Sunday, November 30, 2008

Touching history

We made it to Key Largo yesterday and got to see the "African Queen." As previously reported, she is in sad shape. It looks like no maintenance has been done in years. The old steam engine that Humphrey Bogart fiddled with in the movie is still there, but in obvious disrepair. An outboard engine bracket has been added to the transom. It looks ugly and out of place on a boat like this.
Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving and a party

On Thanksgiving, one of Bev's coworkers invited us to her house for dinner. We had a great time and ate our 7,100 calories as required. (Yep, that's the average American Thanksgiving dinner - 7,100 calories!)
Thanks Jody!
Last night (with borrowed car) we drove down to Ramrod Key. We went to a place called "Boondocks" (surprisingly upscale) to see Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band. They were having a CD release party for the release of their new live CD/DVD collection "Live on Duval." Just before the band went on, I walked up to Howard to say "Hi." He remembered us from Key West. Of course, we forgot the camera so no pictures today.
Bev offered to be "designated driver" and it was a good thing. I was not in shape to drive 20 miles back to the marina. (Hey, I said it was a PARTY!)
Today we are making a Christmas shopping expedition while we still have the car. We will be passing by the spot where "African Queen" is on display, so we are hoping to stop by and get some pictures. Look for them tomorrow. We hear that the current owner hasn't been diligent about maintenance and the boat is in poor repair, but it is still a piece of history for several reasons so while it's still there we want to take a look.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rope clutches

Folks have asked what rope clutches look like, so here are a couple of pictures.
The clutches have two positions, open and closed. In the open position, the rope can slide in either direction. In the closed position, the rope can slide through the clutch in one direction only. Thus, you can pull on the line and let go without the line pulling back from the weight of the sail.
This set is a triple, and we are only using two of the three clutches available. Someday, we may find a use for the third and we won't have to pay for it. (The price we paid for the triple was less than the new cost of a double.)

A day on the water

Recently, we bought a set of "rope clutches" for our main halyards. Ever since we started out, Bev has had a hard time raising the main by her self. The rope clutches allow her to pull each halyard a bit at a time and makes it much easier for her. Yesterday we took the boat out "Sister's Creek" to the Atlantic and sailed around for a few hours. Bev put the sail up by herself and sailed the boat by herself for about two hours including two tacks. She did really well.
When we got back to the harbor, Bev picked up the mooring buoy on the first try. She's really getting to be quite the sailor.
On the way back into the harbor we saw a huge manatee. They say that the cool waters farther north have driven the manatees all the way down to the Keys.
Here are a few pics of our expedition yesterday. Note the pic of the Man-of-War. Ouch! Don't touch one these guys.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Islands of Marathon

Palm trees swaying in the breeze
on this island that I call home.
It's the tropical life in the heart of the Keys,
the islands of Marathon.

from "The Islands of Marathon,
by John Bartus, singer, songwriter and former mayor.

Saturday, Bev and I took the ferry over to Pidgeon Key for a music festival that was held for the benefit of the foundation that operates the island. Several local musicians performed. There was food, beer, snacks and watermellon and a raffle. It was a great day.
After we got back we went over to the Tiki hut at the marina where several boaters had gathered with their guitars for an impromptu jam. I borrowed a guitar and did a few songs and tried my best to harmonize with the other guys when they sang.
All in all, it was another great day in Paradise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the ball...

Here are a couple of great pictures of Walkure "on the ball" in old Boot Key Harbor. The daytime pic was taken by the crew of Papillion, and the sunset pic was sent to us by Bob and Joanne on "RadioWaves." Thanks folks.
I've also included a pic of "Papillion" after the dismasting on Florida Bay.
Also in this batch is a picture of "Luna," a highly modified "Bolgeresque" boat with a junk rig. The basic design is similar to the AS-29, but Luna is 31 feet, with external leeboards and 3 masts instead of 2. The "doghouse" over the galley is farther aft and the interior layout is quite different. It does make for an interesting boat.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Settling in

We're starting to get settled in here in Marathon. Bev started work last week and I put in an application at the hospital. If I get the job, fine. If not, that's OK too.
Last Sunday we took a walk up to the Crane Point Nature Center. Our new friends Mike and Judy from "Papillion" joined us. We met them up in Goodland and they sailed their 25' MacGreggor down here from Naples. Their first crossing of Florida Bay was a lot like ours. Their second was much worse.
On the return trip across the Bay, they set out at 6:30 PM with the idea that the wind would be lighter at night. Wrong! About 15 miles out a pin failed on their forestay and the mast came crashing down. Fortunately no one was hurt and Mike was able to save the mast and sails. They motored back to Marathon Boat Yard and had the rigging repaired. A friend drove down with their truck and trailer and they trailered the boat home.
Hate to say it, but "Glad it wasn't us."
The day at Crane Point was a much better experience. We saw some rescued birds including an osprey, a falcon and a hawk. There were butterflies and lots of exotic plants and trees. We even saw a couple of parrothead fish in the lagoon by the point.
I've posted some pictures of Crane Point and a pic of Bev piloting the dinghy on her own. She's getting pretty good at it.