Hellooooo Dali!

April 14-15, 2014:

After our visit with Walter White and his ingenious meth–od for fixing our Jenny, we were ready to get out and do some more exploring in St. Pete.  There was some weather rolling through the Gulf that we knew we were going to have to wait out,


so we started planning our attack on the city!  Like I said, the mooring field in the North Vinoy Basin is pretty sweet.  It is maintained by the city, so showers, captain’s lounge and laundry facilities are just a short walk from the boat, and at $14/night, we were happy to spend some time having a ball on our ball!


There she is, nice and secure.  Always waiting on us! We decided to shower up and hit the town.  And, I have to say, thankfully, the showers at St. Pete are not too truck-stoppey.

IMG_8560     IMG_8561

They had a massive fan blowing in the bathroom that could pretty much blow-dry a sheep dog!


It was awesome.  Just step out of the shower and *snap* you were dry.


Thumbs up for the fan!  I was a big fan!  (I know, I’m a comedic genius … you can thank me later) After working in the hot sun most of the day working on the Jenny, we decided a big, lavish Italian dinner was just the ticket.  We hit up Bella Brava for some amazing margherita pizza and chicken marsala.

IMG_8730     IMG_8732      IMG_8734

Not to mention an incredible bottle of Sangiovese.  A new wine for me, and the beginnings of what I’m sure will be a life-long addiction.  Sorry Phillip. But, he’s got a little addiction of his own …


Kilwin’s.  “Two chocolate turtles, please.” But, while we certainly enjoyed the dinner and wine and sweet treats as we strolled through town that night, what we were really looking forward to checking out in downtown St. Pete was the Dali Museum.


It was right there off the main downtown strip.  A complete shrine to one of the most significant artists of modern time, and it’s literally a five-block walk from our boat!


Have I said enough good things yet about mooring in St. Pete?  Well, it bears repeating … So, the next day, we set out for the Dali Museum, which was certainly a highlight of our trip.  Like many, I only knew him as the “melting clocks” guy going in,


but I was exposed to a mind-blowing array of massive (I mean 20 foot tall) paintings that Dali did that I found I could stand in front of and stare at for hours.  Seriously. The “Lincoln” painting really blew me away.  Up close, it’s big blocks and colors and a woman standing in front of a window, but then from 60 feet, it transforms into a portrait of Abe Lincoln.


I mean, how do you do that close-up?  I tried to imagine how many times Dali must have stepped off of his scaffolding, walked back 60 feet only to walk back toward his painting to make one little brush stroke.  His ability to create images from a distance was mind-boggling.  He was mind-boggling!


Dali was like a mad scientist.  Completely devoted to his craft, but just … out there.  We got to learn some interesting history on him while we were there.  My favorite was when he was expelled from the Art Institute.  Apparently, when he came in to take his ‘final exams’, he simply told his instructors they weren’t “smart enough to test him.”  Decidedly true — his talent was simply beyond comprehension.  But with that snide comment, they sent him packing.  Looking back on it, though, I’m not sure the man really needed the degree.  He seemed to do just fine without it.  I can’t say enough about his talents.  If you haven’t checked out a Dali museum or watched a documentary or learned anything about him other than the “melting clocks” bit, I highly recommend exploring further. The last one I’ll mention is the “Matadore” painting – Phillip and I’s favorite.  Again, another 20-or-so foot tall painting just littered with insane features.  Take it in:



First, I’ll ask if you can see the matadore (whose bust fills the full size of the frame but whose face and shoulders are made up of other individual items that, up close, do not compose a man’s face).  Amazing!  But, there were so many other aspects of this painting that amazed us when we really took the time to look at every small detail – the flies, the pond at the bottom with the sunbather, the tribute to Dali’s wife, Gala, in the upper left corner, the two capes of the matadore on his shoulders, (red and jeweled), not to mention the “invisible” dalmatian at the bottom:



Do you see it?

Yeah, let’s just throw that in there at the end, as if that’s not a complete mind-blowing painting all it’s own, it’s just a tiny little add-on at the bottom of this Dali masterpiece.  An after-thought, really.  The Matadore really stole the show for us. But, the museum itself was incredible, too.  Unique architecture and lighting.


