Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bitcoins, Gold and Barter

Bitcoins have been in the news a lot lately. Their big attraction is that they are a currency free from government sponsorship. It's a peer to peer currency. There are other advantages, like the ability to easily cross borders. However, the big draw is the fact that they free from government or big bank intervention.

Then I got to thinking. Haven't we seen this before? Gold is not dependent on any government. People don't really care if gold has a Canadian maple leaf stamped on it, or is a Krugerrand issued by South Africa, or is a gold bar. Gold is gold is gold.

Bitcoins and gold also have something else in common. There's isn't enough of either of them to run a global economy. Gold and Bitcoins are both too scarce a medium of exchange for day to day economic activity.

Silver is a bit better in that respect as there's more of it and it's not as costly. The average Joe is more likely to get his hands on some. When the Argentinian economy crashed, a lot of commerce was done in old silver coins. Government money had failed so people had to use something else. There was exchange done in gold, but not nearly as much as was done in silver. Of course, back then, American dollars were stilled looked upon as something that held value, so that helped.

The Argentinian economy was pretty much an isolated case. The rest of the world was chugging along. What happens in a total International financial system crash? For that I'm going back all the way to the fall of the Roman Empire. There were other global financial system crashes since then, but nothing total. The framework was still in place. When the British pound failed, but the American dollar filled the gap.

The collapse of the Roman Empire was different. International trade itself collapsed. Everything got very local very fast. Nobody had any money. Economic activity was conducted by exchanges of goods and labor. Relationships were the glue that held society together.

Of course, I'm not qualified or licensed to give financial advice. As for me, I wouldn't mind having a good stash of any of these currency instruments. However, being a bit of a barbarian, they'd soon been turned into durable goods, land, or other things that are real to me. That's pretty much what I've done with the few dollars that have crossed my palm.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Now what?

My lovely wife and I have to figure out the next part of our sailing adventures. When she broke a tooth we ended up right back where started at my dad's. It did give us the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with dad, so that's good. My kids and grandkids spent the holiday together up north and we talked with them on Skype. Heartstrings got pulled. We do miss them.

The question for my lovely wife and I is: now what? When to get back on the water? Where do we put the boat in? Do we skip down the coast and continue where we left off? Maybe we should just head right down to the Keys for a couple weeks. Christmas will be at my dad's so we only have a few weeks before we take another break.

It will be at least a week before we head out. There's business to take care of. The trailer needs new lights as I'm sick of continually repairing the old ones. Even the bottom of the boat needs some scrapping and new bottom paint. (not that big a deal with a small boat on a trailer) I must admit to having gotten a bit casual about bottom paint.

Then there's the condition of the sailing budget to consider. My lovely wife and I will have to go over the numbers and see what we want to do next. One of the attractions of our southern visit this years was being able to avoid the expense of winter in the North Country. Even with the unexpected dentist bills, we've paid down some debt, so that's good. Winter is just plain harsh.

Of course, most years we don't even head south until after Christmas. The 3.5 weeks of sailing this fall was a real bonus. We don't have to be back north until the end of April, so we've plenty of time for more adventures.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I like the holiday. What's not to like about getting together with family and friends and enjoying a good meal.

Mostly though, I like the idea of taking time out of our busy lives to be thankful. We don't pause to count our blessings often enough. People focus on what they lack instead of what they have. As for me, the most important things in my life are not things at all. They are family, friends, relationships, and the love in my life.

The pause for thanks is short lived. Black Friday has encroached right into Thursday. The meal isn't even cleared off the table and people are running out to go shopping. So much for being thankful for what we already have.

The commercial world must be pretty disappointed with the Thanksgiving holiday. We buy a turkey, maybe some yams and a pumpkin pie and that's about it. There's not a lot of room for spending growth.

Christmas, on the other hand, is a different story. There are no spending limits. No wonder every effort is made to extend the shopping season. Retailers wring their hands in despair when the Thanksgiving holiday falls later in the month. Black Friday comes later, potentially reducing peak shopping days. It's no wonder that Christmas shopping ads began to appear right after Halloween.

