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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where we learned to sail



My lovely wife and I checked out the Bayport boat landing in Florida. This is where we taught ourselves to sail not that many years ago. Today we missed our sailboat.


Our first attempt we didn't even get a chance to raise the sails. There was an awful lot of boat traffic and it kinda flipped us out. We turned back, loaded up the boat, and talked about it over a couple of beers.

The next time we had motor trouble, drifted out of the channel and ran aground -twice.

Eventually we made it to the end of the channel, raised a sail, and we were hooked.

There's a lot of happy memories for us in Bayport. I'll even include the day we ran out of fuel 1.5 miles short of the dock. Okay, at first it wasn't very good, but soon a fisherman came over and towed us in. The guy even refused money. He'd rather have the good Karma. Can't argue with that.

We made the decision to do more camping and less boating this winter, but there are times when we really missed living on the sailboat.

Next year, if all goes well, we'll be living on a boat again.

-Sixbears


Friday, February 27, 2015

No Homeland Security Funding?


So it looks like the House and Senate can't agree on how to fund Homeland Security. Anybody feel like their safety is in some sort of jeopardy because of it? I doubt it -unless they happen to work for a nonessential department.

Are there nonessential departments or is everything they do deadly serious?

This feels an awful lot like the times when the government was “shut down” because they couldn't agree on a budget. It certainly did inconvenience some folks. There was some closing down of Federal Parks to make it all look real. In the end it was business as usual once more.

Is this Homeland Security thing more smoke and mirrors like the general budget was? (or will be?)

Wasn't this stuff not supposed to happen anymore when the Republicans took control of the House and Senate? Looks like more proof that the Republicans cannot function as a block. Too many factions are unwilling to compromise. No doubt the Democrats are enjoying the show.

Now imagine if Homeland Security really did shut down. I like the idea. The best thing would be to break up Homeland Security into all its different departments. Then we could decided to fund the ones that work and defund those that are a waste and a hindrance to liberty. (could be a bad day for the TSA)

About all the average person can do is to pop some popcorn and watch the show. It's not like we've got a functioning democracy anymore.

-Sixbears


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motorboats with sticks



It's said that in foreign ports one can spot the American sailboats by the fuel jugs lining the deck. They might be on a sailboat, but they aren't comfortable unless they have enough fuel to motor the whole way. What's the sense of owning a sailboat and only rarely sailing it?

Last year my lovely wife and I stopped at a really nice marina. The owner gave us one heck of a discount. Turns out he has a soft spot for people who actually sail their boats. One of the marina staff told me how the owner was so mad when a sailing club canceled a trip to his marina. The reason they canceled? It was windy. He called them motorboats with sticks.

Now some folks are honest with themselves. The really don't want to sail and expect to motor everywhere. They get themselves a nice trawler type boat with lots of room and take good care of their engines. If you aren't going to use the wind anyway might as well be comfortable.

On the other extreme are a few hardy souls who don't even have engines on their sailboat. It's not really that radical an idea. For thousands of years there were no motors on sailboats.

I fall somewhere in the middle. My lovely wife and I will sail in very light winds. If we are moving along at 2.5 knots that's good enough. If where you really want to be is on a sailboat, exactly how fast the boat is going isn't a big issue. Focus on the journey, not the destination.

However, we do use a motor. Last year we averaged about a gallon of gas a day. Some days we motored most of the day. Other days we lifted anchor, sailed out of harbor, then dropped anchor at the end of the day, all without starting the motor. Sometimes having a motor made the difference between powering into a channel or anchoring for hours waiting for the tide to change.

When the throttle of my outboard fell apart and the parts went into the Gulf of Mexico, I wasn't worried. We had enough wind to move. My spouse suggested we turn back and buy a new motor, but I figured I had plenty of time to jury rig a throttle. Worse come to worse we could always sail into a harbor somewhere. We'd done it before. Our MacGyver fix worked for the rest of the journey.

