Sunday, April 19, 2015

mystical memories

After leaving Gulf Port, we went back to the mooring field in Sarasota and stayed several days. We took advantage of Enterprise’s weekend special and drove to check out 3 possible homes for “Submit”. Saturday was laundry day. Note to self, make sure the lid is tightly secured on the liquid laundry detergent before putting it in the bag with the clean clothes.

We enjoyed lunch at a Columbian restaurant. Reggie’s pulled port was very good. My chicken in mushroom cream sauce was ‘to die for’.  A fun place to eat, I believe we were the only ones there who claim English as our first language.

The next stop was Marietta’s Museum of Whimsy and Arts. We had to run through, as we only had 30 minutes before they closed.  It is perfectly named. All the art belongs to Marietta and it is certainly whimsical. There were bathrooms for men and women. I know, not really unusual. We were encouraged to visit both bathrooms, as they were also filled with fun art. There were chairs and benches made from drift wood  painted with animals, made from horse shoes in animal shapes and just painted with whimsical colors and designs. “Please feel free to sit in any of the chairs.” Most of the figurines made us giggle or at least smile. The second room featured a light show, as well as paintings, furniture and figurines. Room lights were dimmed and tiny multicolored lights danced on the ceiling. We were then told to clap and make noise, which excited the lights and caused them to glow brighter, multiply and pick up the speed. When those lights disappeared, three life sized wire dancers filled with LED lights twirled from the ceiling. Quite beautiful.  Out the backdoor was a beautiful garden filled with a wide variety of flowers and of course, more fun sculptures. I’m sure we missed some, as they were often tucked in some obscure places. Marie, you would have loved it. I’m sorry we forgot our camera!

Today we are motoring into a strong wind. There are tons of people boating. The osprey with their chicks don’t seem to mind.

We were traveling along through red mangroves, palm trees and varieties of southern pines.  Pelicans were flying over in formation or diving for fish or perching on pilings and docks.  Rays were leaping out of the water.  Dolphins raised by the boat. We passed by osprey nests almost close enough to touch, with parents feeding their young.  Dinner at anchor, at sunset, in the cockpit, lightning flashing from thunderstorms in-shore.

It occurred to us that, on this gorgeous, sunny day , were sere seeing and enjoying our surroundings, but what was once spectacular and unusual has become commonplace.  Folks have asked us to include pictures, but we think of pictures as having to be of something special and the familiar does not seem special. We forget the awe we experienced in our early visits. 

Perhaps because the scenery has become familiar, the highlights of this trip have been the people. Friends from visits past.  New acquaintances who feel like old friends.  New memories created and old ones shared. 

As we wind down this trip, we are thinking of  tasks necessary for putting “Submit” to bed for the next 9 months or so.  We are thinking about projects at home, re-launching “Knot Ready” for the summer, splitting and stacking fire wood, repairs and excursions for the old motor home, a granddaughter’s graduation, visits to family moving farther away, friends to visit, grandchildren to squeeze and children to hug. 

Reservations have been made for a place to stay in Miami before catching our flight.  A car must be rented to take us from Port Charlotte to Miami.  Some hapless sole must be corralled into picking us up from the airport near midnight.  We hope to reciprocate someday with an early morning delivery or late night retrieval but never seem to pay back as much as received.

We are also beginning to think about and make tentative plans for our next visit to ”Submit”.  Bahamas?  Mexico?  The Florida Keys?  Cuba?  By ourselves?  Buddy boating with friends?  Arrive a little earlier and stay a little longer?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

time in Gulfport 7 Apr 2015

Every year our time on Submit is different. It is really important to not have expectations. This year we have been much more relaxed and have spent more time just being here, where ever that is.  And it has been good. The main reason is the people: Tom and Bobbie, Johnny and Cindy, Betty and CA, Craig and Beth, Tex and Gloria, Janet, Terry, Pete, and most recently, Katy and Charlie, Sean and Jeannie.  If I forgot someone, blame the short term memory, not your importance.  

We have been here in Gulf Port since Friday. Sean and Jeannie cruised by and took us in for a delightful dinner. Saturday we used their car to pick up some wanted items and visit the Florida fruit winery.  We sampled grapefruit, blackberry, blueberry, guava, mango, and more. I think if they didn’t call it wine, I would have liked it better. It is fruit juice with a kick. My favorite were the orange smoothie and coffee smoothie.  There was also a fun gift shop. All in all a fun day.

The next day was Easter Sunday and we were invited to Katie and Charlie’s for dinner. Oh, my! Huge ham.  Carrots and mashed sweet potatoes Katie’s garden.  An asparagus dish to die for. Pickled okra that everyone will like.  The best pumpkin pie Reggie’s eaten in a very long time.  After dinner we learned a new card game. We came home with a belly full of food and laughs. Also a big bag of Australian spinach and couple bags of fresh herbs, a jar of pickled okra and stone crab claws.

Monday Sean and Jeannie picked us up for a day of fishing, crabbing, relaxing, laughing, and just plain enjoying the day. Reggie and I each caught a little shark and hooked some lady fish, which we encouraged to go away before even getting on the boat.  They apparently are not really lady like. Reggie brought in some trout.  They were a little small so they went back to the sea, but fun to catch.  I caught a little flounder, but it was legal, so Sean filleted it and it was dinner tonight along with the spinach, left over shrimp from last night’s dinner, potatoes with fresh rosemary. Oh, and pickled okra.

Our time is drawing to an end, so today Reggie did boat storage research and I did…aa…. whatever, but I’m sure it was important. Oh, yeah, I orchestrated that fabulous dinner and directed Reggie how to finish it.  

It gets harder to pay it forward!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"What's it like out there?" 4 April 2015

Make a passage.  Do a crossing.  Head out there.  No matter what it is called, people are always curious about it.

Most of us have spent at least a little time on a boat.  It may have been a small row boat or a little fishing boat or a canoe or you name it.  Kayaks and paddle boards are popular these days.  At first, you are nervous, not venturing far from shore.  What if something happens?  Stay within easy swimming distance of solid ground.  Stay in shallow water.  Remember the feeling?  You look at those who have ventured farther out and ask “How do they do that?  Aren’t they scared?  I could never do that.  What if ‘something’ happens?”  Is this how it was or perhaps still is for you?  Close your eyes for a moment and remember back when.

