Friday, March 30, 2007

Some sailing pictures

Last weekend on our expedition to Egmont and Manatee River, our friend Greg from Blue Moon, shot these pics as we were under sail.
I was very pleasantly surprised at how tight into the wind we were able to pull the boat. The performance is actually closer to that of a marconi rig than I had thought.
Enjoy the pics.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I forgot to post the pics of this weekend's trip.
Except for the idiots on the water, we did have a really good sail across Tampa Bay, and up the Gulf to Pass-a-Grille. It was only after we entered the pass that it got ugly.
The sailing was really great all weekend, and I was very pleasantly surprised how well the boat went to windward.
Back in the marina, we caught sight of a big manatee, right in the marina. We only caught a pic of his tail as he dove out of the marina entrance.

Egmont, Manatee River & bad gas, nasty power boaters

Over the weekend, as planned, we took a sail out to Egmont Key. We had a great sail out there, but found the water a little too rough to anchor over night. We sailed on to the Manatee River, across Tampa Bay.
Just as we were approaching this second anchorage our engine died. Keith, or friend on the boat "No Name" towed us the rest of the way into the anchorage. We had a pleasant night at the anchorage. It was quite a bit cooler than it had been at the dock.
Sunday morning I got up and worked on the engine. I pulled the carb, broke it down and cleaned it. Once it was replaced, the engine started right up, but died after about 10 minutes, refusing to restart.
So...we sailed back to Pass-a-Grille where we met Keith, who had sailed on ahead of us. Once again, he had to tow us.
While Keith was towing us through the narrow channel leading to the Structure C drawbridge, dozens of power boats passed us at full speed, throwing huge wakes that bounced us around rather severely. Normally this is a real nuisance, but while under tow it is downright dangerous. As the wakes pass, the boats bounce and tumble at different rates and angles placing severe shock loads on the towline and the fittings to which it is attached. On a couple of occasions yesterday, the power boats passed so close to us that we were almost swamped by the wake.
I'm not sure what these idiots think as they pass a boat under tow. It seems that 95% of power boaters are either arrogant SOB's or just plain stupid. (This is not aimed at that VERY small minority who actually slowed down as they passed us - Thank you!)
A reminder to all power boaters - you are ALWAYS responsible for any damage caused by your wake. When you see a boat in tow, slow down. If you cause any damage, you WILL be sued.
Inland Waterway Navigation Rules:
Rule 34 (c)(i) "a power driven vessel intending to overtake another power driven vessel shall indicate her intention by the following signal on her whistle: one short blast to mean " I intend to overtake you on your starboard side"; two short blasts to mean "I intend to overtake you on your port side."
Not one of the power boats we encountered yesterday used any signal of any sort to tell us of their intention.
(When we were in the Tenn-Tom waterway, almost every boat that passed us followed the rules, usually by calling us on the radio. Not like the idiots around here.)
Inland Waterway Navigation rules:
Rule 18 (a)
A power driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:
(i)a vessel not under command
(ii)a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver

And Rule 3

The term Vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver shall include but not be limited to
(vi) a vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severly restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course.

Of course, who ever heard of a power boater reading, let alone understanding the navigation rules?
Yesterday we were lucky. Lucky that Keith was available to tow us (Thanks Keith) and lucky that we suffered no damage from the idiots who populate the waters here.
Any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Friday, March 23, 2007

St.Patty's, Iwo Jima, & another dock party

Last Saturday, Bev and I were invited to a St. Patricks celebration at the local Sail & Power squadron. Tim and Julie, our neighbors at the marina, invited us to tag along with them. Of course there was green beer, corned beef and cabbage and lots of Irish jokes.
We got to meet some interesting folks. If you take a look at the pic with the 2 older couples you'll see some of these folks. The gentleman to the left is Allen McKenzie. He was the pilot of a landing craft at Iwo Jima. After the first flag was taken down from Mt. Suribachi, he donated a flag from his landing craft to replace it. So the flag in the famous picture of the Marines raising the flag over Iwo was from his boat.
The other gentleman is Les Brandt who was once the captain of the Coast Guard cutter used to film the movie "The Perfect Storm."
And then there was yet another dock party. Such a shame that folks have nothing better to do than cook up a bunch of great food and chill a bunch of beer. It's a tough life, but somebody has to live it.
Assuming the weather holds (80 degrees, sunny, NE wind @ 15-20) we are planning on joining a few other boats out at and anchorage off Egmont Key this weekend. Just an excuse to get out on the water and enjoy the peace and quiet of an anchorage. If we go, I'll post some pics on Monday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Dock Party and making plans

