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Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Quick Drive up to St. Pete..

I made a quick trip up to St. Petersburg early this morning to claim my dinghy that I had purchased sight unseen. It was an uneventful trip, the hi-lite being the drive across the Sunshine Bridge on a beautiful sunny morning. I well remember being on the verge of freaking out the first couple times that I drove across that bridge. Now I simply enjoyed the view.

It was somewhat of a relief to finally claim my dinghy since I had already forked over my payment for the thing via a wire transfer some four days ago. I was getting a bit antsy because the seller wasn't being all that responsive in returning either my calls, or emails, or text messages to set up an appointment for me to pick up the thing.

The young man finally delivered the goods but not before I had all these morbid thoughts of breaking his neck in two pieces if he didn't follow through on the delivery. He finally showed up and was in obvious distress after a night of heavy drinking by his own admission to say the least.

Like I said, I was glad to load up the deflated dinghy in the trunk and head on back down the road to Ft. Myers with the goods in tow.

It was too damned hot to want to mess with the thing after unloading it out of the car. There was a floor-board to deal with and what not. I did finally get around to finally inflating the thing late in the afternoon after the brutal sun had finally started to set.

After languishing about all afternoon doing nothing, I had to once again remind myself of Sir Issac Newton's first law of motion... "Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it." In other words for the uninitiated, an object at rest will remain that way unless something moves it and my sh*t ain't getting done unless I get to work and make it happen.

The dinghy was duly inflated and tied off to a starboard cleat and by all appearances seems to be quite content to be snuggling up alongside of S/V Blondie-Dog.

Friday, August 13, 2010

An Impressionable Moment While Waiting at a Traffic Light...

A week or two prior to purchasing S/V Blondie-Dog, I found myself rather aimlessly driving throughout Florida chasing one scammy Craigslist sailboat listing after another. I had made the drive from St. Petersburg on up to Jacksonville and then continued down the coastline to St. Augustine and later Daytona Beach and on further south while looking at one crapped out boat after another.

I now found myself waiting at a traffic light in Ft. Pierce or what the hell, it might have been Daytona or Stuart for all that it matters... after once again having wasted my time checking out another "project" boat. While waiting on the light to turn and contemplating the futility that I had so far encountered searching for a decent enough boat, I couldn't help but observe a young twenty-something year old up ahead holding a hand-drawn cardboard sign.

The blond young girl was thin as a rail and wearing a simple, shear tight-fitting dress and was noticeably pregnant. Off to the side lying neatly on the grass were some eight or nine small plastic grocery shopping bags each holding her only possessions and each tied up in a knot at the end. The young woman simply stood there with one of those blank, distant stares while holding up her sign.

Scrawled on her handmade sign was, "Homeless, hungry, 7 months pregnant and 1,000 miles away from home."

A moment later I notice the driver in front of me reaching into her pocket-book and then extending her dark skin-toned, flabby arm out the window to hand over some folding money. The traffic light then turns green and I'm suddenly feeling quite remorseful for not having reached into my wallet as well.

As I continue driving, I contemplate whether to turn back and ask whether she'd allow me to drive her home where ever that might be. I wonder whether she'd trust a total stranger and I think about how aimless my life is and I do some math in my head to calculate the cost of four tanks of gas or so, a trip to Wal-mart for a few toiletries and clothing articles and whatever women have to have and what-not.

When I finally turn the car around, I find that I've driven another three or four miles down the road and made a few turns and simply can't find my way back. The next day I find myself driving to Indiantown near Lake Okeechobee and thinking back to the scene in the movie "Pay it Forward", when the addict tells the despondent woman on the bridge, "Let me help you so that I can help myself".

No leakage in the V-berth...

That's right... the orange conical shaped electrical connector previously mentioned in a prior post, was once again conscripted for service above and beyond its intended manufacturers design. Once again the connector more than ably plugged up the anchor-locker drain-hole up on the bow while I proceeded to pour in two full buckets of water.

To my pleasant surprise, there was no water leakage into the bilge. Evidently the gummy Silicon Sealant as well as the liquid electrical tape successfully sealed the hole where water was seeping out of the anchor-locker and down into the V-berth and eventually down into the bilge.

When I think about it, not having any seepage in the V-berth is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good insofar as not having any rainwater soak everything up in the V-berth and bad insofar as the lack of any late-night companionship...

For dinner last night, not that anyone hardly cares... were two slices of pepporoni pizza and two large goblets of merlot wine at Mona Lisa's Italian Restaurant in Ft. Myers. It's karaoke night every night at Mona Lisa's and chicks do dig karaoke.

Indeed, that was me up on stage singing "Free Falling" by Tom Petty and some other sappy love song while doing my best to endear myself to both the hot and not-so-hot chicks... Hey ladies, I may be older than I look, but I'm single and I'm looking and you need to hook up with me dammit!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Well...whadda ya know... I've purchased a dinghy.

