What?

I cannot believe it is already December, nor can I believe it has been so long since an update. The last few months have been so busy in all directions. After a little bit of fun we have had several things going on (several photos to scroll through).

Alicia had her mom come down and they took Oscar back to Tennessee.

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Alicia flew back down with her dad and we got to entertain him for a few days.  We took him down to Key West, and a few other places.  He flew back and my parents came down for a few days.

Many years ago, we took a family vacation and got about nine miles from Key West and the road was shut down and we never made it to Key West.  This time we took my parents down and they finally made it.  We also wanted to explore a little more in Key West than normal and we finally found the end of the road. Processed with Snapseed.

We took them to Robbie’s to see and feed the tarpon.  This was awesome for my parents to see some fish that were as long as they are tall.  Nothing like the lake fish back home.

After all family was back home and about a year later, we have to plan for hurricanes. However this year, we are not in a house but floating on the water. Last year was not really eventful thankfully, but this year we had one pointing right at us.

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A possible Cat 4 with 130mph winds, while on a sailboat….. umm that’s a little concerning.  What were we to do? Plan and hope for the best I guess.  We spoke with others in the marina that have been through this sort of thing.  Basically you tie up your boat that allows for tidal movement (up and down), storm surge (extreme up and down), and winds changing directions as the storm nears, and goes by.

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We double checked the cleats on the dock because some where broken and would of left our boat helplessly swinging around (cleats are where the boat is tied to the dock like in this photo).

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We put out 15 lines to spiderweb out boat in the marina, removed our canvas bimini, and lashed down our mainsail.  Anything to minimize things getting caught by the wind and ripped to shreds (similar to these photos below, not of our boat).

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It looked crazy and was a lot of work, but just as you would protect your house the best you can, we did for our ‘house’.  Again thankfully we were spared and the weather was no more that a typical summer storm with little wind.  Other parts of the coast were not as lucky.

We also got a vacation in.  We took a cruise to the western caribbean, to places we enjoy and have been to before. As usual we try to find the road less traveled, more quiet and with abandoned beaches. fullsizerender-6

Also visited some regular tourist areas.

We went to an ice room (yes sadly in flip fops, bad decision), first time bowling at sea, and lots of R&R.

After all of this I still managed to get in some boat maintenance.  Changing the raw water pump impeller and replacing poor neglected raw water hoses.

Ray our neighbor was able to restitch our genoa (The genoa is a type of large jib or staysail that overlaps the main sail). There is always something to do or repair on the boat.

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We have several other repair items going on but these will be posted after completion. Until next time.

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Little bit of fun

It’s not always work, sometimes there is a little bit of fun also. At some point the scales will tip to more fun than work but that will come in time.

Some most recent fun was a close encounter with a caribbean reef shark. While most people would be scared of sharks because of the older movies and news reports putting fear into the public about sharks, as a diver they are no real threat.  It is actually quite cool to see a shark in its natural habitat. Seeing one up close makes for a very surreal experience. Here is a recent photo I took of a very close encounter.

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We took an airboat tour through the everglades looking for gators and doing some 360* spins to cool off in the heat.

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The babies are always cute, until you take the tape off their mouths…

Alligators were fun to see and we got to learn a little about them also. Some are curious than others.

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A ball python will not be in our near future as a boat add on.

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While very beautiful, birds will not be on the boat either. They make too much of a mess.

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More fun was with a red fox. Now not your typical color this white and black, red fox was very adorable.

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We got to spend some time with an anteater.

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We swam with dolphins and participated in some skills with them. (note: these dolphins were rescues, not taken illegal or purchased as some facilities may do, and the facility took very good care of them. rehabilitating them, nurturing them, whatever it took to make sure they were healthy)

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The highlight had to be seeing a sloth in person.  They are so mesmerizing and adorable. Prepare yourself for some uncontrollable cuteness in the next photos:

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Thank you to Everglades Alligator FarmSafari Edventures, and Dolphins Plus for our recent days of fun.  (no animals were harmed during these experiences)

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All In A Days Work

Despite being busy at work and all of the repairs and maintenance on At Ease, I finally got to put together a little video of a day at work. This is what makes it all worth while.

