Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zodiac Repair Part 1

Our Zodiac is really four years old although we have only had it in service for two years. But it has been two years of tropical sun, so right on schedule, the adhesive is failing. For two months now we have been babying it along, but lately we were even afraid to leave the outboard on it. Something HAD to be done.
We did some research and found that it could be disassembled and reglued, so we bought the two PolyMarine adhesives at West Marine and decided it was now or, or, or buy a new dinghy!

First we tried using a hair dryer to undo the remaining seams, but our inverter wasn't happy about that, so we used a propane torch and kept it far from the surface. You don't want to melt anything, just heat it enough to make the glue let loose.
Then, using this sand empregnated nylon brush, we tried to remove the old glue. It sort of worked, but in the end we also used scrapers, acetone, Scotch Brite pads, and lots of elbow grease. This was the hardest and most time consuming part of the project, but all the old glue must be removed, and the surface abraded, to ensure a good bond. This took us all day.
You can see the shiny glue still on the upper part of this rubber piece. The bottom part is dull and has had all the glue removed and been abraded with a Scotch Brite pad.

This morning we started putting the Zodiac back together. First we "primed" the wood transom and the rubber brackets that hold it onto the pontoons with the Hypalon adhesive. PolyMarine says that the PVC adhesive won't stick to the wood or rubber, so you need to prime it with the Hypalon adhesive first.

First you mix it 25:1, then brush on a coat, wait 30 minutes, and brush on a second coat. Then you mix the PVC adhesive 25:1, brush on a coat, wait 30 minutes, and brush on a second coat.

Now comes the tricky part. These are contact adhesives meaning that they STICK to each other on contact. There is no way to move the parts once they've touched. To keep the flaps from touching while we aligned the bracket, we cut little pieces of BBQ skewers and taped them into position on both sides where the flaps would go.
Then we slid the top edge (on the right in the photo below) into position and proceeded to push the bracket against the edge of the transom. Pressure is key with contact cements, so we also hammered it to position. Because the glue is dry when you assemble your project, we easily removed the skewers and pressed the flaps down, repeating the hammering.
Once we had the flaps pressed down, we drilled extra holes and installed more bolts to hold it all together. Not only will these help to keep everything together, but they hold pressure on the glue while it cures. The glue is dry in 48 hours, but takes a week to fully cure.

So now we have done the first step and hope to finish up tomorrow. And yes, Angie Wilson, we did use the Corona Extra. It held up the transom while the glue dried.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

There's A Hole In The Bucket, Dear Henry, Dear Henry

Our latest problems remind me of that well known children's song.

With our generator taken apart we can't run our refrigeration so we need to go into the dock at least every other day for ice. Normally we use the dinghy, but our floppy old dinghy is just getting worse and worse and we really need to take it apart and glue it back together. However, if we take the dinghy apart, we can't go get ice or the head for the generator which is at the machine shop. But if we had the generator head, the generator would run, and we wouldn't need ice.

See what I mean?

Instead of going around in circles like Liza and Henry though, we noodled out this solution:

First we picked up the head (from the hack who broke the exhaust manifold trying to pry it off of the head) and took it to a different machine shop. Ten miles on bicycles in the blazing Florida sun.

Then we paddled back to the boat (we were afraid to trust the transom to support the outboard motor any longer) and heated up the glue joints with the torch, and pulled it all apart.
Next we cleaned all the old adhesive off in preparation for the re-gluing which we hope to start tomorrow.

And finally, the marina allows the mooring ball boats to come alongside the fuel dock now and then for a few hours, so that's how we'll get ice and run necessary chores while our dinghy is healing.

Thank goodness we don't have to keep singing that annoying song.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Generator Woes

Now that we are settled here in Stuart for a while we are re-tackling the generator issue. It hasn't run since March 9th when we closed the boat up and went home to California for two months. When we got back to the boat we tried and tried to start it, but never succeeded.

We knew there was a leak at the injection pump, so we had it rebuilt there in Puerto Rico, but it still wouldn't start. The Captain did a few tests and discovered we had no compression, so we set that project aside and started cruising like we did back in the 80s.

You've probably heard about this kind of cruising. It's not quite as bad as the Pequod; but we have no water maker and no refrigeration, so we buy ice all the time, and conserve water like crazy.

Today the Captain removed the head and we could see why we have no compression: the valves are full of carbon (from the bad injection pump) and corrosion (from the marine invironment). Probably if we'd been using it regularly, this wouldn't have happened so suddenly, but it would have happened eventually, so no big.

