Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Even Setting Still, Things Break

  When the Fenton gang was here last week, Robert "Ferd" Frank was nice enough to take some photos, and even nicer to send them to us once they got sorted out.
 I explained to Ferd, that even though I do take a fair amount of photos on our travels, I like it when we have company and someone else is doing the camera work. I can then concentrate on the "captaining duties". There is distraction enough when the boat is loaded with passengers, let alone me having to drive and take photos too.

  Just look at this photo that Ferd took when we were all at the Hogfish Bar!
  Check out his website at for more of his spectacular photos.
  As indicated by the title of this blog, we still get systems failures on the boat even while parked here dockside. Like I told Eddie, one of the Fenton visitors, when he asked me how much do we work on the boat; I told him we are usually working on something every day.
  The latest thing to go wrong was found when Rosie flushed the toilet in the master head yesterday morning. The pedal wouldn't actuate smoothly, and the ball valve wouldn't seal, making the vacuum pump continue to run. My previous experience tells me that the shaft that connects to the ball valve was probably broken. This happened two years ago and the shaft and ball valve seal kit I bought at our local boatyard had some whiskers on it, meaning the dust was so thick on the packaging that I knew it was the old style, also meaning that the shaft was made of the original plastic, and not the bronze ones now sold.
  But the kit was in hand and available, so I bought it and put new seals and the kit in myself, but also knowing that the shaft would probably fail again in a few years. We are apparently at that point now.
  We rode our bike into town last night and arrived at Key West Marine Supply just after they had locked the doors for the day, but one of the staff unlocked the door and asked what we needed. I told him I needed a seal kit for a Sealand marine toilet, and he told me that I needed to contact Head Honcho of Key West for parts. I told him I knew Perry of Head Honcho, thanked him for opening the doors for us, and then rode over to the still open West Marine store just down Caroline Street, to see if they had what I was after. I was not surprised to find that West Marine did not have what I wanted, so I planned on calling Perry first thing in the morning.
  Another thing that broke was our hand held VHF radio. Our current unit is one we've had for about 17 years. It's an ICOM radio that I've been nursing along since we left St. Louis. I've had to discard the lithium battery and resorted to AA batteries instead. I've also had to do some soldering on it too, but I tried to use the radio when we were out on the dinghy last Sunday and the radio was on strike. I began to search for hand held VHF radios on, but first I decided to try fresh AA batteries, but of course we were out of that size.