I found an 8ft inflatable dinghy listed on Craig's List and made the purchase. Now all I've got to do is drive up to St. Petersburg and pick it up.. I've looked long enough for a dink so I rolled the dice insofar as the price and condition of the inflatable. I spoke at length over the phone with the seller to convince myself that I was dealing with a reputable person.... can't be too careful when shopping online.

The seller of the dink had the misfortune of having his 29ft sailing vessel burn to the waterline in a flash when he was about five miles out from shore. He was sailing by himself when the boat suddenly went up in flames. He barely had enough time to climb into the inflatable. There was no explosion, simply one instant massive flash fire in the bilge. He suspects that a gasoline can may have overturned and then ignited from the heat of the diesel engine.

He did not have time to grab a life vest or the VHF radio or whatever... the flames could be readily seen for miles and the Coast Guard was out there to investigate in a flash... ooops, I didn't mean to use the word flash.. I meant "in no time".

It has been raining pretty hard here recently and my bilge had a good three inches of water in it. Only problem is that I'm not certain where that water is coming from. The V-berth certainly does seem to get quite wet when it rains. Well, this morning was a good time to test the anchor locker up by the bow of the boat. I scooped up all the water out of the bilge and dried it out. I then pulled out the anchor and chain from the locker and plugged up the drain hole with a large conical shaped electrical connector of all things. After that I poured a good two buckets full of water into the anchor locker.

I was initially dismayed when I could readily see the water flowing down into the bilge but I had to correct myself..."you dummy, that's what you where hoping to see... now you know where the leak is coming from". Sure as hell beats any alternative that may have been causing the leak.

I remove my heroic electrical connector so the water can now readily drain overboard and then dry out the anchor locker with a grungy towel. Next I proceed to apply Silicon Sealant in the tight corners as well as where a grounding wire cable passes through the locker. The silicon seems somewhat hard to apply and kind of gummy, so I get out my bottle of liquid electric tape and apply it liberally throughout so that it seeps inside wherever it might be leaking. What the hell, it's my boat, I can do what I want.

I'm hoping that took care of the leak. We had another rainfall but I can't really tell if my efforts to plug the hole were successful. I will have to conscript the electrical connector back into service again and pour more water into the anchor locker and check the bilge to see whether the leak got plugged or not.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention... S/V Blondie-Dog now has her compass installed. It wasn't a big deal installing the thing.

Yesterday was a good day to abstain from the consumption of any and all alcohol... especially after finishing off a bottle of dark rum the previous day. So last evening upon entering "The Hideaway Bar", I manned-up and ordered a Coke much to the amusement of two bar-flies... but I didn't feel any worse for it and later watched the Rangers defeat the Yankees in ten innings while occasionally observing a female bar patron half my age get tanked on two beers.

I'm suspecting that she had a bottle of vodka or somesuch hidden in her purse. Her bathroom breaks seemed unreasonably long, not that I was monitoring them, but she was noticeably staggering when she made her way back to her half-full Miller Lite. The bartender apparently noticed the same thing because next thing I know, the patron is being asked to close out her tab and leave.

Lastly, for dinner last night, not that anyone gives a hoot... was steamed white rice along with a heated can of pre-seasoned red kidney beans along with a tin of Vienna Sausages and a coarsely chopped up tomato. The rice and beans were good and the dinky sausages were edible.

Memo to self: Make doubly sure gasoline cans are securely seated within the milk crates and that these in turn are tied down inside the cockpit locker wells.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Punieta!"... I've singed my thumb and forefinger on some hemp...

Oh yeah...I know what you may be possibly thinking about... and yes, I do indeed seem to recall burning the hell out of both my thumb and various other fingers while messing around with some variation of hemp or some such way back in the day.

Somehow I vaguely remember leaning up against the base of a coconut tree for days on end back in my youth and staring at my navel while overlooking a pristine, mesmerizing blue ocean on some isolated beach in Puerto Rico. I'm certain that I burned the hell out of my fingers and I'd tell you which beach I might have been contemplating my navel on except that I simply can't remember.

Nevertheless, I did indeed singe my thumb and forefinger today while tiding up the bitter end of a line today. The line was an embarrassment to all marina-kind, both woman and man and was most certainly in dire need of some nautical maintenance. It wasn't something imperative to be done before setting sail but nevertheless an annoyance and a reminder that S/V Blondie-Dog wasn't quite ship-shape. The ragged bitter end of the mainsail-line somehow resembled a Rastafarian along with all it's hair gone completely unkempt.

I took it upon myself to snip, snip, cut, and snip some more all the ragged threads and then stitch a good measure of twine both through and around it and once again completely through it until it was well worn out and Completed. I later singed my fingers after pressing the melting nylon threads tightly together that I had heated up with a cigarette lighter that I'd previously claimed off a bar-room floor. Liquid electric tape was lastly applied and the bitter end of the line was left to dry. I've got a few more lines aboard the boat that will share the same fate later today.

