13 June 2010

On the Road Again

Sometimes I can be such a New Yorker. For example, here I am, living the dream, sailing on a beautiful boat that constantly attracts interest and questions, learning new things every day about sailing and cruising (and myself). And yet this little nagging voice in the back of my head keeps asking "What are you doing out here? What are you trying to accomplish?"

You'd think fun and having once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something you've always wanted to do would be enough, but no, that New Yorker in me wants something a bit more concrete, a bit more practical. I've been pondering this question during my watch at the helm.

Speaking of which, my watches seems to go on and on! Where's my relief man? The lazy bum is always down below with one excuse or another. But I digress...

I've also been way too focused on miles-sailed-per-day. I had the same problem when I started out, but that impatient New Yorker's drive to go, go, go thankfully faded after a few days. There are lots of ways to measure the value the time spent on a voyage like this one, and miles traveled is one of the stupider ones. Experiences-per-day is a better yardstick, I keep telling my inner cab driver, but he's not listening yet. Soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, I haven't come up with a cosmic-scale answer to the "What are you doing out here?" question. But I do hope to end up a better sailor, and -- perhaps more importantly -- to have the Blue Moon set up as the perfect little pocket cruiser. The boat builder in me has a lot of ideas, that I'll be sharing as I go along. Next on my to-do list are finishing a much bigger tarp that I really need to protect me from the blazing Florida sun, and to replace some of the small lines on the boat that are fraying and just looking tired.

Anyway, that's for future blog posts.

I guess you have figured out by now that I am back on the water. This is actually my third day out and my blog is running behind as usual. I've just been too busy/tired to turn on my computer at night. But I'm settling back into life on the Blue Moon, and I finally have enough energy to catch up my blog.

I flew down to Florida exactly a week ago today (Sunday), and on Monday morning drove 4 hours up to Jacksonville to pick up my new Yamaha T9.9 outboard. Why Jacksonville, you ask? Couldn't I buy one closer to Indiantown, where the boat was?

Short answer: No. Apparently, it isn't worth the average Yamaha dealer's time to sell such a small motor. I guess the profit just isn't there. I'm not sure this is the reason, but the fact is that after calling every Yamaha dealer on the east coast of Florida, only one seemed really interested in selling me a motor: the good folk at Atlantic Coast Marine, in Jacksonville, led by salesman John, and backed up by the rest of the efficient, helpful, friendly crew.

Little building, big service. Recommended.
photo jalmberg

I'm glad to hear the rest of the boating industry in Florida is doing so well that they don't need to waste time with small fry, like me.

Picking up the motor was one thing, getting it onto the back of the Blue Moon was another. My big, strong younger brother, who I've mentioned before, was able to lift the old Johnson and the loaner Yamaha off the back of the boat, with only minor back sprains... nothing a good chiropractor or a bit of yoga couldn't take care of. The new motor was only a few pounds more, but the 25" length made it much harder to lift over the transom.

Engine in Mom's car (I put cardboard down, mom!)
photo jalmberg

We tried a number of things, but in the end had to rig a 3X block and tackle from the top of the mizzen mast to get it up over the transom, and down onto the bracket. When it was finally on and we were having a celebratory beer at the Ale House, I thought to myself, "I should have taken pictures."

Dang. If I ever get a tattoo, it's going to be the words "Take pictures, stupid!" on the back of my hand. Maybe in Chinese characters, just to make it interesting.

Once installed, I had another problem: how to run the heavy duty wires from the alternator down to the batteries, under the cockpit. I had two options:

1. drill a hole in the transom below the cockpit seat level, directly into the hull
2. drill a hole in the transom above the cockpit level, and then a second hole leading down below to the batteries.

I'm not sure which was the right option, but I didn't like the idea of a hole leading directly into the hull, where a leak would be out of sight, out of mind. I also wanted the wire to be easily removable, for when the engine needs servicing. 

In the end, I chose option 2. It seemed the safest, most practical approach, if not the most aesthetically pleasing. However, the great thing about wooden boats is that holes are easily filled, if I ever thing of a better solution.

No power tools were harmed during the installation of this wire.
photo jalmberg

I led the wire down below through a small chain pipe, with cap. It works, and is out of the way of the tiller.

So, all told, it took three days to pick up the outboard, install it on the back of the boat, and install the wiring, fuel separator, etc. This was in the brutal heat of central Florida in June. Impossible to work during the middle of the day. I now understand the whole concept of 'siesta'. Insanely hot.

But while I was in the mood to work, I gave Cabin Boy's bottom a well deserved coat of paint.

Cabin Boy's well-worn bottom
photo by Mom

Finally, refitting and reprovisioning accomplished, it was time to back out of the slip under power, and rejoin the Okeechobee Waterway.

Ready to set sail
photo jalmberg

On the waterway, again! 
photo jalmberg

So I am on the 'road' again, and it feels good...

>>> Next Episode: Enemy #1

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  1. Two "thumbs up" John,,,,enjoy, learn and go for it !.....Bill - Montgomery 17--Texas

  2. Looks like one of your sidelight boxes is slipping, hope you fixed that. :)
    Anyways, I love your blog as I'm about to undertake a voyage of my own. First time on my new boat, and cruising around the Great Lakes this summer.
    Hope I have time to keep up with your blog too.
    -Brian McB. -Oday 25- New York

  3. Great photos. What fun reading your adventures has been.
    As for listening to yourself. Certainly there are better companions: the sea, the wind, the gulls, the fresh breezes, the sound water makes when it is all around.
    Listen only to those.
    You will have plenty of blog time to talk to yourself when the better companions are only in photographs and memories.

  4. Hi John, glad you are back, I was starting to suffer withdrawals. I must say i am enjoying your trip very much. I am on the other side of the planet (Melbourne, Australia) and thanks to the awesomeness of the web I can check out all the places you have visited via, google earth, and follow you as you experience your part of the world from a different view. What an amazing cruising environment you have there. You can now drown out the voices inside your head and meditate on the sweet sound of your Yamaha and pray for following winds.
    cheers and good luck ahead


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