Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prophets Come In Many Forms

  Remember that fella we met in Key West at the Conch Republic Bar? The one who started his conversation with me by saying that our wind generators were noisy and were going to break? Yes. Him.
  It turns out I should probably go back and find him and anoint his holiness with adulation and praise, for he is apparently a prophet worthy of being the center of a new religion, because his prediction has come true. Our port side wind generator is broken.
  The port side wind generator started "braking" for no apparent reason when we left Key West twelve days ago, but I suspected it was because our house bank of batteries was just fully charged and the generators don't supply a charge when the voltage is at an acceptable level. Then, over the weekend, when winds were blowing continually at 30 miles per hour, and the voltage had dropped on the house bank because we were running the water maker, the port side wind generator continued to "brake" unnecessarily and then ceased to run at all. Boo.
  Southwest Windpower has just been bought by Primus Wind Energy. This took place in January. Our wind generators are under a three year warranty, but it will be interesting to see how this process will go. I called them yesterday, but realized that they were probably closed due to the holiday. (President's Day, in case you missed it.)
  I did call Dave Ludwig from Bloch Marine back in St. Louis. Dave did the installation and I had a question regarding the method we used to plug in the generators to the 6 gauge wire that he ran to the control panel. The wind generators were installed in such a way that replacing them, or taking them down for service, would be an easy operation. What won't be easy is shipping them off to Colorado to have them "inspected" before the warranty is honored. I'll keep you posted as to how this transpires.

  I've mentioned the bad weather we've been having. The temperatures have been only as high as 55 degrees during the day at times, and we've had plenty of rain. Yes, my repair of the water leak on the bridge has been successful.
   The view in the photo above is looking to the south towards Looe Key. Little Palm Island is the land mass on the left. We are well at anchor in Newfound Harbor and have been here in the same spot going on five days now.

  The days are lazy ones. We've been reading a lot and Holly has been getting her share of naps in too. Rosie is keeping the decks mopped, and the rain has washed most of the salt off of Swing Set. I've done some minor chores and even some sewing, but otherwise any other service that the boat needs will have to be done where I can take used oil, engine coolant, and diesel fuel. So basically I'm resting on my laurels due to my status of having solved our rainwater leak. I'll milk it.
  We have also started playing gin rummy, a card game we used to play quite a bit years ago but had lost interest. We found some interesting new rules to play by and since we've been cooped up inside, we are enjoying it again.

  On our coldest day, we made this big pot of chicken soup. I am an expert at making home made chicken soup, chicken and dumplings and Hungarian Goulash, and I may have outdone myself with this variation of my grandmothers age old recipe.
  I boiled two chicken leg quarters in eight cups of water, added some pepper and chicken bouillon and a can of carrots, including the juice. I deboned the chicken after an hour and added four packages of Ramen noodles, along with the seasoning that comes in each packet. Then came the secret ingredient, catsup. Yes, catsup. I squirted about half a cup of regular old catsup right into the pot. This took place of the tomato paste that we didn't have on hand, which is in my grandmothers recipe. It gives the soup a nice rich color and really adds to the taste. Try it sometime.
  Today is the day we plan of venturing out. We were going to take the dinghy, but our water tank is low. We aren't making as much water as I would like because the 12 volt battery bank that supplies the water maker isn't charging with the wind generator and we don't need to run the diesel generator just to make water. It's easier to just cruise over to a nearby marina and take on water than it is to run another wire to the other bank of batteries. We need to dump trash anyway.
  We've been getting some good comments and emails about the blog with people saying that our exploits are an inspiration to some people that want to do this very thing. Those comments make my writing the blog worthwhile. Sometimes I feel like the blog is just a way to say, "Hey look at us, how much fun we're having!" I don't like to give that impression.
  We get requests from folks who want to see our Facebook page, but generally we decline those requests. I use our Facebook page to express views that would not necessarily be acceptable to the general public, so we keep it separate. Some readers want to share phone numbers, but that's not something we do much of, talk on the phone. Unless we need to talk to someone that finds the blog and wants to meet nearby, we don't relish talking on the phone to people we don't know. We like meeting people in person better. Usually.
  Anybody want to visit? Please realize the limitations of our not being at any specific location. Just finding a place to pick up passengers for a daytime cruise can be problematic. We also aren't travel agents, and don't know where the best hotels or resorts are at because we don't use them. We might be able to squeeze an overnight guest onto the boat for a night or two, but space is tight on Swing Set for people, and for their "stuff". We'd love to have a continuous succession of overnight guests if our boat was bigger, but it's not. It was great getting visitors in Key West because everyone had their places to stay, and we were at a dock. It was perfect. If we ever get settled into a specific location for any length of time, we'll be able to plan on having visitors a lot easier.