IMG_8752    IMG_8763

A wonderful spanish-inspired cafe by the gift shop, Cafe Gala (named after Dali’s wife and life-long muse):


IMG_8757   IMG_8755   IMG_8749   IMG_8750

An aspiring heli-staircase leading up to the exhibits:

IMG_8753   Staircase

A hedge maze by the garden:

IMG_8766   IMG_8767

And, many other “melting” objects lying about, in tribute to Dali’s most notable work:


“Seating for two please, preferably in the non-melting section.”

And, they had a Warhol exhibit they were featuring while we were there that was really cool, too.  Warhol was intriguing to say the least.  Both artists lived and created in the extremes.  They were radicals.  They were rebels, and they pushed the boundaries of modern art.


I think I accurately captured his scowl!  

They had some great Warhol pieces on display, and you could even shoot your very own Warhol screen shots.  It was hard to hold still for that long, but the end result was pretty cool.  I had a few that turned out alright, considering the subject matter.

ST   ST2

In all, we had an amazing time at the Dali Museum.  Still one of the most visually-fascinating displays we experienced on the trip and certainly a highlight.  While stopping in St. Pete was not originally on the agenda, we were thankful, in the end, that things happened the way they did, because we will definitely go back.  Isn’t that always the case, though?  The wind just sort of takes you where you really need to go.

But, we stepped out of that surreal world into what seemed almost another.  The wind was howling and the rain whipped around us as we sprinted back to the boat.  It was clear we wouldn’t be doing any sailing that day.  We planned our passage for tomorrow when the weather was expected to lay down.  The rain cleared up that afternoon, and we decided to venture out to pick up a few boat items we needed for the trip.  But, we had no idea we would be going from one radical to another.  Dali in the morning, and the Back-Door Marine Supply Guy in the afternoon.  Just wait …

In the Hands of Heisenberg

It wasn’t ten minutes after we hung up with Steve that we had the engine cranked and warming.  We were pulling our dock line off of the mooring ball to head over to the SMMR, Inc. shop on Salt Creek so Steve could have a look at our busted Jenny swivel.


We could tell Steve was real sharp over the phone.  He knew immediately what had happened to our Jenny shackle and the likely problem we were going to have fixing it.  The ball bearings weren’t really the issue.  Steve had plenty of them lying around the shop that he could use to replace the ones that had fallen out of our shackle.  The real problem would arise if our shackle turned out to be too damaged to be re-assembled.  If it was in fact broken beyond repair, we would need a new one.  And, while we do have an incredible, sturdy, wonderfully-built old boat, she is still an OLD boat, and the harken furling system that had been put on her was decidedly outdated.  Meaning, a new shackle likely wouldn’t fit on the old foils that were put on our forestay for the old harken system.


The foils are thin metal plates that are fitted on the forestay to allow a snug fit for the Jenny halyard and a sturdy frame for the luff of the Jenny when tacking.  

Our Jenny’s quite the tacky gal!


We were hoping for the best as we motored on over to Salt Creek so Steve could have a look at our shackle.  Now, I will say, I was fully expecting to encounter many a salty sailor-type when we met Steve and his crew.  You know, some old rough-handed, leathered, weathered riggers:


Okay, maybe not that old, but something along those lines.  I certainly wasn’t expecting Walter White.


But, that’s who we got!  I swear Steve Smith was a spitting image of everyone’s favorite close-shaven meth chef:

photo 3 (1)


And, he was every bit as smart and resourceful, too.  Steve was amazing.  He took one look at our busted shackle and knew just what to do.  He was going to have to unpin the forestay from the pulpit to get the shackle off so he could see about repairing it.  Steve had us loosen the backstay to ease the tension on the forestay so he could get it off.

photo 3 (1)

It was strange to see the forestay disconnected from the boat.  While I know Steve is an incredibly knowledgeable rigger, it still gave me a stomach ache to see him unpin her and let her go free and dangling.  She is just such a crucial piece of rigging.  The life of our Jenny was certainly in his able hands.  Once Steve got the shackle off and had a good look at it, he agreed with Phillip that it was possible the sir-clip would be put back on and the ball bearings replaced it might be alright.  He wouldn’t know, though, until he got in there and started re-assembling her and, like I said, he already had several boats lined up that day for rigging repairs.  But, he started eyeing it curiously, turning it over and around in his head, and said:

 “You know, I think I may have one of these in the shop.”  I mean … really??  An old part that nobody makes anymore?  The life-saving swivel piece that could save our Jenny?  Just lying around the shop?  Phillip and I got our hopes up as Steve walked back to the shop.  And, then he emerged!