When we got home, instead of replacing the gas engine we used an electric trolling motor. The Oday 19 only moved at 3 knots under electric power, but that was good enough. Better yet, we used it so little that our 30 watt solar panel kept the battery charged up.

So with all this in mind I'm looking at our power options for our boat. We plan on traveling the ICW down the East Coast. By all accounts parts of it are not very good for sailing, especially if one is trying to head south before it gets too cold. Do we invest in an efficient 4 stroke outboard? Another option is to add more battery power, a larger solar panel, and use the trolling motor. There are pros and cons to both.

Of course, we've sailed where most folks motor before. The section of the ICW north of Tampa called “The Narrows,” isn't supposed to be good sailing either. We've successfully sailed it twice and had a good time doing it.

No matter what auxiliary power we decided to go with, we'll make sure our sailing rig is in good condition. That's what's important on a sailboat.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

From -27 to -27



The morning that my lovely wife and I left New Hampshire it was twenty seven below zero. Yesterday I checked the weather at home and it was twenty seven below zero. That's not a lot of progress, is it?

Here in Florida it's been raining, but you don't have to shovel rain. In fact recently Florida was one of the few states that did not have snow on the ground. That's one brutal winter.

To pass the time dad and I have been doing some repair work on his trailer. It's a nice double wide, but like most trailers build three decades ago, the floors need attention. Over the years most of the floors have needed work done. Since I've been here to help him we've fixed the floor in the spare bedroom and today we did the hallway. The van is great for hauling building materials, so that's a big plus.

Rain and dense sea fog keeps us land bound. I'm getting anxious to get the little boat out on the water again. We'll be near some boat ramps when we go camping so that should work out -weather permitting.

Sometime next month we'll be heading to Texas to visit the in-laws. There's some interesting lakes in rivers in East Texas. Years ago I paddled some of them in a canoe, and it'd be great to explore them again.

After Texas our plans are pretty open. Our path home may very well be determined by the weather. We are no hurry to return to freezing temperatures.


-Sixbears

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fuel help from a friend



Ever since spring I've had issues with my van's ability to burn waste veggie fuel. Eventually the problem was narrowed down to my main veggie source changing their cooking oil. They went from a light canola to a hydrogenated soybean. Through much trial and error (and a number of fuel pumps) I've had to resort to cutting the veggie with some diesel. That seems to do the job.

Because my van was in the shop so often I didn't use nearly as much veggie as I normally would. My fuel storage racks are full and there's little room for more.

When I leave for the winter a friend of mine picks up the waste oil for me. Fortunately, he has expanded his storage space. He plans on doing a lot of trips with a diesel dump truck to build a road and expects to use a lot of veggie fuel. I'm glad he's been able to take my overflow.

That's a big load off my mind. I was afraid I'd have to write a letter to the restaurant and tell them I can't use their veggie anymore. My friend bought me time to figure something else out. My wife's car needs to be replaced. If we replace it with an old diesel we'll be able make use of the soybean oil.

There are improvements that can be made to the van to lessen the strain on the electric fuel pump. A few of my blog readers have provided some helpful suggestions. I'm sure there will be plenty to do once I get home in the spring.

It's good to have other people to rely on. Sure makes life easier.

-Sixbears

Monday, February 23, 2015

Boy Scout Badges and Corner Offices



Like many Baby Boomer boys I joined Boy Scouts when I became of age. For me it was all about doing fun things with my friends. Camping trips were my favorite. One of the many good things that boy scouts does is teach useful, practical skills.

Learning skills was fun: fire making, knot tying, swimming -and all those other skills that one could earn badges for. I was very eager to learn things that interested me, but I was terrible when it came down to earning badges for their own sake. Let's just say I never made Eagle Scout.

Some people are really motivated by those badges. I'm not criticizing them. It's just something that never worked for me. Scouts who did pursue those goals usually did quite well in life. A young man who can fulfill the Eagle Scout requirements is capable of achieving many other things. He can set goals for himself, figure out what's needed to succeed and then make it happen.

