Today is Thursday, Jan 23rd, and we have already been in Titusville for 2 weeks. A little discouragement is creeping in from time to time, as the work on the boat is going much slower than anticipated. We have made a little progress, but it seems to be progressing in baby steps. Gary, a live-aboard here, has been hired on as our right hand fix-it guy. He’s an unassuming fellow, easy with a smile and a helping hand. His history is a little hard to believe – he spent 9 years in the pen for smuggling pot and has written a book entitled, “A Smuggler’s Tale from Jail.”
Gary grew up in these parts in Florida, has extensive experience with boats, and is a great fisherman. A few days back he fried up a bunch of Bluefish and a Whiting, (although his wife Patty caught most of them), along with a Flounder which she stuffed with crab and baked. The fish were shared with the old group from ‘E’ dock, and we were included (even though we’re now on D-dock). It was delish!
We now have a working solar light in the cockpit which can be turned on manually or activated by motion. This will come in handy when anchored out, and will act as a security light when in marinas. We now have a working horn, with the ability to sound it from both the upper and lower helms. Gary completed the installation of lower helm depth finder and GPS today, which will aid us in our navigation in colder climates. We had the diesel fuel ‘polished’ to remove water. We’re not sure where this water came from, but all the fuel from one of our two tanks had to be disposed of – no matter how many filters and separators it was run through, the water could not be removed. Since that was done we have been getting air in the lines for the generator, so it will not keep running. This has caused days of experimentation, and multiple trips to hardware, marine, plumbing, and auto parts stores. We finally hired a pro who is supposed to come out to the boat on Saturday. He says if he can’t fix it he won’t charge us, so that’s a no-brainer.
The stainless steel holding tank for the toilet is another not-so fun story. We were excited that there is a custom 40-gallon holding tank behind a wall in the closet. Gary got it rigged up for use, moving the macerator. We were overjoyed to go from a 9 gallon to 49 gallon capacity. But, the joy didn’t last long as the big tank started leaking. M-m-m-m-m. You can imagine how fun this has been. So now, Jim is in the process of removing the facing around the closet door and another door frame so that the tank can be removed. We are hoping that we can have it pressure tested to find the source of the leak, and have it welded before putting it back in its hiding spot. In the meantime, nose plugs are in order.
Gary also extended the anchor light so that it is legal; visible 360 degrees, so it needed to be taller than the canvas on the bridge. He also added a couple dc outlets, which are nice for all our electronic gadgets. We got our new hi-lo table on the boat, and love it. We’ve also hung a new shower curtain (a few zip ties were necessary), purchased a new rug and thermometer for the salon, and a new magnetic knife holder and clock for the kitchen.
We hired a seamstress named Anne to make custom bedding for the front berth, and to modify new drapery panels to fit on the sliding door for the salon. I’m excited about that, as making the berth without custom fitted bedding is a real challenge, because of its almost triangular shape. We have started sleeping cross-wise in the berth, as it is wider than it is long, and we have been sleeping better. Anne is going to add a custom 4″ gel memory foam layer, with custom-fitted mattress cover, mattress pad, and custom sheets.
Each day I try to get a little more done, although it is difficult with all the other work being done on the boat. The engines (generator and main) are under the salon floor. Four large rectangular sections down the middle need to be removed to access everything, and it makes it difficult to move around. So, I’ve been trying to walk at least 4 miles every day, taking different routes and exploring things as I go along. Today I took a walk down memory lane, literally. I walked to Parish Medical Center, and by almost all the clinics, infusion center, and physical therapy office I visited as a patient here last May. So glad my circumstances are better!
Last weekend we took a break from the boat and went on a road trip. We visited Jim’s cousin Louis and wife Marilyn in Summerfield, FL. We had a really nice time, went out for dinner, and got a tour of the nearby ‘Villages’. The ride there was more beautiful than I thought – with farm fields, horse ranches and orange groves through Florida’s interior.
The next morning, Sunday, we left and headed south to visit friends John and Sherla in Zephyrhills. It rained, so we watched football and hung out in their cute ‘Florida’ room. Monday we toured around, going to the Apollo Beach Power Plant to see the manatees. I miss them here at the marina, but it has been so cold they head to the warm water discharged by the power plants on both coasts.
From there we went to an old historic section of Tampa called Ybor City. This was settled by the Italians and Cubans, and is famous for their cigar cafes where you can purchase and smoke cigars and watch them being hand-rolled. It was a little reminiscent of Key West with its many roosters and chickens milling around. Many of the bars don’t even open until 11:00 pm! I guess I’m getting older–I’m usually done for the day by then. It was a fun time, and great to see their winter home with all their beautiful antiques and Florida decor.
Thursday evening we had the pleasure of spending time with Nick and Mary and Stan and Jan. We went out for dinner at the Dixie Crossings restaurant, then came back to the boat and watched a 9 pm rocket launch from the fly bridge on the boat. It was a fun evening.
Work continues on the boat – Jim was able to get the holding tank disengaged from the closet. The jack from the truck was necessary, and after removal it was obvious that it would be impossible to re-use the tank. So a new hard plastic version was ordered which we won’t get for 2 more weeks. A diver was hired to come last Saturday, but he still hasn’t shown up. One of the trim tabs is not working, and we wanted to have the bottom of the boat examined. Jim also installed new screens, glass, and gaskets for the port lights.
The weather in the evenings has been cold, especially when the wind is coming off the river through the channel into the marina. I did not pack enough warm clothing, so purchased a new wind-breaker from the marina. I can’t really complain about the temps down here, as I keep an eye on what it’s like at home. It’s getting harder to visualize the longer we’re here, and I’m thinking this is cold. The locals say it is an unusually cold winter.
Today we left our slip and motored over to the fuel dock. We put in 157 gallons of diesel for a little over $600. Ouch! But now we’ll be full when we’re ready to depart, and should be able to make many miles before needing more. But we’ll be here for another couple of weeks for sure, slowly but surely getting those necessary improvements and repairs done to “Matter of Time”.