1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New ICW Video!

It's been a long, difficult, cold winter. It's over - or nearly over for some of you - and this video is six minutes of ICW fun to remind you of just why you should be heading south this fall....
Remember - it may be spring now, but winter is lurking out there. Why suffer any longer?

Join me next year, heading south!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Morning, Coming Down and Feeling Great!

Future Skipper? Granma has a boat!
I've been sitting here debating - do I do a serious post today, since there's so much going on, especially regarding the recent anchoring fiasco in Florida? Nah, too nice a day to rehash that muck. Or, maybe a post about all the boat jobs I have to do still, after talking about the ones I got done this week, like the head repair, or the outboard repair, or the upcoming exhaust elbow repair? Nah, WAY too nice a day to even think about that stuff! Or, do I discuss how nice it is to be sitting here, on my boat, with options available like debating this with myself on a Sunday morning?
Yep, that sounds about right...
I'm currently in Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale. This is a large lake surrounded by gazillion dollar homes, right off the ICW. It's reasonably protected, except from waterskiers and wakeboarders, who are permitted to zoom about us at up to 35 mph. Weekends can get a little 'rocky' is what I'm telling you. But otherwise, it's calm, protected, with a great view and wifi from a nearby hotel chain. Life is good.
I've just met several people with whom I've been chatting online for ages. It's fun putting a face to these people I've gotten to know so well. It's also fun having a 'community' around me since, as a singlehander, I'm often on my own. Now I have folks 'visiting' as they go by in the dink, or dropping over, and I get to do the same. Was out for dinner and drinks with a friend up the New River the other day. We watched the megayachts being towed up and down river - really something to watch these tug guys do their jobs, especially when two big boats meet in the narrow channel. Oh, to be THAT good at boathandling. Then there was a SSCA potluck the other evening, met more new friends, and got together with some old ones I haven't seen for a while. More good times. And tonight, meeting up for drinks and a burger, again on the New River. Even spent time with friends from Canada, getting together for dinner with other friends just south of here in Hollywood.
Sign at Camp Lejeune anchorage
My liver is getting a workout in other words...
This social whirl is quite common in the islands of course, but here on the Florida coast, not so much, so I'm very much enjoying myself. I'll probably up anchor tomorrow and move up to another nearby anchorage though, one with easier shore access and a closer proximity to stores and public parks. Everything here is private land.
Hmmm...some housekeeping stuff just came to mind. Thanks to all the new, recent signups. Hopefully by now you've received your free PDF ebooks. If you haven't received them yet, make sure you check your spam folder or, I may have missed you, or the wifi may have bumped you. Let me know if you don't have them yet and I'll send them on.
For those who have been around here for a while, if you want a free copy of the two Dashew PDFs I have available - Surviving the Storm, and Mariners' Weather, use the contact form you see pop-up on the lower right hand side of the page. I'll email you a copy of each. This is the first edition of these books, not the most recent, but free is free! And, Free is Good®!
I've been debating my next move - east to the Bahamas, south through the Keys to the Marquesas and Dry Tortugas, which I've heard are wonderful, or start back north. Each direction - North, East or South - has good reasons for it, so I'm really stuck on what to do. I suppose an answer will come to me, but I'm really not used to being without a destination in mind. I'm open to suggestions here - where do you think I should head for next, and why?
Just south of Mile 1095, ICW, GW in the back corner...
For those following the Sail Snowbird Rally set to leave Norfolk this November, the itinerary is really starting to heat up. Briefly, I'm leading a group of over a dozen new cruisers down the ICW this fall. The idea is to provide camaraderie, convenience, fun, and safety, the last based on my ICW experience with over 20 trips, plus route assistance from a group of other professionals with extensive ICW knowledge.
Recently, we have had several locations - cities and marinas - contact us about putting on some REALLY special events for our group, such as a low country boil at an historic antebellum home in Beaufort SC. We've got marinas putting on parties, special expeditions, potlucks - this event is really coming together in a most exciting way. All of this is in addition to the educational component of seminars, starting at the Annapolis Boat Show. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more, check out the Snowbird Rally page at this link, or message me using the pop-up.
Ok, decision made. I'm off to walk Aduana, and enjoy this gorgeous Sunday. Hope it's as nice where you are at - and special hellos to sailors in Texas, and a new and smiling sailor in North Carolina who got out on the water yesterday - you folks know who you are!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vinegar is your friend!