Using the marina-provided bicycles, we pedaled our way to a machine shop this afternoon and dropped the head off for repair. Hopefully, this will fix the problem and we'll be generating 110 again soon. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Settled in Stuart, Florida

Because of construction of the new bridge, the Flagler Bridge near West Palm Beach has limited opening times. The first is at 7:15 am, then because of vehicle traffic, they skip the 8:15, but at 9:15 they resume the hourly schedule. Except in the afternoons when they skip the 4:15. I think. Whatever. Anyway we started out early yesterday to make the Flagler 7:15 opening.

We made the opening with no problem, but it was a little unnerving creeping past the huge construction barges and cranes, and under the single leaf (35' wide) opening. I have attached an aerial view of the bridge conditions at the bottom of this post.

Our plan was to make the quick trip up to the Fort Worth Inlet, check the conditions, and most likely go outside for our run to St. Lucie. Things looked good when we got to Peanut Island, so we went out and although we would have liked a bit more wind, we had a nice ride up to the St. Lucie Inlet.

The tide was against us as we entered the inlet, but once we got inside, the current lessened a bit and we had a pleasant sail up to Stuart and the Sunset Bay Marina. We arrived at our assigned buoy about 3:30, and by 4:00, we had the boat tidied up and the dinghy launched.
After checking in at the marina office and getting a tour of the facilities, we bought some ice and headed back to the boat. We promptly had some cold drinks and took naps because we're old, you know, and it was a long day.

Here is a map showing our route on Tuesday (Boca Raton to West Palm Beach) and Wednesday (West Palm Beach to Stuart).

Conditions at the Flagler Bridge. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

West Palm Beach

After another good run up the ICW Tuesday with Epilogue, we arrived in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is a fancy residential area on the barrier island between the ICW and the ocean, but West Palm Beach is the lovely town across the ICW that we visited in the afternoon.
Don and Linda guided us around the city since they had been here previously. We had a great time walking through the downtown area with its trolleys, bike racks, sidewalk restaurants, and tasteful landscaping. It reminded us a little of the area in Oakland where one of our daughters lives.
We all got take away from a Lebanese deli and went out to our boat for dinner. After dinner more new friends, Earle and Helen, came by and we all got better acquainted. That's one of my favorite things about cruising; meeting all these interesting people and sharing stories. Of course we had no trouble getting along because we're cruisers and cruisers form friendships quickly.

And you'd be surprised at how similar this group of people is. We share not only a love of boating, but a love of adventure and travel, and a curiosity about our world, and a genuine interest in our fellow man. Most of the cruisers we've met will help you in any way they can, from advice and directions, to sharing a meal, to helping repair some piece of equipment.

On this merry-go-round of life, we feel blessed to be sharing these sailing adventures with such great people.

Another Good Run Up The ICW

We had another good run up the ICW today. Since we don't have a waterway guide, I make my own bridge list before we leave every morning. First I get the bridge names off the chartplotter, then I Google them for opening times. ( is just one site that has this kind of information.) I then add their opening times, mile marker, and distance between each other.

I keep my list and my handheld radio (set to channel 09) in the cockpit as we motor along. We call the bridges about 3/4 of a mile out. Sometimes we have to wait a bit, but it's no problem because we have plenty of fancy houses to gawk at.

And today we passed by this trailer park right on the ICW and thought of Ed. Here's your retirement place in the sun, brother. You can keep your fishing boat right out back too.

Our favorite bridge today was the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Boynton Beach. It had lots of fishy artwork that was painted turquoise.

We are anchored for the night near the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. This 55-room Beaux Arts beauty is also called by its original name, Whitehall, and was built by Henry Flagler in 1902.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Baby Steps Up The ICW

After barely dipping our toes into the ICW Sunday night, we spent the night near Las Olas Bridge and enjoyed this pretty sunset.
This morning we got an early start and went through Las Olas Bridge at 6:45 am. For the next four hours and sixteen miles we worked our way from bridge to bridge, sometimes timing it just right, and sometimes having to wait a while. Our stop for ice and beer, while very quick, may have delayed us a bit.

These bridges all have posted opening times and the routine is to call them about ten minutes out advising them of your name, direction of travel, and your chosen opening time transit. Some bridges open on the hour and the half hour, and some open at one quarter after the hour and three quarters after the hour. But they don't open at all unless you call them.

