Back to Stuart

A view from Fever as we dink around in the St. Lucie river.

And so, it’s back to Stuart to live in my folks’ house and get the boat ready for next season. We started by having Blue Wing moved from storage in Indiantown to the work yard there. Here I sanded the bottom, and did some fiberglass patching while Duwan painted the bottom in the warm glow of the Florida sun. Apparently there aren’t many esposas who do this boat chore. Yard engineer Eric was very concerned that Duwan was getting too much toxic paint on herself. When she finished he came over, put his arm around her and insisted she go wash off all that paint. Also, after she finished the yard guys treated me like I was The Man. They even started giving me rides in their golf carts.

Greg sands Blue Wing’s hull.

While Duwan cleaned up inside the boat I gave it a couple of good compound waxings and a final coat of canuba oil wax. Even though we had good dry weather the yard work took us ten days. It’s a 45 minute drive to Indiantown, so we were ready to move the boat closer.

We bummed a ride from our friend Brenda, leaving our car at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. She took us to Indiantown, where we spent the night on the boat, waiting to be the first dropped into the water the next morning. We didn’t sleep well. The yard is hot, mosquito ridden, and cows in the nearby pastures moo all night. But the next day we splashed and had a nice trip to Sunset Bay, where we tied up to a mooring ball.

Here are some of the things we worked on.

For safety in the deep blue water Duwan found us some better life jackets. These are comfortable, and easier to move around in. They have CO2 cartridges, which inflate when submerged; and they have sturdy clips to allow you to tether yourself to the boat. Tethers can be expensive. She found a website which shows you how to make your own more cheaply. We ordered the materials from a mountain climbing gear company. Now we always leave jacklines running from bow to stern. And when we are underway we wear the tethers (just to get used to them).

The new sail goes up.

The word BOAT is really an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. We got to do this a couple of times when replacing the mainsail and buying a new inflatable dinghy. We love our hardshell dink, Fever. But Feve only holds two people, and we hope to have visitors this year. We plan to use this new one for visitors and as a spare.

The new dink!

I’ve decided all my outboard motor woes can be solved by keeping a can of carb cleaner handy. You buy this at an auto parts store. It has a rack you use to sink the carburetor into the cleaning fluid. Anyway, it worked great when I cleaned the carb and tested the motor in my Dad’s garage. The test required mounting the motor on a hand truck with the prop sunk into a garbage can full of water. We’ll see how the motor works in the Bahamas.

Last season we had trouble with a leaky salt water impeller pump on the engine. After cleaning the brass pump by soaking it in vinegar and salt, and replacing the seals, we still had a leak. The Oberdorfer company still makes these pumps for our 30-year-old engine. I ordered a new one, which works great.

Learning to sew.

Neither of us has spent much time using a sewing machine, but we did manage to complete some sewing projects. Duwan cut up our old mainsail and made storage bags to hang in our aft cabin. She also made a sleeve for our notebook, and a dry bag carrying case for my uke. We have a lot more sewing projects lined up for next year.

We did several things to improve the performance of our power hungry fridge. Using styrofoam insulation sheets, we closed off the aft part of the space, reducing the cooling area from 6.5 cubic feet to about 4 cubic feet. We lined the whole inside with some low R-factor waterproof insulation sheets, and make flaps to cover the food under the top-lifting doors. We sealed the doors themselves with plain weather stripping and garage door stripping. We also keep reflective waterproof sheets over the top and side of the fridge where the sunlight hits it.

To help boost power we bought an expensive semi-rigid solar panel. It can be moved around the boat and tied in place to catch light when the sun is low on the horizon. It can also supplement our other panel on cloudier windless days.

Also, I got a clamp-on electric multi-meter from Sears. In addition to checking volts and ohms it can measure the current (in amps) we are generating or using. There are lots of similar meters, but Craftsman had the only reasonably priced one that could measure DC amps in the 1-40 range.

Not everything was expensive. We hit the flea market and all the second hand stores for creature comfort items. I think our proudest acquisition is a stove top Whirly Pop corn popper. (This is a real extravagance on the boat as it takes up space and has only one use.) Personally, my proudest purchase was a new spear!

Not all our time was spent on shopping and boat maintenance. We got to do some socializing. We enjoyed meeting ‘Stretch’, who is a friend of our buddies Jules and Jeff. We got to see my childhood friend Brenda, who gave us rides. And my parents came down for a pleasant week.

James poses with Greg after the completion of his Iron Man!

At the end of October we drove to Ft. Lauderdale to see my son James, his sweetie Taylor, and his best buddy Keith. They were staying downtown in Taylor’s family’s condo. It was great to hang out for a couple of days and even get to video chat a bit with Taylor’s folks. But the highlight of the trip was watching James swim, bike, and run in a half Iron Man competition in Miami. He did a great job. I’m sure I could never have done so well, even at my peak physical condition (last year).

Greg picks with Pat at Sunset Bay Marina.

At Sunset Bay we recognized Pat from red catamaran RoseBud. Pat plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle. I had jammed with him a little last season. This time we played at the marina, at an open mic, and in the streets of Stuart. Great fun.

Our friends Chris and Kevin from Apres Ski arrived in town from New York. They came to the marina jam, and invited us over for a delicious supper later.

Patti takes a rest from kayaking.

We drove across the state to Fort Myers to the beautiful home of Don and Patty, whom we had met last season on their boat Silent Wings. We had a great weekend catching up, lounging by the pool, and kayaking in the Orange River.

And our friends Sid and Cate from Quest blew into town bring one of our favorite four-legged pals, Mr. Bojangles. We had a day of boat shopping and several evenings of fun with them.

Will we ever get the boat completely prepared? Probably not. We just have to pick a stopping place and decide to go. And we both think the time is coming soon.

Cate, Sid and Mr. Bo Jangles.

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