts max this time.
The GOOSE... no more than entered the channel when the rain started again. As my dear father used to say, "like a cow peein' on a flat rock". We were relatively dry except for what the wind managed to whip around the corners of the cockpit, but all my planning to get the arrival time just right so we could see through the water went out the window. The water surface was in complete turmoil from the rain and even if it stopped, the completely grey cloud cover made it impossible to see through the very clear water. Which leads to our bit of bad luck...
As we approached Sunset Marina, I saw that they had added new channel markers through a very narrow section. Cool. Unfortunately, since they weren't shown on my chart, I had the opportunity to interpret a couple of the marks incorrectly. What I took to be marks for 2 separate channels turned out to be a single channel with a big switch-back. Taking the path I chose put us right in harms way through a rocky area with about 2 feet of water over it. I thought I felt the boat bump once and as I looked straight down over the side I could see the rocks. Uh-oh. I managed to turn around, but apparently not without first hitting the engine drive leg. The result was to break something either in the latch for the reverse gear or possibly in the yoke assembly. Can't tell for sure yet, but I don't see any way to avoid a trip into the boat yard. I think it was Eric Hiscock that wrote over 60 years ago that it wasn't sailing on the ocean that was hard, but rather the rocks along the shore. He certainly got that right!
So come Monday we'll have to deal with the drive leg, but for now we're trying to catch up on sleep and get things clean. Celia made it up to the showers first, but... remember the fish? Celia didn't! Turns out that little bugger did a pretty good job on her hat. In perfect Ghost Buster fashion, her hat had been 'slimed'! I bet she went through a full bottle of shampoo getting rid of the smell!
3 August 2002 (Update #28)... Hello from Key West where we've been learning to look and act like the locals. Which doesn't require much effort at all... we have no jobs and don't want one, we have minimal income, we hate the traffic the visitors cause, and we try to stay in a cool place unless the pressing need for food pushes us off our duffs!
Like yesterday. We drove into old town to have lunch at Five Brothers. 5B is actually a very small neighborhood grocery store that also fixes lunch. And they make a great Cuban-mix sandwich. We're becoming connoisseurs of the Cuban mix and have a couple places staked out where we can have lunch for less than $10 for both of us. Not that this stuff is particularly good for you. The Cuban bread they use contains lard and the Cuban mix consists of sliced ham + sliced roast pork + bacon. Oh, and don't forget the mayo! Celia's points calculator from Weight Watchers registers "Error. Out of range". I'm not really sure, but I think this is not a good reading.
To compensate for all these dietary excesses, Celia went over to the pool at the Best Western where marina residents have pool privileges. She proceeded to abuse her muscles and joints for an hour. Now instead of having all that fat concentrated in her stomach she has it evenly distributed throughout. I think maybe tomorrow we better have the diet lunch at GOOSEBUMPS.
You may recall all my agonizing about possible damage to the drive leg on Goosebumps after unintentionally venturing into the underwater mine field of rocks on the way into Sunset Marina. I looked and poked at this monolith hanging off the transom using the Braille method since all moveable or adjustable mechanisms are safely hidden from view of everyone but the fish. When Michael and Layne returned from the Bahamas, Michael came over and did the same thing I did and finally pronounced the bloody thing healthy except there wasn't enough grease on the reverse latch to allow it to seat properly. Then he proceeded to show me what I should have been doing all along using this God awful yellowish-brown grease from England called Duckham's. By the time he finished, the transom looked like an infant's diaper that had sprung a leak! He had Duckham's everywhere: if it didn't move, he greased it; if it did move, he used twice as much. I guess I can't complain if the monster continues to operate as flawlessly as it does right now. Thank you Michael!
And by the way, in case you're wondering why none of us got into the water to actually see what was happening, we noticed we have a 6' shark that's taken up residence under our boat. I see this as a measure of increased security which discourages fish from trying to steal our boat, but I don't know that I can trust the "security guards"!