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What goes down should come up

A little different than the saying ‘what goes up must come down’ but on our sailboat I’m talking about our newest small project. 

Our windlass wasn’t working properly and it needed some attention. A windlass is a type of winch used especially on ships to hoist anchors and haul on mooring lines. 


While you don’t have to have a windlass, you can hoist anchor by hand and the strength of your back but it should be really nice to have it working and use it instead of my lower back. 

Our windlass has two buttons on deck at the bow. One to deploy anchor, or send it down, and the other to retract, or bring it up. The down works fine but the up button doesn’t work at all. I went into investigation mode and started taking the buttons apart. Inside everything appeared fine and it was getting power. Touching the contacts together proved that by a slight tingle through my body. I should have used a bolt meter but that’s over and done with. 

The next step was to figure out what else it could be. Buying a used boat with a windless already installed turned into a game of hide and seek to find where everything was ran and installed. After opening hatches and lockers, removing all contents and putting everything back, I traced the power feed up into the v-berth (our now storage locker). I had to remove everything from there and figure out how to disassemble most of the v-berth to get behind some panels where I believed the feed wires to be going. 

I found the wires right where I thought and also found a solenoid that controlled the foot switches to the windlass. It looked almost identical to this photo I found. 


There was some corrosion and after troubleshooting the solenoid, I found it to be defective. $116 later and I had a bright shiny new one installed. 


Our windlass now functions properly and will be ready to test after a few other projects once we take At Ease out for a sail. 

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The Heat is On!

Summer really is in full swing, which means I have been busy working and little time to keep updating this site. I will do better in the future.

This is our first summer on At Ease and since it has gotten so hot, our little sail boat a/c unit is struggling to keep up.  It is nowhere nearly as hot inside as it is outside, but it is also not your typical home a/c unit either.

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This is almost the daily forecast. The low of 80* is anywhere from 11pm-6am then gets hotter from there.  While the sun is so brutal I have looked into getting sun shades,boom tents or other varying names for shade on a boat.  I took some measurements of what I thought would work and went to a local canvas shop that has already done some zipper repairs (for very little money) and hoped they would be able to make a cover for a good deal.

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That was far from a good deal.  We were quoted $1100 for sunbrella material in the dimensions above.  Holy cow, were they using gold thread or something?  I had to find an alternative and after many headaches from staring at web pages I finally found a source. I found Beck’s Custom Canvas.  This was a game changer.  I originally found them on this eBay link.  When they didn’t have the size I wanted I reached out via eBay PM and then email.  Responses were quick and the quote was unbelievable.  On top of that, I ended up getting a slightly larger dimension tents to cover more area. For both a boom tent and a forward bow tent plus shipping it was only $350 (your project may vary). They saved me $750 and I got the same thing.  Wow is all I can say.

 

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Now this has helped tremendously but not back to normal.  While a traditional home a/c unit can cool to whatever temp you set it to, our marine a/c unit is raw salt water cooled.  Meaning that it sucks up sea water from right under the boat, with the compressor and evaporator it removes heat from the air inside the boat and transfers that heat to the sea water and is then spit out overboard.

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The biggest thing that is hurting it is the thermostat is set to 76* but the sea water is 88*-90*.  When the sea water is this warm, it makes it difficult to add the removed heat to the already heated sea water.

Until next time, here how one of my days at work was spent, diving with 17 dolphins!!!

video here: dolphins!

 

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What Have You Been Up To?

After conquering a little poo project, several things have taken place that have went undocumented.

Oscar our dog is getting acquainted with the boat.

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He seems to favor my spot on the bed, leaving me with very little room.

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Oscar went to the beach to hang out for the very first time.