It probably won't come to anyone's surprise that I won't be doing any Black Friday shopping. In fact, since my lovely wife and I are traveling this year, little shopping will be done at all. Nope, instead of Black Friday shopping, we'll be celebrating national leftover turkey sandwich day. Sure beats the heck out of a crazy day of shopping.

So take a few moments and give thanks. Contemplate how just being alive is a great gift. Everything else is just stuff.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some success

My lovely wife and I checked out just about every dentist in the area. We finally found one who could take her. In the end, they decided on a temporary filling. The price was right and it does leave more options open. In a few days we should know how well they did.

Then we will decide what to do about the rest of the trip. Our budget took a beating, so that will be a factor.

As it is we are having some fairly nasty weather right now, so it's just as well we are sitting it out.

Dad doesn't mind having us around.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Another wasted day

What is it with dental offices? They were perfectly willing to X-ray all my lovely wife's teeth for free, but they would not pull one tooth? Instead they offered a $1,600 treatment plan. This tooth has been treated and “saved” many times over the years. My lovely wife is pretty sure it's ready to go. It's her mouth, she should know. There isn't a lot of original tooth left.

They also had no problem with her walking out of the office in pain.

No wonder people get frustrated and pull their own darn teeth.

I did get recommendations from some of the local people. We'll call a few of them in the morning.

Then there's my dad's neighbor who gave up and flew from Florida to her home state of Connecticut for dental treatment. It was cheaper than having it done in Florida -including the cost of air fare.

In fact, one lady flies down to Costa Rica for her dental work. They have all the modern tools and techniques at a fraction of the cost.

Something is very broken with the system.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Few Distractions

The modern world is jarring. Distractions are everywhere. Multitasking is elevated as a virtue. Splitting the mind, skimming everything, absorbing high rates of data -these are job and life requirements.

Yet the great thinkers of the past, the philosophers, scientists, and mystics, all knew that the most powerful force in the universe is the focused mine. How few the opportunities in our world to practice the art.

I find myself back in the world of sparkle and fluff. The TV is on. I'm drowning it out with music and headphones. Much to my surprise, even the celebrities in the grocery check out magazines grabbed my attention. What a waste of focus.

Mindfulness is a virtue in many religions and schools of thought. At least I caught myself being distracted.

Years ago I'd wander off into the woods to avoid the mental static and clear my mind. An extended hike in the backcountry did much to restore my soul.

After a few weeks on the boat, paying attention to wind, waves, and wildlife, my mind relaxed into that same state once achieved only in the remote woods. What a fine discovery -like a gift to myself.

What's the point of all these modern distractions? Who's served by our lack of mental focus? If the brain is like a computer, who's doing the programming? Is is the talking heads on the TV? Garbage in, garbage out.

Clear all that out and program your own mind. We all serve somebody. Might as well serve ourselves.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

180 miles by land

I drove 180 miles with the van and trailer to pick up the boat. One quick back of the envelope calculation later and I figured we did well over 200 miles on the boat. That's actually pretty surprising as we weren't really trying. I felt safer on the boat than on the highways. Life is better at 5.5 knots.

The marina was packed on a Saturday. The only trailer parking was in the overflow lot behind the marina. At least they run those little extended golf carts as shuttles. They weren't real happy that I had to block one of the ramps with my boat, then shuttled back to the van and trailer. Apparently, they have some sort of system that they didn't tell me about.

It's not easy loading a boat at the best of the times. Even working alone, I was able to load the boat at least as fast as the ramp average. With a parking lot of impatient fishermen watching, I'm glad it went well. They weren't too used to seeing sailboats there. In two days at the marina, ours was the only one to come in. The magic bus hippy ban tow vehicle raised a few eyebrows. Most folks were pretty cool, so it was fine.

My lovely wife has a Monday appointment for her broken tooth. Hope they can do something for her. No firm plans will be made until she's on the mend.

