Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Haulout Day

Tiger Point Marina, N30 41.50 W081 27.25

Today (5/31) I worked hard. I’m beat now. I worked all day with the diesel mechanic. We also hauled Tarwathie, and pressure washed the hull. She sits high and dry.

So, what is the answer to the question I posed before about the boat speed under power? It was mostly propeller fouling. The hull fouling wasn’t bad but the propeller looked like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. That made the engine work harder.

Still we took apart the raw water pump and found one of the rubber impeller blades cracked. A replacement is on order. We also back flushed the cooling system. No critters came out but some sand did. I suspect one of those groundings in the waterway. When I revved up the engine, it stirred the bottom and I sucked some sand in. We also found some barnacles in the thru-hull fitting.

I learned a lot about diesel maintenance today. That’s good. But the biggest lesson I learned is that I’ll have to learn to dive and do underwater maintenance on

Tarwathie. It’s not affordable to haul her out of the water whenever something needs cleaning. Perhaps a snorkel and mask will do. I don’t have SCUBA certification.

The rigging man, Ingmar, came today to look at the bent anchor roller pin. I completely surprised him by conducting our business in Swedish. He was even more surprised to hear that I’ve been in Darlana, the region in Sweden he comes from.

All the people here at the marina are very nice. It’s a pleasure working with them. I hope I feel the same after I see the boatyard bill at the end of the week.

Tarwathie High and Dry

The main reason that I couldn't go faster.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The UPS Store

Fernandina Beach,FL


Today is 5/30.  I'm writing from the bench outside the UPS store in Fernandina Beach.


Finally!  Today I weighed anchor and motored on up to Tiger Point Marina.   It was slow going against the current again.  The weather said thunderstorms in the afternoon and I tried to beat the storms to the marina.  I lost the race by ½ mile.  Had to anchor quickly outside the channel.  


Lost my windlass handle overboard when raising the anchor.  Damn.  No matter how much I hate loosing things overboard, it will always happen once in a while.  Still, it was the only real mishap in a week.


Tuesday they haul Tarwathie out and I start my bottom painting job.  The marina also said they can repair that bent anchor roller pin (remember from last March?)  I also want to hire a diesel mechanic to teach me how to do maintenance on the engine.


Tarwathie is much too slow under power.  Much slower than in Ft. Lauderdale.  What can cause it?  Some combination of the bottom being fouled.  The engine cooling could be too little preventing me from using more than 1500 RPM.  The pitch on the propeller could be wrong.   No other possibilities I can think of.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Stretched Out

Rattlesnake Creek N30 34.47 W81 28.33

Today is 5/29. I’m feeling dumb because I broke my promise to write a blog every day. It’s been three days since the last blog. My only excuse is that I’ve done very little to write about.

The only thing even close to exciting happened this afternoon. I came up on deck and **lo and behold** there was a naked lady climbing onto a boat 100 yards away. When boating in Sweden, we used to see that sight frequently but the protocol there was to stay cool and nonchalant. Not so in Florida. Quickly I dove for binoculars. Darn, it was only a woman with a flesh-colored bikini. There ought to be a law.

I’ve been at anchor at this same spot since last Tuesday. I cleaned and painted. I explored all the nooks and crannies on the boat. I rigged the second anchor so that I don’t need to use the one with the damaged roller. I wish I had a Florida fishing license. But mostly I read my book. I have a copy of the new Neal Stephanson novel Cryptomnomicon. It’s a thousand pages long. Good choice.

Yesterday a crab swam past the boat doing sort of a breaststroke on the surface. I peered closely because I didn’t think that crabs could come to the surface much less do the breaststroke. Yes it was a crab, and no I’m not eating mushrooms. Somewhere out there must be a marine biologist who can tell you (and me) that I’m not crazy.

I did some research and learned how to get Coast Guard offshore weather reports on the SSB radio. That will be important if we’re too far offshore for VHF radio. Hurricane season starts in two days. I practiced copying the weather info with pen and paper. It takes some practice to do reliably. If you miss part, it can be hours before the information is repeated.

I also wrote two articles in the past three days. I’ll see about getting co-authors when I get net connected again.

On the home front the news is mixed. The masonry work on the house is done. The well work should be done Monday. Libby went up to Vermont and spent a very pleasant day with our daughter Jennifer.

