Working hard in Florida – part 2

Wednesday afternoon Blaine arrived – we settled him in and quickly hit the bar for a few drinks and dinner and caught up whilst enjoying a lovely sunset.

Getting reaquainted Goodnight 1

Thursday morning I started cleaning down the stainless again – it gets a bit sticky from the masking tape and, inevitably, Richard had managed to get some varnish onto the rail too which needed to be removed.   We had also accumulated some rust areas that needed a bit of hard work – so I was armed with wet and dry very fine sandpaper too along with cleaner and polish.    So that was me for the day.   It was very very hot and there were some awkward places to get to as you can see – with the water side being done from inside the dinghy. (For those of you who are particularly observant, yes, I am wearing my ankle brace – nothing to worry about but feeling a little tender from the constant climbing on and off the dock so decided to give it some support.)

Working on the back rail

Richard and Blaine were off out to the shops to get the materials they needed to create some boards for Morphie’s port and starboard rails. These are for storing jerry cans for both diesel and petrol for our future journeys further afield.  They returned with their goodies and set to work on the dock.   As you can see they did a pretty good job.

New addition to the rail

They then unfurled the sails, washed them, dried them, and removed the staysail and the genoa and bagged them.   The main stays on until the last minute as the foil inside the mast from the furler rattles and creates a hell of a noise. But it is ready to go having been washed and dried….

Posing boys

Later in the afternoon we had a thunderstorm come through so we called it a day and headed to the bar.   The live music had been cancelled because of the rain but that didn’t stop us having a good time and we enjoyed chatting with Rachel our barmaid.

Storm coming Rachel at Harbor Cove

Friday morning and I carried on with the stainless….. while Richard and Blaine tackled main engine storage jobs, even checking out the manual every now and again….

Checking the manual Blaine being eaten by the engine

before coming outside to service the outboard and the generator on the dock.

Generator being serviced Outboard being serviced

This is a great dock for doing all this work!   Was a busy, hot and sweaty day and we all worked hard so treated ourselves to a few drinks before we retired for the night.   Again live music was rained off….   There is definitely a pattern to the weather here in Florida – with sunny mornings, cloudy lunchtimes followed by a few storms moving around in the afternoons.   And when I say hot, I mean hot, like 95 degrees with the humidity pushing it up to feel like 110 degrees!

Goodnight 2

Saturday morning Richard and Blaine hauled dink for me onto the dock – so I could clean him.

Cleaning dink

They drained and replaced the engine coolant; drained and replaced the transmission oil; before they then removed the chart plotter from the binnacle. This meant they could access the 12v socket which had come loose and install a new 12v switch for the compass. The compass was originally wired to the bow / stern navigation lights but with no switch it meant when we run on tricolour only – which we added to the top of the mast as part of our cruising refit – we have no compass light.   While this was going on I cleaned the black caulk off the edges for later….

Transmission oil time Removing the plotter Inside the binnacle Cleaning off the caulk

Back together - and new switch installed

Saturday night we had a steak dinner on board before retiring to the bar for a few well-deserved drinks. And there was live music – but he was awful.   We even prayed for rain to stop him from playing / shouting / talking – sadly our wish was not answered – and he carried on.   Absolutely dreadful – can’t imagine why anyone would want to pay him for this assault on the eardrums – but the locals seemed to like him.   Thankfully he did finally pack up – not before we had moved onto rum, vodka and ice cream to numb the senses – and we had a good time before returning to Morphie for a sleep.

Ice Cream

Sunday and I turned dink over and finished cleaning and polishing him.   Richard and Blaine were going to tackle the toilet hoses – this is a smelly and cruddy job, but essential as we had a build-up of calcium and it was time to replace them.  Oh yes, and every time they tackle a job, they have to move things around either in the cockpit or down below – you can guarantee that whatever one of us needs is behind or under the place stuff has been moved to…… The boat is an absolute mess!!!! They went out to purchase new hoses and came back and started looking through all the access hatches.   These are very small and in awkward places – at one stage Richard was pulled out from an access hole by Blaine using his legs…. Not sure he could have got out without assistance LOL. Anyway….they got the hoses separated under the sink…..and yes definitely calcium.