We were into our fourth week on the water, and it had settled into a lifestyle. I'm tan, lost a few pounds, and feel great, heck I feel strong. Water life agrees with me. We'll get back to it.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Command decision

My lovely wife and I sailed into Cayo Costa State Park.

Two years ago we attempted to sail to the park from the south, but conditions deteriorated so we decided to seek shelter. Years earlier we were working our way through the better Florida parks, but never put the logistics together for Cayo Costa. It's on a island and can only be reached by boat.

This year we finally made it. It's a nice park, great beach, and has excellent anchorages. We opted to spend our first night at the park docks. Only one other boat spent the night. We had a nice get together around the fire.

Then things went south.

My lovely wife lost part of a tooth on a s'more. One thing about dental problems, they don't get better on their own. Fortunately, we had some dental wax in our med kit. That helped, but we needed a dentist.

The closest dentist was on Pine Island. My lovely wife was able to get an appointment at a clinic. We motored over and spent the night at the Pineland Marina. In the morning my lovely wife caught a cab to the dentist. X-rays were taken and the tooth has to go. However, they would not pull it. My wife has some medical history where only oral surgeons will do the work. Of course, there were none on the island.

The nearest were in Coral Castle and Fort Myers. My lovely wife was willing to sail all the way over there, have surgery, then continue our trip.

I love her spirit, but made a command decision not to put my lovely wife through all that. This trip is supposed to be about fun. I called my dad to come pick us up. My wife can get the work done and recover at his house. Once she's better we can figure out how we want to continue our trip.

Saturday I'm driving back down to Pine Island to pick up the boat. I'm not going to keep paying $41/day to park a sailboat.

This is a setback, but there's plenty of time for more adventures.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Palm Island

Some days the best thing to do is to go to the nice high end resort place. First thing in the morning we motored a couple miles to Palm Island Marina. A 70 foot boat pulled out just before we came in. The staff treated us like we were the people from the big boat. Very nice staff.

My main reason for stopping was to replace my inverter. They had a parts and service department so I thought they could help me. They didn't have it in stock, but got it to me by the afternoon. Nice guys.

They have a $2/foot rate plus a 26 foot minimum. The nice lady felt that was way too much for a first time visitor with a small boat. They charged me the condo rate of $1.50/foot and no minimum. We ended up blowing the savings at lunch, but what the heck, we had a nice meal. A captain has to keep the crew happy, especially if the crew is one's wife.

Tomorrow we plan on doing some actual sailing. All this motoring around has made me feel like I'm captain of a goofy looking powerboat.

One thing that struck me as I crawled along the coast is how much energy is used along the water. The boats, power and sail alike, use a lot of gasoline and diesel. That's only the start. The whole infrastructure is energy intensive. The maintenance of the waterways, the operation of the bridges, everything uses energy. Many boats don't just sit in the water anymore. They rest in big parking garages and are moved around with giant forklifts. If the energy system goes down, that's where they'll stay. Not a good place for a bug out vehicle. I'd rather have a kayak that I could carry on my shoulder.

We stayed here to get some boat projects done, but we made sure to enjoy some of the amenities. Maybe I'll have to take my lovely wife for a drink when the no see ums come out. The marina bar might be a good place to hide from them.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Don

Today I find myself on Don Pedro Island State park. It's one of those Florida jewels that can only be reached by boat. There's a narrow shallow channel through the mangroves that looks like it'll dead end any moment. Instead it opens up into a small bay. There are some decent small boat docks, a nice picnic pavilion, restrooms and a beach shower. The park is a very narrow barrier island. With the gulf waves at my back I can see my boat on the ICW side.

We had a short trip down from an interesting anchorage near Stump Pass. The Coast Guard does not recommend this pass to the Gulf unless you have current local knowledge. My lovely wife and I had stopped at Stump Pass Marina and Restaurant for the mandatory cheeseburger in Paradise. It had been a long day of motoring against the wind, plus the normal hassle with bridges. We chanced the Stump Pass anchorage as we were ready to call it a day.