I’m sure Steve wasn’t as overly dramatic about it as I remember it, but (to me) he looked like the bad boy from the final scene of The Breakfast Club – his hand thrust defiantly into the air.

B Club

Except he had a swivel shackle in it!  Hallelujah!

Steve – likely sensing my budding excitement – to us the shackle he had found was the Unit 2, and ours was the Unit 1, so there was a chance it wouldn’t fit.  (All, I could think, though, was “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance it could!”).

And, despite his already full line-up for the day, Steve rolled up his sleeves and set to work on us immediately.  Steve slid the “new” used shackle around the foils on our stay and it was a perfect fit.  I’ve never seen anything fit snugger (on something that wasn’t a Kardashian).

photo 2

Steve told us, “Now, we’re real proud of our old used crap around here,” as he was re-securing the shackle.  “I’ll have my wife look it up and see what price we can give you for her.”  They only asked $100 for it.  IT.  A part no one makes anymore, that we couldn’t order or buy online.  A part that was going to mean the difference between our hanking on a whopping oversized Jenny the entire trip or furling her – and – that meant we weren’t going to have to have a whole new furling system put on either during the trip or after – and Steve was only asking $100.  We had priced out a new swivel (which may or may not have fit on our old foils, and they ranged anywhere from $400 to $500.  Phillip and I would have easily paid a pretty penny for Steve’s “old used crap,” but we were even more thrilled to pay an ugly one.

“You bet, Steve.  Slap her on there!”

And, so he did.  Within an hour and a half of us pulling up to Steve’s shop in Salt Creek, and even with other boats lined up that day that he had to get to, Steve had our stay put back on, with a good-as-new shackle for the Jenny and we even raised her a time or two and furled her back for good measure.  Phillip and I were stoked!  Steve really went the extra mile.  He noticed the splice on the Jenny halyard was a little thick and caused the line to catch in the throat at the top of the mast, so he cut it off and tied us a halyard knot in it.  He also noticed that the end of the jib halyard we had purchased for the trip wasn’t whipped at the end, which just didn’t sit well with him as a rigger.  He whipped out his whipping line and sodder tool and whipped us right up.  Even gave me a free lesson in whipping that I put to good use later.  We couldn’t have been more impressed with Steve.  We’re almost as big of fans of his as we are of Walter White.

With our Jenny fully repaired, raised, furled and ready to go, Phillip and I motored back to the Vinoy Basin with smiles the size of Texas.  It was around 2:00 p.m. when we got back, and we cracked open a beer (okay a cocktail for me), and kicked right back there in the cockpit to admire our furled Jenny.


All in a day’s work!

The View From Up Top

April 14, 2014:

You guessed it.  Another mast climb.  After we let our hair down and painted St. Pete red on Sunday night, Captain was quick to wake on Monday morning and put this crew to work!


Thankfully, this time we were able to use the main halyard to raise me, which is faaarrr more reliable that the spinnaker halyard we had to use last time to retrieve the main halyard.  That thing scared the Bejeesus out of me.  (Yes, that’s a word – quite the fitting one here).  I think we stretched her three times her length last time.  And, having the boat tied securely to a mooring ball while I ascended (as opposed to swaying like a treetop in the wind mid-sea) made the climb infinitely more comfortable.

“Look Ma!  No hands!”

photo 1 (1)   photo 1 (1)

In light of the vastly improved conditions, I took some time this time to get some footage!  I give you … the view from up top!


Such a great shot!  I love the view of this boat from up top.  She’s beautiful from all angles!

Thankfully, I made it up this time without any issue.  It was a nice, easy ride using the main halyard. As part of our preparations for the Keys, we had replaced the old main line with new VPC hybrid braid and what a difference!  I don’t think she stretched one bit while hoisting my heavy bottom all the way to the top.

I even got some footage from up top!


Video HERE.

What I find incredibly entertaining about this clip, though, is while I’m up there is Phillip’s one-line dialog: “What about the piece that broke?”  I mean, I’m up there risking life and limb climbing this mast (what seems like day after day on our sailing adventure) and the one time I try and take thirty seconds to capture it on film, Phillip is still all business.  “What about the piece that broke?” he says.

NOT:  “Man what a great climber you are, Annie.”  “Wow, you look like a real pro up there, Annie.”  “Go ahead, take all the time you need up there, Annie.”