Not that anyone cares... but I've yet to heat up a can of whatever for dinner. But I did nevertheless sip the last of my bottle of Dark Barcardi Rum. I happened to notice a sign posted in a local tavern earlier in the day stating, "The liver is an evil organ and it must be punished"... I was only doing as directed.

Blondie-Dog got a much needed scrub down...

No, I'm not talking about Blondie the dog now residing at a beach house in Galveston, Texas. I'm referring to S/V Blondie-Dog as in Sailing Vessel Blondie-Dog. I took advantage of overcast skies, occasional heavy rain showers, and a later steady drizzle to wash down the deck.

My new portable drill was still charging for the first time so installing my compass in the cockpit was not a viable option. So instead I grabbed a bucket, a bottle of Soft-Scrub, two cleaning brushes and got to work.

The deck up along the bow got scrubbed down first. I believe it's called the foredeck now that I think about it. Two brushes were put to use... the smaller of the two, not unlike a toothbrush fit for a gorilla, was used to scrub to crud embedded between all the tight fittings.

The crud that came loose only served as even more incentive to zealously scrub down the rest of the deck all the way back to the stern. Getting up close and personal was a good opportunity to see all the possible crevices up on deck that could perhaps use some silicon sealant.

All that scrubbing was later followed by a good pressure wash down with the garden hose from up on the dock. By then, evening had started to set in and with the wind picking up and my clothing all damp, I was definitely feeling uncomfortably chilled and ready to call it quits for the day. I later grab my shower bag and head on up to the marina shower facilities for a nice long hot shower.

Dinner last evening, not that anyone gives a "conio-carajo", was a concoction of penne pasta, two small red potatoes, a small yellow squash, a cut-up Roma tomato and a tin of tuna all cooked in the pressure cooker.

After draining the pasta along with the potatoes and squash, I added a tin of tuna in oil and seasoned it all with a good drizzling of olive oil and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette and of course the usual coarse black pepper and salt along with a generous sprinkling of red-pepper flakes.

The red-pepper flakes were courtesy of a local pizzeria. (Hey! that's what those small zip-lock baggies are for!). Tuna in water was not an option. Emeril Lagasse certainly would not approve. I know because I certainly remember him saying as much on one of his shows.

My meal was surprisingly Good Eats!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Odds and ends around the boat...

Slowly but surely a few things are getting done on the boat. Among of which was the installation of a thru-deck seal at the base of the mast. The duct-tape previously wrapped around the electrical wiring extending out alongside the mast and through the top of the deck wasn't working to say the least. It was unsightly and did little to prevent a deluge of rainwater from seeping into the cabin.

Installing the seal wasn't all that difficult. It just required a little bit of diligence. The effort involved some re-wiring and lastly applying a bead of silicon around the fitting to ensure that it was water-tight.

The wind-scoop also happened to get a make over and now works like a charm. The thing had obviously seen better days and was previously held together with... why of course... duct-tape.

I peeled all the layers of duct-tape off and removed a piece of wood that had been rigged to provide support at one time and had later broken off in half. In place of the wood is now a length of thin PVC tubing purchased at Home Depot for a buck and change.

This tubing is lightweight, flexible, yet strong enough to provide the necessary support and in place of the duct-tape holding the torn lightweight fabric is twine that I stiched to repair the tears. The wind-scoop certainly does need a good cleaning and I'll use some Soft-Scrub detergent on it next time I wash down the deck.

I also got around to unclogging the drain on the port-side of the cockpit. I used the remaining length of the PVC tubing previously used to repair the wind-scoop, to poke through all the crud that had been stopping up the drain. Sure enough, I poked long and hard enough and something finally gave and the water in the cockpit readily drained out.

Next on my list of to-do's is to install a compass.

Early Sunday morning seated at a dockside picnic table...

It's early and I've already had my first cup of coffee. It was my good fortune the other day that upon opening a latch door that is not readily accessible and upon reaching down and about, I discovered an assortment of galley items left behind by the previous owners of the vessel.

Among the items I discovered was a small metal coffee percolator somewhat encrusted with what looked like calcium and who knows what else. Upon declaring that this gadget was a part of the purchase of the boat, I then gave it a thorough wire brush cleaning and welcomed it to the boat... and with Starbucks not opening until later in the morning, and with me in dire need of some coffee among other things, I brewed myself some coffee. Not neccessarily the best mind you but quite acceptable...when you need some, you need some.

Also found within the deep recesses of that hard to access moist, storage bin was some tupperware, aluminum foil, a huge metal whisk, and wax paper of all things. The tupperware was a definite keeper...and I'm not talking about that cheap Sterilite crap with the ill-fitting lids either.

This tupperware is of thick ply with clamp-down on lids. The aluminum foil was a keeper but the wax paper was disposed of with little after-thought. I can't ever remember using the stuff so out it went. The giant metal whisk along with a number of other kitchen gadgets will most unlikely be aboard either once I set sail.