Yesterday afternoon, a few of the liveaboards in the marina got together and had an impromptu dock party. A couple of pork roast were marinated and cooked in the smoker, (thanks Kieth) some great Spanish rice & vegetables were mixed up (Tim) along with some fried plantains. With beers all around, a great time was had by all, including "Angel," Tim & Julie's Pekingese.
Our plans are beginning to solidify a bit. As reported earlier, I got a part in the play. We had our first read-through this week and rehearsals start next week. That will keep me busy until May.
Bev signed up for a 7 week Phlebotomist class to get her certificate to work in a medical lab. Once she has the certificate, she should be able to get a part time job just about anywhere, including the Bahamas. (Since she has no pension, she will need to work at some point.)
Things are looking more definite regarding my granddaughter, Chandra. I think she will be visiting us this summer. So...that means we stay here at least through June. Pray the hurricane season leaves us alone.
While we're sitting here in South Pasadena, we are also doing some more refits on the boat. We've already installed the wind-powered self steering gear. The next job will be to install more solar panels and a watermaker. The solar panels will help power the watermaker, which turns salt water into fresh. This will allow longer passages and fewer stops at marinas.
We may also install yet another new toilet. The 15 gallon holding tank I installed last year is proving too small with 2 people aboard. There is no room for a larger one, so I am considering the Airhead, a composting toilet that doesn't use a holding tank at all. It desicates and digests the waste and turns it into compost, which can then be buried, used as compost or dumped out at sea with no environmental hazard.
I was a bit put off by the cost, ($1000.00) which is why I didn't do it last year. But now that we're planning longer passages, it will be necessary.
As for those longer passages, sometime in the fall, once the hurricanes are gone, we will be venturing out to the islands. All the locals tell us that this boat can reach almost all of the Keys (most sailboats can't because the water's too shallow) and that we could spend months or even years just exploring all the possible anchorages in that area. Should we tire of the Keys, there's always the Bahamas. After that, who knows? "Only time will tell."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It works!

Today, Bev and I took the boat out to the Gulf to try out the new wind-powered self steering gear I built. The wind was light (5 knots or so) and the weather clear so we figured it would be a good time to try it.
It works, better than I hoped. We sailed a total of 18.5 nm today, most of it with the self steering. Even when steering by hand, the rig helps by acting like power steering, pulling on the tiller to ease the fatigue in my arm.
The gear works by using the pressure of the wind to pull the tiller to windward. This is balanced by some bungee cords on the lee side of the tiller. As the wind picks up (tending to pull the boat up into the wind) the tiller gets pulled to windward, causing the boat to bear off a bit. As the wind eases, the bungee pulls the tiller to leeward causing the boat to head up a bit. Thus, the boat just steers itself, constantly adjusting for the changing force of the wind without any hands on. Neat!
Even without the successful test of the steerer, it would have been a great day on the water. Clear skies, pleasant temperatures, good company, a few dolphins and an osprey.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


In case anyone is interested in seeing the play "Scapino," (featuring yours truly as "Geronte) here's a link to the Gulfport Community Players:

Gulfport Community Players

You'll have to scroll down the page to see the dates and info for "Scapino."

The play runs from May 10 to May 20. Typically, GCP productions run Thu, Fri & Sat evenings with a Sunday Matinee.

Come on down and join the fun. This is a really funny audience participation play.

Please put it on your calendar and plan on joining us for a great evening.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I am an Ac-Tor!

Well, I got a part in the play. Not lead like I wanted, but a major role. It will be fun.
The director told me the only reason I didn't get the lead is because he hasn't seen me on stage and gave the part to an actor he knew from prior productions. I can understand that. You go with what you know, not with the unknown.
So at least I've got my foot in the door and next time (if there is a next time) I'll have more of a track record.
At least I won't have as many lines to remember.
Now that I have a part in the play, I guess we will be staying here until mid-May. The play runs May 10 thru 20 and rehearsals start next week. It will be a busy time, but lots of fun. Wish me well.

On another note, our friend Tom, the neophyte sailor, has departed on his great adventure. While we certainly wish him well, we are frightened by his lack of experience and knowledge. He had exactly one day of sailing (in the Bay) before setting out. I hope he gets wherever he's going.