Took a time out to enjoy the boating life…

basin
We arrived out to the boat on Friday morning. We brought the kayak along, since we would also test out this elusive new kayak cart Brian bought from Amazon. The verdict is still out on this one, as it is not the easiest thing to install (and the way our gate to our dock swings open, it is a PITA, as there are many obstructions to navigate.) After loading up the boat, we took the kayak out for an afternoon trip up Salt Creek, and around USFSP. Brian pointed out that in the USFSP basin (which is also the Harborage Yacht Club area), there was an anchorage. Be advised, boaters- no longer can you anchor here due to a floating buoy which states, “No anchoring. Area Under Construction.” Since I saw no construction whatsoever, it is rather suspect… Anyhoo, it was uneventful yet fun trip (other kayakers seem envious of the pedal drives as we power past them), and we arrived back to the yacht to greet other boat neighbors (there are quite a few new faces on Dock 3) as they commented, “This is the life, isn’t it?” Indeed. The ice maker was full, so it was time to commence cocktail hour.

DCIM101GOPRO

Our boat neighbor, John had returned and when he saw me, started groveling, “I am a dock-line stealing scoundrel…” You see, when we were supposed to launch in December, we had left really expensive dock lines on the dock (and they are pretty unique) and we unable to launch due to bad weather from Salt Creek. A few days later, we returned to the dock to find our dock lines were gone. Dafuq? Asking around and searching dock to dock left us with no prevail- they were gone. This is a jacked up thing, and I am pretty sure we regaled our story to John, who commented, “That is messed up.” So imagine my horror last weekend to arrive on the boat, mix up a cocktail, look at our neighbor’s boat, and say, “Hey, Brian, I found our missing dock lines.” Initially, Brian did not believe me, “Noooo….” “Seriously, they are ours- complete with sweet website on the tag. I bet if you measure them, they match ours…” And they were. Now, word gets around pretty quickly in a marina. Dave, a Dock 3 resident, greeted John when he returned with, “Oh man, Chris, your boat neighbor, is hot- she said you have her dock lines…Scoundrel!” John did try to give me a sad story, “But, when the previous tenant left, they took my bow line, so I thought they left me these dock lines…” Nonetheless, the lines are back. “I am a scoundrel…” he kept stating as he passed our boat. I think his punishment enough is now having the reputation as a dock-line thief and having to go to Korea for a year.

Saturday- after a sleepless night in the V-Berth sweating (it is pretty hot here for May) while wearing earplugs (fans are loud- even faced on you, it was like an oven), we came to the conclusion that we really are going to need air conditioning in order to survive Summer. We spent the morning on the kayak, going up through north St. Pete. When we got out of the bay, which was choppy, we were greeted by a Police boat. The gentleman looked concerned for us until he drew closer. “Where are you heading?” “Just out in the bay for a bit.” “I am just making sure you are okay. I see you have PFDs, so that is good. Do you have a radio?” “Yes, sir, we have a VHF radio.” “Well, you’re better equipped than most. Don’t go too far. There are a lot of drunk people out on the bay already.” (It was 10 AM- how are people already drunk at 10AM? And all we had to do was listen to the traffic on CH 16, and we knew they were. Who does this?) It was relatively uneventful- the water was choppy, but hot damn, the sail drive pedal propulsion does indeed rock. After seeing some dolphins and trying to capture them on camera, we gave up and made it back to the boat. By then, it was noon. Time flies so fast on the water. We took showers and headed to Saturday Market.

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I was starving by then. Brian, based on last weekend’s most delicious trip, just wanted a tamale, but we had to see the St. Pete Taco Lady to see if she lived up to the hype. “Don’t worry- you will get a tamale after Taco Lady…” Lies. The tamale stand had a forlorn sign that stated, “Sold Out” in front of the empty vats that had a few hours prior contained tamale deliciousness… Nonetheless, they did still have horchata, so that was a plus. St. Pete Taco Lady’s wares were pretty good, and we enjoyed them, but damn, it was not a tamale. Nonetheless. I did not see any cheese curds at Stamper’s Cheese, but Brian spotted them on the way out. The dude sadly informed us that would be his last weekend at the market, and I may have wailed, “NOOOO!!!! WHY?!?” And threw a tantrum at market. Yeah yeah, I can still order them and go pick them up at WineSmith- this is too much effort.