With keel and rudder raised, we inched our way past wadding birds until we hit deep enough water to drop the hook. We had some interesting neighbors. There was a Canadian boat in close to the spoil island. I had no idea how he found enough water to slip in there. A couple boats looked like long term live aboards, tucked away from casual view. Then were a couple of recent wrecks to make the whole scene look like something out of a movie.

My lovely wife spotted her first manatee of the trip there. Pods of dolphins frolicked around the boats. Lots of sea birds. A blue heron spent the night perched on my kayak. Much to my surprise he didn't leave a nasty parting gift, so he was welcome.

Electrical problems have plagued me this trip. Problems that don't show up after a week appear in week three. My inverter crapped out on me again. Since I sleep with a cpap I need it for my machine to run. Unfortunately, I bought a cheap inverter that plugs into a cigarette outlet. I know that's not the most reliable connection, so I had two completely separately wired outlets. One has failed completely. The other stopped working last night as corrosion had worked its evil ways. Of course, it took a while today to find the problem. Its working again, but I'm not sure for how much longer.

As soon as I have the opportunity, the inverter will be replaced with a better one that's hardwired directly to the battery. Enough is enough.

It's been said that cruising is boat repair in exotic locations. Sometimes that's just what it is.

Don't feel to bad for me, as my happiness to hassle ratio is well in the plus column.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

`No dinner jacket

My lovely wife and I woke up to a rainy day in Sarasota harbor. I would be lying if I did not say it dampened our mood. We debated half the morning on what to do. In the end we decided to keep heading south. With rain gear on, we motored into the wind.

We thought we'd wasted precious travel hours, but as luck would have it, that was not the case. Soon after departing we encountered our first bridge of the day. Their first opening was scheduled for 11 a. m.. We got there at 10:53.

As the day wore on, the rain stopped and it warmed up. The cloudy skies discouraged much of the normal weekend traffic. It was a good travel day.

Active Captain showed free day docks in Venice next to an anchorage, so that was our goal. After the budget busting stay in Sarasota, we needed an economy stop.

Venice has a long fixed wooden dock next to a boat ramp. It's main claim to fame is a decent little park next door with clean restrooms. Never discount the value of clean restrooms. Unfortunately, that's all that is there. We were hungry and there was nothing within walking distance -nothing.

We were right next door to the Venice Yacht Club. Their restaurant is reported to be very good. For some strange reason I neglected to bring my dinner jacket. Just as well as that would have probably failed our save money plan.

Instead I cooked up a big batch of beans and rice. It was delicious and filling. We topped it off with a fancy desert of canned peaches. Heaven.

The anchorage is small. Had our boat been much longer or of deeper draft, we'd have been out of luck. Our only option would have been some nice but pricey marinas.

One guy from the yacht club came over to say hi. He was very pleasant. Our little boat reminded him of his younger days. Now he has a huge boat, but only day sails. He misses sleeping on the little boat he had years ago. Maybe he just misses his youth.

After squeezing into the anchorage, we set a couple of anchors and went right to bed -at 6:30. After three hours sleep I finally felt up to writing this blog.

It looks like another day or two of motoring through narrow passages ahead of us.


Friday, November 15, 2013

To Sarasota

All in all, we spent three nights anchored off Anna Maria island. There were some good times and some interesting times. I must admit to playing the tourist and enjoying a few meals and drinks at outside tables with water views. Maria's family style restaurant just north of the wharf on the main drag was especially good. There was even a laundry in the same plaza so we could wash our clothes while having lunch.

Unfortunately, we had two days of 15-20 knot winds and the occasional gale force gusts. It was pretty bouncy on the hook. One morning we debated for several hours on if we should take the kayak to town or not. In the end, we did and managed just fine, even with the dog and a load of laundry. It was hard to get the anchor out of the mud. Maybe that's why some people never leave. The island is a vortex that just sucks you in.

