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.