If I was going to hire someone I'd hire someone who was an Eagle Scout. He'd keep his word and get the job done. When I was on jury duty one of my fellow jurors was an Eagle Scout. We made him Jury Foreman and he rose to the challenge. It's no wonder that so many Eagle Scouts do well in the business world and end up in the corner office.

Then there are folks who are more internally driven. The only “badges” we need are the ones we award ourselves. Nobody can see those. Perks like rank, money and the corner office are poor motivators. That's not to say some of us don't achieve those things, but they are not what motivated us to succeed. When our internal compass swings to another direction, the badges of rank and status are easily left behind.

-Sixbears



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Music and seafood



My lovely wife and I went to Clearwater's Sea-Blues Festival. Great music and good food, what's not to like. Free admission didn't hurt either. The musicians that came down from the frost lands were very happy to be performing outside in sunny mid-70s weather.

I grew up with Rock and Roll. The Blues is something I grew into -had to do some living first.

We had such a good time that we are trying to see how we can fit next years festival into our schedule. Since we expect to be on a boat I'm checking out nearby anchorages and marinas.

So I'm posting late, not because something went wrong, but because we had too much fun.

-Sixbears

Saturday, February 21, 2015

More People Crazier than Me



Once in a while my lovely wife and I meet people a whole lot crazier than we are. Exhibit A: , Jennifer Gosselin and Pierre P├ępin of Wild Raven Adventure. The are currently on a 2.5 year expedition of North America by canoe. Yes, canoe. All their gear probably cost lest that what the average boater spends on their dinghy.

When we met up with them they were in a campground in Key Largo Florida. They'd just traveled there all the way from Quebec Canada. When we caught up to them there were about to do a 220+ mile trip to Key West and back -for the fun of it.

Concerned boaters once spotted them paddling in 10 foot seas and called the Coast Guard. They were fine and perfectly comfortable with the conditions. The Coast Guard took some convincing but ultimately left them alone.

Now for years I've been floating the idea of a doing “The Loop.” Basically it's a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States. The route goes through the Great Lakes, down the center of the country to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and back up the East coast. Then through various rivers, canals and lakes it connects to the Great Lakes again. There are a number of accepted routes.

Do you know what the deal breaker has always been for my wife? The Atlantic? Nope. The passage across the Gulf of Mexico? Nope. Meeting the ghosts of the Edmond Fitzgerald on the Great Lakes. Nope. What really bothered her was the segment on the lower Mississippi going down to New Orleans.

There was one unexpected benefit of my lovely wife talking to these nice Canadians. She learned that you don't have to come down the lower Mississippi river but can take the smaller rivers to Alabama instead. Now that she knows the Loop can be done on alternative waterways, she's no longer opposed to the idea. Go figure. There's just something about the lower Mississippi that bothers her.

The Loop can either be done all at once or in segments. In fact, my lovely wife and I have already done parts of it, so doing The Loop a piece at a time might be just the thing for us.

All thanks to talking to those very fine, if a little crazy, Canadians.

-Sixbears

Friday, February 20, 2015

Camper van solar electric



The last major improvement done to the van before the snow started falling last fall was the installation of a 105 watt solar electric panel on the roof. It's connected to the largest 12 volt deep discharge battery Walmart had. As I was making the final electrical connections the snow started to fall -barely got the job done in time.

We've put the system to a fair test. It allows us to camp on non-electric campsites. Our big power hog is a large 12 volt cooler. Good quality DC refrigerators are more efficient, but cost 5 to 10 times as much as the cooler. As it was, the cooler was given to me. One good thing about the cooler is that it's well insulated so we can often can turn the power off at night and it's still cold in the morning.

Besides the cooler we charge cell phones and power a 200 watt inverter. The AC from the inverter runs my c-pap device that I use for my sleep apnea. My laptop is a tiny netbook computer and the small inverter charges it up just fine.

The system has worked well enough that we've booked 5 more nights in campsites without electric power.

That's not to say there aren't a few things I'd like to improve. The cigarette lighter type 12 volt plugs are horrible. They can get loose, fall out, and are easily broken. The plan is to replace some with 2 wire trailer plugs. Unfortunately the local stores are out.