On the other hand, John called. Our old boat, the Tanzer was delivered to Sylvan Beach, but the outboard motor is gone. The transport man said that there was no motor on the boat when he picked it up. Apparently it was stolen. I feel bad for John and family because they were all psyched up to sail tomorrow. It must be a great disappointment for them. I’ll have to put in an insurance claim for the theft (ugh: yet another stuff-related chore). I doubt however that the insurance company will allow enough to buy a replacement.

Libby tried to call me but the masons seemed to have broken the phone wiring in the house. I arranged for the phone company to come Tuesday (another stuff related chore).

I arranged to sail to Fernandina Beach tomorrow and spend the night at the marina. Tuesday, the painting job starts. I also hope to get that anchor roller repaired this week, and to do an oil/filter change on the motor.

I forgot to mention that I brought a Globalstar satellite phone with me on this trip to test it for use as a modem to dial the Internet from the boat. The test failed. It won’t work for me in an affordable fashion. I’m going to mail it back to the vendor Tuesday.

I totally surprised myself when I realized that it took me 3 days to drink 8 cups of coffee. Those who know me best know me to be one of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. My steel thermos is like an appendage to my body; never far away. When I used to go to business meetings in Helsinki, my Finnish friends would order one batch of coffee for me and another batch for everyone else.

I feared the headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I also was fond of one of my two remaining vices (I gave up smoking and drinking long ago.) It caught me completely flat-footed to realize that I substantially broke my coffee habit without even noticing it. That leaves only one vice left. Fortunately, that one is secure. No I’m not telling what it is.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lazy Week

Rattlesnake Creek N30 34.47 W81 28.33
I learned today (5/26) that Tiger Point can't haul me until next Tuesday 5/31. That will mean nearly a week at anchor.
On the home front, Libby said that the masons and the well men both showed up today. They plan to finish by Saturday, with excavation, refilling the trench next Tuesday. Libby changed her ticket to return to JAX on 6/4.
Boy time sure stretches out. This is not the fast track.
Today I rigged anchor #2, and returned the chain for anchor number 1 to the starboard side. I also organized ships papers and read the Perkins diesel shop manual and the ICOM 710 SSB radio manual (lots of napping interspersed.)
It occurs to me that if I were really foolhardy, that I would leave the anchorage and sail northward single-handed. I might be able to make Norfolk by the time Libby wants to join me. I promised Libby that I wouldn't do that #1. Neither am I quite that foolhardy #2.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lazy Day

Rattlesnake Creek N30 34.47 W81 28.33
Today (5/25) I still haven't gotten word that Tiger Point can haul me out before next week. Therefore I just stayed at anchor today. I washed the decks. I figured out a better way to rig the snubber. I cleaned the teak. I did some mending. I talked with Dave Hackett and Dario Bolacasa on the cell phone.
Libby called. She's frustrated because the contractors aren't on the job and they don't answer their phones. Still, she's determined to get here next Tuesday. That's the ticket. Determination.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Slow Going

Rattlesnake Creek N30 34.47 W81 28.33
Today (5/24) the plan was to leave the slip in Jacksonville and to head up toward Amelia Island where Tiger Point Marina is. Still no work on when Tiger point can haul me out.
I couldn't leave till 10AM because the tidal current had me pinned into the slip. I left at 10 and right away I notices that Tarwathie was slow under motor. The antifouling paint must have worn out and the bottom covered with gunk. I'll soon know. The knot meter paddle stopped spinning.
Soon I noticed that the engine temperature was high and the RRMs low. Damn. I forgot to check the raw water filter before leaving. Bet it's clogged. I hastily anchored in the channel, dove below and opened up the raw water filter. The filter was clean, but I stuck my finger in the hose and came out with two little fish! Damn. I forgot to close the seacock before leaving in March. Must be critters hatching in the cooling system. At the boat yard I can clean the seacocks and the cooling system hoses.
I got off the Saint Johns river back into the ICW at Sisters Creek. Now the tidal flow was against me. I only made 0.5 to 1.5 knots against the ground. The drawbridge had to wait quite a while for me. After a while, I managed to get a staysail up (hard when you're navigating a narrow channel single handed.) That was better and I average 2.9 to 5 knots.
Late afternoon I came out of the creek onto the Nassau river. There was a big open stretch and 20 knots of headwind and 1-2 knots of current against me. I couldn't hold the bow into the wind. I was forced to drop back out of the channel and anchor in 20 feet of water. After 90 minutes the tidal current reversed. I could have 5 knots of current going my way. But wait, the wind against me picked up to 25 knots. I had visions of careening down the river out of control drifting with the current but unable to steer. I bit hard and waited for conditions to change. After 3 hours the current and the wind both subsided and I resumed my trip. I was still able to make my intended anchorage before dark.
So I finally did the right think and forced myself to be patient and wait. Boy was it hard. I'm just too indoctrinated to take action. When inactive, I worry and fret and think about how things might get worse as I wait. It's going to take some time to unlearn the habits of a lifetime.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Jacksonville, FL

Most everything on Tarwarthie was ship shape when I returned yesterday. I have to do some mending on the sun tarp and some cleaning.