We crossed Sarasota Bay, and it had its moments, both good and bad. The bay was choppy and the wind was sometimes impossible. We motored a bit more than we like, but we made the crossing.

Sarasota now has a large mooring field manged by Marina Jack's. It's my first time using a mooring field. I'd be just as happy to use my own anchor, but that was not to be. In the end, it was just as well. I soon discovered that in spite of my repairs to the boat's charging system, the battery would still not hold a charge. It needed to be replaced.

Picture the logistics of getting a heavy deep discharge battery out to a boat on a mooring. My lovely wife called the marina. They had one in stock and delivered out to the mooring field. Yes, it was the most expensive battery I ever bought, but it was worth it.

This whole marina stay has been a bit more expensive than I'd like. It's a very a upscale sort of place. No sea hobos in sight (unless you count us). Not a bad thing to do once in a while. Bathrooms and showers are spotless. The laundry is reasonably priced. The food and drinks aren't unreasonable either. In the morning we kayaked to the tiki bar for breakfast. I don't get to do that every day.

With rain moving in, and a limited selection of good anchorages, we decided to stay put one more night. The trip is slow, but it's all good. No hurry to get anywhere anyway.

Another bonus is being somewhat isolated from the news. It has done wonders for my mental health.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Anna Maria Island and Power Issues

This is our second night anchored off Anna Maria Island. Will spend one more. Free dinghy dock, Free shower. Public restrooms. Dog friendly restaurants. Just found a laundry in walking distance, so we'll do that too. Oh yeah, quite a few funky little shops. It's a tourist town, but not in a bad way.

The kayak has been essential for this trip. We'd be unable to stay here without one. That, and it's been fun to paddle around. We were surrounded by dolphins on the way to the dock today.

My electric power is limited on the boat right now. I discovered that neither the solar panel nor the outboard alternator has been charging the battery. By the time I checked it was very low. Been saving what power I have for essentials like the anchor light.

The good news is that the problem has been sorted out. Had broken wires on the connector to the solar panel. As for the power feed from the outboard, every connector had bad corrosion. Salt water is unforgiving. Once cleaned up and sprayed with corrosion. preventative, I'm back in business. The battery is up some, but I don't want to charge the computer until power's back up to normal.

Lot's of live aboards here -real sea hobos. Most of these boats look like they haven't moved in years. Don't know how else one could live down here rent free.

High winds predicted tonight. One of the locals recommended a second anchor. It couldn't hurt to put one out, so that's what I did. The locals must know what the conditions are like. About half the boats here are double anchored.

Sailing conditions should be good on Thursday, so that's our tentative departure date. We are really taking our time, but so what? It's not a race. It's a life.


Monday, November 11, 2013

From marina to the hook

We spent a night in the Gulfport Florida Municipal Marina. The guys were nice and they took good care of us. Sunday we headed out on our southward journey.

Leaving Gulfport we passed a Sea Scouts sailing competition.

Winds were not nearly as strong as predicted. Most of the day we poked along at less than 3 knots. It took forever to cross Tampa bay.

At the rate we were going, we'd still be crossing it after dark. Not good. Checking the charts, we decided to duck into the Little Manatee river and anchor near the Desoto museum. Great anchorage. We got in just before dark, set the anchor, and paddled the dog to shore for her walk.

Once again, the kayak proved its worth.

My lovely wife and I are thinking about checking out the museum. Then we'll try and get back on course on the ICW.

It's great to be in shorts and a T-shirt when it's snowing back home.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wind and Bridges

We had a windy night at anchor. While we were protected from the worse of the chop, the wind whistled through the rigging. To make my lovely wife happy, I set a second anchor. Overkill, but what the heck.

The next morning we followed the locals through the narrow channel. Florida is full of big bays with huge shallow areas throughout. Shallow draft boats are just the thing for coastal cruising here. The dog needed a break so we stopped at a boat landing that wasn't very busy. Once the dog did her thing, we moved a short way off shore and anchored. The dog was set, but us humans needed coffee and I can't make it on a moving boat.

