Monday, December 22, 2014


  Back to "normal" after getting Swing Set back in the water. But it took a little elbow grease.
  Things to remember when getting bottom paint next time are to not take the yards word for it when they promise to put your boat somewhere in the yard where no one is sanding or painting on another boat, and to never let them put you between two boats taller than yours.
  The boat is going to get dusty, no two ways about it. The mistake we've made when hauling out in the past was to rinse the dust off the boat without doing a thorough cleaning before drying.
  The "dust" is typically bottom paint that turns into a liquid once you wet the dust with water, then it stains the gelcoat. I had to use a hull cleaner to get the stains off, which in turn stripped all the wax off that I had been applying for the last few weeks. Most of the time you can skip the hull cleaner and use a cleaner wax, but the job goes a lot quicker if you just get the boat clean first.
  One pleasant surprise that we received was that when we went to pay rent for the start of our second month here, we found out that the time we spent on the hard was applied to our time of stay, so our rent wasn't due for another five days.
  The other item that had me holding my breath was the bill, but the hours were honestly and fairly applied and there weren't too many charges for "miscellaneous" items. The total was actually a bit lower than we expected. If we are still here next time we need bottom paint, we'll have the yard here do the work again, if the paint job holds up.
  I've already arranged to have someone clean our hull monthly, starting in February. The price will be cheaper than the outfit we had doing it in Key West, and I've had the conversation already with the diver as far as scratching the hull of the boat like the last guy did.

  This view is from the docks near the pool here at Marathon Marina. Swing Set is the sixth boat from the left. (One of the boats is hidden pretty much, so you might count five.) As you can see, most of the boats dock "bow in" to enjoy the beautiful sunsets we get, as our sterns face due west. This view is to the southeast.

  With Swing Set back in the water we've resumed our dinghy trips out to Sombrero Beach. In the photo, you can see our set up, with Holly on guard. We have our binoculars, our GPS, a radio for music, and other items you can't see. Those items are a cooler, (the cooler you see is just a seat with life jackets and two gallons of spare fuel), a VHF radio, our phone, beach chairs, big umbrella for us, small umbrella for Holly, two paddles, an anchor with 50 feet of line, and of course our battery operated running lights. Did I mention beer?
  A fella was on the news recently when he went on an outing in his dinghy near here and after motor trouble, drifted 70 miles to the Cal Sal Cays in The Bahamas where the Coast Guard accidentally found him while they were on a normal patrol, stranded on a beach. We don't plan on this happening to us.

  It's the holiday season and lots of cooking goes on during this time of year, and although we don't resort to baking cookies, we do whip up a great Thanksgiving and Christmas feast for ourselves. I thought I'd mention some things about our galley if I haven't done so already.
  We feel like we have a pretty well equipped galley for such a small boat. In the photo, from the left, you can see the wooden door to the pantry we added before we left St. Louis. We keep most of the bulk canned goods in two cabinets in the salon, but we store items that we use on a regular basis in this small pantry, and the larger pantry to the left of it, across from our "office".
  To the right is our AC/DC Norcold fridge. The refrigerator is "smart" in that it runs off of AC when we are plugged into shore power, or have our diesel generator running, but runs off of DC when we are unplugged. When we are on the hook, we turn off the fridge at night as long as we don't open the door. Our wind generators can keep the fridge running without resorting to the noise of the diesel generator. But this blog isn't about power management, it's about the galley.
  Above the Norcold is our convection/microwave oven that I installed back in St. Louis to replace a perfectly working microwave. We can grill and bake in it and we feel like it was a good idea to install it as we don't have a oven, just the cooktop you can see to the right of the fridge.
  Below the cooktop is storage for dishes and pots. We bought some pull out shelving at The Container Store and they work great for getting to items to the back of the cabinet. We likee.
  You can see our spice rack, small cabinet for cooking oils and more spices, and above the cooktop is our pot rack. Do the pots clang and bang while we are underway? Surprisingly, they don't, but we keep a cargo net wrapped up above the rack and if we set out for an extended cruise, the cargo net gets stretched around the pots to keep them corralled.
  Our galley was equipped with a countertop blender. Have you ever used one of those? They never seem to be powerful enough, so I pulled the cover off of it and screwed it to the bottom of our knife block, which you can see to the right of the cooktop. Naturally it would sit adjacent to the cutting board, but you have to make the room where you can.

  Our faucet has a water filter attached which has also been a great addition to our galley. The filters last for months at a time, and our water tastes great whether we are drinking water we make ourselves with the watermaker, or if we are drinking from a dockside water supply.
  On the counter above the sink is a beverage dispenser. When we are on the hook, we fill the dispenser with water that we use for drinking and cooking. Why do that when we have a sink? Well, every time you turn on a faucet, the water pumps kick on. We fill up the dispenser when we have a power supply, then we can minimize battery usage throughout the day and at night when we always seem to need a big drink of water.
  The two cabinets above the sink house our coffee pot, coffee cups, bread, coffee, and toaster. Under the sink is our trash can, Kitchen-Aid blender, and a lazy susan with all kinds of stuff crammed into it. The crock pot to the right of the sink is housed in the lazy susan and we sure get lots of use out of it.
  Many people ask if an inverter is needed on a boat, and we really like having ours. For example, we don't have to run our generator while we are underway, but we can still cook in the convection oven, and use other plug in items like the toaster and crock pot. There has been many times we just loaded up the crock pot with a roast and a packet of pork gravy and let it cook all day while we are cruising. We don't heat up the galley and the meat can't really over cook, which we think is a crime.
  Cooking in that crock pot right now is some country spare ribs. They will melt apart when we get ready to eat them later.
  Which brings us to the title of this blog, "illy-galley". Illegally. Many crimes have been committed in kitchens, especially at this time of the year.

