Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Another Phase Of Our Lives

   Readers of my earlier posts may remember me telling about our time living on the Meramec River on the outskirts of St. Louis, MO. I told about our first home there and the floods we experienced in that house, and also the floods we endured while living in my parent's old house, after we eventually bought it from them, just up the street. We moved away from the river late in 1999 but those homes have always been on our minds and we kept tabs on both of them.

  In December of last year, the Meramec River flooded to an extent that it had never flooded before, and the photo above is what is left of our first home there on Opps Lane. Our second home, which sat about two feet higher in elevation, is still standing, albeit with substantial damage. Knowing the present owner, it's doubtful that it would ever be rebuilt and put in an inhabitable condition again. My father and I both worked hard on that river home making it a nice place to live, but dwelling on the past isn't healthy for anyone and we move on.
  I've been reprimanded by a few of my regular blog readers in regard to being remiss on my posts, but I've got good reasons. In the first place, once we got the boat up to Dunedin from Marathon, the weather turned very cold, at least in comparison to the fantastic weather that we became used to in the Keys.
  On our first full day in our new marina, we got a visit from some friends we had met in Kentucky Lake on our way down the inland river system. Dave and Wendi were staying near where our new home is, and drove out to Dunedin for a short visit before heading to the airport. While the sun was out, the temperature was brisk, but we spent some time catching up as we sat in the cockpit of Swing Set. Dave and Wendi plan to follow our footsteps and bring their boat south when they both retire in about a year. We're happy to be a good influence on people, as well as what some folks call "an inspiration".
  The closing on the new land based home we bought was due to take place on the 1st of February, so we had a month to wait. We spent most of the time on the boat huddled inside with the heat on. Most of the nation was under a cold spell and Florida was not spared. Even our friends in the Keys were reporting some unusually cold weather for that area. I used some time to catch up on some boat waxing, and when we could, we got out and explored around Dunedin and our new surroundings which is always a fun thing.
  I have a new resolution, which is not a "New Years Resolution", but something intended to keep our boat in top shape. We intend to take Swing Set out of the slip at least weekly, or every ten days or so, to "keep the wheels greased", so to speak. I don't think there is anything worse that letting a boat sit idle for months in a slip, particularly in salt water. This practice should help in keeping the hull bottom clean, as well as making sure everything works when we need it to most. In the month we waited for the closing on our new home, we took the boat out twice for an afternoon ride, again exploring the area by water.
  As expected, we have some great beaches to anchor off of just a couple of miles from our marina, and if we want to, we can take the dinghy out to the same beaches, as well as run down to the Clearwater area for the activities to be had down there, or just up the coast a few miles is Tarpon Springs where there are things to do.
  In anticipation of having Swing Set uninhabited for days at a time, I began to consider some new problems that we might encounter, especially in regard to the tidal swings that we were not used to while living in the Keys.
  First, we had a month to live on the boat and monitor the mooring lines, checking to see that we had enough scope to let the boat run through the tidal range without having to adjust them. It's not a good idea to be thirty miles away while your boat is hanging by its neck in the slip like an unwanted cat. (I know this is not a pleasant view, but the analogy just came to me out of the blue.)
  The shore power is another consideration, and I do not like to have the shore power cords submerged in the water at any time. I wish our boat neighbors felt the same way. Shore power cords are made of rubber, but that doesn't mean that electrical current will not leach from them, affecting any surrounding submerged metal, not only on the offending boat, but on the surrounding boats as well. When I see a neighboring boat with submerged power lines, I adjust them, but you cannot be around to see this offense all the time.
  Anyhow, I've mounted the one splice we have in our power cords above the dock to insure we're above the highest tidal mark, using some PVC pipe, and I also used the collars for shore power connections to make sure the power cords don't become disconnected easily if they are tugged on. A post mounted in one of our rod holders will keep the cords up high enough to allow some slack in them so they can't touch the water. I'll show pictures of this setup later. At least I intend to.
  Another thing I had to reconsider is my setup to flush our air conditioning units. I have a hose running from a faucet in the engine room over to a T-fitting just after the sea strainer to the AC cooling water circulating pump. I had fully realized that a failure in any part of that fitting, or the hose (at least below the waterline) would lead to seawater entering the bilge if the seacock to the AC was open, which it is for the most part. Like I said, I wasn't too worried while living on the boat with this arrangement because I would have become aware of such a failure before a calamity occurred, but a few hours is one thing, a few days is another. I've installed a valve at the T-fitting to keep closed until I want to flush the system with fresh water from the faucet. It's simple things like this that can be overlooked, but are easily remedied.