With time and experience, you venture a little farther out.  You begin to trust your water craft and yourself.  In a lake, you wouldn’t have gone beyond your little swimming area at first.   Then you begin to cruise a little distance along the shore, always staying close to it.  You look at the boats out in the middle and still can’t imagine going there.

Slowly you venture farther from shore and out to deeper water.  One day, you cross a little bay rather than hugging the shoreline.  Eventually it happens.  You are talking with someone and the possibility comes to mind or is presented.  Go across to someplace on the other side.  At first perhaps you go with someone who has been there before, trusting in their knowledge, skills, equipment and experience.
You are out there!  In the middle.  In deep water.  A long way from shore. As far or farther to go back than it is to go ahead.  You arrive at your destination and do what was planned.  You cross back to home.  Nothing bad happened. It was ok, enjoyable, fun. 

What about the first time by yourself or in your own craft?  One person will plan and think and consider and provision and equip and prepare, on and on sometimes to the point of never going at all.  The next person takes reasonable precautions and makes reasonable preparations and heads out.  Another throws a few things in the boat and goes.  Another, perhaps foolishly, just jumps in and takes off, with little consideration about how to handle any problems nor any thought about the potential cost to family, friends or others who might be called upon to deal with the consequences of his poor choices.

You learn more.  Your travel horizon stretches.  You think back to those first ventures with others and perhaps realize the knowledge, skills, equipment and experience you trusted wasn’t as great as you thought and are perhaps even glad you did not know it at the time. 

And someone is now asking you “What’s it like out there?”

Our latest crossing was relatively uneventful.  We had been watching the weather and saw about 3 days of modest or no wind before the next system passed through and decided to go.  We could tell we would have to motor much of the way. This is not our preferred option, but boils down to: wait for the perfect sailing weather window and perhaps not have enough time to wait that long; sail as much as you can and motor as much as you need; or don’t go at all.

We had a leisurely breakfast while listening to the weather channel again.  The decision was made.  Go today.  Prepare the boat.  Dock lines are removed from their cleats and stowed.  There will be nothing out there to which we could tie.  Anything which could tip over, fall down or move is stored or immobilized.  You never know from which direction a wave could come and pitch or roll the boat.  Install the jack line.  This line runs most of the length of the boat.  You clip your harness to it with a tether while on deck so you are hooked to the boat and can’t fall off and drift away.  The gybe preventer is installed to keep the boom from accidentally flying from one side to the other at speeds which could break the boat, knock you out of the boat if not tethered, or hit you hard enough to do serious bodily damage.  The full startup checkout is done, but perhaps a little more carefully, taking a little extra time to look around at control cables, lines, hoses, etc.  “Raw” sea water inlet for cooling the engine and transmission is checked.  Its ball valve is turned off, the strainer is opened, the screen is checked for debris, the valve is opened momentarily to confirm water flows freely, the strainer is closed and the valve is turned back open.  Fuel level is checked and deemed adequate.  Oil level in the V drive is checked.  The bilge is checked to see that it is virtually empty.  The propeller shaft, drive shaft and packing gland are looked over and it is confirmed that nothing is touching the spinning shafts.  Transmission oil, engine oil and antifreeze are checked.  Fuel filters and water separators are checked.  Wind generator off.  Start battery on.  GPS on.  VHF on.  Handheld VHF, water bottle, sun glasses, watch, etc. go to the helm.  Start the engine and confirm cooling water is being pumped out the exhaust and that the alternators are producing power and no red lights are on.  We are ready to go. 

Barbara goes to the bow to monitor and clean the anchor chain as the windlass brings it in.  Mud is washed  and scrubbed off it as it raises from the bottom.  The anchor is secured in place and the chain locked so the anchor will not come loose if we have bad seas.  We are on the move.

Other preparations include washing and cutting up celery, moving carrots and other refrigerated snacks to the top.  Some meals have been cooked in advance, usually one pot meals which can easily be heated and served.  Eggs are hard boiled and chilled.  It could be too rough out there to want to cook and we’ve learned we need to eat something.  Granola bars are at hand.

It is 10:30 AM when we begin motoring away from the anchorage.  It takes us about two hours to get through the harbor and out into open water.  We are finishing our lunch sandwiches as we pass through the entrance.  We turn to the heading for our first waypoint outside the shallow waters of San Blas Shoals.  We expect to arrive there after midnight.

Wind is modest but favorable so we hoist the main and roll out the genoa and shut down the engine.  Seas are running 1-3 feet with the occasional 4.  They get a little more calm as we move into deeper water.  I look back occasionally.  Near shore fishing boats shrink to nothingness.  Soon only buildings on the shoreline are distinguishable and then they also disappear.  Water, water everywhere, and sunshine and partly cloudy skies and birds and the occasional tortoise and porpoise and small fish.

Our watch system begins.  There are all sorts of systems for deciding how long a person must stand watch and be off duty.  We have come to prefer two hour shifts.  When we are tired, standing a two hour shift seems like it lasts forever and making it longer is unthinkable.  The first 24 hours are the toughest.  My worst are midnight to 2 and 4-6.  Barbara’s seems to be 6-8 AM.  When the shift ends, you do any needed chores and collapse onto the berth, hoping to fall asleep instantly and knowing your rest time will be too short.  You become attuned to sounds.  New, different or changing sounds will wake you.  What do they mean?  Is there a problem?  A sudden change in engine RPMs brings you instantly awake.  It has become our alarm clock for shift change or a signal to come on deck to help with whatever needs done.  The off shift person is always on call.

The wind dies as night approaches.  We keep sailing until our average speed drops below 3 miles per hour.  Then the genoa is furled and the engine started.  We motor along with the mainsail still up and pulled in to centerline of the boat.  It helps dampen the rolling.  Seas lay down as the sun sets and the moon rises.  We motor through the night, reach our first mark and turn towards the next.  Our passage length this time will be about 280 miles.  If we average 5 miles per hour, we’ll arrive mid day two days from starting.  If we travel too slowly, we could arrive in the dark which is usually inadvisable.  If we are exceptionally slow, we could be caught by foul weather predicted for 3.5 days out. 
By morning the sea is calm, the sky bright and sunny.  Last night’s full moon was great.  One large fishing vessel was fishing near our first mark.  They shined a spotlight on us as we passed in front of them.  They were the only boat seen all night.  We saw no boats at all next day or night.

When I leave shift, I check the bilge area and the engine compartment.  About half way through the trip I see signs of a fluid leak.  The engine is shut down and all fluids are checked.  This is done every 4 hours for the rest of the trip.  No serious problems develop.