  Which brings us back to our trip into "town" on Monday afternoon. Late afternoon, as you can tell from the photo above. Rosie is posing along North Roosevelt Road which has been torn up now for almost two years, but the road work is nearing completion.
  Palm trees line a section of scenic road for about three miles, and the new concrete bicycle and side walk have been completed for a couple of months now.
  It's a four and a half mile bike ride for us to downtown, but it's bike path nearly the whole way. Key West is very bicycle and scooter friendly. There are lots of places to lock up bikes, and scooter/motorcycle parking is free everywhere. Car parking is expensive, so it makes sense to ride two wheels.
  What doesn't make sense is the habit for everyone to not wear protective head gear. We wear ours; our feeble minds cannot afford brain damage too. I mean more brain damage.
  Our main reason to bike into town was to see a movie at the Tropic Cinema, but now we had a mission to visit Home Depot and the marine supply stores mentioned previously. I keep a running list of stuff we need at the store on the iPhone, so that when we get to any store, I can check the list and make sure we don't forget anything.
  One thing on the list was a wider paint scraper for scraping barnacles off the bottom of Swing Set. Strunk Ace Hardware had a dandy eight inch wide stainless steel scraper for a mere twelve bucks, which should work better on the bigger hull sections than the three inch one I've been using. Anything that will make scraping barnacles easier is money well spent.
  Our light in the Norcold refrigerator has stopped working, and the lamp base was found to be broken. New parts from Norcold are cost prohibitive, and shipping for the parts was more than the parts cost, so I decided to just install a new 12 volt light in our fridge, so it was another thing on our list, but except for high priced units at West Marine, I didn't find anything I wanted to buy at any of the places we went to. Amazon would be pressed into service when we got back to the boat.
  But we did get the scraper, some batteries, a small flashlight, some Soft Scrub, some stainless steel brackets to hang another mop handle when we want to, and some holding tank treatment solution that we found much cheaper at Home Depot than anywhere else.
  We saw a very good movie, American Hustle, and had a pleasant ride back to the boat, although we'll be much happier when the street lights along North Roosevelt are working. Even with the lights we have mounted on our Yuba bike, it is a very dark ride home from downtown.
  Once back to Holly and the boat, I tried the new batteries in our ICOM radio and found that that wasn't the answer. I didn't think things would be that simple, but I wanted to at least try easy before spending money on a new radio.
  I found a nice new ICOM unit on Amazon, plus a little 12 volt LED light for the refrigerator that I think I can make work. I also bought two shaft and ball seal kits for the Sealand toilets we have, but still planned on calling Head Honcho this morning.
  I got hold of Perry at Head Honcho this morning to find out if he would sell us parts and he said he would. He did suggest that we replace both shafts on our toilets because, like I already knew, the plastics ones are crap and the bronze ones will last. Perry knows us from just being around so much, so in order to establish a business relationship with us, he offered to replace the shafts and seals on both toilets for a one hour rate.
  I also thought it fair to employ him in this mundane task, knowing full well that we're going to have to call him at some point to do a chore on our head systems that we would rather not do, such as replace duckbill valves on the vacuum tanks, or unplug a line to the holding tank.
  Even though I already ordered two new shaft and ball valve kits from Amazon, we'll keep them as spares for when something breaks and we're in The Bahamas. Maybe even have them on hand for someone else who may need them. Boat neighbors are extremely pleased when you are in a remote area and you have a part they need.
  Speaking of having things for boat neighbors, the captain of a luxury yacht staying here at Stock Island Marina Village, "Line Drive", walked over while Rosie was mopping the decks and asked her if she had a Magic Eraser. Rosie had a slightly used one and promptly gave it to him. Magic Erasers, if you don't know it, are standard issue on the list of cleaning supplies of anyone who knows anything about cleaning boats. They are like little sponges with a slight abrasive mixed into the sponge. They do a great job on vinyl!
  Later, the captain comes walking over with a bottle of wine, repayment for the Magic Eraser. He said that he was in dire need of the Magic Eraser, but was in no need of the wine. I had no doubt about that; the wine cellar on his yacht was probably bigger that our master stateroom.
  One disappointment today so far has been my failure to contact Chuck Sherman at Canvas Works of Key West. Chuck came aboard our boat a year ago to discuss some new upholstery for our dinette, so we wanted to line that work up, and also talk about a new sunscreen for the windshield, and also begin negotiations for a new flybridge enclosure. The number for Canvas Works of Key West is no longer in service.
  I know where his shop is, or where it used to be, so I'll go over there and see what's up. There are other canvas repair businesses around here, but the other close one doesn't have good reviews. Our tax refund will be substantial enough for us to get the ball rolling on some new upholstery and the other things, so I better get busy and do some networking.


  1. does Ferd play bass guitar? I think I have met him with a band out of Omaha . JCM was the bands intials. I rememeber the name its like Schmee.
    John Schmiemeier

    1. Ferd played base for John Cougar Mellencamp. He currently plays in a real fun local St. Louis band, Liquid Gold.

  2. Mike, I stumbled across your blog while looking at After a little reading I realized I met you about 25 years ago when I was 10. My name is Tom McDermott. Junior. You probably don't remember me, but we met at the Meramec Marina. My dad kept our 16' tri- hull Mark Twain there. You had a Cobalt at the time I think. You gave myself and my 3 brothers a ride on your boat (with Phil Collins blaring on the radio) and I've had a thing for boats ever since that day. I read some of your entries and they really paint an amazing picture of life on the river. And bring back some good memories. After that ride with you many moons ago, I vowed to work my ass off so I could get my own boat one day. Since then I've owned 5 boats ending with our current 44 Trojan flybridge. "Docked Wages". Anyhow, I just wanted to drop you a message and let you know about the impact you had on my boating career that day so long ago. Tom

  3. Mike...just a short posting of appreciation: that is, the blog, your information, the photos, and random thoughts are all appreciated and enjoyed. I touched base with you probably a year ago after finding your blog, and have been a silent, but avid, follower ever since. My wife (who wouldn't follow a blog if her life depended on it) nonetheless loves to hear my synopsis of your adventures. Thanks again, sincerely, for keeping up the narrative. All the best to both of you - Todd and Vanessa