Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Signs of Spring

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W

Having grown up in northern climates, we are used to looking to nature for the signs that spring has arrived.  Down here in the keys, there are little or no clues from nature.  Late in April the wind patterns will change, but not much more than that.

However, if you live in the harbor and listen to the cruiser's net on VHF there's a very noticeable sign.  This morning alone, there were more than 10 cruising boats departing to start their northward migration.  A week or so ago, there was a similar exodus.  The departures come in spurts because of favorable/unfavorable weather.  When you're ready, and you get a window, you go.

We too are getting ready to leave.  Tentatively, one week from today.   I would like to go up the west coast to Little Shark River, Everglades City, Naples, Fort Meyers, Labelle, Lake Okechoobe, and Stuart.  If we do that, it will take about 10 days to get to Vero.  An alternative is to go out in the Gulf Stream and head up the east coast.  Then we could be in Vero in 48 hours.  A week is far to long to forecast weather, so until next Sunday, Tuesday's departure could be east, or west, or cancelled.

It's going to be fun.  Our friend Sten-Orjan just let us know that he's coming from Sweden in April and want's to sail with us for a week.  Hooray!  He will be most welcome.   Also, I just signed up this morning for a month at the New Bern Grand Marina.   We'll be able to visit Dave and Cathy, and also be able to go up on the hard to have her bottom painted.

p.s.  Maybe you can help with a vexing problem.  Just two weeks ago I climbed the mast to fix the anchor light.  It was just that the bulb had come loose in the socket.  Well, less than a week later it came loose again.  How annoying.  Before climbing up again, I'd welcome suggestions for how to prevent that from happening ever again.  It is a bayonet type base; push in and twist.  See the picture.  My only ideas are (1) wrap some tinfoil around the base to increase friction, or (2) to paint one side of the base with Loctite.  Maybe you have another suggestion.  Remember that at the masthead, I can only access the fixture from below.


  1. This is only a guess, but it sounds to me as if the spring in the base lost some of it's tension.

    Bill Kelleher

  2. I messed with that problem for exactly two trips up the mast.

    Second trip up, replaced the masthead light fixture.

    10 yrs later, still working fine.

  3. I have to agree with Bill that it may be the spring - I've had the same problem with bow lights in the past. Usually I replace and then repair the offending unit, keeping it for spares. Seldom worth the extra trip up the stick unless you really have to -

    There are a few alternatives to replacing the entire fixture -

    a. Use solder to build up a larger tip on the base of the bulb. That way it pushes the base down further into the mount and might make up for the weakened spring, if that is in fact the problem. It makes for a much tighter fit. Be sure to carry an emory board or small file to remove the excess solder if you build it up too much.

    b. Use a more expensive and longer lived LED bulb that you prewire with lugs/plug. Then take up a set to rewire the fixture to match. Then you can use the base as a platform to tape the new bulb around, being sure to insulate it with tape prior to using tape to secure it. This is really just a temporary fix.

    One more suggestion - when you have the stick down this summer for the transit place 2 mast steps at a height so that you can stand on them above the top of the mast once you are hauled up - makes a world of difference to be able to look down on a problem instead of trying to feel your way around - Best of luck
    These Days II


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