There is very little radio traffic at sea.  VHF range is limited.  We don’t hear much until nearing shore again.  We hear of an overturned and partially submerged 40ish foot vessel near one of the major port entrances.  Another boat with 4 persons out fishing has lost all power.  We cannot hear him.  He is talking on a small hand held radio to the coast guard and his battery is running out on it also.  The coastguard contacts TowBoatUS for him.  It takes about 4 hours for the help to reach him.

Another boat is taking on water and has called the coast guard.  We don’t hear how that one turns out.  When we finally get service, I see a man has been rescued after being lost at sea for 66 days.

As we approach land mid morning, boats begin appearing everywhere.  Many of them advertise their rental source on the sides.  This is a holiday weekend and the weather is beautiful and everyone and his dog is out on the water.  Some must be first timers.  Some act like they know what they are doing but clearly do not.

We pass through the Johns Pass bascule bridge and tie up at Dons Docks for fuel.  A novice kayaker runs into our boat as I’m pumping diesel. 

We motor several miles to our chosen anchorage.  Anchor down, engine off, collapse for a nap.  Arise.  Sponge bath.  Catch up on business and personal email.  Have a fun evening and dinner with friends.  Back to the boat.  Consider possibilities for the next few days before we crash to sleep. 

“What’s it like out there?”  This time it was very benign.  We’ve been on passages lasting many days with no problems or foul weather.  We’ve been on shorter passages and were caught in storms.  We’ve seen bigger 15 ft seas and the occasional 20 footer.  When being in the trough between waves, the trough has been so deep that we could only see something besides water by looking up and had you been watching, it would have looked like we had sank and only our mast was showing.  This has been rare.

“What’s it like out there?”  Usually pleasant and somewhat boring.   I commented to Barbara that this last passage would have been more fun if we had another person or couple along.  Rests during time off shift would have been longer.  Sharing the experience through someone else’s eyes would have been interesting.

“What’s it like out there?”  Go out and see.  Want to ride along?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chatty Cathy 3 April 2015

We are now at anchor in Boca Siega Bay by Gulfport, Fl, after enduring around 51 hours of passage across the Gulf of Mexico. The weather prediction held for us this time and the bad weather did not come early. We had to motor most of the way, but that is better than stormy weather as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take boredom over being really uncomfortable any day. Once we are over 25 miles from land, we see more turtles than boats (maybe 4 boats the entire two days). There were a few dolphins and lots of birds. This post is about one in particular.

We had a guest at our B&B. She arrived on my 4-6pm watch second day out. She was a cute little thing with an orange breast, bright black eyes and a swallow tail. This gave me a little concern since past arrivals of birds on our boat signaled a storm coming. As mentioned above, she brought no foul weather. 

Other than being cute, she had some rather annoying habits. She was flighty and had no regard  for personal space. I tried to be a gracious host, but found myself turning away and even ducking when she invaded my comfort zone.  She introduced herself as Cathy Sparrow. I called her Chatty Cathy.  Did I mention that she was rather persnickety? She would try out one room after another.  “Too windy,” was a common complaint. She seemed to want a small cozy room. “This might work, but what else do you have?” The bimini support definitely was too slippery. At one point she sat down on the GPS at the helm and told me many little stories. It was pleasant to have her sitting quietly and not flitting about my head, but her stories seemed to have no plot or even any point.  She was lovely to behold so close, but never disclosed her reasons for dropping in. Then she spoiled it by trying to give me a kiss. I’m just not that sort of person. She then resumed her search for the perfect place to spend the night. We have had some experience with her sort, so I casually placed some barriers on the door to our personal cabin. She did not take the hint. Reggie had to show her the door back out. At that point, she flew off in a huff. Is she royalty or something?  However, she didn’t go far and returned. We closed the door to our inner sanctuary. Why? You may ask, are we unwilling to admit a guest into our personal living quarters? Please don’t think too harshly of us. Her personal hygiene habits leave much to be desired and far be it from her to clean up after herself.

Here she is in her chosen room. After a “This will work.  See you in the morning.  I’m really very tired. Good night,” she went to sleep.  At some point in the night she soiled her bed and moved across the hall. That was NOT to her liking and she didn’t stay long. She then settled into a more spacious room on a cockpit seat and spent the rest of the night. When I came back on watch at 6 AM, I placed some water next to her bed, assuming she would be up and singing at sun rise as others of her kind are want to do. She had not been doing well and we hoped fresh water might have been lacking in her travels.  She, however, stayed snuggly tucked into her wing. She would occasionally peek around and then snuggle back down. No worm for this bird.  Chatty Cathy continued to sleep and we are now even more concerned. As we enter the harbor, she breaths her last breathe. We respectfully burry her at sea. I am sorry for my intolerance. RIP on this Good Friday. B

R.  We did a little sailing early and late in the trip and it was nice.  The best sailing was the day before we headed out.  We were crossing Chocktawhatchee Bay and West Bay. 
For my sailing friends, we were on a beam reach under genoa only and saw 7.5 knots several times before finding a sheltered spot to anchor.

For my non-sailing friends, it was rollicking fast fun!

Monday, March 30, 2015

adventures in Fort Walton 30 March 2015

We arrived at the municipal dock at Fort Walton Beach on Sunday morning. There is only one slip with enough depth for us according to reports.  However, there was a dinghy tied in it so we had to tie up at the end of the dock temporarily. The wind and current on the nose required more throttle than we usually use, but it was OK. We moved the dinghy to the next slip and decided to hand line Submit around into the slip. We needed to add a much longer line to the bow because we would have to throw it around the rather large sign at the end of the dock. The wind and current did what we expected and pushed her straight back. Reggie played cowboy and threw the line around the sign while I held her with the shorter dock line. He then started pulling her into the slip, but the long line came off the cleat! Submit is trying to escape to crash into anchored boats astern and I can’t hold her! I had about 6 inches left of the line in my hand and Submit is pulling hard. Reggie ran over and grabbed my line and saved the day. He pulled her back in enough to take a dally around a piling. Next he tied the two lines together and tossed the long one around the signage. I unwrapped the dock line from the piling and Submit was lead into her stall. Whew. Disaster averted.

It was a busy day at the park.  Several families came to fish, but we never say anyone catch anything. One little guy, Junior, was so excited and friendly and quite a chatterbox.