So far the hurricane season has been ultra quiet. Not a single named storm nor tropical depression has been noted by our NOAA Hurricane Center. And that's just the way we like it!
20 August 2002 (Update #29)... This is a little different Update than usual. Just wanted you all to know that I just put up a first version of our web site <http://goose--bumps.com> It's mostly an aggregation of the Updates you probably have already received plus a few odds and ends of info. I'll be adding a few photos as I find them, but the truth is that we (which means "I"!) have been pretty lazy in taking photos the last 8 months. Now that we have a place to show them, I have no excuse!
In any case, please let me know of any problems you encounter. The site is targeted for Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers versions 4.X or higher. Don't know what that means for AOL members as the numbers don't track, so I'd especially appreciate knowing of any problems for folks using that ISP. Not sure I can necessarily fix them, but I'll try.
Not too much to report. Health problems are history though health insurance irritation is mounting at an exponential rate (I'm sure it will get resolved but it's getting to the panic point). Key West is proving to be a good choice while we wait for the cruising season to arrive. It's a fun and pretty place to be and thankfully marina residents have access to the pool at a nearby motel. Sunsets are incredible on an almost daily basis [ so where are the pictures, Captain?! ] and the whole 4-mile long northern Key West coastline offers a great view of the Atlantic.
Of course Mallory Square is the best spot to go to watch the sunset 'cuz that's where they have the daily Sunset Celebration. Sort of a 3-ring circus without the rings. Street entertainers and tourists everywhere, vendors ready to take your $$$ in exchange for all sorts of goodies and nothing but smiles wherever you look. The only drawback is trying to find a parking place which is nothing new for people from San Francisco!
We're starting to ready ourselves for a 2-week trip to SF in September for all the usual stuff: dentist, prescription renewal, medical appointments, visits with Celia's mom, check the storage places, etc. Then it's back to Key West to get the Goose... ready by December 1 when our insurance permits us to head into the Bahamas.
Hope all is well with everyone. That's certainly the case here in Key West!
25 August 2002 (Update #30)... We're still (slowly!) stripping equipment off the outside of the boat in preparation for our departure to San Francisco for a couple weeks. We're doing this as a precaution in case a named storm or possibly H-word hits Key West in our absence. Michael & Layne will watch things in our absence, but if a big nasty comes this way, they'll have enough to do without worrying about 2 boats. Kind of a nuisance to have to do this since it's taken so long to get everything in place... the price of hanging out in Paradise! :-)
If the Florida Keys get evacuated because of a storm, we would have had a problem getting back in afterward since we're non-residents. So Celia has registered her car in Florida and has gotten a Florida drivers license. That made her eligible for a Key West re-entry permit which is in the window of the car. With the permit (and after the storm has passed!), we can be waved through the road block and allowed to return before the roads are opened to the general public. By some perverse logic we like to think that having taken these precautionary steps, we now won't have to use them.
You probably recall that I've complained on occasion about an on-going problem with health insurance. Looks like they finally have it sorted out (4.5 months!). Overnight I went from owing tens of thousands of dollars to owing nothing. Cool. The cost of having insurance outside an HMO (I can now go to any doctor I want) is substantially higher than what I was paying in the past ($156/mo vs. $51/mo). Considering I would have had to drive 150 miles to Miami to see a doctor at an HMO, I have to believe it's worth the extra $$$.
We're leaving Tuesday to drive up to Annapolis for the Gemini Rendezvous at the PCI factory. PCI are the folks that built our boat and we're anxious to see what they have cooked up for this coming year. Should be a great day with a "fun race" (yeah, right!), presentations by owners and vendors, then a catered dinner in the evening.
After the Rendezvous we'll fly from Baltimore, MD to San Francisco for a 2 week visit for dental (both of us) and health checks (Celia), then fly back to Baltimore to pick up the car and drive back to Key West.
Take care all. We should be able to get another Update off while we're in SF thanks to the new Verizon Wireless phone we just got.