Another improvement would be installing a switch that would allow the solar electric system to charge the van starting battery or the van to charge up the solar battery. In the short term I suppose I could just carry a long set of heavy duty jumper cables. The van should have a good set on board anyway.

Right now the system is good enough, and that's what really matters..

-Sixbears

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Caribbean dreams



One of these days we hope to take a small boat to the Caribbean. The Bahamas are only a day's sail away from Florida. After that one can island hop from country to country. People do it all the time.

While it's technically possible to do it with our little Oday 19, we'd want to do it with a slightly bigger boat. The plan is to go to some remote areas. Having more room for provisions, water and fuel would make that a lot more practical -and safer.

We don't expect to do that trip next winter. Our current plan for next fall is to sail down the Intra Coastal Waterway from Virgina all the way down to Florida. In the spring we could sail back north. That way we'd spend a lot more time on the water and a lot less time driving. These days I feel safer on the water than on the road.

The ICW trip can be made with our Oday 19. A few small upgrades would make it more comfortable without spending a lot of money. Of course, it should a bigger boat come into our possession that would be fine too. Unlike a Caribbean trip, the ICW is mostly in areas where there are services available. A week's worth of supplies would be more than enough.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men . . .

Sometimes life intervenes and plans have to be canceled.

Then again, sometimes opportunity presents itself and we go off in a different direction.

Who knows, I might end up going to hang gliding school or something else equally off the wall.

-Sixbears



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Road life business



Last summer I started a process to both simplify my financial life and to be able to do my business on-line. While I can pretty much do my business electronically, it certainly hasn't gotten simpler.

Part of the problem was underestimating the glacial pace of big business and government. I should know better.

A goodly part of the morning was spent with an Internet chat with a bank. I think the problem was solved, but it will take a couple days for them to do the financial transfers.

Before my lovely wife and I left New Hampshire we started the process of getting the little boat registered. We expected to have received some information by now so we talked to our Town Clerk. She was able to check with the DMV to see what happened to our application. There was no record of it in the state system. The Clerk told us that if there was a piece of information missing the DMV would just shred the application. We paid $20 for that paperwork.

Now I've got two options. Keep using the boat the way it is and hope nobody gives us a hard time or register it in the State of Florida. Tomorrow I'll look into that process. There are times when I think my life would be simpler if I embraced my outlaw side. (Okay, embraced it more often)

Next spring I'll be able to physically go to business and government offices. There are advantages to dealing with people face to face. Mostly, I'm too big to throw out of an office.

One thing that I did before traveling was to inform my banks that my debit cards would be traveling all over the country. Believe me, they will shut your cards down at the most awkward time if you neglect that little thing. Another interesting thing is that one of my banks will not allow us to access our accounts on my wife's smart phone. Their security protocols has the phone completely locked out and there's been no fixing it.

Fortunately, I can still access the accounts from my laptop. Every time I log on from a new location they make me play 20 security questions, but at least connection is eventually possible.

Next winter things will be different . . . really!

-Sixbears


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just melt snow



My home town had a major water break. The Water Department crew worked hard to repair the break during extremely trying winter conditions.

Now some folks would think that it'd be easy to just melt snow for water. Yes, melting snow for water is possible in an emergency. Unless you've had to do it you don't realize how tough that can be.

Melting snow takes a lot of energy so you'd better have plenty of fuel to spare. It takes a lot of snow to yield a small amount of water. Of course the water content of snow varies, but it's not uncommon to start with a big pot of snow and end up with just a couple inches of water.

You might think the snow you've started with was pretty clean. Once it's melted down you might be surprised by the sticks, tree needles, snow fleas, and dirt in the melt water. Never mind the things like bacteria and dog pee that you don't see. Best bring that water to a good boil before you drink it.

Even clean snow can produce some bad tasting water. For some reason regularly stirring the melting snow seems to improve the flavor. If just left to melt on its own the water acquires a burnt taste.