 

From time to time he behaves when new people come around and other times he gets very protective and growls and barks. Most recently he decided to be protective and run to the dock, forgetting there was about 3 feet between  a small pier and the boat before he can get to the dock. That mistake resulted in Oscar falling in and him learning how to quickly recall his instincts and swim for the first time.  I think he was a little embarrassed. IMG_7479

We also had some visitors in the form of manatees and dolphins. Didn’t have time to take photos of the dolphins.

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I have been busy working and trying to replenish funds that have been spent making repairs on At Ease so far.  Not having enough time after work to start a full project and complete it same day, I have mostly been making a list of would like to do, have to do, and can get to some time down the road projects. In the meantime I have been working full blast since it is now summer.  Well by work I mean hanging out with cool creatures.

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You can also take a peek at a day in the life of a crew member at Rainbow Reef Dive Center, kudos to Logan for putting this together.

 

I still have some more projects to complete and hope to take At Ease out for her first sail soon.

 

 

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Aw poop..

As I have read on numerous blogs, websites and forums, it seems to be a reoccurring theme.  Things on boats break and at some point there are some stinky problems.  After getting the items on the survey list for insurance repaired or replaced I decided to tackle another project.  This time it was to try and identify an odd smell on the boat. Yes of course I’m talking about a smell from the head (marine toilet).  The previous owners had replaced some hoses but only the easy to get to ones.

Our marine head is plumbed like this:

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The hose from intake to head was replaced, but the most important hose from head to holding tank was not.  It was in poor condition.  I was old, most likely original from 1997 and developed some seeping spots which is not good. Likewise the hoses from the holding tank to pump out and holding tank to overboard discharge were also original.  On top of that the tank vent was clogged and allowed any odors to back flow into the boat rather than overboard. We have not been using the head onboard yet as we did not want to add to the mess, literally.

I spent a few hours measuring hose sizes and lengths so to hopefully get the job done as fast as possible with as few trips to West Marine as possible.  I also noticed that when the head was flushed, some small sea critters were also coming in with the sea water so I decided I wanted to install a sea strainer to filter them out and keep them from decaying in the head adding to the smell.

I started with cleaning the holding tank vent and you are lucky that I cannot post smells, phew that was horrible. I know we needed to register for the pump out service that comes once a week to the marina and I wanted to be ready for them and get the system as clean as poo can get so I took the water hose and filled the head and tank full of fresh water.  The pump out boat came and now we were ready to start.

Off to West Marine I went.  Gathering all the supplies I needed and then back to the boat.  I figured there would be a small amount of ‘stuff’ still in the hoses and I didn’t want that pouring into the boat.  I decided to take our shop vac and swap the hose on it to the blower side. Carefully disconnected the head discharge hose and blew the rest of the ‘stuff’ into the holding tank, I hoped.  Stuffed the end of the hoses with paper towels and began removal and replacement.  With the hoses in the head (bathroom area) replaced and sea stainer installed  now it was time to replace the hoses at the holding tank.

The holding tank is in the starboard (right side) cockpit locker (outside seats with steering wheel). You have to remove everything that is stored in there and lift up an access hatch cover.  This exposes a small 1 1/2′ by 2′ opening.

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This is not big enough to work in. There has to be another way, and yes I found that way.  I had to remove our bed from the aft berth (back bedroom), take apart the wall and remove the wall. After that disconnect the hoses and pull the tank of poo into our bedroom.  If there ever was a time to be careful not to spill anything, now was that time.

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I thought that was the hard part, but I was wrong.  The hard part was removing the old hose through this tiny cavity that was barely big enough for my arm to fit into and the hose just barely within reach.

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While this area looks really big in the photo, let me assure you it is not. Thankfully there were no messy incidents thus getting to spare you of any nasty details.  After several failed attempts and bruises and cuts and bending in all sorts of ways that hurt, I finally got the old hose out and new hoses ran and plumbed. No mess made, bedroom spared and everything finally put back together. Smells are gone and life is good. Reward is some relaxing downtime.

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