Calcium build up in the pipes

So……they took the toilet apart to access the hose…..and then attached the new one and started pulling….. But they couldn’t shift it… they removed the shelf under the sink to get more space….and still couldn’t shift it….. These hoses are so tightly packed it is an impossible job.   So they went out again and Richard purchased an augur and he started drilling through the calcium to break it out.

Using the augur Heat gun in action

Then when it was looking clear they cleaned the U-bend and the hose the other side of it…..   To break it down further they put muriatic acid to sit in there for a while.   When the toilet was put back together and we started pumping water through it worked but leaked – problem with the actual head itself this time. Luckily we had a spare in our inventory already so it was replaced.  Then they pumped and it worked – yay!  The hose replacement project will have to be put off for another day.

While all this was going on I had finished dink so started washing down the bow back to the mast – this is where dink will be stored so needs to be washed, waxed and polished to protect the gelcoat.

Waxing the bow

After a while I felt really rough and took myself off to lie down in the cockpit to recover – I think I had a touch of heatstroke.   Anyway…..although downhearted to be beaten by the toilet….we at least had less calcium and a working toilet.   We decamped to the bar and enjoyed fantastic live music – wow this guy was talented.   Thoroughly good evening.

Fantastic talent

Monday – and I carried on waxing and polishing – while Blaine and Richard did some quick jobs like removing the accessories from the arch and the blades from the wind generator – before tackling the main task for the day – the water maker.

Removing the ropes from the archThis sprung a small leak earlier in the season so needs to be fixed.   Well – they got it off the wall – and realised that this small leak was actually coming from the cylinder which is a fixed unit. Not good!

Videoing watermaker leak

So Richard rang around Spectra mechanics in the area to get advice – and sent a video to them. Then we received the bad news that this was a unit failure – but the good news was that Spectra would probably replace for free due to its age (installed 2012). Richard then got onto Spectra and sent them the video – and they confirmed they would send a replacement for no charge.  Unfortunately they couldn’t do it in the time we have left here so we need to organise this for our return in November – so they reinstalled the unit and we pickled it ready for storage.

Pickling the watermaker

By now it was quite late in the afternoon so we all went bobbing in the pool with a couple of beers to cool down….before having dinner on board.

Time for a bob

Tuesday we were planning a few more jobs and then to spend the afternoon pontoon bashing – Morphie has a long keel and is not easy to manoeuvre in reverse – and we also have no experience of dealing with the types of marinas they have in this area which are largely multiple pilings with very short and narrow pontoon piers (if any at all)….so Blaine was going to give us some hints and tips.   We were particularly looking forward to this……but, of course, then the heads stopped working with huge back pressure and we are no longer able to flush.   What a nightmare – so after going out and getting a propane fill – as the tanks ran out when I was cooking dinner the night before!!! –

Propane fill

…they tackled the toilet again.

About to tackle the heads

I stayed away from the cussing and the smell and sat down on the dock working on the anchor chain and on the dorades – these were red inside when we picked up Morphie – but had faded to a weak pink over time. There was also rust inside that I needed to deal with….. So that was my job for the day and, after two coats, I was pretty happy with the results!

Painting jobs Dorades painted

Oh yes and I cleaned the sink taps with special fine wire wool – and they came up great too….  And the new dodgers we ordered arrived – not fixed on properly at this stage – but will give us more protection from waves that  hit us side on in future….  We really are looking like a cruising boat now!

New dodgers

Meanwhile – back in the heads and under the floor in the forepeak – Blaine and Richard identified where the blockage was and were going to have to replace this hose.   The blockage was beyond the U-bend so they started to try to remove it.   But guess what – it is not possible to remove the Y-valve because of its position – and you cannot get tools into the area.   Why did Island Packet not put an access hatch above this?   Really frustrated and fed up –  they both spent the whole day on this but failed and had to give up – by which time Maria had turned up so we all got cleaned up and, avoiding the torrential rain, we had a nice dinner together.   And of course we had to go to the shore bathrooms during the night as ours was out of action.