I have melted snow for water, but it's a last resort. Going through the trouble of cutting a hole in a frozen pond or stream is usually a better use of one's energy.

Even if you are buried in snow, it's still a good idea to have a backup source of liquid water.

-Sixbears

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cold Front



My friends and family up north are in the middle of another dose of snow and cold. No wonder the campgrounds down here in Florida are full. My lovely wife and I are lucky we can visit my folks in Central Florida. It gives us a chance to regroup and plan our next adventures.

I'd like to think that I could survive another northern winter -if I had to. Maybe I could, but I don't think I'd enjoy it as much as I used to. When most of one's energy goes into shoveling and loading wood into the stove, there's not a lot left for play.

Cabin fever is no joke.

We met a nice couple from Massachusetts. One day they decided they had enough. After setting their thermostat to 62 then drove straight down to Florida. Only after they got here did it occur to them that their fuel oil company would be unable to refill their oil tank. Quite a few frantic calls later they were able to locate a plow company willing to open a path for the oil delivery.

When we left to head south I drained the plumbing and totally shut down the house. No doubt the temperature in the house is down into the subzero range by now. Getting the house warm enough to even think about opening the water would take days. That should not be a problem . . . as long as we don't go back home until at least the end of April.

Just wait until all that snow starts to melt. Springs floods are common, but this spring has the potential to be epic. Imagine if it's a rainy spring while the snow's melting.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm towing a boat behind the van. I might need it to get home.

-Sixbears

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Camping differences



The type of neighbors one gets while camping definitely varies by campground. In a campground with cement parking pads, electric, water and pump out facilities, there's the RV crowd. They all look pretty much alike -nice newer trailers and motor homes. Our painted up ambulance/RV conversion pulling a homebuilt boat sticks out.

In more primitive places we have a different crowd. That's where we meet people with converted short buses, off-road teardrop trailers, and raggity old tents. We stick out there too, but that's because we stick out pretty much anywhere. (maybe we could blend in at Burning Man) We are noticeable, but we fit in better.

The folks vary too. The RV crowd are mostly older, retired couples. The more primitive campgrounds have more younger people, lot's of single guys. On the weekends there there are families with young kids.

One good thing is that we've met nice folks in both sorts of places.

There are places that flat out will not allow our old van. It's too old and too non conventional. Fortunately, they are not the sort of places we'd want to stay anyway.

-Sixbears

Saturday, February 14, 2015

An example of Catabolic Collapse?



John Michael Greer talks a lot about catabolic collapse. When civilizations reach limits they can no longer keep doing what they used to to. Instead of expanding and maintaining critical services and infrastructure they are neglected. Patches and work arounds are put in place instead of doing the more extensive work that really needs to be done. This goes on in cycles. There's collapse, partial recovery, then collapse again. So on and so on. Eventually a complex society becomes a much simpler one that the reduced resource base can support.

His theory has been on my mind ever since we visited Flamingo in the Everglades. It's not what it used to be. While down there elderly folks kept telling me how wonderful it once was. There was a really nice restaurant. The marina was a full and busy. One could do things like rent houseboats to explore the wilderness.

After it was hit with a hurricane in 2005 it never recovered. The restaurant was never reopened. Instead they screened in a patio area and moved in a cook trailer. The marina had only one boat in it. The houseboats are gone. A ranger said that there were grand plans to rebuild, but the 2008 housing bubble collapse made funds unavailable. As it is they don't have the funds or manpower to properly maintain what they have left.

Catabolic collapse would first be noticed on the periphery of things. The last place it shows up is in the centers of power. When Rome was on its long downward spiral, the frontier was being overrun by barbarians, but in the capital they could pretend it was still the glory days.

So Flamingo sure looks like a place going through catabolic collapse. Then again, it also looks a lot like the normal boom and bust of many tourist areas. It could be something as simple as a change in taste and vacation travel.

Either way, that doesn't mean times have to be grim for those going through these times. The fishing is still great. The area still teems with wildlife. That little cook trailer makes some of the best pizza I've ever had in my life.