  We run a de-humidifier in the cabin full time. The small unit we use requires the little tank to be emptied about every two or three days, so having it run while we are gone was going to be a problem. I looked into a larger unit that has a hose attachment that can be run to a drain, and we might wind up getting one of those, but space is limited to house a large de-humidifier when we aren't using it. I drilled a hole in the small plastic tank and installed a valve and small hose, so the little de-humidifier we had is setting on the sink in the master head, running it's little guts out and emptying into the sink drain. It's seems to be able to keep up with the humidity for now. This summer may tell a different story.
  We contracted with the marina to have the hull bottomed cleaned monthly. The marina administrates the process and bills us along with our monthly statement, giving us a report on the condition of the hull bottom as well as that of our zincs. I'll supplement that report with inspections of my own (when the water temperature improves) and I'll also monitor bottom growth for when I'm told we need to go to a twice a month schedule when summer comes. I'm hoping our practice of regular use of the boat will help keep the growth down to a level that will be rectified with a monthly cleaning only. Again, we will see.
  We had more visitors a couple of weeks ago. Mike and Sherri from our previous river port in Alton came through town and we spent a couple of days with them. It was too cold to take the boat out, but we got to see some more of the surrounding area, particularly Tampa Bay by land, and some more of downtown Dunedin. We liked what we saw.
  I don't usually report on personal issues, but while our visitors were in town, I experienced some bumps on my forehead, and my lymph nodes in my neck became swollen. Our friends left on a Saturday and by Sunday morning my forehead had broken out in a major way. I suspected Shingles, and a trip to a local Urgent Care Center in Clearwater confirmed it. The two weeks it took to clear up the condition was not a pleasant time, but eventually the medication worked its wonders.
  A filling in a tooth I had chipped about thirty years ago fell out and when I went to a dentist to get that fixed, he found a crown that had to be replaced. After having a dental plan at my place of employment for years and no longer have, I had no idea how much dental work costs. I do now.
  Speaking of medical care, we spent our time recently getting connected to the medical providers that we will need, and more importantly, we have Holly enrolled as a new patient at a veterinary clinic recommended to us. This makes the seventh doctor for Holly since we got her. Whatever it takes.
  In short order, we have our dentist, primary care physician, eye doctor, and Holly's doctor all lined up with a visit to each already. I even got a pretty good barber close by. (Who knew a haircut was more than $6 these days?)
  We closed on our new home a couple of days early and were awful busy getting our "stuff" off of the boat and moved into our home. It was unbelievable how much we had on the boat that could be moved to a location where there was more room. The computer and the printer is now off the boat, as well as a lot of our clothes, (which there isn't much of), and we don't have the need to keep months and months supply of canned goods onboard. Swing Set is now setting at least an inch higher in the water.
  The story of our new home is for another blog. I'll say it's in a resort community and part of the home is a separate lock out unit that is providing income for us. That, plus the extreme reduction in our dock rent, hopefully will provide us with the funds to keep Swing Set in prime condition for years to come, as well as the variety sharing time between the two places will keep our lives fresh, something that is hard to do when sitting at a dock most of the time.
  Our plan, since we don't feel compelled to stay at a dock we're paying a high monthly rent for, will allow us to take some occasional trips, maybe see more of the east coast of Florida and the U.S. For now we're content in getting settled into our new place, making some improvements and spending a ton of money at Home Depot and the local furniture store, in spite of buying the place furnished.  We cannot believe we went from having two T.V.'s to having six, one refrigerator to having five, and having two air conditioners to having four. Tell me again how is our lives are simpler now?
  Last weekend we had some more friends from out of town on the boat. We took a nice afternoon cruise up to Tarpon Springs in some much improved and welcome weather, although is still wasn't bikini weather. Hence, no pictures! Next time. The only malfunction we had on the boat was that the horn didn't work. I was already mentally going over what I needed to do the next day to fix it when Rosie mentioned something about "I might have gotten water in it when I squirted the boat this morning". Sure enough, the next morning when we finished flushing our engines until next time, a quick check of the horn revealed that all was well. Sometimes time does heal all wounds.
  We have a weekend planned on the boat coming up. The weather and the wind should be conducive to taking the dinghy out, something we haven't done since December! I did flush the outboard, as well as run out the carburetor of fuel, so all systems on the dink should be good to go.
  I hope I have some good stories to tell.