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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ortona Locks



My lovely wife and I have been staying at Ortona Locks, watching the boats lock through.



We’ve been taking it pretty easy. I’ve caught up on a few projects. Back home it was -6 with a wind chill of -24. Feels pretty good to be able to walk the dog in shorts and a T-shirt.

-Sixbears

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Without a net



Camping in the State of Florida is at a premium during the winter months. People make reservations months in advance. We tend to book about a week ahead of time. It can be tricky doing it that way, but we really don’t know exactly what we’ll want to do months in advance.

We had a secure option at the last campground, but my lovely wife was ready to move on. Some campgrounds have first come first serve sites. She gambled that the one open site at this campground would still be open when we got here. Sure enough, she was able to score three nights just by showing up.

I’ve got to give her credit. This site is nicer than the last one we stayed at.

I’ve come to a decision about an outboard motor. Unless a super deal on a good used one pops up, I’m going with a little Honda 2.3 long shaft. It’s small, but big enough to do the job. Being air cooled, I don’t have deal with flushing salt water out of water pumps. Changing impellers can be a pain and it doesn’t have one of those either. One of the big factors is that the motor only weighs 30 pounds.

Now all I have to do is find a dealer that has one.

In my travels I met a guy who describes himself as a survivalist. He lives on about 60 acres in Arkansas. The guy is in his 70s and never got a SS number. His sons don’t even have birth certificates. He was camping in a converted box trailer. The guy did a nice job. We had some interesting discussions, but I’m going to respect his privacy and leave it at that.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Things I’ve learned



Well, I set out to buy an outboard motor for the sailboat. Instead of buying a motor, I received an education.

The first thing I learned is that just because Google says a company sell outboards doesn’t mean they really do.

Another thing I learned is that there are a wide variety of small long shaft outboards available -if you are willing to wait 10 to 14 business days. Very few dealers keep much stock. If they have outboards, they tend to be the more popular short shaft ones.

Which brings me to something else that was added to my education. Motors that don’t sell get sent back to the factory. There they are tested and put back on the market. Certain dealers buy big lots of them. Then they go on sale for a marked down price, but without a warranty.

That’s how I came across a never used 2016 5 hp Evinrude with sail drive for $1100. Nice enough motor, but I’d be on my own if it had issues. Not sure the discount is worth the risk. However, it was about the only suitable motor anyone had in stock.

Decisions. Decisions.

In the short term we are going to have to find another place to camp instead of being on the water.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

After much discussion


After much discussion my lovely wife and I came to a decision. When our electric motor failed we weren’t sure what we were going to do. While I got it running again, I still hesitate to trust it.

We didn’t know if we should park the boat for the boat for the winter because didn’t have a trusty motor. In the end, we’ve decided to go outboard motor shopping. It’s most likely going to be a small gasoline engine, but I’m not totally opposed to propane either.

Not only are we looking for an outboard, we’ve decided to go with a new one. I’m really not in the mood to buy someone else’s problems right now.

The two of us had given serious thought about buying a new motor before heading south, but decided against it. The thinking was that we should give the electric motor a solid test first. If we had to buy a motor, there’s a lot more options here in Florida. Not a lot of sailboat outboards get sold during the winter in the mountains of New Hampshire.

My lovely wife and I have been talking about a lot more than outboards. That was a catalyst to discussions of greater and wider issues. There are changes going on in our lives and all around us. The warm weather and greater opportunities for outdoor exercise have done me a lot of good. I’ve needs, but so does my lovely wife. This has been a transitional year. At some point we’ve got to figure out our lifestyle for the next few years.

Even our home situation back in NH is on the table. It’s beautiful there and we love it, but none of our children and grandchildren are local anymore. Every year there seems to less reason to stay.

Maybe we’ll do something totally unexpected like move to Spain or something. You never know.

-Sixbears

Monday, January 13, 2020

Way down on the Caloosahatchee



Time to bring my good readers up to date. We’ve been busy.

One more night at the marina allowed our mail to finally catch up with us. We also got some other business done at the public library at Big Pine. While we travel with two laptop computers, we don’t have a printer. Fortunately, libraries usually have them these days.

Our take out from the marina was a mess. The electric motor ran just enough to get us in front of the channel to the bay. Then it died and the tide sucked us into the channel. I was able to paddle the boat to the side where my lovely wife grabbed the mangroves. I jumped into the channel holding onto the bowline, doing my best “African Queen” impression.

I was figuring out how to get the boat back into the marina when some nice young Mexican fishermen agreed to tow me back. The rest of the loading was uneventful. We even made it to our campground on the Caloosahatchee in time.

Currently we are staying in our tent. While I was able to do what had to be done at the channel, my muscles were sore the next day. We’ve been taking it pretty easy since.

The problem with the electric motor turned out to be a corroded wire connection. That’s been fixed. I’m thinking a test on the river here will be in order. The plan is to motor into the wind. If it dies we can then sail back. Better to test it on a narrow body of water than in the middle of the ocean.

When it first failed I was tempted to toss the motor in the dumpster. That might still happen, depending on how well the test goes. Whatever happens, we aren’t going to go out there with a motor we can’t trust.

-Sixbears

Friday, January 10, 2020

Change of Plans



We had planned on heading out of the marina today. However, some important mail still hasn’t caught up with us. For some reason Florida mail can be extra slow. I can get stuff to Canada quicker, and that’s saying something.

We will extend one more day at least. We’d hoped to avoid some windy and stormy weather, but decided to sit it out. Winds are predicted to come from out of the east and that’s our most protected direction.

On the bright side, my lovely wife was able to get her meds with 12 to 16 hours to spare. After that she starts to go into withdrawal.

We’ve met a lot of interesting people as we aren’t afraid to strike up conversations with strangers. I used to be hesitant to do that, but years of travel loosened me up. My mother used to connect with people very easily. The saying was that she never met a stranger. Everyone was a friend she just hadn’t met yet.

-Sixbears

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Two things I miss



This is our first long trip since I had to sell our ambulance/motorhome conversion. There are a couple things I really miss about it.

The first one is being able to pull over at a Walmart or truckstop and get some sleep. Last time we traveled with the ambulance we only paid for a hotel twice. The first time is when my lovely wife had food poisoning and I wanted her to have a comfortable place to recover. The second time is when I really really really wanted a hot shower. This trip we’ve already spent three nights in a hotel.

The second thing I miss is our rapid set up and tear down time. We could pick up our chairs and other gear and be on the road in ten minutes. It’s a lot slower when confronted with a tent. Not only does our tent take time to set up and tear down, we fill it with all our gear. When estimating travel times I forgot how long it could take to load up.

On the bright side, even though the Blazer gets poor fuel mileage pulling the boat, it’s cheaper to run than the van. A big plus is the working AC. After we drop the boat and trailer, it’s a lot easier to park.

Loading up should be a bit quicker in the future. My lovely wife organized the Blazer to save space. We threw away a fair bit of junk too. She also put together a good sized box of stuff to mail home. There’s been a learning curve with our current vehicle.

We are still in the process of figuring out what we want to do in the future. So far we’ve pretty much settled on the idea that we want to be mobile, be it by land, water, or some combination of the two. Settling down to one place doesn’t excite me right now. Who knows what the future might bring?

-Sixbears