NOPE.  It’s “what about the piece that broke?”

Like I said … a real slavedriver.   Yeaaahhh … He’ll regret that later … 


Much like the piece of the shackle that had come down (the swivel portion), the “piece that broke” (the part that connects to the Jenny halyard), it didn’t seem to have any obvious defect.  I shimmied it down and Phillip inspected it down on the deck.  He said it seemed the sir-clip (aka c-clip) had just popped off, which caused the shackle to come apart, allowing the swivel part to fall, and the halyard piece to remain at the top of the mast.  But, we were still missing some bearings, so repairs were certainly in order.  I also pulled off what looked like some marred black plastic at the top of the foil on the forestay.

We also put the inner forestay back in on the way down.  You’ll love this …  So, if you recall, our inner forestay busted during our initial Gulf Crossing when we were sailing the boat back from Punta Gorda, FL home to Pensacola, FL and we had a new one put in as part of our Keys preparations.  Well, the darn thing banged around like a banshee the first week of the trip and drove us crazy.  For that reason we decided to take her out when I had to climb the mast the first time to get the main halyard down.

Yeah, I can just imagine what you’re thinking (and saying to yourself with an imaginary pat on our heads):  “Poor little novice sailors.  You will learn.”  


Don’t worry.  We were doing that to ourselves.  When Jenny had her crack-induced fall-out and busted, we said the exact same thing to ourselves.  “Oh, no worries.  We can just hoist the staysail and keep on cruising.”  Except that we had taken down the forestay for the staysail.  I know … real brilliant like.  But she was banging!  And, I’ll tell you, with sailing, if you’re not out there screwing up and learning from your mistakes, then you’re not really sailing.  So, we chalked it up.  “Might as well put that back up while you’re up there.”  Which we did.  Lesson learned.  Make sure all of your safety and back-up gear are always ready, rigged and in working order.  You never know when you’re going to need them.

The great news was, we made it back up and down the mast a second time, safely, and we now had both busted parts of the Jenny down, as well as the Jenny halyard.  Done and done.  Hopefully no more mast climbs this trip.  But, we had even better news.  Once we got down and situated, Phillip got on the horn with the folks at Embree Marina who our previous owner had recommended in St. Pete, and they referred us to a local rigger – Steve Smith of SMMR, Inc.  We gave him a call and, while he had a few boats already lined up to work on that day, he asked us if we could motor over that morning so he could have a quick look at our Jenny shackle and give us a diagnosis.   We told him we were tied up to a mooring ball in the North Vinoy Basin and, turns out, he was just a short hop out into the bay and around the bend, up Salt Creek.


“Uhhh … you bet Steve.  We’ll be right there!”  We readied the boat and headed out.

A Room Without a Roof!

April 13, 2014:

Because we’re HAAPPEEEEYYY!  Who wouldn’t be with this set-up in St. Pete?  Fresh off the boat, we found ourselves right on the downtown strip.  Lots of upscale bars and restaurants, a resort hotel and even a super swanky rooftop lounge.  We spent our first night in St. Pete high on the town!

Jenny, what Jenny?  That’s a problem for tomorrow!  Enjoy the show:

Walking the downtown strip on Parkshore Drive.

IMG_8563   IMG_8565    IMG_8584   IMG_8566

Drinks at The Birchwood.


“How about a drink there First Mate?”


“Why, thank you Captain.  Don’t mind if I do!”


Exquisite lobby and decor at the Vinoy Renaissance on the North Basin.

IMG_8589   IMG_8590    IMG_8591    IMG_8592

Beautiful banyan trees at the Waterfront Downtown Park.

IMG_8595   IMG_8598  IMG_8602

Drinks and dinner at the Parkshore Grill.

IMG_8603  IMG_8606

Too bad we dug into dinner before this “foodie” could snap her shots.  Whoops.  But– take my word for it — it was awesome.  A stacked juicy cheeseburger with hand-cut fries!

IMG_8615    IMG_8613

Clean plate club!


Drinks (yes, more!) this time at The Birchwood Rooftop Bar:

IMG_9114    IMG_9115

We could actually look out and see our boat there in the mooring field.  Soooo cool.   


See?  You’d be happy too!  We were definitely digging St. Pete.  Not a bad place to be stuck for repairs.  Not a bad place at all …