1 September 2002 (Update #31)... Helloooo from Annapolis!
We stopped here on our way to San Francisco, CA (our flight is out of Baltimore, MD) so that we could attend the 2nd Annual Gemini Rendezvous. Just as they did last year, the folks that run Performance Cruising Inc. did a great job entertaining us. Or did they let us entertain ourselves?! Not sure, but we had a great time! We spent a little time talking to a few Gemini acquaintances, chatting (make that "yelled over the top of the crowd"!) with John and Becky Schenk of SKYLARK (they took delivery of #730 at PCI at the same time we took delivery of GOOSEBUMPS), Tom & Gina Muha (sadly they are selling TAJ MUHA for a few years ashore before heading out again on a different boat), Renata & Hans Muller (who generously invited us aboard for the race and didn't even complain about our little black crab-trap-cloud that managed to cause us to drag a couple crab traps around most of the race course!), and good friends Char & Fran Tschida of VOORTREKKER II. It was hopeless trying to talk to anyone at the table, so we'll meet Fran & Char for dinner tonight and catch up on gossip.
Michael Beattie flew up from Key West to appear as a guest
speaker. We picked him up at the airport and heard his harrowing tales of
the heavy security including having to remove his sandals twice to have them
inspected. I think Michael will readily admit to being a "difficult"
passenger! :-) Layne wasn't able to make the trip up to Annapolis, so we
all shared in the responsibility of keeping Michael out of trouble. We got
to the factory where Sue & Tony took over until he dazzled the crowd
Saturday with his tales of cruising in a Gemini. He got a few sympathetic
he told us all how MIKI G got caught
between a tug and the lock wall of the Panama Canal while a large freighter moved forward to play bumper-boats during their transit of the Panama Canal. Yikes! Between their mishap in the canal and later spending 40 hours of pounding to weather in 40 kt winds across the western Caribbean, I have to believe everyone left the event feeling very good about the durability of these wonderful boats!
After Michael finished, Tony & Neil Smith told us about recent news at PCI. They just completed a stability test of a standard Gemini. The results were very surprising to me... they showed that the boat could heel to about 85 degrees before it hit the point of neutral stability. They found the point of maximum righting force occurs at about 17.5 degrees... well beyond Tony's recommended 7 degree limit for reefing. One of the guests asked if the results of the test would cause Tony to alter his recommended reef point. His answer was an emphatic "No!" So now we know that we have a built in safety factor of 2.5 when reefing using Tony's recommendations.
Then 160 or so guests at the Rendezvous received some big news: Telstar is coming back! Tony announced that he has completed the molds for a 27'6" trimaran which will have a folded beam of about 8' (sorry... don't recall what he said the extended beam would be). It's a new version of the original Telstar which Tony designed and built in England before he moved his operation to the US (check the Gemini web site for a history of the Telstar). It's a sailboat, of course, but Tony mentioned that he expects the boat to power along at over 20 kts! He plans to have a prototype at the Annapolis Boat Show in October. Look out Corsair!
The trimaran will be built in a new building that PCI plans to add to their property in Annapolis. Nothing will change in their Gemini production... all the effort for the new tri will have it's own separate manufacturing facility.
But it doesn't end there... if the 27 footer is a success (which we all expect that it will be!), he intends to bring out a 42' version which will have a 29' beam and will fold to 14'6". Schedule for this larger boat is about 5 years away and will depend in large part on how the smaller boat turns out.
In the morning (Labor Day) we'll head for the airport and hopefully be on our way to San Francisco. We'll have another Update from there.
And thanks again, Sue... you throw a hell of a party!
14 September 2002 (Update #32)...
Helloooo from San Francisco!
It's Saturday nite and we're winding down our visit here. We have minor cases of frost bite which should recover quickly once we get back to Key West.
The Admiral did a good job organizing her time and was able to see most of the doctors she wanted to (which is why she gets to be the Admiral). I did a pretty good job with my time too eating my way through all the things that I've been feeling deprived of. I think I've put on another 5 pounds, though I can't imagine where... there's no room left!