The bridge tenders reminded me of The Great and Terrible Oz; a booming voice granting us permission to exist. The first one said, "Hurry up," and the next to the last one said, "Slow down," even though we were in the same position both times. Oh well, we're learning.
Along the way we passed mansion after mansion, many of them way bigger than this one, but all very nice.
We also passed high rise condos like these...
and lots of these mega-condos. The economy is obviously doing well in this part of Florida.
By noon we were anchored in Boca Raton Lake. We figured sixteen miles was enough for our first foray up the ICW and the beer was certainly cold enough.
Well probably stay here two days depending on weather, then continue up the ICW to Stuart.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Goodbye Miami, Hello Ft. Lauderdale

Today was another perfect example of how cruisers have to be flexible and ready to change their plans at the last minute.

We had planned to go from Dinner Key mooring field to Sunset Bay Yacht Club to meet some friends. We left about 9:30 and motored under the first bridge okay, but when we got to the Dodge Island Railway Bridge, which is normally open, it was closed.

We motored around in circles for a while, had a nice chat with a Boat Tow US driver about cruising and foreign ports, and motored around some more. Numerous calls on Channel 9 went unanswered.

After about 45 minutes we gave up on the bridge ever opening and decided to head to Ft. Lauderdale instead.

Other sailors might not have done that, but as we made our way out Government Cut, I could feel my shoulders loosening and a calmness coming over me. I always feel better out in deep water and we made good time on the Gulf Stream.

We had no trouble getting into Ft. Lauderdale and although anchorages aren't always easy to find, we found a spot and are anchored for the night. Tomorrow begins our adventure on the ICW. Unless, of course, we change our plans again.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Living It Up At The Hotel California

When we first arrived at the dinghy dock here at Dinner Key Marina, another cruiser said, "Welcome to the Hotel California." He went on to explain that Coconut Grove was so easy and pleasant that "You can never leave."
Our story is a little different.
We have found it hard to get comfortable here.
First of all, every mooring field we called said they didn't accept boats over 40'. (We are 44' long.) When we asked about a slip, they quoted rates up around $3.00 per foot, which would be $132.00 per night. We can't afford that!
But when looked at those same mooring fields that said they didn't take boats over 40', we saw all kinds of large boats on the buoys. We finally got a buoy at Dinner Key mooring field after they said "No" twice. There is an issue with "swing room" for boats over 40', but they put us way out, all by ourselves, so its all good now. It's a long dinghy ride in, but that's okay.
Secondly, the weather sucks. There are thunderstorms rolling through at random times in the afternoons and evenings. I'm sure most people just shrug it off but we've been struck by lightning, and it was terribly expensive to repair the damage, so we hate thunderstorms.
Thirdly, boat insurance rates are higher here in Florida. You think it might have something to do with the thunderstorms?
And lastly, everyone is in such a hurry, there are so many rules and regulations, the VHF radio is full of chatter and weather alerts and occasionally vulgar language directed at others boaters! It's all overwhelming at times and the nasty language makes us want to get out of here right away. What is wrong with people?
Now that we're on a buoy, the GOOD part is, we are in the charming little town of Coconut Grove with its cute shops and nice restaurants. There is a free shuttle bus that goes nearly everywhere we want to go. A short walk through a shady park takes us to a nice grocery store. The marina has ice and a large laundry room with fast, cheap commercial machines. (We did all our laundry this morning for only $4.50.) The other live aboards/cruisers are friendly and helpful. Maybe it's not so bad after all.
That cruiser at the dinghy dock might have been right about this being like the Hotel California, but he should have quoted this lyric: "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Next Stop Florida

Another early morning departure to time our arrival in Florida for daylight hours. We should arrive Wednesday afternoon.

Here is our approximate route.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Atlantis Paradise Island

Our wonderfully kind buddy boat, Madhatter, got us wristbands for Atlantis Paradise Island Adventure Park, so today we spent the better part of our day there. It was dreadfully hot, but we had a great time anyway.

Atlantis Paradise Island is sort of like a combination of Disneyland and Marine World with a touch of Las Vegas. Everything is grand, imaginative, and perfectly groomed. There are hundreds of hotel rooms, dozens of pools, exciting water rides, fabulous aquariums, and a casino.

Based on the lost continent of Atlantis, there are water features and ocean elements everywhere. The artwork and attention to detail is amazing. We spent a great deal of time just walking through the hotels, casino, and grounds gawking at the beauty of it all.

This bridge supposedly contains the most expensive hotel suite in the entire world and was often used by Michael Jackson.

Our favorite attraction was the Dig, the aquarium that winds around beneath the water park right next to the hotel. The walkways are decorated with murals and vignettes of (supposed) relics from Atlantis.

Opposite the relics are windows into the aquarium which is filled with Caribbean Sea life, much of which we recognized from our snorkeling adventures here.