  If you didn't enjoy the joke, at least enjoy this photo of another beautiful sunset. Have a wonderful holiday.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Haul-Out

  We're glad we made the decision to get adjusted to life in Marathon before getting Swing Set hauled out for bottom paint. Originally we were going to cruise into town and immediately haul the boat and get it over with, but going that route creates unnecessary anxiety that we didn't need.
  A three week wait to haul Swing Set was just about perfect, letting us get acclimated to the area and also to get to know some of the staff at the marina with who we would be dealing with during the bottom painting process.
  In the photo leading this blog we are once again at Sombrero Beach. On our time spent here a couple of years ago, we used to go to Sombrero Beach, but we didn't know about a little area on the eastern end of the beach where we can pull our dinghy up onto some nice sand. Now we can not only keep a close eye on the boat, we don't have to lug all of our stuff from the dinghy to the beach. That cooler starts out heavy.
  We've been to Sombrero at least five times since we've been here and we are starting to see "regulars" at the beach. One couple keeps wanting to introduce their dog to Holly and we keep dropping subtle hints that we would rather they keep their "animal" at a distance. Some people!
  Our date for haul out was approaching and we had reservations at a resort in the area called Banana Bay. Some friends had stayed there when they visited when we were here two years ago and they said that it was "OK", but now I think they were being kind.
  We were at Sunset Grille last Saturday night and were talking to some folks at the bar who were in town for a few days. We are trying to get a feel for the various hotels and motels in the area so we can give recommendations to our friends that want to visit, so we asked them where they were staying while here in Marathon. They said that they had reservations for Banana Bay, but when they went to see the room, it was "smelly and moldy". The red flag went up.
  We were set to check in at Banana Bay on Monday night after our haul out, but I couldn't sleep on Saturday night, wondering if we were going to regret staying at Banana Bay. I also got to thinking about hauling all of the stuff we were going to need for four nights, plus the commute to and from the boat while trying to get the hull waxed. I woke Rosie up with a "brainstorm", telling her that I'd decided to stretch our budget and spring for a room on site here at Marathon Marina. She was less than enthused to learn of this fact at 3 a.m., but came around to appreciating my decision at the light of day.
  The room we wanted was available, which was a room right next to our boat slip. It was easy to transport what we needed from the boat to the room when we checked in, and our scooter and bicycle stayed right where it was.
  Since we had a large freezer and refrigerator at our disposal, Rosie decided to pull everything out of the boat fridge so that she could defrost it and give it a good cleaning while Swing Set was on the hard. Also, since we had our food in the condo, we made our meals there which offset the added expense of not staying at Banana Bay, which didn't even have a microwave. Our condo at Marathon Marina had a full size kitchen and a gigantic newly remodeled bathroom.

  I posted this picture on Facebook of Swing Set on the Travel Lift as it was being pulled. I mentioned that these are usually trepidatious moments for most boat owners and some friends took this to mean that we worry about an accident with the lift our something, causing at least one to post a picture of a serious Travel Lift mishap. A real knee slapper.
  No, we don't experience any concern about the boat falling off of the cradles, but after having had Swing Set out of the water five times since we've owned the boat, there are other things we worry about.
  The one thing that always happens, no matter how much we try to prevent it, is that even though we deliver our boat in a spotless condition at haul out, after a few days in a boat yard, we get Swing Set returned to us in a filthy condition.
  I had made this concern known to the dockmaster and the yardmaster prior to this haul out and I was assured that the utmost care would be made to keep our boat as clean as possible, and away from anyone spray painting a surrounding vessel. Once the yard staff began power washing the hull of Swing Set, I got out of the way, only to see the yardmaster stick Swing Set in-between two of the largest yachts in the yard, both of them being prepared for paint. At this point I should have at least covered our new cockpit upholstery with a tarp, but I do try to give folks the benefit of the doubt, and usually suffer for it.
  Additionally, at every haul out, I ask for water and electric. "No problem", I am always told, but then find that water and electric is at least two boats away and all of the plugs are taken. Then I have to start begging favors to get the utilities that we need. And there is never a ladder.
  The last time we got Swing Sets' bottom painted, the yard had the sanding done on the first day. The first coat of paint was applied on the second day, and the second coat on the third day was finished and the boat was ready to hit the water. This gave me at least a day and a half to wax the hull, so I was anticipating a similar time schedule, but it was not a time schedule I expected. This too is usually an item that causes concern; a schedule that doesn't fit one that you expect, especially if you need to do other work on the boat yourself.
  When sanding did not start once the boat was on the chocks, I went ahead and went against the advice of the dockmaster and instead of waiting until the boat was sanded, I washed the hull and began the process of waxing. Then we got another surprise.
  We had been hiring a bottom cleaning service to scrape barnacles from the hull of Swing Set while we were at Stock Island Marina Village, and I was pleased with the thoroughness of the job that was being done, but it turns out that the job was a bit too thorough. Our boot stripe decal was carelessly scratched up, and the gelcoat above the boot stripe was also badly scratched up. The bottom cleaner was not very careful when using his bottom cleaning tools and the damage to our boat could not be seen until it was out of the water.
  Now I had the job of compounding the hull at the water line. The scratches on the decal were something we could do nothing about, at least until we decide to replace the boot stripe decal later on.
  The next two mornings I was at the boat at the crack of dawn before the yard staff showed up and I got the majority of the scratches out. Meanwhile, I stayed out of the way while the hull got sanded, the running gear got stripped. I finished waxing the hull by late Wednesday and still no paint was on our boat. I was assured by everyone concerned that we would have Swing Set back in the water by Friday.