The local medieval club spent the afternoon in costume playing their war games. Two lines approached each other and attacked the opposition with their “swords”.  I never figured out what the rules were, as sometimes someone would just walk away and then at some point they would line up again and there would be a replay.  Several people stopped by to look at Submit and chat. One of the club members wandered out, but he wasn’t a ‘fighter’ and didn’t understand the ‘games’ either. 

On Monday we went in search of the Chamber of Commerce to get information about the town and see if there was anything that we just had to visit. We asked several people where the Chamber office was and were given several different directions. Most pointed west and said it was on the right. A sign pointed basically nowhere. We finally found it and had a delightful time! They have a small museum with a conference table where we were invited to sit and peruse the brochures and sip on their bottled water.  The museum featured Pirate Billy Bowlegs, of whom I’d never heard, but I’d come back in June for the Bowlegs Festival!

We went to a BBQ place recommended by Chamber people. We decided to be brave and order fried okra. I liked it better than Reggie. (actually that should say she liked it more than I liked it, not that she prefers fried okra to me!)  I ordered red beans and rice. When my meal arrived, there was hardly room on the table for Reggie’s meatloaf lunch. As I write this he is using my leftovers to create our dinner.

We thought we would pick up a few groceries and head out to an anchorage. However, when we returned to the boat, the wind was howling from the stern and it didn’t seem like it would be any fun to try to back into that gale, so we read and napped. The wind has not died down, but is suppose to ease early tomorrow morning.

But wait!  There was still more excitement to come. Reggie was out in the cockpit and called to me to come out. There are a couple of sailboats anchored behind us. There are several young men who come and go from them, usually in a little dinghy with one paddle. Two men and a dog were headed back to shore, but with a fairly large motor on the dinghy this time.  Apparently It and they and their dog and their recently acquired lunches were too much for the dinghy and it flipped.  Reggie grabbed our boat pole and I grabbed our deck brush. I know, but it was all I had with a long handle and within easy reach.  A lot of stuff was floating past our dinghy, so I jumped in it and started fishing stuff into the dinghy. Reggie fished from the dock.  One of the guys was worried about his dog and almost drowned trying to swim with the dog in his arms climbing up his face and neck. They made it to our dinghy. I hauled his dog into the dinghy and then he followed. He struggled onto the dock and lay gasping for breath.  In the meantime Reggie had snagged their dinghy painter. I handed Reggie a longer line and it was pulled ashore.  Most of the important items were captured under the overturned boat, but the motor hasn’t started again hours later. They are back to a single paddle

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

out of the mud? 25 March 2015

Tonight we are at anchor. It is a calm and beautiful night. We motored for about an hour and a half, but we did move. Let me explain. We had planned to leave on Monday noonish, it is now Wed night. The rumor is that if you stay too long in the Bayou, you get stuck in the mud and never leave. We were beginning to think it was true. However, there are worse fates. We were there for over a month. In that time we were wined and dined and had so many tasty treats.  Time with old friends and new.  Invaluable technical advice.  History lessons come alive. It was hard to pull our feet out of the mud! Often times we hear of would be cruiser that never hear that sucking sound and just stay put. What an easy thing to do. When we untied the dock lines there was no room in the cockpit, as the lazerettes were empty and “stuff” wasn’t stored. Many people would say we were “knot ready”. As I fixed dinner, Reggie stowed stuff and it is better, but still ‘not ready’. Tomorrow is another day.

Words that come to mind about our stay at Chico Bayou-good people, good food, good times, good work, leaks.

Leak #1: transmission leaking, go see Tom the transmission king. He worked it over and we had a new part sent from London. That took several ‘boat hours’. I now know that a ‘boat buck’ is equivalent to $100 and a ‘boat hour’ is equivalent to a day. Transmission is perfect. Check

Leak # 2: unpleasant smell from the propane locker.  New propane tank. Check

Leak # 3: the upper saloon windows have been a concern for awhile and then they started leaking. New windows installed. Check. Uncheck. Still leaking. Reinstalled, Check.

Leak # 4: water pump running, when it shouldn’t. Sound of running water in the bilge. Night before we are to leave. Well maybe not.  Reggie disassembled the entire boat, found the culprit and repaired. Fresh water leak fixed, check.

Why didn’t the bildge pump come on when all that water was dumping in to the bilge? Pull the bilge pump, another day project. New pump, check.

These things are all good to have repaired and replaced, but we also have new dinette seats which are more comfortable and have extra storage! Fresh paint, new curtains, new lights, new heater stove, new companion way and window covers, a closet that doesn’t drip and smells of fresh cedar.

Submit is more fit and we are more blessed.

Friday, March 13, 2015

"nothing exciting"

What do you report when “nothing exciting” has happened?

We’ve been tied to our friend’s dock since arriving in Pensacola.  It has been nice to be able to plug in the little AC electric heater on cold nights.   Several nights have been below freezing.  The heater and extra blankets make it comfortable.  Weather has been cool to cold and foggy and rainy much of the time.  We probably will not return home with a vacation tan this time.  In fact, it has been warmer in Montana many days than here.

Projects have consumed much of our time.  We (mostly Barbara) have been helping our friends with cleanup, sanding, painting and minor projects on their boat.  When we are not needed there, we have been attending to some projects and improvements to “Submit”.

We are waiting for a part to arrive from Europe.  There was a mismatch of parts connecting the transmission to the flywheel of the new engine.  This caused the transmission front seal to fail.  The seal has been replaced but the new part hasn’t show up yet so the transmission sits on a table on land instead of installed where it belongs. 

We took time off to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Naval Air Station.  It is excellent.  We’ve been there twice for extended visits and still haven’t seen it all.  There are museum quality restored aircraft close enough to touch (yes, you are allowed) ranging from the dawn of flying history to modern fighter jets.  Wonderfully knowledgeable docents conduct free tours.  Displays take you into past wars and the lives of men and women who served.  Battered and eroded remains of crashed noteworthy aircraft are resurrected from scrap to like new, mostly by volunteers, many of whom were trained and served with the aircraft upon which they work.  Child oriented displays allow them hands on time in aircraft cockpits and functioning flight trainers. We heartily recommend this museum for people of all ages.  We’ll go back again to see more.  By the way, its admission is free.

Also available at NAS Pensacola is Fort Barrancas and a Spanish water fort.  Forts Barrancas and Pickens were parts of the fortifications at the entrance to Pensacola Bay.  Self guided tours, knowledgeable rangers, historical events which happened here and the structures themselves make for very interesting excursions.