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

-Sixbears

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Back to Dad's



We finished up our little camping odyssey with a four day stay at Ortona South Campground. It's on the Caloosahatchee River section of the Okeechobee Waterway. The sites are good sized, well maintained, and reasonably priced. Ours was right on the river with a good view of the Ortona lock.

I brought our hand held marine radio. By tunning into channel 13 the chatter between the lock and the boats could be heard. That allowed us some warning that a boat would soon be coming through. My lovely wife and I almost took our sailboat down the Okeechobee last winter. Instead we decided to cross Florida Bay. Maybe next winter. At least now we know the procedure for traveling through locks.

What the campground lacked was any sort of Internet connection. It's fairly out of the way and the next nearest town, LaBelle, is a some miles down the road. It's best to arrive well provisioned. Using the campground for a base we drove all over the region checking out the surrounding towns and the waterway. Since we'd never been there before we considered this somewhat of a scouting mission.

I was able to sort out the remaining fuel issues with the van. It was reassuring to be able to drive hundreds of miles without any fuel problems. It does look like we have put that problem behind us.

My insurance company got back in touch with me about my little fender bender in Florida City again. They were very good to deal with and I think everything is in order.

The cell phone that went for a dip at the boat ramp never recovered. If put on charge the flash will flicker like a strobe light, but that's about all. I'm saving it as there's a phone expert back home who might be able to recover something from the memory.

The phone did not have cell service, but it was a good for reading books and checking e-mail where there was wifi. I finally broke down and ordered a small Kindle Fire tablet. That should allow me access to my books “in the cloud” and also provide e-mail functions. It even has a small camera. Now all I have to do is keep it out of the ocean.

Now that I've got a reliable Internet connection again I'll do my on-line business. In fact, I'm even going to write a few paper checks for snail mail delivery -like some kind of a barbarian.

I hope to help dad with a few projects around the house. Then we'll plan the next stage of our adventures.

Please bear with me as this year's Internet connections are hit or miss. Last year I paid way too much money to a phone service with a hot spot connection. I really can't justify the expense. My lovely wife's phone is a cheap Straight Talk phone and that does not allow hot spot connections. It does allow us some limited Internet capability, but updating the blog isn't one of them.

-Sixbears

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quick update from a computer with a dying battery

My lovely wife and I are making a quick stop at Panera's for breakfast and some wifi.

Our three nights in Flamingo went well. No electric sites were available so we put the solar panel/battery to the test. The 12volt cooler is a power hog, but we handled the three nights. Power went out in the park one day, so paying for an electric site would have been a waste that day.

It was windy, but that kept the bugs down. Even with small craft advisories in the Keys, we took the boat out. We kept in the more protected areas, but it was worth it. Saw a lot of sea birds, a couple of dolphins and even a small shark.

I'm not sure if there is wifi in the next park we are heading to, a place called Ortona South. We've 4 nights booked there, then probably back to my dad's.

We did have a small incident in Florida City. Apparently I cut a guy off and he clipped my trailer. We never even felt it. My home built boat trailer suffered scuffed paint and a broken taillight. The poor guys right front quarter was destroyed. My insurance isn't going to love me. No one was hurt, so in the big scheme of things it's all stuff.

The boat didn't even move at all on the trailer.

Gotta post before this computer shuts down.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sometimes it's about what you're not doing



I'm not shoveling, freezing, or coughing my lungs out. That's a good thing. Before we left to head south I was so sick that it was all I could do to pack the van. Often when I got behind the wheel I'd have to wait for my coughing to settle down before I could drive. After a week in the warmth I felt a whole lot better.

There's a fair chance that I won't have any Internet connection the next few days. If I'm not posting it's probably just because we are out in the boonies.

The campground here has respectable wifi, but only in a very limited area. It took from Friday until Tuesday morning to get my financial stuff squared away. My banking is not as easy as I'd like, but I've discovered suitable work arounds. The thing I'm not doing is staying home so I can do business in person.

