Boat jobs and reunions in Florida

Having finished the blog I returned to the boat on Sunday and found Richard with his head in the panels replacing bilge light bulbs and installing terminal posts to the battery bank for our UK inverter.Electrical DIYAnd, of course, it was raining again.… Later on we had dinner in the bar – enjoyed the great music – but got really cold so didn’t hang around too long.

Musical talent

Monday we went shopping – purchased a small Epson printer – and extended our car hire for another week. We also tried to get some money out of the bank.   Guess what – the card appeared to work but no money came out!!!  Luckily I got the card back though….   So I telephoned both the ATM and our bank and found out that the transaction had failed because the ATM did not have a chip reader inside it. Surprisingly chip readers are not common here in Florida – it’s still a swipe and sign environment.   To make sure that this was actually what had happened (not that I’m a cynic or anything) we tried another bank on the way back to the marina and, yay, it worked as it should.   Very relieved!!!

Arriving back we picked up our parcels – this time it was a carbon selfie stick; a replacement “Q” (meaning quarantine) flag; a replacement Y valve; spares for our Peek-a-Boo blinds; and a replacement pole for the one that got damaged in the post.     We also picked up the new pads for the fridge and freezer and they look pretty good. The straps for the spare fuel cans were ready too – so back to Morphie where Richard quickly started installing them onto the boards.

Pads for the fridge & freezer

Rail straps

We then headed into the cruiser’s lounge and set up the Bad Elf, successfully. This means we now have chart plotter capabilities and full satnav capabilities on our iPad and iPhone.   Amazing….   Back on board we reviewed our lists and realised that there was still no news from the chart plotter chips guy. Not impressed at all with this service. I gave up at this point recognising that I was way too fed up to be polite – so Richard left a message for the guy to call to take the order.   Let’s see if that works…   Feeling a bit tired we had a movie night in and resorted to fleeces as it was so cold.

On Tuesday Richard put the finishing touches to the new fuel can set up while I took down all the blinds – cleaned and serviced them replacing items as necessary – and reinstalled them.   They look lovely and clean again now.

Servicing boat blinds Reinstalled blinds

The fuel cans are looking pretty impressive too – just waiting on a few more from West Marine. We are starting to look like a cruising boat that’s for sure!

First cans in place

We finished working early today so that we could meet up with Blaine who had driven over to pick up an Island Packet for a West Coast of Florida delivery.   We had a nice time catching up in the bar although disappointed by the size of our chicken sliders and the disappearance of buckets of Corona from the Happy Hour drinks menu LOL.

Wednesday morning and we followed Blaine to the airport so that he could return his hire car – and then took him back into town via Walmart so that he could do his provisioning for the four-day run to St Petersburg. Obviously we took the opportunity to get some stuff too….   And, of course, the boys had to play trolley dodgems on the way back to the car LOL.

Trolley wars in Walmart

We then decided to go to the Captain’s Galley for a (huge) breakfast before returning to Morphie.

Captains Galley

We stowed our purchases and then went to help Blaine release his lines. We said our farewells and then came back to the boat and got busy again…   We cut the new 3 inch bed foam topper to match the coffin-shaped mattress and remade the bed.   We are still working on getting the boat straight and making lists of things to do and buy.    On this occasion we realised that our flares were expiring in February 2016 – so we ordered some more from West Marine. Thankfully they had them in stock.    We then chased the life raft service guys – who confirmed that it’ll be ready on Monday afternoon – and Richard rang the chip guy again.  Still non-responsive – going to have to start this research all over again. Grrrr……we have wasted a lot of time on this.   We really can’t believe that a business can turn away a $600+ order by not replying to emails or phone calls.   On a brighter note the sun came out today – so at last it actually feels like Florida!   Having had a long day we had another movie night on board.

Thursday we went off shopping to West Marine – picked up our flares along with some rope and shackles for the new preventer system – although still waiting on the final diesel cans.   Then we went out to find the Marine Liquidator Store which was amazing. This is two massive warehouses containing used and liquidated new marine and diving equipment – like a combination of a second-hand shop with a touch of CostCo thrown in and all for boats.   We wandered around and found two new stainless Scandvik transom shower caps, which I’ve wanted for ages but don’t really need LOL.   Plus a new transom shower rose that we did actually need. Of course there were some electrical accessories which Richard needed.   We were delighted to pay less than half the retail price for these new items – very impressed – so we’ll definitely be visiting again on another day.

Huge boat warehouse

Returning to Morphie we carried on sorting and storing – doing some useful things like preparing our new life jackets for when we set off to sea – hopefully soon.   We still have four items we are waiting for in the mail – including the autopilot unit.   After another tiring day we decided to stay put and watched a movie before having an early night.

Friday morning we awoke to a bright and sunny day – so we made the most of it and got the outboard off the rail and re-installed it on dink. Richard was rewarded for all his hard work winterising items as both the outboard and the generator started first time. Yay!!   We then took a call from West Marine that everything had arrived – so took ourselves off again…   This time it was the diesel jugs and some spare gas struts for the fridge / freezer / lockers and purchased a spare navigation lightbulb – which cost a staggering $25 for a single bulb.   On our arrival back at the marina Richard fixed the cans to the rail – job done.   Looks great!

New cans

In the meantime I chased the marina office again. They promised to put our refund back onto the credit card – but still haven’t done it.   Grrrr…..   We are almost ready to go to sea now – just the watermaker to be fixed and the last of the spares to get.   The watermaker part has now finally arrived and, while we were out, the boom vang turned up and was fitted.   It looks pretty smart.