And muriatic acid is your enforcer! Trust me on this one.
Ok, you’re thinking, Wally’s lost his mind. He’s gone over the edge and now I have to find another sailing blog that’s written by someone rational...and good luck on that, boat owners are, by definition, not rational. What were you thinking?
So just why is vinegar your friend? 
It’s like this - yesterday afternoon, I was pumping the head, and nothing was happening. The head wasn’t emptying like it’s supposed to. The stuff in the bowl was not going away. Yuck.
If this has ever happened to you, I don’t have to say another thing. You understand. For those to whom this has never happened, allow me to explain - it’s bad, it’s evil, it’s the END TIMES! The Book of Revelations should be as terrifying - (I’m writing this on Easter Sunday for those who are wondering).
Cripes, it’s enough to make me want to put a for sale sign on the boat, swim to shore and buy an RV. Yes, it’s THAT bad.
Unfortunately, that’s not an option, because that means anchoring - er, parking - in Wal Mart lots. If you’ve ever seen those Wal Mart sites showing how people dress in Wal Marts, you know why I don’t want to wake up in a Wal Mart lot. Much more fun to wake up in the South Beach anchorage with a bunch of gals in their early 20s doing yoga - on their stand up paddleboards, in bikinis. Oh yes....they do that, about three mornings a week. You wondered why I stayed there?
So, to get back to my question about why vinegar is your friend...
Boat heads are typically flushed with salt water, which reacts with the acids in urine, forming salt crystals, which slowly accumulate in the outlet hose of your head system. Given enough time, they constrict the hose until you can no longer flush it. This is not good. Think ‘sclerosis of the head hose’. 
One way to prevent this happening - or to extend the time until it does - is to flush a couple of cups of vinegar through your head and let it sit overnight in the hoses. The vinegar dissolves those crystals. And silly you thought vinegar was just for french fries?
But what if you haven’t done the vinegar thing often enough, and you clog up anyway? That’s where muriatic acid (essentially, hydrochloric acid) comes in. If vinegar is your friend, muriatic acid is the big brother who whomped the crap out of the bullies who picked on you in school as a kid. 
Muriatic acid is mean, nasty, evil stuff that devours urea acid crystals the way that big brother of yours threw those bullies around the schoolyard. You just KNEW that at the end of it all, your troubles would be over. I bet you’re grinning, remembering the evil pleasure of it...that’s where I was at now. I was bringing in the big guns and enjoying the thought of it. Gonna getcha! Oh yes!
What you have to understand is that if the muriatic acid didn’t solve the problem, it meant removing the outlet hose, sneaking over to the dock well after dark, and whanging the hose on the dock to dislodge those crystals and free up the hose. 
You think I’m joking? Oh no, I wish I were. This is not a job for the light of day, this is something you do in the dark of night and pray that no one sees you. That’s because, along with the salt crystals, all that OTHER accumulated ‘stuff’ that is clogging the hose is going to come out. All over the place. It’s messy, it’s ugly, it’s NASTY, it’s not fun. You want a firehose handy to clean yourself up with, and NO witnesses.
Please don’t ask my how I know this, ok? Believe me, I WOULD have to kill you if I told you. And I like you, so don’t make me do that!
So, I tried the easy way first, pumping the acid through the head to the hose. Lots of fizzing and bubbling, lots of really nasty looking foam bubbling into the head, but....no flow through. The clog was still there.
Again...and again, and still again. Even let it sit overnight....no luck. That was one determined clog!
Ok - get out the rubber gloves, it’s time to get in close. Some people are ok with this sort of thing - I’m not. 
I whine, I whimper, I beg for sympathy for what I’m about to endure (sorry about the dinner conversation last night John, Linda, Sue, Richard...)
I unhooked the hose clamps and raised the hose up to pour straight acid into it...(and by the way, be sure you wear eye protection, gloves and long pants, this really is nasty stuff, you don’t want to splash it on yourself, ok?)
FIZZ, BUBBLE, oh my god, YUCKY!....but still, no luck. Just more loathsome stuff coming out the end of the hose as it foamed over. Lots more. I eventually used just short of a gallon of acid before the hose finally ran clear while wondering if I’d need the second gallon I deliberately chose not to buy yesterday at Home Depot. God, I’m really sorry I didn’t go to church this morning, PLEASE, give me a pass on this one?
I reassembled the hose, tightened down the clamp, said a small prayer, ok, it was a BIG prayer (hey, it IS Easter Sunday!) and pumped the head.
Success! Yes, yahoo, whooo hooo, wheeee! Wonderful. I don’t have to do a midnight sneak to the dock and ruin whatever clothes I’m wearing as I whang that mile long hose on the dock. Life is good again.
Now, one last item...add vinegar to the shopping list. About five gallons I’d say. For this week.

(p.s. according to my Jabsco head manual, seven pumps moves whatever is in the hose about a yard. Yours is likely similar. My outlet hose is about eight feet, so 2076 pumps ought to be good? If you make sure you pump out whatever is in the hose each and every time, and use vinegar frequently, you’ll reduce the frequency of the ‘events’ I’ve just described. You’ll also end up with biceps like Hulk Hogan on at least one arm, but you won’t need them to wrestle with a hose at midnight! Life is about compromise, right?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Exciting milestone ahead....

YOW! Thanks to all of you, LiveBloggin' the ICW is about to break the 10,000 hits per month barrier. That's a fairly significant number in what is, realistically, a small segment of the blogosphere.
Thanks to everyone here for your interest, encouragement and friendship. You cannot imagine how much you folks inspire me!
I'd like to ask everyone if they would take two minutes to answer an 9 question survey about LiveBloggin'. I'd like to do a better job at this - there's always room for improvement, but also - and this is very important - I'd like to demonstrate to my editors at the various publications I write for just how active and interested in reading my 'stuff' you folks are. Hopefully, that will encourage them to provide me with more commissions and that of course means more income - which I'll spend on rum, dog kibble for Aduana, and still more boat repairs!
Now of course, I need to offer a small bribe here - so for every 100 survey responses I get, I'll give away a downloadable copy of either 'Sailing South - First Timer's Guide to the ICW', or 'Forbidding, Forbidden Cuba'. If you're not sure which you'd prefer, you can see the trailers for them at The Sailing Channel - click on the following links - ICW or Cuba.
Here's the survey, and thank you all again for your support.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rebel Heart - the video. Get the answers.