Traveling in the ICW, on a sailboat, requires a lot of bridge opening. Most of the time it went fine. In fact, often we'd sail through without even starting the motor. Some bridges open only on a set schedule. Those are a pain. I spent 20 minutes trying to hold position against contrary wind and current. All the while power boats are scooting under the bridge and crowding me out. Glad the wait wasn't any longer.

Conditions were a bit harsh, so we decided to spend the night at the Gulf Port Municipal Marina. That's where we are now. I'm making use of shore power to recharge everything from the computers to my electric toothbrush. We met some nice folks here and checked out some more boats. That's always fun.

On the way in we anchored off of the town beach and paddled the kayak into town. It's working out very well as a dingy for us. My lovely wife, the dog, a bunch of gear and myself all fit in. Getting in and out of the boat in choppy conditions wasn't too hard. Better yet, it wasn't too wet. The kayak tows well behind the sailboat.

If conditions are right we hope to cross Tampa Bay tomorrow. It's a open and busy stretch of water, so we will pick our time.

Still having fun.


Friday, November 8, 2013

We are fine

I don't want my readers to worry when we miss a day's post. Our second day in Clearwater Beach Florida was a long one. By the time we anchored the boat for the night, I was too tired to blog.

There were three things we had to do on our last day. Laundry was one. There was a laundry just one block north of the free city docks. However, it turns out it was a full service laundry. It didn't take me long to figure out letting someone else do the work might be worth the money. Besides, it's the only laundry on the island.

While that was being taken care of, we found a little breakfast place that was dog friendly. We had a nice breakfast out on the patio. my lovely wife did a little shopping on the way back.

After picking up the laundry, we motored across the bay to the other free city docks. My lovely wife had some packages to mail and we reprovisioned at a Publix. Then it was back across the bay again to the northern city docks. We treated ourselves to a beer and hot wings at Cooters. The town docks are only open until 10 pm, so we had to anchor out in the bay again.

Today we finally left Clearwater and headed down the ICW. It was a great day of sailing. We were even able to sail down “The Narrows.” It's a tight area and is heavily built up. Three times bridges had to be opened for us to pass through with our sailboat mast.

I refueled the sailboat. We'd used 4.4 gallons of gas in 9 days. Even at marine fuel prices that was less than $20.

Currently,we are anchored near St. Petersburg Florida. It's not the best anchorage, but darkness comes quickly. It's windy, but protected from the worse of the chop. Better a less than perfect anchorage than sailing in the dark through busy waterways. Besides, we aren't going too far until the Bridge Masters come back to work in the morning.

There are small craft warnings for Saturday. My lovely wife and I plan on a short day's travel. We think we found a protected spot with beach access for the dog. Sunday the weather is supposed to be better, so we'll cross Tampa Bay then.

It's good to be moving once more.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

On the move again

We finally said goodbye to Calidesi Island. It was on fire when we left it. The park was doing a controlled burn. I'm too sure how how controlled it was, as there was an awful lot of smoke. We had a good last night there. Another couple invited us over for pizza and drinks at their boat. Great conversation.

Clearwater beach was not that far as the crow flies, but with all the convoluted channels and shallow water, it's much further by boat. The town has free day use docks, which we made good use of. It was less than ½ mile to the CVS where my lovely wife was supposed to pick up her prescriptions. Of course, the most important one had not been called in.

By then we were hot, tires, thirsty and hungry. Using Google Maps on the iphone I found a nice dog friendly restaurant called Cooters. We sat in the shade. They brought water for Brownie. I drank three tall glasses of ice tea. The food was pretty good. Thus fortified, my lovely wife was able to make a number of phone calls and rattle some chains. A nurse I knew way back in high school was able to get hold of a doctor and get the info faxed to the CVS. Now my wife has 2 months of meds, so we won't have to deal with this for a while.

The boat is anchored in the heart of Clearwater Beach. There's expensive homes and big hotels all around us. However, we might have the best view on the water.