Boom vang

We had an early dinner on board and decided to go to the bar for happy hour. The water looked pretty tonight and love was definitely in the air when we asked the bar staff for a photo!   Live music again – Jimmy Buffet singalong really – so not so keen….   And, of course, it started drizzling and we got cold. Never mind, good time had by all.

Sundowners time Bartender hugs Another music night

Saturday morning and we were up with the lark as we were driving the 150+ miles across to the state to see Brad and Sandy.   We used the Bad Elf and the very posh English man talked us through the route door to door.   We only deviated from the instructions to stop in Dunkin Donuts where we picked up a traditional American mobile breakfast LOL.   We had a great drive through some picturesque historic villages like Fort Meade; citrus fields; cattle ranches and a lot of very scenic tree-lined highways. It was lovely and sunny all the way too – yay!

Historic houses Historic Fort Meade Empty roads Fort Meade

This was our first weekend off since we had arrived in Florida so we were quite excited.   We arrived on the west coast to the lovely gated community and a great welcome from the family – and the assorted pets – but that may have something to do with the treats we came bearing LOL. We caught up over lunch which included copious fresh strawberries as the season has just started – we have never seen strawberries this red before. They are really sweet and delicious.

Gated community Fresh strawberries Treat time

Afterwards we enjoyed a very welcome Jacuzzi bob – followed by a fantastic home-made Thai green curry by chef Brad who is very talented in the kitchen!   Afterwards we departed to the patio and played a very complicated and ruthless board game – with both Richard and Brad picking on me.   Was a lot of fun….and we ended up having quite a late night.

Jacuzzi bobbing time Brad at work

Sunday morning we had a wonderful breakfast before heading out to the famous Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium A Xmas hammerhead

We were honoured to have a tour behind the scenes and were very impressed by the great work that is going on here….. We learnt lots of new stuff – for example, who knew that dolphins can suffer from congenital scoliosis??  Afterwards we went to the public aquarium areas and enjoyed the variety of fish and mammals on display and, of course, my personal favourite will always be the turtles and the manatees….   Was very informative and enjoyable – the coral displays were quite something to see.   Sadly, at this point, Christin had to leave us as she was called to a sighting of a potentially injured manatee further up the coast.   I am pleased to report that the manatee was OK.

Aquarium 1 Aquarium 2 Aquarium 3 Aquarium 4 Aquarium 5 Aquarium 6 Aquarium 7 Aquarium 8 Aquarium 9 Aquarium 10 Aquarium11

We then headed to downtown Sarasota and went into Marina Jacks where we had a nice lunch – it was a shame that Christin missed out on this. Having relaxed over a couple of beverages we headed back towards the house and collected Christin on the way.

Marina Jack, Sarasota Out in Sarasota Out for lunch at Marina Jacks

Back home we played the complicated settlement game again and I think we did slightly better – but, of course, the reality was that they beat us quite easily.   We then played some more board games one-on-one – was a fun end to a great day. All too soon it was time for bed – really couldn’t believe that the weekend had gone so quickly.

Playing games

Monday morning we were up early to say sad farewells and for the drive back to Morphie – stopping for petrol and coffee. And spotting the really over-the-top Christmas decorations on some houses.

Fort Lonesome Christmas decorationsRichard started fabricating a mobile wooden stand for our TV to be attached to – as he doesn’t want to screw permanent holes in the cabinetry – and I stared blogging.   In the meantime we have a young man up the top of the mast giving some loving care and attention to the stainless blocks which were identified as needing some cleaning during the rigging survey – certainly glad I didn’t have to winch Richard up there after all LOL!

Later on – having confirmed that it was ready – we headed back out down the coast to Riviera Beach to pick up the life raft.   We arrived and were presented with the bill – and we both nearly passed out.   It was $970 – really – it can’t be true – it was only a service and it passed all elements being only three years old!!!!   Absolutely shocked by this…..   We also asked for the out-of-date flares to be returned to us that had been replaced inside the life raft – but were told ‘no’ not allowed.   What a rip off – the life raft only cost us $3k – although are now retailing at closer to $5k.   I know they have to replace things inside – like batteries for the beacons / water supplies / seasick pills / food supplies etc etc…. But the biggest part of the bill was the cost of the recertification….   Leaving the place we were both pretty fed up – and then, of course, the heavens opened.   Great absolutely great.

We drove across to the waterfront at Riviera Beach to see if this is a place we’d like to spend Christmas as it is only a nine hour sail away from our current location – but the answer was definitely a no.   Didn’t fancy it…..   Driving home in the torrential rain and rush-hour traffic on the highway we decided it was time to hit the bar when we got back.   So we quickly got changed and headed down the marina walkway to find it closed because there was ‘no gas’.   Not happy….so went to the local Chinese to get a takeaway.   That was shut too because of a city-wide gas leak!   In the end we went into Publix and picked up their last box of chicken which we devoured in the cockpit aided by a few glasses of wine….

Publix chicken

This morning, Tuesday, and we were up early as this is the last day we have the car.   So it was time for a proper provisioning run including a stop at the liquor store.   Job completed and we popped into the marina office to see if our parcels had arrived – we are down to two outstanding now – but no.   We want to be back on the water but we are stuck here right now.   When we got back and had unpacked and stored our goodies, Richard rang Winslow to complain about the cost of the service – they thought it was reasonable!    Oh well…..

Until the spares turn up it looks like we’ll just carry on working through the ‘things to do’ lists….   Bye for now