This visit to Pensacola has been another reminder for us. Anywhere you are, if you look for them, there are interesting things to do and see, even if you have been to that area before.  Take the time.

Highlights of our time here have included doing what we can to help friends and time enjoying the people.  We have been able to join in neighborhood gatherings such as First Friday potluck.  Many a day has ended with stories and laughter and camaraderie, and the more than an occasional glass of wine at sunset.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Human Failings?

We leave Pearl Bayou and stop at a marina for fuel and then head on.  The sun is shining and the wind is calm.  We can travel without coats for a while.  West Bay has hardly a ripple as we cross.  Schools of bait fish are being driven by predators below.  The tiny fish sometimes leap out of the water in their frenzy.  This attracts birds which pounce from above.

We leave the bay to find ourselves back in Montana.  Pine trees resembling Ponderosas grow to the shoreline of the river. 

Leaving the river has us crossing a much larger bay.  Breezes and lowering temperatures draw the coats back on.  There are several groups of 5 or 6 power boats formed in lines scattered across the bay.  At some unknown signal, a line will race away, then shortly another, then another.  Helicopters circle and chase, occasionally dipping low.  Fighter jets cross back and forth overhead.  One boat pulls alongside us and asks us where we are going.  We explain and are told to not change course.  We are in the middle of a military exercise.  No other explanation is given.  We get the impression they are practicing interdiction of terrorists attempting attacks in small high speed boats.

The activity provides a distraction from the monotony of again powering into a headwind in the cold.  We travel as long as we can and end up anchoring in Toms Bayou in Destin after dark.  We almost feel our way in using our depth sounder.  A flashlight can barely light up the next mark…sometimes.  Some marks are found by watching ahead for a post sized shadow passing backlight from local dining room windows.  Anchor down, a bite of dinner and sleep.

Next day, Thursday 12 Feb, 2015, we are again off and motoring.  The wind gradually builds during the day, out of the west which is the direction we are headed.  I barely glance at the larger map and assume we have about 80 miles to go to our friend’s dock.  Weather is to deteriorate tonight and be poor for several days.  Higher winds and lower temperatures are forecast.  Night time temperatures below freezing make me wish we were going to be in Chico Bayou tonight with our little space heater plugged into shore power.

The day is pretty but cold.  Barbara provides a surprise mid afternoon.  She has given the charts more than a quick glance and discovers I’ve made an error and we are much closer to our destination than I had guessed.  If all goes well we can be there by late afternoon!

My unstudied distance error is not the first of the day.  The second occurred about 3 o’clock.  I had no electronic chart at the helm nor had I taken the paper chart out into the wind.  After all, we are just traveling line of sight from sign post to sign post.  I am tired.  The sun is in my eyes.  My sunglasses have a light coating of dried salt spray.  (I’m hoping to come up with more excuses!)  I don’t see the next sign post, but we are approaching the last bridge under which we will pass on this trip and I’m lined up for the tallest center span. 

I run aground.  I’ve run outside the last mark onto a shoal.  The last mark before the bridge was not a tall signpost 14 feet above the water for which I was searching.  It was a green “can” buoy on the water and off to starboard of where we sat.  I try to get us off the shoal under power with no success.  We discuss options of kedging off or raising the sails to heel us over to reduce our draft.  We talk about waiting for a higher tide to help lift us off.  The sails could push us to shallower water.  Kedging would mean re-launching the dinghy, lowering the anchor and chain and rode into the dinghy, choosing what we hop would be the shortest path to deeper water, taking the dinghy as far as possible in that direction and dropping the anchor, head back to the boat and start hauling in the anchor, hoping it set and pulled us towards it.  Most boaters know what kedging is, but I’ve included this description for our non-boating followers and as a reminder of how time consuming it would be.

Yes, we could have gotten ourselves off the shoal, but waiting for the tide would have taken a long time and might not have been enough lift.  Raising sails could have made the situation worse.  Kedging was going to take quite a bit of time and we were running out of daylight.  I swallowed my pride and called TowBoatUS.  After all, isn’t this the reason I purchased the Gold Unlimited Towing membership level?

In a little over an hour, our savior arrives, ties onto us and has us floating free again.  He is very nice, professional and helpful.  We are grateful.

I am reminded of a book we read several years ago.  I believe the title was “Desperate Journey”.  He told about his adventures and mis-adventures as a beginning sailor.  It is not deathless literature, but interesting and somewhat entertaining.   In it he tells of all the happenings, good and bad.  We found ourselves asking why he would include some of the things he did which seemed dumb or foolish to us.  He didn’t have to include them and thereby show his ignorance or foolishness.  Nobody would ever have known.  It did, however, reveal what actually happened and showed his human failings.  It was part of his journey.  And so was my grounding for us.

We cross Pensacola bay and head into Chico Bayou just after sunset.  By the time we see one of our friends waving her arms at the end of her dock, it is shades of gray.  We turn into the dock, tie up and step off to hugs.  We’ve made it.  We shall not freeze tonight.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

from St. George Island. 10Feb15

Well, the warm and sunny for walks on the beach, etc., didn’t last long.  We awoke to cold, fog and rain.  Charts and a GPS led us to the marks leading towards Apalachicola.  We were about two hours along, cold and wet,

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

A tiny white skiff and 2 fishermen here!

Hand raking the bottom, fresh oysters to get

Even though they are freezing in the dank, cold and wet.


Two hours more and the rain let up just as we passed through Apalachicola.  We continue up the Apalachicola River and after 3 or 4 miles we have entered another world.  We’ve entered a river in the midst of swamp and marsh land.  Sails would do no good here since there are trees to the edge of the water on both sides, some twice as tall as our mast.  We could be headed up any remote river anywhere.   I’m reminded of Bogart and Hepburn and may just go below and start our fire.

We might just have time traveled back a thousand years or more.  There are no signs of humans here.  No trash in the water or visible on shore, and the only activity we see is turtles by the dozens sunning themselves on partially submerged logs.  The entire time of the river, about 5 hours, we only saw two other boats, not counting the Coast Guard that went by as we dropped anchor.

We cannot go too close to the banks.  If we didn’t hit a submerged log, a tree leaning from shore could tear up our mast.  And where is it that snakes drop out of trees on unsuspecting passersby?

We come to a split in the river.  Which way do we go?  There are no signs or markers.  Fortunately either route works as they merge ahead.