David, our dentist, did his best to make our teeth pretty again, though I think Elana, David's hygenist, was growling at me a little! :-) Celia has a problem with some wear on the hinge of her jaw and it pops occasionally when she chews. David asked me if I know what happens if it dislocates and I said "Sure! She stops eating." Apparently that wasn't the answer he was looking for and he proceeded to show me what to do to get it back into place. I think both of us hope that little procedure isn't necessary!
We made a trip to Fry's Electronics while we were here to replace our digital camera. The (not very) old Olympus has developed a serious case of Alzheimer's and can't seem to remember where it leaves all the pictures (I'm sure it's because I didn't feed it broccoli!). We now have a Konica which is about half the size with nearly twice the features. I'm guessing that the 3 or 4 months that the old camera sat around not being used allowed some corrosion to sneak in and damage something. Disuse is a killer for both electrical and mechanical systems on the water.
We did manage a half-day trip up to the Napa Valley while we were here. We decided we had to do something to get into warm air for a few hours and that's exactly what we found. The number of new vineyards is incredible! And we were very surprised at how heavy the traffic was on a weekday. Perhaps it was because we didn't sample the wine (neither of us drink these days), but it sure seems like the area is swamped with people. Once we got north of Calistoga we lost the crowd and could relax a little.
And what a surprise to learn the Golden Gate Bridge is now $5! How does anyone commute across that bridge at $220 per month?! I suppose there's an argument for that being the reason all those .com/s are bankrupt. :-)
Just been going through the list of things to do when we get back to Key West. It's a little intimidating to look at how much we have in front of us, starting, of course, with reinstalling all those things we had to remove in case an H-word came through in our absence.
Somewhere in there we'll have to either have the bottom scrubbed or another haulout since the bottom is once more covered with barnacles. In hind sight the decision to not have the yard sand the bottom down to bare fiberglass so they could apply a different type of bottom paint was penny wise and pound foolish. Today's ablative bottom paint isn't as good as a few years ago before the EPA put their foot in the aisle. Now there's even more paint to remove!
On the way back to Key West we'll stop for a short visit with friends Hans & Renata in Virginia. Hans has caused me untold amounts of work thanks to all his excellent ideas for adding improvements to the Gemini! In particular he worked out how to get the heat from the propane burner away from the compartment where the refrigerator is installed. That definitely needs to get done before we leave Key West!
We had some good news from SF friends Joan and Jason who are on this list. They are currently in the boat yard doing all the usual stuff you do to a boat you just bought: spending slightly more $$$ than you have. They are now proud owners of a Valiant 32. Very cool you guys! Sorry we can't get to the yard before we leave... we just ran out of time. [ You know, if you strap 2 of those things together you could have a catamaran! :-) ]
We should be back in Annapolis Monday night, then start driving back to Key West via the Northern Neck in Virginia. We'll send more along the way...
20 September 2002 (Update #33)...
We're back in Key West... which may quickly become the windiest city in the US! We're currently waiting for H-Isidore. At the moment Isidore is predicted to be a near miss, but who knows. The boat is pretty much ready, just have to double up on the lines and take in the A/C. The awnings are already down thanks to MIKI G. In our favor is the harbor we're in: Sunset Marina is very protected and something of a hurricane hole (protected all around). All we can do now is keep track of the thing and hope for the best. And no, we won't be staying on the boat if it comes this way!
We'll keep y'all posted about what happens.
21 September 2002 (Update #34)...
It's looking at the moment like the gun sights of H-Isidore have shifted to the West and it's slowly crawling toward the Yucatan peninsula, leaving Key West in its rear view mirror.
That doesn't mean that there are no effects here in Key West from Isidore: winds are stronger than usual, there is 100% cloud cover and we're seeing a fair amount of rain. Which is far from bad: it's pretty comfortable outside and we can actually get a few things done without getting our brains fried.
