30 April 2010

Shakedown Cruise

I expected the first couple weeks of this cruise to be a bit of a 'shakedown' -- both of the boat and of me. And indeed it has! I was initially annoyed by the need to stop and get my outboard fixed, but it has turned out to be a good thing. Here's why.

First, that little knock on the shin that I complained about in passing nearly 2 weeks ago developed into a big problem that needed fixing before I could tackle anything else. Although my skin was barely scratched, and has long healed, underneath the skin, critters like these were having a field day.

SEM micrograph of S. aureus colonies; note the 
grape-like clustering common to Staphylococcus species.

In short, I had what the doctor's called a staff infection.  'Have' would be the better word, since I've still got it. The first antibiotic the doctor's gave me made a good first impression, but failed to knock it out of me. The second one seems to be doing a better job, but it's still hanging in there. Having a few days ashore allowed me to spend quality time with doctors, and keep the old leg elevated for a couple hours a day. Hopefully, I've got this licked. Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, my outboard was being tended by a different set of doctors -- the very capable folks at SaraBay Marina. Parts had to be ordered from 3 different states, but they finally all came in and it's now made a complete recovery. It needed a carburetor rebuild, a new set of spark plugs, and a new dipstick... the old one wasn't a tight fit and had been leaking a small amount of oil. 

I also replaced the gas tank, just to be sure. I didn't want crud or water in the old tank to 'reinfect' the now healthy motor.

A healthy motor is going to be important in the coming days, since I'm now running a couple weeks behind schedule, and I've decided to take the shortcut across Lake Okeechobee. I'd been toying with the idea of taking this canal anyway, since it's supposed to be both beautiful and very different from anything else I'm likely to see on this journey. 

More importantly, summer is imminent and I want to be heading north before the hurricane season arrives in June. That probably would not be possible if I took the long way through the Keys.

Ortona Lock and Dam
photo USACE

No idea what I'm getting into with bridges, locks, dams, and bugs, but that's what makes it interesting.

The stopover also allowed me to give Cabin Boy a bit of TLC. Namely, a good bottom cleaning:

3 weeks accumulation of junk on Cabin Boy
photo jalmberg

And boy, did he need it! His bottom wasn't this bad a week ago, but I guess a week of just 'sitting' in the marina allowed all sorts of critters -- mainly baby barnacles -- to find a home.

They scraped off easily enough, but I'm going to have to give him another coat of paint when I arrive in Stuart FL in a week or so. I'm not sure whether to use 'real' bottom paint, or not... I'd be less likely to take a scraper to expensive bottom paint. It seems easier to use cheap oil based paint, and just haul him out once a week for a good cleaning. Will need to think about this...

 After a good cleaning
photo jalmberg

Finally, I'm still trimming down and organizing the Blue Moon's 'stores'. I've got rid of two more big boxes of stuff that I realized I would not need -- at least until I got to Stuart. I definitely over packed for this journey, but I'm gradually narrowing stuff down to things I really need. This winnowing process has freed up a lot of much needed room.

I'm also learning a lot about keeping things organized in a space that is frequently kocked violently about.

In particular, I've organized my limited shelf space with plastic boxes that help keep my food, dishes, pots, etc., from all ending up on the cabin floor. 

My plastic 'corrals'
photo jalmberg

Several net 'hammocks' are also extremely useful for keeping things in their place, and easy to find. One of the things that really annoys me is not being able to find something in a few seconds... A few seconds, in the dark, in a sea way, with no one at the tiller, is all I have some times. 

My fresh food 'locker'
photo jalmberg

I've become very good at putting things back 'where they belong'. I can totally understand the whole idea of ship shape, and everything in it's place.

So, we all seem to be healthier and better organized than when we arrived here in the Sara Bay Marina. Thanks to everyone at this terrific marina, particularly the service manager Debbie, and the dock master Jeff. If you need mechanical service on the waterway, or just an overnight berth, you'd have a hard time beating this place.

Tomorrow, we voyage south, again!

>>> Next Episode: The Boss

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  1. Hi John.
    I had a similar infection about 18 months ago and spent 10 days in hospital on an antibiotic drip before the little monster was subdued.
    Make sure you've got it completely knocked off!!!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. When your cabin boy gets a minute can you get him to paint over the paint run on the port wall of the cockpit?

  3. I recommend putting some real (and toxic) bottom paint on the bottom. It will be worth it. Once I left an 8 ft. dingy in the water for about 10 days. It was already becoming a mess. The Gulf of Mexico grows stuff really fast. The fresh water in Lake Okeechobee will be helpful, but you will be back in warm salt water soon enough.

  4. Hope that shin is better soon! Hurricane season sucks at the best of times;)

    Small Boat Building

  5. Hi there: My first post to your blog. I'll enjoy catching up and going backward to see how you got to where you are.
    I came to your blog from an English blog--keep turning left--. I wish I had been a few days earlier. I'm presently in Spring Hill, Fl -- a place you pasted on your trip to Tarpon Springs. I'm about a month from following your pathway to the east coast in my Southern Cross 31. It caught my eye that you had a SC 28.
    I enjoy your writing style, keep it up Bob


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