We arrive to cross Lake Wimico.  It is about 6 miles long, 3 miles wide and it seems not much of it is over 2 feet deep.  Stick closely to the narrow channel dredged between the markers.

Past the lake is more swamp country.  As someone who lives where the land and even sometimes the water solid, I could see myself dying if I tried to leave the boat and go cross country.

We glance down a little side channel and just barely make out a floating cabin tied to the trees.  Around another bend, several more are hidden just off the river.  Surely they are just part time hunting and fishing camps for really nice folks.  Deliverance was only a movie.

A tiny house on the bank is our first sign of permanent habitation.  It sits atop pilings.  The little yard is fenced and has not a blade of grass or weed, even under the house.  Chickens.

As we close in on civilization, it is approaching sunset.  We must anchor along the bank.   Two anchors are used, one from the bow and one from the stern.  This keeps us from swinging it towards shore and running aground, or out into the river and being hit.  There is small chance of being hit since we have only seen 3 other boats all day.

The next day is today, 10 February, 2015, a Tuesday.  We head out at about 7:30 AM and in a few minutes it is just after 6:30 AM.  We have crossed from the eastern to the central time zone. 

The morning finds us crossing larger unprotected bays.  Temperature is in the mid 40’s.  We feel head winds of 25 miles per hour and higher gusts.  Small waves throw spray over the bow.  I have seldom been this cold in the winter in Montana.  We decide this is no fun and find an anchorage in Pearl Bayou outside Panama City.  It is nicely protected from the wind and waves.  The sun breaks through and the sky clears.  We whip up a pot of hot chili for lunch.  Even though the winds are supposed to die down some, we decide this will be just right for a relaxing afternoon and night.  We promise to push hard tomorrow!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why did you come to Florida?

Ahh, now this is why I came to Florida. Sunbathing in the cockpit with refreshing libations, after a long walk on the beach. That was our first walk on the beach this year!  We wonder if the jelly fish purposely go up on the beach to die or were accidently washed up there. Are they dead or going to die, or will they float away when the tide comes in. Questions of life. We also saw horseshoe crab shells and maybe one or two out in the water. Life goes on.

The walk on the beach was after a 30ish hour passage. Two hours on the helm and two hours to sleep?  I encourage all of you to do this just so we can share in our experience. While you are on the helm, be sure to turn down the temperature to 50 degrees, turn a nearby fan on high and stand on a little trampoline. For your two hours of sleep, be in a water bed with someone bouncing the bed around. I just can’t tell you how much fun it is, you must experience it.

Before the passage, we were in Tarpon Springs for a couple days. We have been there a few times and always find it enjoyable.  At first blush it is a quaint little Greek sponging community. That was truly its start. Now it is more like a tourist destination with little boutiques selling shells, sponges and soaps. It must be the cleanest town in Florida. All that being said, we keep going back.

Our original plan was to cross all the way to Pensacola, but weather and our endurance, changed all that. We bailed out early and will probably do the ICW, which will take longer, but will be easier.

Life is good. Hoping yours is also. B

As mentioned in the last post, the passage to Gulfport was cold, rainy and somewhat rocky, but took us to an anchorage just off the municipal dinghy dock.  We were happy just to curl up after dinner and have nothing to do for the evening.

Sean came to visit.  We originally met him during one of our Green Cove Springs stays.  He and his bride drove across the Florida peninsula to GCS twice to see us.  Actually, he was more interested in our old engine as a rebuild for his sailboat.

Sean picked us up at anchor and ferried us into downtown Gulfport for a stroll and them some afternoon refreshments.  We enjoyed both the scenery and the time spent with Sean.  We hoped to see him and his bride again later in the week in Tarpon Springs.  However, the flu laid him low so their visit was cancelled.  By the way, Sean was going to deliver to us some new electronic charts for our cockpit navigation system.  I guess we’ll do it later by mail.  And, if any of you ever need electronic charts, get in touch with me and I’ll give you his contact info. 

After lunch our second day in Tarpon Springs, we untied and headed out to anchor.  It was a blustery afternoon and evening, but the weather was to change overnight.  Next day was to be a 2 ½ day passage to Pensacola, but as Barbara pointed out above, it was cut in half by deciding to go to Apalachicola.  We’ll head on to Pensacola tomorrow, probably by way of the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way.  If we just putz along, it will take 4 days.

Meanwhile, back at the boat, the wine is breathing, dinner is almost done, the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the beach we walked earlier on St. George Island is visible nearby, and a little light classical music is lending a relaxed atmosphere.  No, we are NOT interested in trading places with anyone!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Dear friends,

Wow, time goes by quickly when you’re having fun! I think it has been a whole week since we have written to you all. We hope that all is well. We have had nice weather, not too hot, not too cold. Today is a little stormy, but no rain so far. As I write we are circling before the Cortez bascule bridge, which is having some electrical problem and can’t open. We have been going in circles for almost an hour. I might have to ask Reggie to circle the other way, I’m getting a little dizzy.

I think we were in Fort Pierce when we last wrote to you. After leaving there, we went to Cabbage Cay and walked on the nature trail. We learned about some of the native floral and fauna.  We’ve had several opportunities to learn about the floral, but we have a hard time putting that information in our long term storage.  We did not see any of the fauna, which was OK with me. I had no desire to see the rat snake which can grow to be 10 feet long or the indigo snake which can be even bigger. I’m a little surprised I didn’t see one, as I was looking very carefully with each step.  We didn’t see a gopher turtle either, which I would have enjoyed. They live under ground in their burrows. We walked the nature trail two more times at a faster clip to make sure we would be hungry for lunch.  The Old House Restaurant, as the name implies, used to be a house, the former home of the son of mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart.  There were two beautiful fireplaces, which were the only real indications that it was an old house. The walls, ceiling, in fact almost every surface not in use is covered with signed dollar bills. Our 2008 Cruising Guide said there were over 50,000 bills. Lunch was quite tasty. I had shrimp salad and Reggie the steamed shrimp deluxe.

From Cabbage Cay it was a short hop to Cape Haze Marina, where we tied up to their dock. We treated ourselves to real showers and connected to shore power. Shore power enabled us to plug in our electric heater.   Aw, what luxury, and warmth! The highlight of our stay, however, was meeting Pete, the previous owner who was responsible for Submit’s paint job. I think it was the paint that sold us on her as much as anything. Pete was very gracious and did not gasp in dismay when he saw her. She really is due for a new paint job.   We just have to make sure we have moved all of the hardware that we are going to move, so the holes can be covered up.