  Did I mention how nice it was to have our room so close to the boatyard? Here, Rosie and Holly are on the deck of our condo about to watch another fabulous sunset.
  Masking tape was being applied on Thursday morning. We chose to avoid the boat and give the guy working on the boat all the room he needed. Not only that, there was some serious sanding going on with the two boats on either side of us and I couldn't bear to see the dust beginning to coat our boat.
  Friday morning came and two coats of bottom paint were on the hull of Swing Set but the running gear had not been painted yet. I expressed some concern about the time schedule and the dockmaster here at Marathon Marina promised our boat would hit the water by end of day "with everything done to perfection" of she would eat the cost of us staying in our room  for three more nights until the boat could be launched on Monday morning. You can't ask much more than that.
  We got a message from some friends that have their boat in Key West who were going to be passing through on Friday afternoon and wanted to stop in and see us. Since we were all packed up for our move back to the boat, but could only wait, it was a nice diversion for them to pop in for a visit.
  While we were waiting for them to arrive, another couple we have met at Stock Island Marina Village pulled into the parking lot! We hadn't had any visitors here in three weeks and here were two couples showing up within minutes of each other. Pleasant surprises.
  When our guests left us, we went over to the boat to check on progress. Our Prop Speed was drying nicely on the running gear, the underside of our swim platform had been primed and a topcoat was drying on it too. New zincs had been attached to our shafts, trim tabs and the boat hull. All that was needed was to lift the boat, remove the blocks and stands, and then paint the areas where the stands and blocks had been. Oh yes, and then give them a second coat once the first coats had dried. The clock was ticking.
  We watched from the deck of our condo until we saw the lift start to move with Swing Set cradled in it. It was well past quitting time once Swing Set finally hit the water, and I think the staff was happier than us to see it happen.
  The bill will come on Monday, but barring any unforeseen issues with that, as a whole, this has been a positive experience. We learned some things that we'll do different next time, but we also learned just how much the staff here will go the distance to deliver services as promised.
  The fairway is very narrow leading to the Travel Lift at this marina, which does not allow much room to turn a boat around once you leave the lift. I think I may have impressed the dockmaster when I backed Swing Set out between several boats along the seawall until I found a spot wide enough to turn around. I was feeling pretty good about things until I pulled the boat into the slip in a fair wind and discovered that Rosie had forgotten all the things we had talked about that afternoon as far as my plan of attack on tying up the boat once we got back to the slip. Thankfully she still looks good in a bikini.

  Another sunset from our slip here at Marathon Marina, and yet another boat hauling experience under our belts. We hope our bottom paint lasts longer than the last one. We used a different product than the Interlux brand we had used before, but I did some homework reading up on the Bluewater Brand and I have some confidence that we'll get at least two to three years from it.
  Rosie is rewarding me for all the work and worry I did this week by giving the boat a good scrubbing. She just hollered in to me that "all the alarms on the dashboard are going off!" I knew immediately that she had given our electrical system test panel a thorough soaking and it was complaining in the only way it can.
  "What do I do now?", she asked me.
  "It'll dry out and the alarm will stop", I said. "Eventually".
  A couple of hours later I stepped outside and the alarm is still going off. I unplug the systems monitor. It will dry out in a few days. But there is a bigger issue.
  The dust, or whatever it is, that has fallen on the boat has stained the gelcoat, something I was trying to avoid. Something that I know happens, and has happened every time our boat spends anytime in a boatyard. Had I not spent a good deal of the last three weeks polishing and getting a good coat of wax on the topsides, the staining would be worse.
  I don't expect anyone to do anything about it, even though I expressed concern over this very thing happening right from the start. I can only get out my equipment and polish and wax the boat again.
  I am at a loss as to how to approach having our boat in a boatyard again. OK, so now you know why I get a feeling of trepidation when our boat is hauled out for work.