Out for dinner

Wednesday morning we started off with a nice breakfast – and then Blaine showed me some rope skills in catching pilings. I’m not very good at the rope throwing bit – especially when Richard usually shouts ‘make it count’ every time which makes me worse! – so was pleased that I was able to lasso pilings on the dock quite easily. Will definitely practice and practice now that I know the technique.   Richard enjoyed watching too…..

Watching the action

Being silly! Catching pilings

Then it was time for pontoon bashing – and we got off the slip and went out into the main channel.   Richard turned the boat around – Blaine showed him a few techniques – then he went up and down backwards.   Bit nervy to start but he got it very quickly and we then tied up to the fuel dock – filled up with diesel and then pumped out the holding tank.   Then we went reversing into a number of slips – went really well – well done Richard and thank you Blaine!

When we got back to our dock we lifted dink onto the bow under the hoyt boom. We then said our farewells to Blaine and Maria and chilled for a while before heading out shopping. The most important item was a large electric fan that we could rig up in our cabin as dink had closed off our forward hatch. Back to the marina – admiring the boatyard where Morphie is going to stay from the car park – and went into the on-site marine works company.

Our little hire car Morphie's home for the summer

They are going to send someone down to look at our heads – perhaps professionals will have specific tools / techniques that will enable them to replace these hoses?   Hope so – we also e-mailed Island Packet to ask for technical assistance.  Wednesday we had a quiet night before turning in early as we were both pretty shattered after a hard week’s work….and the jobs aren’t finished yet!

Thursday morning we were up early – and received a glib reply from Island Packet which made Richard mad! – and went to West Marine to pick up a new light unit which we had ordered. Sadly the part was the wrong one so we’ll need to source that elsewhere.    But we cheered ourselves up by buying some new Columbia clothes; Richard got a new pair of sandals; a new dinghy anchor; and we also ordered two new Spinlock Offshore lifejackets.  Unusually we could have got them slightly cheaper in the UK but the known hassle of getting an agreement to carry them on an airline to the US offset the pain at paying a little more!   When we got back the guy from Whiticar turned up and inspected the heads – he then went away to talk to one of his specialist guys and will get back to us with a quote.

Just after noon Jim and ShaSha turned up to pick us up. We haven’t seen them since Christmas and New Year 2013/14 in Grenada – since then they have swallowed the anchor, sold ShaSha their boat, and purchased a luxury coach and a plot in a RV park near Okeechobee Lake, which isn’t that far from here.   Small world eh?   So we were very excited to see them again – and they looked amazing and very happy!   We had a wonderful day visiting their beautifully landscaped plot – checking out their huge tikki hut and the plans for the new shed – and met Molly their little dog who is such a pretty little thing. And as for the coach – well – it is stunning!   Check out the bedroom to see what I mean.

Sha Sha's yard

Jim and ShaSha Richard trying out the bus Jim and Richard geting reaquainted View from the tikki hut Beautiful bedroom on the bus Molly

After the usual afternoon storm passed through we went out and about around to look at the park – including the pool; the library; the gym and much much more.   Pretty nice eh???

Silver Palms Cheers! In the library Little runaround Park pool The RV Park

Oh yes, and on the way to their place, we popped in to see ShaSha’s mum who has just moved nearby – who loved Richard’s accent – and the OK Corral Gun Club which was a pretty neat place to see….

OK Corral Gun club Gun club 2

Lovely countryside around here – flat and green – with a stunning lake which is so vast it looks like the sea – and beef cattle.

Lake Okechobee

After a wonderful afternoon together – catching up and imbibing wine – we went out to Brahma Bull for dinner. This is a diner that served fantastic liver and onions – yum – with Richard going for the prime beef.   We also enjoyed Christmas in July….

Brahma Bull

Out for dinner 2 Christmas in July Out for dinner 3

Back to the marina – having witnessed a stunning Ockechobee sunset – and we said our farewells. We definitely hope to see them again either before we leave and/or when we return.

Goodnight Okeechobee

Today I’m blogging and doing the laundry at the same time. Richard is sorting out the boat and waiting on the mechanic to turn up to let us know when they can fit us in to fix the heads…. We have lots of jobs to be getting along with but I’m hoping that we can take a couple of days out for fun next week – really fancy going to see Universal Studios and riding all the rides!!!

Bye for now