Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

  There is no getting around it. It's HOT here in the Keys. But as far as we can see, it's hot in most areas of the country, at least in the places that we'd want to live. We deal with the heat like most lucky people do, turn on the air conditioning and stay inside a majority of the time.
  And boy, the A/C gets a work out here in the summer. I made a minor improvement to our air conditioning system recently by installing a new raw water strainer for it.
  Our generator and A/C systems each have their own strainer, and each engine has its own too. For some reason Sea Ray put Perko strainers on the A/C and generator systems and used big Groco strainers for the main engines. I prefer the Groco strainers because the tops just screw off like a mayonaise jar and the Perkos require loosening two wing nuts. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but the wing nuts get hard to turn and the gasket on the lids get harder to seal on the Perkos. I also wanted more capacity on the A/C strainers because the units are operating 24/7 and they get full of grass more often. Bigger strainer means less maintenance, always the goal on a boat is to reduce any maintenance interval.
  Defender Marine had the Groco strainer at a good price, so I ordered a new one and swapped it out two weeks ago. The basket is bigger and easier to pull out, so every week or so I've been putting a crushed chlorine tablet in the strainer to ward off growth in the strainer itself and presumably the lines for the A/C system. I monitor the affluent from the A/C units and make sure water is flowing freely. If the water starts dribbling, your lines or strainer is getting plugged and A/C efficiency suffers. Also if you need to keep turning up your thermostat to keep it cool in the boat, it's a sign that something is wrong. I can't quantify my results, but my feeling is that ever since I began using the chlorine tablets last year, our A/C has been running better and colder.
  Our choice to have our stern facing west certainly has the advantage of a great view, but the sun beats in late in the day. We still like our slip though, we just close our room darkening shade on the salon door when we need to and avoid sitting around in the cockpit in this heat. I've considered a shade for the stern, but then there goes the view, so we'll just deal with the shade on the salon doors for a couple hours a day and enjoy the view for the rest of the time.
  In regard to our slip here at Marathon Marina and Resort, I occasionally consider moving to another west facing slip, but keep finding reasons to stay put. One of those reasons is that Rosie doesn't want to move. Makes it easy for me.
  One reason I consider moving is because the boat next to us is an aft cabin Hatteras, rather lengthy, and our view to the south is blocked somewhat. But one thing you can't control is your neighbors, whether on land or sea, and the good outweighs the "bad" (although calling it bad is misleading) because our boat neighbors on either side of us are permanent residents and I think we all co-exist rather well. No one is infringing on each other in any way, except for a minimal view issue, and really that's all one can hope for at times.
  The pool here at the resort is climate controlled, so taking a cool soak is just a short walk away, but we have been avoiding the pool lately. Every place you go has their self appointed social directors and one particular person here is a bit overbearing for our tastes. The beauty of living in a marina is that most folks are transients. Things will change with time.

  We still make regular trips with the dinghy to the "beach". In most cases, what we consider the beach is usually a sandbar. The one pictured is near the Vaca Cut, about five or six miles away. We can only go there if it's not too windy, as there's a bit of open water to transit for us to get there. Another one at Grassy Key is usually full of people on the weekends, but it's even farther away and the water is deeper even at low tide. To the west we have Mollassas Key, I've shown pictures of that spot previously. We like it there but the sand is better at the Vaca Cut sandbar.
  Our standby is still Sombrero Beach, but since the water has heated up, grass has grown up in the shallows in the section of beach where we have to beach the dinghy so it's a long walk to get into deep enough water to cool off and the beach stinks at low tide due to seagrass deposited on the beach. Oh, the troubles that we must endure!
  Our Coleman beach chairs that we bought last year broke. I thought that the steel rivets would be the first to go, but it was the aluminum frame that broke on one, and the other one was about to fail. We bought the Travel Chairs in the picture above. They are aluminum and have stainless steel rivets. Admittedly they are not as comfortable as the Coleman chairs but they should last longer. We considered buying cheapies at Home Depot, but all steel chairs only last a short time and the rust in the dinghy makes a mess. We'd rather spend more money and have nicer chairs.
  Last week the Superboat International races were here in Marathon. Some friends from Kentucky came down to visit for the 4th of July weekend and to watch the races with us. We have just now recovered.

  We had planned to anchor out and watch the races, but instead, we nabbed a primo slip for two nights at the brand new Faro Blanco Resort, the headquarters for the race. In the picture, the boat Second Amendment passed right across our bow as they were coming in from a practice run. The throttleman, as well as the driver, have been acquaintances for years, having met long ago when we had a condo at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Second Amendment team won their division and we spent time with Neal, Karl, and Brenda at the tiki hut at Faro Blanco well into the evening after the race, as well as our visitors Jeff and Sandy.
We'll see them all again, as well as many other friends, at the races in Key West this November. It will be here before we know it.

  Last Sunday night when we came in from the sandbar I was rinsing off the dinghy and we had a manatee stop by to visit. If you ever get a chance to see a manatee up close and have a water hose nearby, you can make their day simply by hosing them. They love the fresh water, not only to drink, but they'll roll around to get squirted on all sides. You can see the smile on this ones face. This manatee hung around for over two hours until we got tired and hungry and had to say goodbye once it got dark. It felt good to make another creature so happy with such a simple effort.

  Speaking of making creatures happy...our lives revolve around making Holly happy these days. We had to visit our vet here in Marathon recently because Holly got another ear infection and we were out of medicine. $146 later and Holly got a going over and some new ear drops. One thing the vet was impressed with was the condition of Holly's teeth. She remarked as to how clean they were!
  Holly will be four years old at the end of October and doesn't have a speck of tartar on her teeth and the vet asked what we are doing. On a whim, back when we were in Cape Coral, we bought some stuff to put on Holly's food once per day. It was about $25 for a small bottle, but it lasted for months. It seemed like a scam, as the ingredients are listed as only one thing, seaweed.
  Yes, seaweed. My guess is that seaweed acts as an enzyme that attacks the tartar on Holly's teeth. We can't argue with success, so now we buy a product called PlaqueOff, made by ProDen, for a fraction of what we originally paid for the stuff at the vet in Cape Coral. We get it on Amazon, but we've seen it at PetSmart too. It's still seaweed.
  Our boat neighbors have two older dachshunds, one in his teens, and their teeth were coated with plaque. She started using the PlaqueOff and according to her, the plaque just melted off of her dogs teeth and their breath was improved too. Even I'm impressed with what you can learn on my blog!
  We were also concerned with some dandruff that Holly has been experiencing lately, maybe because she gets bathed so much, so the vet recommended we get some fish oil to put on her food. So once per day, in addition to the seaweed, Holly gets a fish oil pill poked open and dribbled on her food in the morning. She loves it, and her finicky eating habits have disappeared since we've been using the fish oil. I do think the breath freshening properties of the seaweed have been offset somewhat by the fish oil, but Holly's coat looks shinier and her smile...well, her smile is fabulous.

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