Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bottle Key.

by Riley

I have to to say, I think I get bored quick. I seem to not be able to stay in one spot very long. We planned on staying here in Key Largo until Christmas, but I'm ready to move on. I've looked at the same view while drinking my morning coffee for a few days now and I ready for a new one. I'm in search of that forgotten about island beach to anchor off of. It's harder to find than you may think! Perhaps because everyone is using the same guide books that have the same spots listed. So I've decided to look to where you can find all these kinds of answers to fix this problem... Google! That satellite imagery is pretty cool and beaches show up, so I've been going back and forth with my nautical charts to find one I can get to, with enough water depth, that's not in the guide books. I'll have to let you know in a few days how it works out.

We sailed not far today, about 10 miles or so, to Bottle Key, and worked our way around to the lee shore. I'm getting more comfortable in shallow water, I find myself with only inches under my keel for long periods of time with a lot less worry. Fortunately, today there was a bit more water depth than the charts had shown. I have to say this is one of the best spots yet! Zero boater traffic! Not really any sand like Google earth had shown, but just enough to take the dog ashore. After eating lunch, and going for a swim to cool off and check the anchor, we went for a short dinghy ride close in to the mangroves to see wildlife. No alligators, but some protective birds by their nest! I thought they might eat the dog the way they started soaring overhead. Then we headed back for a leisurely afternoon and planning for our sail tomorrow. We're going to grill chicken for dinner tonight with roasted brussels sprouts on the side. We're really roughing it out here in the solitude.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just Right.

by Riley

Some days we get just the right amount of wind to remind a retired thrill seeker why I took up sailing in the first place. 

After spending some time in Miami, anchored off South Beach, we left, spending one night in Dinner Key, and last night anchored off some little mangrove island that gave shelter from the wind. Leaving this morning with about 20 knots of wind on a beam reach, we flew all the way to Key Largo. It was awesome! We are now anchored in a nice protected basin. 

Most of you guys have kept up with the trip via Allison's blog, The Bauble Dept., but I figured I'd tell you what I've been doing. When we were in Fort Lauderdale, I found some engine sound insulation at a marine consignment shop, it was a must have. And it took about a half a day to install. Now the ole iron jib is a lot quieter and the engine compartment looks cleaner. While anchored in Miami, it was cloudy for a few days so the solar panels weren't charging the batteries that much, so I decided to start the engine to charge them a bit. But they didn't really charge. So yesterday I tore apart the engine and alternator to find a bad ground. After repairing it and checking the the rest of the engine over, and a walk around "sightseeing," we sailed the rest of the way down Biscayne Bay. Also along the way I have been dealing with a leaky freshwater system. Hard getting things tight in cramped spots! But I think I've finally got them under control. I also added a sprayer to the galley sink!! Now this probably only excites me, so let me explain. I'm the dishwasher, and this little sink is HARD to work in. The new sprayer now allows me to rinse the dishes with ease when before I couldn't even fit them in the sink. Next up, rebedding some deck fittings. 

Oh, life on a boat is great because, I only do this between swims, peanut breaks and naps.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cold Feet No More.

by Riley

So we've been on the water traveling now for over 50 days. Up until the last week it's been mainly cold and wet and injury involved. Perhaps that why I haven't been writing as much, just hadn't been feeling it. We left Jekyll Island, Georgia the day after Thanksgiving, freezing, and made a mad dash south. We covered a lot more ground per day than we had been, mainly attributed to good tide and the motor. For the past few weeks I haven't been able to do much sailing because every time I do the stitches would pop out and my hand would be back to bleeding again. This has been frustrating!

But the thing that has been a plague on my entire experience living on a sailboat has been the inflatable dinghy that I use to get to shore. I should have figured it was garbage when it came with the sailboat. What made this inflatable so bad is that it leaks not only air, but water also! I only brought one pair of shoes along, everything else was, well... flip flops. And for the past 50 days those shoes have stayed wet, making for an even colder experience.

I've always prided myself in the ability of being able to fix ANYTHING! We'll let me tell you, I can't fix leaks. I first tried to patch the boat before we left, then in Charleston, to no avail. When in Cocoa, I made another attempt. It was like having a car and every morning you have to pump up all the tires, and the windows were stuck down while it was raining on your way to your destination, then you have to pump the tires up again before going home.

My frustration increasing daily, it became clear there was only one thing to do to solve the problem...I needed new tires. I've been a fairly tight person with money all my life. In Fort Pierce there was a West-Marine store right beside the grocery store. Allison pointed out that the inflatables were on sale BIG TIME. We went back to the boat with our groceries, knowing what we needed to do. After counting our "freedom tokens" we headed back. When we got there I really didn't think I could do it. Some might laugh, but my chest hurt. I would say I was getting "cold feet" but they had already been cold for weeks!

Now for the past day and a half I can't stop smiling! This thing is awesome!! My feet are dry and it's fast :) I'm so in love with it Allison is starting to wonder about us. I woke up this morning not having to wondering if my outboard motor had sank to the bottom of the anchorage with the old dinghy. I even leave the pump on the sailboat now. Now, I'm not one to put much stock in material things, it's experiences that get me. But man, am I having a better experience now!

Just a few side notes on the trip… we're in Florida. We saw a launch from Cape Canaveral that was really cool to watch. And the temperature is now in the 80's during the day. The water is super clear now and warmed up to about 81 today. We're finally getting somewhere.
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