Considering the vagaries of these storms (they can turn on a dime and reverse themselves without warning), we stocked up on fresh food and flushed & filled the water tanks which had been sitting for almost a month. If the Keys are evacuated and residents have to head for the shelter in Miami, we have to take with us everything we might need, e.g. food, water, sleeping bags, etc. This rationale of self-sufficiency is because if the Keys get hit, Miami is close enough that services there could be lost as well. The shelter for Monroe County (that's the Florida Keys) is at Florida International University in Miami, presumably in the gymnasium. But that's only for a Class 1 or 2 spinner. If it's Class 3 or higher all bets are off and you have to get out of the south tip of Florida.
What a weekend for a motorcycle event. Every year Key West hosts a motorcycle poker run with the fifth card dealt in Key West. The bikers arrive Thursday night through Friday night, donate some or all of the proceeds from the poker run to the city, then spend the weekend (and presumably all their money) down on or around Duval Street. We parked the car last night at the Hilton Hotel parking garage and found much of the first floor given over to motorcycles. There were probably 150 motorcycles parked in a roped off space normally occupied by 35 cars... not a bad tradeoff and these bikers are a lot easier to get along with than some visitors we've seen in Old Town.
The reason for our trip into Old Town was to attend an art show called Art Behind Bars. Considering where Key West makes most of its $$$, that's something of a double entendre. In this case the bars are made of steel not wood and this was a show for the work of prison inmates. I've been to a similar show for prisoners at Folsom State Prison (near Sacramento, CA). While this wasn't as large or generally the same high level, I did see a few things I enjoyed. Layne & Michael found a couple things to bid on in the silent auction, but we're so overloaded already that we don't dare add anything else!
29 September 2002 (Update #35)...
Florida continues to treat us well with excellent medical care. Fortunately this time it was optional!
Back in 1993 I had to have a pterygium removed from my right eye. That was my "good eye" since it had 20/10 vision compared to the 20/400 of my left eye. While the surgery was successful (against significant odds to the contrary, the pterygium has never regrown!), the procedure unfortunately left some scar tissue on or near the cornea which caused double vision. It was correctable with a hard contact lens, but gas permeable lenses proved less than satisfactory with wind in the face while cruising. So I was limited to using glasses which corrected the left eye well enough to see clearly.
When I went to a local optometrist here in Key West for new glasses so I could pass the eye exam for a Florida driver's license, he felt I could probably get some help from laser correction to the cornea. He sent me off to see Dr. Cory Lesner in Miami and he felt he could easily correct the problem. This past Thursday I went back to Miami for the procedure which took all of about 5 minutes. I walked out of there with no double vision in the right eye and 1-1/2 hours later I found I could see nearly as well as I did in 1993. I just can't get over it. I keep closing my left eye to marvel at the clear image. Yee haw!
Our new spinnaker just arrived from Dave Bierig, but we haven't been able to see what it looks like yet. When Dave asked us what colors we wanted, we told him to just go crazy with all the colors he had. We'd like to see what came of his imagination but we don't have anything but the halyard to set it. Without the additional lines to keep it under control, I'm afraid we'd end up damaging it. So off we went to West Marine- every mariners favorite candy store. I fussed around the store for awhile and decided I needed to think about it some more. Why is it that they always have one less than I need of whatever want?! I think I'll name this phenomenon Bowman's Law of Inadequate Distribution or something equally unintelligible.
Celia did a little better getting all the fittings needed to hang curtains across the aft windows. We'd like to kill the glare from the sun that threatens to do us in each morning. However, she too fell hostage to Bowman's Law when she found they didn't have the right size hooks she needed. She did find some pre-assembled shock cords with hooks of the right size, but they were too short. So her plan is to throw away the shock cord and keep the hooks because the assembled cords cost less than half of what West Marine wanted for the hooks alone. If they had them. Which they didn't. I'd call her particular brand of inventiveness Admiralty Law, but I'm afraid that name's already taken.
We're off to a pot luck tonight at the marina. The new harbor master is a cruiser too and certainly made a good first impression on us!