When we got back to the boat at almost 2, the clouds were building. It was too choppy for a good sail, and hot- 95+ degrees. Brian, “Do you want to go home?” Well, I really thought the weather would pass, but after melting again at Saturday Market (and commenting to Brian at Saturday Market- “Why did we even bother to shower today?”) said, “Yeah, maybe it is time to go home, despite the fact the forecasters say it won’t hit the boat.” More lies because as soon as we got home, a huge storm popped up in the bay, and the boat got some nasty weather. Ironically, as we were driving home, Brian (having taken 1 semester of Meterology) was telling me about the clouds, energy, and why it was going to rain… Our weather people major in this, and still cannot get it right, Plus, air conditioning is nice. I am not going to lie- I enjoy having a house to escape to in crappy weather, with air conditioning.

Happy sails, Chris

Kayaking out to Ft. Desoto across the grass flats

Kayaking out to Ft. Desoto across the grass flats

Spent the day kayaking out to Ft. Desoto and around the Skyway bridge.  The weather has been iffy with the prevailing winds from the east and the sea breezes pushing in from the west, so we almost managed to stay within an hour of our launch point.  The water was very warm, over 80, and the sea grass seems to have made a comeback in the flats of Tampa Bay.  Supposedly this is an indicator that the bay is becoming a more healthy place for the little animals that come into the bay in the winter time to spawn.

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DCIM133GOPRO

Took a time out to enjoy the boating life… Staying at dock

sunset

The day started out cloudless, but we knew better since were in central Florida and in the  beginning of a summer time weather pattern.  We decided to stat at dock instead of racing in after an afternoon a sailing trying to outrun the storms.  It was windy and hot, but a few very cold boat drinks whipped up by Cap’n Chris made it all better.  After checking the weather the next morning, we decided to go kayaking for a few hours and head home.  Glad we did, it ended up getting pretty nasty the next night.

RumChrisgordon

 

Ohh’ no… “The shitters full!” Another awesome sail and picking up an overnight mooring in Vinoy Basin

Ohh’ no… “The shitters full!” Another awesome sail and picking up an overnight mooring in Vinoy Basin

Sailing after a quick pump out. There was no wind to be found… anywhere, then all of a sudden had 12-15kts with all the sheets out. It was an awesome sail up to 7kts for about an hour after that, then the winds started to die back down. Ended up dropping the sail and motoring back in and grabbing a mooring in the St. Pete. North (Vinoy) basin and having an awesome calm anchor for the night. Insert boat drinks! All was great until the, I won’t mention the name, boat moored next to us decided to do a stealth pumpout at midnight. The smell was so bad it woke me up. Poor aminals!

Serenity Gets Outfitted With Shiny New Running Rigging (Warning: Not a DIY Job!)

Serenity Gets Outfitted With Shiny New Running Rigging (Warning: Not a DIY Job!)

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Mast with the port side shrouds removed

Hunter 33.5 rigging data sheet provided by SSMR.

The boat is laid up in the “well” at Elite Marine at Salt Creek.  SSMR (http://ssmriggers.com) is doing a complete rigging remove and replace job for use. These folks really seem to know what their doing, so we’re leaving the hardware choices up to them and their experience. There were a few issues with the bad design of the stays that took more time than first thought.  Also we learned that our roller fuller genoa was installed improperly over a turnbuckle.  We have also commissioned a pair of custom half inch stainless plates to fabricated by the Embree Marine Welding shop for the genoa roller furler to replace the turnbuckle setup

SSMR Sailboat rigging outfit on Salt Creek just S. of St. Petersburg, FL.

SSMR Sailboat rigging outfit on Salt Creek just S. of St. Petersburg, FL.

SSMR Sailboat Rigging, St. Petersburg, FL (Salt Creek)

SSMR Sailboat Rigging, St. Petersburg, FL (Salt Creek)