Next stop, Sarasota. We picked up a mooring ball, as the anchorage was a long way from the dinghy dock.  In the morning, we walked to the Farmers Market, where we purchased srom fresh produce and enjoyed the many and various artisan booths. That afternoon, we caught the bus to the fairgrounds to attend the Celtic Festival. The entertainment included: Celtic square dancing, the telephone pole toss (they were trying to flip it end over end, which none were able to do while we watched), They were also trying to throw a rock on a stick over a pole 18 feet in the air, the hammer throw, which looked more like a big rock on a 4 ft pole, using a discus technique. The last one was another toss over a high pole, but this time they were tossing a small bale of hay with a pitchfork.  We couldn’t help but wonder if the origins of these competitions involved copious quantities of Scotch. We ended our time at the festival with a more gentile competition. Young girls in their clan’s kilts were dancing the jig, sword dance, and some other dances I can’t remember. We didn’t have any idea what the judge was looking for, but we picked our favorites. 

The next day we again took the bus to the Ringling Estate, a 66 acre estate owned by the circus baron, which he donated to the state of Florida.  We visited the Tibbals Learning Center, where there was a huge miniature (think jumbo shrimp) display of a circus, including the kitchen, railway, ‘backyard’ performers tents and of course the big Top.  The next museum was the Original Circus Museum which included costumes, wagons, and their person train coach, which was quite luxurious. After our lunch stop, we went to the Ca’d’Zan, their personal home. See picture.
 A walk through the grounds brought us to the art gallery.  The Ringlings were major art collectors. I was amazed at the paintings they had acquired.  We say original artwork 4-5-6oo years old and older.  All in all it was a fun filled, full day.

I must close now, as poor Reggie was been out in the cold, windy (15-20, gusts to 35. R.), rainy weather all day. (Don’t forget waves and spray over the bow. R.) We are ready to drop anchor in Gulfport. I’ll fix him a hot toddy and then some dinner.

Fair winds and following seas,

Barbara and Reggie.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Okeechobee Waterway, January 2015

Okeechobee waterway January 2015

Our first anchorage after launch was near the marina by the bridge.  A couple of cruisers stopped by for a chat.  A lady, who has been everywhere, chastised us for not having a dinghy and going ashore to enjoy the area.  One fellow, with quite a sense of humor, visited us from a motor yacht.  After that is was a quiet first night on the water.  Next day, we headed south to Stuart where the Okeechobee Waterway begins.  It was an uneventful day unless you consider looking at palm trees instead of 2 feet of snow.

We made one stop to fill the water tanks.  Water at Fort Pierce Marina is not for drinking.  Then, we anchored where we had anchored when we took “Submit” north for our son’s graduation in Washington, DC.  This time there were no breakdowns.

There are two locks between Stuart and the lake, raising you up about 12 feet to lake level.  Then there is a choice between route 1 across the lake or route two, the south rim route.  For those of us who sail Flathead Lake in Montana, “across the lake” means set your sails and sail there, using the entire lake if necessary.  Not here.  There is a course laid out from which you must not stray or you’ll risk running aground.  The course is about as wide as a two lane highway.  Sails might be useful if the wind is from the right direction, which seems to rarely happen, and probably will only work until the next turn.

The rim route follows the southern shore and passes a couple small towns. (one of them is so small the cruising guide sys it only has two bars!)  Water depth is limited, and for us, using it depends upon whether it is a wet or dry year.  Last time we crossed it was a dry year, we could not use the rim route because the controlling depth was 3.6 feet.  We run aground at 5.7 feet.  This year is a wet year and controlling depth is 7.1 feet.  So, the scenic rim route it is!

Scenic is debatable. (I thought it was quite beautiful. Lush and green as far as the eye can see. Of course, the eye could only see 20 feet on each side.)  The lake is held in check by an extensive levee system over which we could not see.  So, a lot of the trip was with grassy slopes to port and small man made (spoil) islands to starboard.  The shores were full of birds of all descriptions: long tall skinny ones, white, gray, or black, wading or posed in statuesque form.  A darting beak gives fresh sushi for one.

One bird which fishes while swimming is black bodied and has a head no bigger than its tan neck.  Only its head and neck show above water.  Barbara tells me it is called the snake bird and its head and neck surely resemble a snake, lifting its head high to search for prey, as it moves in the water.
A section of the trip was past rushes where not a bird could be seen.  However, it was filled with birds, all of which were calling and singing, quite loud and entertaining.

We dropped anchor for the night about a third of the way along the rim route.  We were between a spoil island and the levee.  There was traffic noise from the invisible highway on the other side of the levee, but not too loud.  It would have been a nice anchorage except for … the attack of the blood suckers! 

As the daylight dimmed, we noticed a mosquito or two in the salon.  We decide it probably would be wise to close the boat except for the screened portlights.  We weren’t quick enough.  The vanguard was followed by hordes.  It seems an overstatement, but at times they were so thick at the portlights they blocked out most of the remaining daylight.  Enough of the vanguard had gained entry to keep us busy for hours, hunting and eradicating.  Many left smears of red as their tombstones.

And don’t you just love the ones which buzz around your ears?  My ears were ringing from having boxed them in an attempt to kill the offenders.  Unfortunately, the slap upside the head became so automatic that I hit myself once while taking a sip of merlot.  Not all the red stains were from dead mosquitoes.

Not everything is up-to-date along the waterway.  Next day, we had to pass through a bridge.  This bridge only has 5 feet clearance so it must be swung out of the way to allow us to pass.  The bridge operator can be reached by radio, probably at his home.  He then drives to the bridge to open it.  He manually lowers barricades on either side of the bridge, then walks to the center where he removes from the rail what looks like a 10 foot piece of pipe.  The pipe is used as a lever to unlock the bridge.  Then, it is inserted into a turnstile and he pushes it around by hand, resembling a draft horse turning a mill grinding stone.  It appeared to take a great deal of effort by a man of about 350 pounds to get the bridge moving, but then its own momentum kept it going.  A substantial fellow, slow but capable, which is good because the entire process needed to be done in reverse to close the bridge.  I wonder if he had a cold one waiting and how many times a day he has to repeat the process (opening the bridge, not having cold ones)?