Tomorrow, we head to more free docks and resupply at a Publix. Then we might actually do our laundry. We've gotten by using a bucket, but we aren't quite keeping up. It's kinda weird to be in the middle of a city, but we'll use the services while we are here.

Night exposure of city lights from a rocking boat.
Every day we are one the water, we learn more about this lifestyle.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kayak test and other things

I inflated the kayak. My lovely wife, Brownie and I took it for a little spin. The Sea Eagle 420 is a pretty stable platform. All of us were able to get in and out of it without going for a swim in the process. That's no small feat. I'm a very big dude.

The dog was a bit hesitant at first, but soon she warmed up to the whole thing. We went down the channel and into the sound, but I didn't feel like paddling against the wind all that much. Instead, we poked around the mangroves a bit. Lot's of bird life.

There's a name for husband and wife teams in a tandem kayak. They are called divorce boats. There are arguments over who's throwing the boat out of balance. The Sea Eagle is so stable that isn't an issue for us. Another big argument is over the paddling rhythm. I believe my lovely wife's solution is to let me do most of the paddling. I'm cool with that.

We don't plan on going on any expeditions with this boat. The main idea is to have something to use as a tender. It should work out for the relatively short distances involved.

I did go for a swim, but at the beach like everyone else.

It's not all fun and games. My lovely wife is working her way through bureaucratic hell trying to get her prescriptions filled. We located a pharmacy near public boat docks. I thought that would be the hard part. No the hard part is getting her home doctor's office to get their act together. We travel all the time and this one of those things that doesn't stay fixed. People and rules change. It's always a challenge to do this by phone.

We'll figure it out. At any rate, we plan on heading down the coast. This island is a little slice of paradise, but we have Gypsy blood. We've got to go find the next adventure.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The hiatus continues

This is going to get boring. Not for me, but for my readers. My friends might not believe it possible, but I've gotten even more laid back.

Winds are a bit strong for my liking and the water a bit rough. We could sail in it, but our planned anchorage spot would be very bumpy. Why bother? The marina here is protected and there's stuff to do -or not do. Your choice. One nice thing about all the wind is that the bugs are long gone. They haven't bothered me all that much, but my lovely wife is a bit itchy.

Two more nights here and we'll move on. The boat is ready to go. Water containers have been refilled and we could leave in minutes. For a while there I thought we might head out in the afternoon. Once I checked with NOAA and caught the marine forecast, that was all I needed to see. No sense suffering for nothing.

The boat is well provisioned. Not only that, I occasionally let the nice guys at the snack bar do the cooking. They make a mean breakfast bagel. The prepper part of me won't let my water supply get down very far. Not only that, we've identified three natural fresh water sources on the island. We've a MSR backpacker water filter for emergencies. My lovely wife has identified edible plants on the island. It's just how we think. Always looking at the long term viability of where we are.

Living on island time.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Taking it easy

Not too much to say. Still hanging around Calidesi State Park. As good a place as any to wait out small craft warnings. The marina is protected from the worse of the wind and waves.

We are trying to take care of some business before we head out, so that's a consideration. The iphone hotspot has been a huge help. Keeping a connection to the Internet has allowed me to do the boring but necessary money stuff.

My lovely wife went on a long guided nature walk today. I stayed behind with the dog. She had a good time but might need another day to recover.

Some things are working out as planned. The Whisperlite gasoline cook stove works just fine on the outboard mix. Even pan roasted some coffee today.

Other things didn't measure up. I was too cheap to buy a good manual coffee grinder. One has to draw the line somewhere. However, the electric coffee grinder draws more power than my little inverter can put out. So while I've got shore power, I'm grinding a bunch of coffee beans. Maybe in my travels I'll find a good grinder.

The dog keeps making friends with all the kids. She's having fun.

