No Autographs Please!

April 19, 2014:

I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before, but for those of you out there who think cruising is all cocktails and sunsets, I can assure you it’s not.  Owning a boat is a lot of work.  You may recall our “million mile march” through St. Pete to pick up a portable pump from the Back-Door Marine Supply Guy to change the engine oil.  As the previous day in Ft. Myers had been devoted primarily to getting the dinghy to crank, the next bright and sunny day was committed to changing the oil in the diesel engine on the boat.  Fun, fun!

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It was definitely time to do it, though.  With all of the motoring we had unfortunately had to do to “weather” the weather in the Gulf, we were well over our allotted 50 hours, so we set to it.

It certainly was a cleaner job, though, with our new, smaller plastic oil pump.

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The oil dumped right in, and we were able to seal her off and plug the tubes nicely with Q-tips, so no mess!

We also checked the raw water strainer to make sure she wasn’t clogged.

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Unfortunately, she came out looking like a love-child mix of Bob Marley and Medusa.

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Yipes!  It was definitely time to clean her out as well and we noticed a significant difference in the flow rate of the water exhaust on the stern after we did.  Let’s just say she had a lot more “oomph” – I believe is the technical term.

We also checked the sacrificial zinc on the heat exchanger.  He was almost toast!

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Because the metals that are immersed in seawater in the heat exchanger create a battery, that also means they lead to corrosion.  If you’re interested, read more HERE.  And, this little guy is meant to take the brunt of that.  He corrodes first (hence the term “sacrificial”) and then we replace him with a new soldier so the other, more important metals, don’t corrode at all.  Or so the theory is.

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That is one battered warrior!  Thanks Zinc!

We also checked the fuel filter as well.

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“Umm … sir, I definitely see some build-up here.”  It was time to change that as well.  Not much of an issue, but when we began to disassemble the housing for the secondary fuel filter, we ran into a slight issue.

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The connector ring broke …

But, never fear!  That’s why we carry back-ups!  And back-ups for our back-ups!  I got my little First Mate fingers back there and fixed her right up.

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Good as new!

We then cranked her up to make sure everything was running just right, our engine was maintaining temp, water was flowing out of the back (this time with “oomph”) and that our oil level was right where it needed to be.  All systems were a go, so we hopped off the mooring ball for a bit to head up to the fuel dock to fill up and dump our oil.  The Diversified Yacht Facility there was huuuggee!

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They had handfuls of 100-foot yachts stacked in there like toys.  It was incredible.  They were also very friendly and got us filled up (water and fuel), dumped out, scrubbed up and everything in between.  We were ready for our next passage for sure.

We were thinking of heading out the next day, Sunday Funday!, to make the jump across the Gulf to Key West, but our buddy, Johnny, whom we were meeting up with in Ft. Myers, was going to wait to make the crossing on Monday, so we decided to suffer another day in Ft. Myers Beach – ain’t life tough …

The minute we got the boat back on the ball, we cleaned up, spruced up and made a right proper to-go drink for shore:

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Phillip:  “I’ll have an ‘Oh Shiiiit’ please.  Heavy on the rum!”  

Annie:  “You got it Cap’n.”

We trolled around downtown checking out the local tiki bars and scenery.

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And, the local wildlife as well …

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I think this one may be extinct real soon … 

Then the craziest thing happened.  We were walking on up to Petey’s Upper Deck, above the Matanza’s Inn, when this guy on the dock hobbled humbly up to us and asked “Are you Annie, on the Plaintiff’s Rest?”

I mean … Total record-scratch moment.  Errrruunnnhh (or however you spell a record scratch sound?).

“Excuse me?” I asked, thinking I surely had never seen this man before and didn’t know how he could possibly know me, or my boat …

“I’m friends with Bob,” he said.  “McDonald.  He got me hooked on your blog.”  

Eek!  A real live blog follower?  An honest-to-goodness fan?  And, he’d spotted me on his very own in Ft. Myers Beach??  The fame went instantly to my head.

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Okay, I wasn’t that bad … hopefully … but I was certainly smiling from ear to ear.  Here he is – Capt. Doug on the s/v Puffin!

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He’d been “on the ball” in the Ft. Myers mooring field for about six months and has been following our blog for quite some time.  He was a great guy – a lot of fun – and certainly living the right kind of salty life there in Ft. Myers Beach.  Like many in the boating community seem to do, he offered to help us with anything if we needed it or provide us names of fellow mechanics, riggers, etc. if we needed any work done in the area.  We had a big time chatting with him about ‘old blog times’ – the original Gulf Crossing and other debacles.  He was great.  Thanks Doug!

And, you’ll be happy to know I wasn’t too celebrity about it.  I gave him an awesome autograph, which I’m sure he’ll hang right on top of this one:

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See?  Didn’t go to my head at all … 

After the exciting celeb sighting, Phillip and I hit the deck!  Petey’s Upper Deck for their famous Key Lime Coladas.

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Mmmmmm … 

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Those things were awesome.  And, totally calorie-free I was told.  Or, was it calories don’t count at the beach?  I can’t remember.  Either way, they were incredible.  All three of them!

We finally met up with our buddy Johnny Walker on the s/v Windwalker who was making the trip down to the Keys with his son, Jeremy.  Say hey Johnny!

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Johnny is an incredible diesel mechanic, a life-long boater and fellow die-hard cruiser.  He’s also just a few months shy of 72 and still living on his boat and living out his dream.  No matter what story we told (and I’ve got some really tall ones – hacking off our dinghy in the middle of the Gulf, fixing a transmission leak with a Dasani bottle and some duct tape … ) it didn’t matter, Johnny had heard it three times before and knew of someone who had done the same thing in 6-8 foot seas with one arm tied behind his back.  The man was full of colorful tales.  Oh, and spare parts as well.  No matter what minute little part we may have noticed was having an issue on our boat, he had three of them and was happy to share.

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See – here he is now:  “Oh, I’ve got one of those.  I’ll drop by your boat later and bring it to you.”

Johnny was a trip.  Beyond generous and full of spunk.  And, that’s his wife Cindy, a real salty survivor.  She’s been through some serious times on the boat with that man.  Her stories, and her perspective, rather, actually impressed me the most.  She can remain calm through anything.  That’s the kind of gal you need on a boat.  She had drove down to spend the weekend with Johnny in Ft. Myers Beach during his trek to the Keys with his son, so she was just staying a day or two.  (But, that meant she had a car!  A real, live car, which also meant a full-fledged trip to the store for us the next day!  You know how we love our provisions!).

We had a big, hearty time hanging out with Johnny and Cindy, scarfing up their great greasy pizza at Petey’s.  (Which I was also told did not have any calories).  We continued to tell tall tales until nightfall, then we dinghied on back to the boat and crashed hard, yet again.  This beach living is rough!

This entry was posted in Boat Projects, Cruise to the Keys 2014, Engine Issues, Equipment Failures, Good Grub, Landlubber Outings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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