We passed through the lock at Clewiston and continued to the Lollipop anchorage.  It is a canal about a half mile long which leads to an abandoned quarry, making it look like a lollipop on the chart.  We anchored in over 30 feet of water in the quarry.  Our guests that night were fish, cows, night birds, frogs and a smaller dose of mosquitoes which we managed to prevent entering.  In her awake moments during the night, Barbara particularly enjoyed the concerto by night birds and frogs.

After passing through the second “downhill” lock, we tied up at a free newish aluminum floating dock next to a boat ramp in La Belle.  Cruising guides told us this was allowable for up to 24 hours.  We walked into town and did a little sight seeing and shopping.  At the local Ace hardware store, we were informed they could not fill our empty aluminum propane bottle due to a recent law change in Florida.  We’re hoping the partial bottle we have will last until we reach Pensacola where we will either have to replace it (aluminum ones are preferred on board because they are lighter and don’t rust, but are much more expensive) or find a re-filling station which does not know the rules.

We stopped at the Curtis Honey Co. store to get some fresh vegetables and perhaps a squeeze bottle for the bulk honey on board.  We learned they produce 5 distinctive honeys by moving the bees from blossom crop to blossom crop.  As I recall, orange blossoms are first each year and then other blossom crops include wild flowers, mangroves, seagrape and one other.  Each has a distinctive flavor.  We preferred mangrove.

It was decided to spend the night at the dock because it was getting towards evening and because the next day was predicted to be quite blustery.  Also, Barbara wasn’t feeling too well due to a head cold.
Barbara spent the next day weathering her cold while I went hiking about town on a shopping excursion.  We ended up patronizing 7 different local businesses during our short stop.  None of our purchases were huge, but I guess we are an example of tourism dollars at work. 

We thought we could push the limit and stay for another night at the dock.  Busted!  Not only were we exceeding the 24 hour limit, that limit no longer exists.  It had been replaced by a 15 minute limit sometime in the recent past.  The local constabulary came to check us out and inform us of our transgressions.  I feigned ignorance and pleaded the 24 hour rule which I pointed out to him in two different cruising guides, one from 2007, one from 2008.   I provided identification and information about our current Florida, Montana and Federal registrations.  That, plus the fact it was well after dark, making it unsafe to move, and telling him we had a minor mechanical problem and would be moving on early next morning, convinced him and his upline that we should be allowed to stay the night.

Noises awakened us early.  Boats were being launched next to us.  Over two dozen high speed bass boats arrived, were launched and their tow vehicles parked in about an hour without yelling or loud cursing. The boats milled about us in the fog.  Apparently they had been assigned numbers because at 0700, in the dark, they were sent off in order by having their number yelled out across the water by some invisible official.

After a quick breakfast we untied at dawn and headed on very slowly.  There was dense fog rising from the river so we hugged the north shore, creeping along and watching the depth until the sun came up high enough to eliminate the fog.  We did not hit any of the boats, nor did they hit us as they roared past in the fog.

We stopped for a short hike and lunch at the Caloosahatchee State Park and then continued on through the Franklin Lock and have stopped in Fort Myers where we may hang out for a couple days due to small craft warnings and rain storms.  Barbara slowly improves.  We may not even get off the boat.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

the unexpected

Our "Submit" adventure began with the unexpected.  I guess that is what makes it an adventure. The plan was to put together the few things that we needed on Tuesday and head for the airport Wednesday morning. The unexpected happened Monday afternoon when I got diverticulitis again. Reggie had to do all the preparations and packing as I lay on the sofa.  We had a short layover in Salt Lake and didn’t know how far we had to go to catch our plane to New York, so we requested a cart.  No carts, but I could have a wheel chair.  OK.  I was met as we deplaned and whisked up the gangway and through the concourse. As we arrived at the gate, my chair pusher breathing heavily from his exertions, we were greeted by another airport person. “Barbara? Oh good we were waiting for you.  We were just about to start general boarding.” Fame has its perks. We were first to board the plane and got all settled in before the hoards arrived. I don’t think I would have made that distance in time, as my speed is in the 100 years old category.

We had a couple hours in New York, so didn’t expect that to be an issue. Little did I know that I had been ‘flagged’ for the whole trip.  I was in the computer. Someone was waiting for me with a wheel chair. Again it was a good thing.  Our plane must have landed in one corner of the airport.  We went to the corner opposite and then took a bus to another terminal. The bus stopped at one corner and I was wheeled to the opposite corner of that building.  Reggie got his five mile walk . I might have made it in time if we would have been able to find it.

From Reggie:   Because we would arrive late into Miami, we decided to rent a room with a free airport shuttle, and shuttle back to the airport late next morning after a leisurely night.  It also dawned on us that we really did not want to lug the two heavy big boxes of boat stuff around with us.  So, we just didn’t bother to pick them up from the baggage check.  They were still there awaiting us when we returned to the airport next day.

I had reserved the smallest (cheapest) car Enterprise offered.  When the paperwork was done and paid for, they gave us a full sized crew cab pickup. (I guess Reggie just looks like a truck guy).  Just like being at home only new!  I only rented the truck for one day, just to get us to Fort Pierce.  Then I would turn it in and get the little cheap car for the weekend special.  But, since I told them they would not have to clean the truck yet if I kept it, and would only have to do one cleaning instead of two, we are still driving the big truck for $9.99 per day from 10:30 am Friday to 10:30am Monday.  Great for haulin’ stuff to the boat!

For the non-sailors, Running rigging is the collection of ropes which raise, lower and control sails.  Halyards are ropes which go from the deck to the top of the mast and back down to the lowered sail and they raise the sail when you pull on them.  Things I have learned about running rigging:

It is cheaper to buy good quality messenger line than to hire a crane when cheap stuff breaks.

It is cheaper to leave at least one halyard installed than to hire a crane. 

It is cheaper to buy new halyards every so often than to hire a crane. 

It is really dumb, when one halyard is down, to remove the other two " cause someone is going to have to go up to replace the other one anyway"  and then have the realization dawn on you that there is no way to get someone up there......unless you hire a crane. 

It is easier on the nerves to hire a young immigrant to be hoisted up in a bosuns chair, by the crane, than it is to have a 290 lb guy in his later mid sixties hoisted in the same fashion.

I stayed on the deck and craned my neck to see up and watch the whole thing.

We are getting “Submit ready to be launched.  There have been a few minor issues, but things are actually pretty good.  The biggest disappointment is the death of our refrigerator system.  A local boating surplus store had one so now we get to be refrigeration specialists.  Cool!