Yeah, we could be racing down the coast, but there's no hurry. That time will come soon enough.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rain Day

I woke to the crash of thunder and a sudden rain storm. I quickly closed the porthole. The wind blew from exactly the wrong direction and through the screens on the cabin boards. A quick fix with a space blanket worked better than putting in the solid cabin board. The tarp allowed ventilation while still stopping most of the rain.

Rainy day options on a small boat are limited. We could have set up the boom tent, but decided not to bother with it. Fortunately, the marina has some very nice covered picnic areas -perfect for coffee and breakfast.

With a hot cup of coffee in hand, sitting under cover, the day looked pretty good. I caught myself smiling. Yep, I'm pretty happy, rain or no rain. My lovely wife and I put our rain gear on and walked on the beach. There are people all over the world stuck in offices, so it's our job to enjoy the outdoors.

We've found that the best background for living on a small boat is our years of camping. Not big RV camping, but backpacking and canoe camping. Compared to a rainy day in a small tent, rain on a small boat isn't bad at all.

Times have changed. We've two lap top computers, an iphone, and a e-book reader. Right now we are connected to marina power, but we can operate just fine on our own power. The little solar panel keeps up with our small needs, and most of our wants.

I am amused at the power usage some of these trawlers use. The one across the doc from me is tapped into two, 30 amp supplies. I asked him is he was doing welding in there.

The rain has slowed down to an occasional drizzle. The sun even pokes its head out now and then. I set up an “office” by placing my laptop on two waterbricks. There's a space blanket draped over the boom for the light rain.

Life is good.


Friday, November 1, 2013

No Schedule, no problems

Can one have too many cheese burgers in Paradise? I don't think so. My lovely wife and I had one for breakfast. Our cooler had lost its cool, so rather than loose the last of our meat, we had it for breakfast. Our boat lacks refrigeration and we promised ourselves we would not be slaves to the ice machine. Because of that we've a tiny cooler, only big enough for a 6 pack of beer. A package of frozen hamburg lasts about 2 days on hot days. We've plenty of dry, canned, and dehydrated food, so we aren't going to go hungry,

With the money saved from not having an expensive refrigerator, we can afford to eat out. Lunch at the marina was a treat. Not that the food was anything special, but the location is fantastic -and I didn't have to cook.

We are taking it easy at the state park. Winds are unfavorable for sailing, being too strong and from exactly the wrong direction. Besides, I want to try out my inflatable kayak around the island, but only once it cools off a bit.

I was talking the volunteer caretakers. They just came back “from the mainland” with a month's supplies. They hate leaving the island as everyone “out there” is crazy. Can't say I blame them. Eventually, my lovely wife and I will have to travel down the coast so she can resupply her meds. It's just something we live with and adapt to.

Thanks to the new iphone I'm not completely cut off from the world. That's nice as I can blog and stay in touch with people. On the other hand, I find myself already caring less about the news from the world.

Here's a parting thought. I noticed a lot of the big boats run their bilge pumps an awful lot. That means they are sinking. Without pumps, eventually they'd completely sink. Tied up to a dock with abundant electrical power, they don't even see it as a problem. It isn't -as long as everything keeps working. Our civilization is like a sinking boat. Only the vast amounts of energy inputs keeps it afloat. Too bad we rely so heavily on non renewable resources to keep most things running. Like the boat owners, too few see it as a problem.


Calidesi State Park

The boat is tucked in safely at the Calidesi State Park Marina. It was another long day on the water. I'm pretty beat, so this is going to be short.

We met an interesting guy at our last anchorage. He stopped on the island to walk his dog, which is what we were doing. He's from Pennsylvania and figured out he could live on a boat in Florida not freeze all winter. Makes sense to me.

Our exit from the island didn't go as planned. We thought we'd do a graceful exit under sail. Instead my lovely wife and I had a communication failure. I wanted to go left but my wife thought I wanted to go right. My bad. Instead we went nowhere and drifted towards some fishing boats. There were some crazy minutes of frantic anchor and outboard work. It was our turn to be those goof balls on water.

The rest of the day went much better. We ended it watching a sunset on the beach, so all in all, it was a good day.