Looks like my phone with my pictures won't be coming back to life. It's bad enough when they get wet, but when it's salt water one must pretty much give up hope. I found my old camera but I don't have the right USB cord for it. The frustration thing is that I've got about 6 of those back home. I don't think I'm going to buy a 7th -not for an old low resolution camera.

Come to think of it, there are a heck of a lot of things I'm not doing -like climbing a corporate ladder somewhere. A lot of “doing” is overrated. Hitler was into doing things too.

-Sixbears

Monday, February 2, 2015

There go the photos



My lovely wife and I took the boat out but there won't be any photos from that trip. I took plenty of them, but my old cell phone took a dip in the water. At the end of our trip I was loading the boat on the trailer and slipped and fell. The boat ramps in Florida get a bit slick from algae growth. I was careful to not let the back tires of the van hit the slime. However, I made the mistake of diverting my attention while pulling the boat up on the trailer and stepped on a slick spot. Then I went for a ride down the ramp on my knees. Skun them up a bit, but I'm fine. The cell phone, however, did not survive.

It was an old cell phone without a service contract, but I used the camera feature and Kindle reader all the time. Right now it's buried in a cup full of rice on the long shot that the rice will absorb the moisture out of the phone.

The launch went well and I rowed the boat through the canoe trail in the mangroves until we got to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. After poking around a bit we decided to quietly tie the boat to a dock and check out the park. The dog was ready for a walk and we hit the concession stand for a light lunch.

While it was tied up we tried to see how sleeping on the boat would be with the two of us. From our land tests we knew we'd fit, but hadn't tried it on the water. My lovely wife didn't like the motion of the boat with the two of us in the cabin. So much for my idea of some cheap marina time. Better to find out before we rent a slip.

After that we put the electric motor on and zipped around the mangrove islands. The park has a small mooring field, but there was only one boat in it. I took a lot of photos of the beaches and boats, and wish I'd not lost them.

We had a mishap while going under a bridge. The tidal current was moving us along but then a strong gust of wind turned us sideways and we smashed into a bridge timber, knocking chips off both the bridge and the boat. Damage to the boat was pretty light considering how hard we hit the timber. I had a little epoxy and now all it needs is bit of paint. No structural damage was done, so that's a good thing.

Since the marina plan was a bust I decided to pay for a couple more nights in The Key Largo Kampground. We are lucky they had a few openings left and we don't even have to move sites. Next Sunday we have 4 nights books in a Federal campground upstate a bit. Federal camping is really cheap for us, half price, as my lovely wife got her All Access Pass this year.

Price wise, private campgrounds tend to be the most expensive, followed by state, federal, then the occasional free night in a Walmart.

I've never seen the Keys this booked up. Usually there are enough last minute cancellations that it's possible to get into parks further down the Keys. Not this year. Such is life.

Going through my gear I found an old digital camera, so maybe there's be some photos soon.

I'm 'in shorts in February, so all things considered things are going pretty well.

-Sixbears

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Crazy boat option



My lovely wife and I have a couple more days in the campground in Key Largo. After that, who knows? The Keys are booked solid. In fact, the site next to us was double booked. However, I keep checking for last minute cancellations. Last year we put together a week of camping in the Keys that way, but it's tighter this year. Maybe it's the low price of gas or the snow up north, or both.

We do have one crazy option. We could go stay in a marina in the 12 foot boat. Today my lovely wife and I tried to see if we could both fit in the cabin. We totally can, and it's not too bad. She laid down some 2'X2' foam floor pads and it's pretty comfortable. If we put our self inflating camping pad on that it would be really comfy. Considering marinas charge by the foot, it might be worth it.

Flamingo has openings, but that's because the mosquitoes at night are down right evil. It's not bad during the day, but as soon as the sun comes down, you can hear the buzzing. They come in needle first like darts. However, we just fitted a no-see-um netting in the back of the van. With a fan going it's very pleasant. I like Flaiming more than my lovely wife does, so we'll see what happens.

There are other options a bit further upstate, so we'll find something.


-Sixbears