Tiger Point Marina where I plan to haul out and paint said that they can't take me till early next week. I have to leave the slip tomorrow. I just may have to spend a few days at anchor doing nothing. That's the hardest thing of all to do.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Onboard Southwest Flight 1295

If you want to live your dream, determination is what it takes. That's what kept Libby and I going for the past two months. I had no idea that retirement could be such hard work.

What have we been doing? To review for our readers, we sailed Tarwathie as far north as Jacksonville; much less distance than we hoped to make. We hired a slip for two months and broke off the sailing in order to be back home for Easter. The project plan was to get the house sold, or at least listed on the real estate market. It proved to be harder than we thought.

We cleaned, we painted, and we pruned personal belongings. I sold stuff on Ebay and on Amazon.com. We spruced the yard, we wrote wills and medical proxies. we digitized and organized 40 years of family photos for the benefit of our families. Libby quit her job at ARC, (that was emotionally wrenching for Libby.) We arranged travel and insurance, and documentation. We ordered our finances. We held a yard sale. I informed my sister Marylyn that we were moving away. She lives in a group home and Libby and I were the only remaining family she has within hundreds of miles. We made arrangements for pets. I quit the fire department. In short, we've accomplished hundreds of one-time chores.

In the middle of April we enjoyed a pleasant break. Ken and Sonja, dear friends from Sweden paid a visit. We had a great couple of days with them. One thing we did with them was to go to the New York State Museum to see the 9/11 exhibits. We watched the documentary film with footage I never saw before. One scene showed the fire commanders on the ground floor of the South Tower at the instant that the North Tower collapsed. The noise and the shaking were unbelievable. The firemen looked up and around in bewilderment. Then, suddenly everything went black as the air filled with opaque dust. I was stunned and completely overwhelmed with emotion. I cried for half an hour. First time I cried since my parents died.

We also had setbacks. Right around Easter, I overdid yard work and gave myself a severe case of tendonitis in the knee. It was the first time in my life I had trouble like that. It immobilized me for nearly two weeks. The real estate agent told us that banks would no longer give loans on houses with dug wells. We had to pay to have a new well drilled just to make the house salable. Libby got an unexpected bill in the mail from IRS from an inheritance she got years ago. On the very last day before listing the house, I discovered serious damage to the foundation of the house. We need to have part of the foundation replaced before selling the house. We feel like Perseus; tormented by gods throwing obstacles in his way.

Ay. Ay. Ay. In recent weeks, Libby and I came to look each other in the eye several times per day and say, "We'll get through this." I'm afraid to ask her if she loves the sailing life dream as much now as she did before. She must be as determined as I am, or she must love me very much and be exceedingly loyal or some combination of those. I'm very lucky to have her and I love her very much indeed.

Our work is not done. We'll sail Tarwathie to the Albany area. Hopefully the house will be sold. I'll rent a self store cube. Then we'll move the furniture out, and transport it, some to kids and some to storage. We'll ship the dog to Alaska to live with my son David. That will be exceedingly hard to do emotionally. Around the end of July we should be ready to sail away on Tarwathie, free of the responsibilities of all stuff that's not onboard. I'm sure that Libby and I will both feel freed of an enormous burden.

Determination is what it takes. So far we remain determined to succeed and our plans remain intact. The cost is mental and physical exhaustion for both of us, plus tens of thousands of dollars subtracted from our nest egg. Someday I'll write an article entitled, "Prisoners of Our Stuff." At this point in time I can see very clearly how people become slaves to the responsibilities created by owning stuff.

The situation right now is that I'm flying to Jacksonville as I write. Libby is staying behind another 10 days because we still have contractors working on the house. I can't stay with her because Tarwathie must be moved by the 24th. I plan to sail her up to Fredonia Beach. There I'll haul her up on land and kill a week or so repainting the bottom with ablative anti-fouling paint. I'll also try to repair the anchor roller.