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February 28, 2010

February in Marathon

We left the Sombrero Key Marina slip yesterday and are now on a mooring run by the City of Marathon. I signed up for a month because it was cheaper than paying the weekly rate for 2 weeks. We expect to head north towards Naples and Punta Gorda about the middle of March to visit with friends in both places the later part of March.
With the weather continuing to be windy and cold, we may not make the trip to Key West before we head north! There seems to be an unending series of cold fronts coming through bring rain, wind and cold. The temperature has not gotten above 70 degrees for days and we have had only one day above 80. Mind you, it is better than the blizzards the Northeast has been getting!
Sue and I have been busy with projects – her with needlepoint and me with a variety of boat projects and my stock option trading.
The new hand carved name boards with the gold leaf letters are now installed and sparkle in the sunlight! Pictures are on the web site. I have also painted the pilot house doors and the saloon window trim to match the color of the cabin sides and this is a big improvement in Courage’s appearance. I am also continuing to strip off the old finish on the exterior teak and will apply all new finish as soon as West Marine gets the right stuff in stock! It never ends but most of it is stuff I like to do so it’s OK.
We have enjoyed our social contact with the other boaters at the marina. There is the weekly Krogen breakfast and the nightly “sundowners” gathering on the dock where we all swap boat lies, etc.
We had three manatees visit us at the slip a few days ago. The guy on the boat next to us turned on the fresh water hose and they all came up to the dock for a long drink! This is a close as we have been to manatees and several of the pictures we took are on the web site.
So far, none of our family and friends have taken us up on our offer to come and visit while we are here. The business of having jobs and their own families seems to interfere with their having the spare time to visit us!

Posted by Dick at 12:33 PM

February 13, 2010

Greetings from Paradise

Greeting from Paradise as Jimmy Buffett would say! We arrived in Marathon on February 4th after an interesting but uneventful two day trip down the west coast of Florida, From Marco Island we went to the Little Shark River and anchored. This is right in the middle of the Everglades and very remote. It was a beautiful anchorage and very sheltered. That night I went out on to the “back porch” and looked around and could see no light pollution is any direction!
The next day was an easy 40 miles to Marathon. As we got within cell phone range I called our friends Betsy and Martin on their Krogen 42 Molly Blossom for local information and they said that there was a slip open next to them at the Sombrero Key Marina so we decided to go there for a few days since there was no mooring available at the City Marina. The original plan was to stay a few days and then go to Key West but the persistent high winds and unfavorable sea conditions has kept us here. We have now converted from the daily to the monthly rate and will be here through Feb 28th. Hopefully by then, the winds will calm down and we can make the trip to Key West before starting back north mid March.
There are quite a few fellow Krogenites here at Sombrero Kay and at other nearby marinas and they get together for breakfast every Tuesday morning at the restaurant here at the marina. There is also a daily “happy hour” on the docks starting at about 5 PM. It is a fun hour swapping boat lies, etc.
I have been busy as usual doing boat projects. The big one is to remove all the exterior varnish from the teak trip and re do it from scratch. I use a heat gun (like a heavy duty hair dryer) to soften the old finish and then scrape it off with a putty knife. It then gets cleaned up with a paint scraper, sanded and is ready for application of the new finish. There is a lot of teak on the outside of this boat so it is taking a while to get it all done. I work for an hour or so, take a break, and then come back to it later!
Yesterday, I installed another 115 VAC outlet on the left hand side of the pilot house so I can plug my navigation computer in without having to use the small inverter. It was a straight forward project that required a visit to Home Depot for the electrical supplies and about an hours work. Another nice small improvement to Courage. I also bought two fluorescent lights to be installed in the engine room so I can really see down there. These will be installed in the next day or so.
There is a very nice Publix grocery, a UPS store, a CVS, and other shops a short walk from the marina so provisioning and other shopping is no problem. West Marine is a much longer walk around the harbor to the west end so I have not been there yet. Other boaters have cars that they have offered to let us use so I may take them up on the offer or bum a ride when the stuff I’ve ordered at West Marine comes in.
We have had the heat on in the boat several nights as the cold fronts came through but most days it warms up to the high 60’s or low 70’s and is pleasant. I want to take the dinghy out to the reef and try my hand at fishing. While we were in Ft Myers, I cleaned out my tackle box and had previously gotten my rod and reel tuned up so I’m ready. Look out fish, here I come!

Posted by Dick at 09:07 AM

February 01, 2010

January 2010

Courage stayed on the hard at the Glades Boatyard until January 7th. During this time, she got her bottom painted, the ding in the propeller fixed, the boot stripe painted, the bow thruster motor repaired, new zincs installed, and the hull was cleaned up where there were scuff marks from various “hard” landings against docks, and the usual brown “mustache” at the bow from not so clean ICW water. Mark Richter came east from his house at Turkey Creek in his dinghy to help with several of these projects. I drove over to Stuart Propeller twice to drop off and pick up the hydraulic bow thruster motor which they did a great job of repairing. I could not have done this without Mark’s expert help and his tools.
After a successful re-launch, I made the short trip west to Mark and Joyce’s dock where Courage stayed until January 26th. During this time I made several trips back from Ft Myers and Mark and I worked on a variety of projects including modifications to the battery charging wiring to balance the charging load, replacement of the main bilge pump and switch, installing new a oil pressure sender and alarm, and fabrication of a replacement corner eyebrow piece at the starboard stern. This last project involved the design and construction of a jig to shape the piece by laminating 16 layers of 1/16” thick mahogany and teak with epoxy. It turned out really great and is now installed.
I flew back to NJ on January 19th for a Fresh Creek board meeting and visited with daughter Liz at her home in Bensalem, PA. Fresh Creek had a successful (read profitable) 2009 and is entering 2010 with a nice backlog of orders so it should be another growth year. It is always fun to visit with Liz a d we got several of her “peeps” projects done while I was there. I got to enjoy sitting in front of her new fireplace which is something that I cannot do on Courage!
On January 26th, Ethan and I moved Courage from Mark’s dock to Ft Myers where we got a mooring at the Ft Myers City Yacht Basin. We launched the dinghy and used it to go back and forth to the marina dinghy dock and spent several nights at Ethan and Carolyn’s house before departing on the 29th for Naples. The trip outside in the Gulf was calm and uneventful and we were at our slip at the Naples City dock by early afternoon. That evening we had long time friends Judith and John Stang aboard for cocktails and then walked to the nearby restaurant for a very nice dinner. They live in Naples out by I-75 in a beautiful development. John and I go back to 1978 at GE where he hired me to work in Strategic Planning and we became friends and have stayed in touch since then.
We moved to a Naples City Dock mooring Saturday for two days to wait for the latest front to pass through and for me to be in cell phone range for a Fresh Creek related conference call that is scheduled for 11AM today.
January was a very newsworthy month for our families. Daughter Liz has been promoted to “Director” at Hart-Hanks where she works. Rich started a new job as Northeast Regional Sales Manager for a venture capital backed California company called Intematix that is in the LED business. He will work out of his home office in Brecksville, Ohio and is very excited about this new job. Chris, Louisa and Neva will be moving to Bucharest, Romania for a one year assignment on a promotion to run his company’s office there. In addition, Ethan and Carolyn are expecting their second child in April and the renovation of Josh and Lu’s house in NJ has finally been “declared” finished.
This afternoon, the “no plan” plan is to move south and anchor at Marco Island but it is raining and a little windy so we may anchor out here in Naples another day before we continue south towards Marathon and the Keys. After all, we are retired and there is no schedule and this cruising life is supposed to be fun!

Posted by Dick at 07:51 AM