  Why the picture of Holly sleeping? Because we get requests to see more pictures of Holly. Nobody ever asks to see pictures of me, and that's OK.
  I almost forgot. I bought an app months ago called Boat Beacon. It's supposed to show ships and other boats in our area. I haven't used it for that, but I've found a good use for the app. It has an anchor alarm that can double as a theft alarm. If I use our iPad to set the alarm and leave it on the boat when we leave, the alarm will send an email message to my iPhone if the boat moves further than a predetermined setting. This can give us some peace of mind about the anchor dragging when we are away from the boat. The app is only a few bucks, so it's worth it if it works. We might try it today.


  1. Happy to read that you navigated Niles without incident. The water is a little skinny in places. We love picnic island. P.S. There is great snorkeling just out from Little Palm Island. You will see the yellow floats.

  2. We intend to do some snorkeling but have been waiting for the wind to die down. We'll be visiting Picnic Island too.

  3. Good Day Swing Set,
    I do love the blog as we are setting up a express(Four Winns) that has the same hull length as yours for the Great Loop. We are putting in air conditioning and another holding tank as we now have a type III msd that only holds 15 gal. Not sure that I will do the wind generator!
    Thanks for taking the time to write.
    Penny Pinchin
    Discovery Bay, CA

  4. Good idea to increase holding tank size. A/C will be needed too, but we've been lucky and haven't run any heat or air since October. I don't recommend the wind generators, I just wanted to improve our chances of being self sufficient on the hook without running the generator all the time. Give us a shout if our paths intersect once you get on your way.

  5. Luv the blog! Never thought to put ketsup in soup but sounds good. I too am a great chicken soup maker, or ay least my grandkids think so. The beauty of your blob is that you paint a picture.every day life of "living-aboard". Keep 'em coming........Dave

  6. Luv the blog. The beauty of your blog is that you paint a picture of every day living on a boat. JoAnn and I list a link to the blogs we follow on our profile and have friends who admire your writing style. Its not at all show-offy and that's why its a great read........stay safe....Dave

  7. Hope Jennifer is on at Dolphin Marina (Little Torch Key) when you head over. She's a very sweet and helpful little lady. Can't remember the name of the brunette that's there when Jennifer isn't, but she can be nice too. Depends on the day and the demands. When the water is better, you might want to take the dink over to Looe Key Tiki Hut, on Ramrod Key. Jennifer can give you a local map how to get there. Fun place with good Happy Hour prices and food specials. Hoping the weather quits being so up and down, for you AND for us ;-)

  8. We never got into Dolphin Marina. I was churning up sand way short of the marked channel into the marina, so we turned around and went over to Little Palm Island to get water. The Harbormaster over at Little Palm was a crabby sort and was only going to let us have 10 gallons of water, even though I offered to pay for it. He was miffed because we pulled in and tied up the boat without getting permission. He asked we did that everywhere we went. I told him that in 10 months of traveling on the boat, this was the first time it has been an issue. As he walked away, he grumbled something about us staying no longer than 10 minutes. In between my talking to him, and an extra seven minutes or so, we had filled up the tank completely. Thank you very much Mr. Crabby. I talked to the captain that runs the shuttle over to Little Palm and got the scoop on getting into Dolphin Marina in case we are here long enough to need water again. The other thing is that I should have waited until high tide. We had plans to go to Looe Key Dive Center and the Tiki Hut tonight for happy hour, but the clouds moving in are promising more rain in a big way. At least the roof doesn't leak. I also talked to a technician at Primus Windpower about our broken wind generator and got some tips about repairing it myself. It may be just dirty brushes in the rotor. At any rate, there aren't many parts on these things, so even if I buy a few key components, I should be able to solve this issue without sending it away.

  9. I can make a prophesy as well: That ( pick any piece of equipment or system on the boat) will break, leak, or malfunction one of these days. :)
    I enjoy your blog and hope our wakes cross one of these days so I can buy you a beer or three.

    MV KaJen