For those who are/were like me, confused and frustrated by the horrible media coverage - horrible in both tone and content - here is a 23 minute video by the 129th Air National Guard, the people who performed the Rebel Heart rescue.
I won't tell you any more than that this video answers EVERY single question that the haters in the online forums have been asking about this family. You might be surprised, but you will be uplifted by what they have to say.
A superb video.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time to Play Catch-up....

This post, let's catch up on a few things that I've written about in the past that have been left hanging.
First - the Pardey's book - if you haven't yet bought it (and why not, it's a great read!), help out the author by purchasing it from his website (really cheap sailors can read excerpts there), at 'As Long As It's Fun', where his profit is maximized. Amazon will survive the hit, promise! Herb will appreciate it. You're welcome Herb!
For all of those who requested the free PDFs on Surviving the Storm and Mariner's Weather Handbook, both by the Dashews, they're on their way - there were some download problems but they seem to be ok now. Most of you have the first instalment by now, or should. If they aren't in your inbox by Friday, email me please and we'll figure out what's gone wrong.
Next, my new anchor. After dragging one evening recently at 2 am, and after hearing friends Bill and Paul bragging about their Mantus anchors,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rebel Heart - and making a difference.

photo by Sariah English (sister to Charlotte)
This week's - heck, this month's, sailing story is all about Rebel Heart, but quickly, I want to update you on a recent post... I've joined the ranks of those who have put a Mantus on their bow. To be honest, compared to the traditional look of my CQR, it looks like a set of bull horns on the hood of a Cadillac. There's a certain panache to it, but it 'just doesn't look quite right'....
I'm sure I'll get used to it but at the moment...hmmmmm. More in another post, let's get on to today's hot story!
This week's BIG news in sailing circles as I said is the Rebel Heart story. Very briefly for those not familiar (what? how long can you stay at the top of your mast anyhow?), a family of four including a three year old and a one year old left Mexico two weeks ago on the first leg of a circumnavigation. The baby became seriously ill about 900 miles out, and the US Navy parachuted four paramedics to the boat. Her condition was stabilized, but - and not all of this is confirmed by any means - the boat was experiencing some issues. From the reports, it sounds like they had a packing gland problem as water was coming in when the engine was running.
The Navy then sent out a fast frigate to take the family off the boat, and scuttled Rebel Heart rather than leave it floating, and a danger to other vessels. A google search for Rebel Heart will find you all the details.
Of course, it didn't take long for the media to pile on this one. Great story: young family, adventure, sick child, rescue of sinking boat - wow! WWRD? (what would Redford do?)
And of course, online, thousands of people are taking the parents to task for risking their childrens' lives in a foolhardy adventure.
None of them are, of course, sailors or boaters. Many seem to want the government to take their children away, to force the parents to pay for the rescue (ignoring that they get free 'rescue' if they crash their car or their house burns down), develop legislation preventing this sort of thing from EVER HAPPENING AGAIN! On and on it goes.
I'd like to ask the readers of LiveBloggin' to take a hand in dealing with this. Almost all of us are experienced sailors and, in any event, we understand the hows and whys of what the Kaufmann family were doing. Some of us even know others who are doing the same thing or similar (hello McKissicks' Journey and Bill and Erin Jackson and all your kids!)...
I'd like you to go online and find one of these forums where people are bashing our sailing and cruising lifestyle through their criticisms of the Kaufmann family. I'd like you to spend a half hour responding to these criticisms from your better informed viewpoint. Show these people that the Kaufmanns were doing the right thing, that they are not uncaring and unthinking parents, that they were not wrong to attempt this adventure.
Here are a couple of sites to get you started. First, you can read the Rebel Heart website and blog, it's at www.therebelheart.com/ You can also get an idea about what's happening at the SSCA Facebook page. If you're not a member, sign up and tell them I sent you! Lots of worthwhile stuff there besides this story.
Next, choose your target. Some good ones are CNN, Washington Post, MSNBC, LA Times, and of course, your local media. Then, post back here with what you've done, and links that you've discovered. Let's let the world know that the Kaufmanns aren't crazy, that we aren't crazy, and that this is a wonderful lifestyle. Ok, maybe we're a little bit crazy, but...
For once, let's make a difference online if for no other reason than that the Kaufmanns deserve our help here in defending their decisions.

(postscript - Susan Landry just posted an article on SSCA's Facebook page about a Coast Guard rescue of an infant with breathing problems...from a cruise ship at an island in the Bahamas...here's the link "Cruise Ship Rescue". If this is appropriate, then I certainly see no problem with the Kaufmann's cruise.