Cruising Around St. Pete in a Hobie Outfitter Mirage Tandem Kayak

Cruising Around St. Pete in a Hobie Outfitter Mirage Tandem Kayak

DCIM101GOPROI’ve had a love/hate relationship with this beast since I’ve owned it. We bought it at the Tackle Shack in St. Pete in 2008-ish for an obscene amount of money. Why? Well, I wanted a kayak. And this was after the never-ending “dinghy-gate”- the search for the perfect dinghy for Wu-Wei. (Some will remember we’ve owned a fleet of dinks at one point. Most were disasters. And while Serenity came with a legit one, it required inflating, and this beast was already in my garage.) Cons: It is heavy, and approximately13′ long. Pros: It is a tandem kayak, built-in drink holders, drag being a sailboat is minimal and has the sweet pedal drives. When you have T-Rex arms like I do, you do not want to be wasting your time paddling with your arms. It got a lot of bit beat-up while in long-term storage when we were in Japan (we did not realize it until we went to finally use it. This required some G-Flex repairs.) Anyhoo, the beast is long, and Brian’s truck bed is not- he bought a kayak holder thingie that hooks up to the truck hitch. Sweet! It worked great! We lugged it out to the boat, and discovered the Sail Drive pedal thingie straps were dry-rotted- DAFUQDCIM101GOPRO? Okay, we will take her for a T-Rex-hating oar trip. Yeah, cool, but no- my gun show was like, “No bueno. Get the stupid parts tomorrow. We are not fans of having to use us.” The replacement straps are $12 a pop at Tackle Shack- which is not bad. I also got a spare set, and a few odds and ends. Unfortunately, where the sail goes into the kayak had also cracked, and this proved to be a PITA when we had a good sail going on it. (Seriously, how many kayaks have an optional sail kit?)  No matter- I can eventually fix this- ditched the sail on the boat, and went out. We peddled out and everywhere people stopped to wave from their boats. Apparently, there are not many of us who pay for this option of T-Rex arms-free awesomeness. We passed other kayakers, who seemed quite jealous at our foot propulsion. “Suckers! You with real arms! Have fun using them!” Seriously, this thing is fast, and easy to maneuver. After arriving back at dock at sunset, and rinsing out the sail drives with fresh water, I remarked, “Damn, this thing IS a beast. An expensive beast. But I love it!”

When Your Main Gets Stuck, I Mean REALLY, REALLY Stuck!

main stuck

Stuck 3/4 the way up due to a spit sheave at the masthead.

Stardate: 30 Apr 15. It seemed like a fine day to head to the infamous Pine Key (aka. Beer Can Island) for our first night of anchoring out on the Serenity. Initially, the weather forecasters predicted a day of no wind, but the wind, indeed, did pick up, so we decided to hoist the main. 3/4 of the way up the mast, the sail was no longer going up- it fought us. There was much cursing, as this is the point that always becomes a PITA- it this because the mast is raked? I hang on the main, trying to bring it down- there is only so much 135 pounds can do in this situation. Brian finally assists and it is down. Thinking it was one of the cars sticking, he lubes them with white lithium and here is try #2. And… stuck. Again, at the same point. By now the wind is really picking up, and guess what? We can’t get it down, and have no idea what to even do. We tried everything- to include hooking reef points to the boom vang. We are so screwed. Three sail slugs are now broken. There is a lot of profane language. Finally, we are able to somewhat secure the main to the mast (the battens posed a total b**** in this process) and called SSMR. “Um hello, what time do you close?” “All of our people have departed for the day…” WTF?!? It was 3PM on a Monday! I want this work schedule! Since anchoring out in our current state would be a bad choice (due to the battens, we still had a slight mainsail shape), so figured our best bet was to limp back to dock and lick our wounds. As we arrived back, the winds had calmed and backing in to the slip was eerily easy. Of course, it was a matter of 5 minutes before our boat neighbors came by to stare and ask questions. “Do you have in-mast furling?” I finally just smiled and replied to each “looky-loo”- “We are designing a new sail shape called, ‘My sail won’t go up or down.'” “Well, I ain’t never for the life of me seen anything like this!” one neighbor remarked. Of course, everyone wanted to offer their own advice, and seemed horrified we’d pay someone to fix it. Sometimes, it is better to just trust the professionals…. And those are not the marina neighbors.

31 Apr 2015: We awoke early and headed to SSMR. I called them to let them know we’d be arriving when they opened. “We will be on the dock awaiting your arrival.” Indeed they were- they waved us in, and I sarcastically asked, “How did you know it was us? Hahaha…” (It was pretty obvious with our sail whipped to the mast….) They said this sort of thing happens quite more often than naught. Anyhoo, as we suspected, it was the sheave on top of the mast, which had split and locked the line in. These guys were total pros, spent a good hour beating it out- and gave us way more insight into the Hunters than we even knew- “Oh, BTW- your mast rake is perfect, and here is why…” They took Brian next door to get our sail fixed while we waited- the sail fix? $10. We also had the install the new windex and Raymarine wireless anemometer after they replaced the block. Total bill: $152. We thought we’d pay far more. While the rigging (which we suspect is original) does not need to be replaced, but was recommended, could last us another year, we got a quote ($2300), which is actually reasonable, includes a roller furling upgrade and will be doing this this coming Wednesday. These guys have been in the business for a pretty long time, and really know/love sailboats (the guys who work there ARE sailors.) What really sold me on them, though, is their dog. This puppy was a total sweetheart who really hates powerboats (no, really- all you have to say is “powerboat” and he will go crazy trying to find it and bark at it. Such a good puppy!) At the end of the day, I believe everything happens for a reason, and indeed, we were lucky. Had this happened on a windy day or if we were on a long passage, we would have been screwed. I feel this way, too, about having the halyards replaced- we were here for a reason, and I’d rather pay a few boat bucks now in prevention versus a demasting later on from a cracked shackle.