After Irma

Friends, pirates and ladies of ill repute,

We greet you from Marco Island, Florida where we keep Echoes slipped.  We are here for a few weeks to work on rapidly reproducing projects and to get her ready to go to the Bahamas in January.  We are happy to report that she weathered Irma very well and suffered only minor damages.  She had a small bit of dock rash from when she slid up the dock after the anti surge had bottomed her out.  We have some canvas cover damage and a bit of water damage due to leaky ports which are now being replaced.  We were thrilled to have these tiny problems.  Our hearts go out the many people in Florida who were not as lucky.

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a boat in our marina

It is disconcerting to see the damage on the island.  There is debris up and down the streets of Marco, almost every roof has some damage.  One in ten of the condos directly next to our dock is boarded up.  Irma blew through their porch doors, out their front doors and blew all their personal possessions right out the door.  There are over 400 boats sunk on Marco Island.  But it could have been much worse and we were pleased to see Marco in as good of condition as it is in.  My parent’s condo faired extremely well.  We are grateful for our outcome of Irma.

Our (ha!) projects:

We added a fuel air separator (which we put in for Jay) to keep fuel from spitting out the fuel vent.  We are replacing all six ports (windows), are having a swim ladder rebuilt, have changed the impeller, both fuel filters, replaced some cabin lights, secured a loose day head stool,  cleaned a vast amount of mold, polished chrome, registered both boats, procured and then made dinghy modifications, developed and modified a dinghy tie down system, ordered new hatch covers, mattress and are adding fresh water tank level monitors.  The research done by professor El Capitano is as time consuming, if not more, than the installations.  We are recognized at both local hardware stores to the point where a few call me the wine lady because I claimed I would bring in a lawn chair and a glass wine next time as it takes the captain so longggggzzz.

John has been up the mast 3 times.  He will be up many more.   Our eldest son teaches rock climbing at college.  He helped John purchase gear and then taught us in our backyard how to climb a tree/mast.

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Up the mast, John has worked on the radar.  Do I dare say fixed?  Do you remember that it works well until needed, like in the fog or on a night passage?  Alas, I must have faith.  He fixed the radar.

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He is working on the deck light and the anchor light at the top of the mast.  He may need to pull and rewire both lights.  Working on top of a mast is most complicated and challenging.  For instance, you don’t have two hands to work with or a semi incompetent assistant to lend a hand or fetch you the improper tool, although you do have a tethered tool bag you can lower and retrieve.  You can only go up in optimal weather and it takes herculean strength to get there.

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On this particular day he was up the mast for about an hour.  He had two very different visitors.

This is our neighbor Hank the Crank.

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Hank is a Snowy Egret who works hard to protect his territory which includes our boat.  He squawks at you when you come by and chases many a bird away.  Hank can live up to 17 years and his species is known to cross breed with other heron species.  Maybe this is why he doesn’t chase Irene the Green Heron away.

We have purchased a new, used, ugly dinghy.  It will be sad to see Sea Alice go.  Wait, no it won’t.  We are prostituting him on Craigs List for cheap.   After much research by the captain, he decided on a plastic polymer, hard bodied dinghy.  Hopefully, swamp ass will be a thing of the past.  After our first trial run there are many modifications being made.  For instance, if one is alone in the dinghy the ass end sinks quite close to the water line and the bow rides high in the air.  PVC tiller extensions and homemade gear shift extenders are being designed and implemented so one can operate it from the center seat.  But what to name him/her?  John likes engineering humor so he likes Poly Mer, or Poly.  He also suggested Money – because it is so NOT and is another Pink Floyd song reference like Echoes.   Further, he suggested Chum Bucket, which I quite like.  I suggested Woody (quite the opposite of Sea Alice) but got only a frown.   Others suggested Wet Spot and Gosling (Ryan would never need Cialis.)  So as we bid you farewell we would love to ask your input, suggestions or votes on a new dinghy name.  Add a comment below!

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The nameless dinghy upside down on our foredeck

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What’s in a Name?

So why is she named “Echoes?”   A lot goes in to naming a boat.  It all begins with a tradition of Friday night stay home dates we’ve had for years.  We make a nice dinner, open a bottle of wine or two, sit at the dinner table with our favorite music playing and talk of dreams for hours.  Dream talk means sailing talk which often lead to possible boat names for our future boat.  We kept a book strictly for this purpose.  After years of this, we compiled a list of over 100 boat names.   This tradition included guests at the table and their input.  Mind you, the names got more ridiculous as the nights grew longer.  For example, on the list was “Blow Me,” “White Wino,” “Gin and Eggs,” “Runaway Bunny,” and “Ankles Away.”  Also on the list were our personal favorites.   Candis liked “Good JuJu,” “Bo Jangles,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Lollygagging.”  John liked “Zoot” (a Monty Python reference), “Mostly Noodles” (what you commonly end up with at the end of your provisions on a sailing trip), “Days and Confused” (to say John likes Led Zeplin is an understatement) and we were very much leaning towards “Easy Rider.” (We are motorcycling when not sailing or freezing in the tundra.) Even considering the votes from some of our favorite people we could not settle on a name.  When it got down to crunch time we set some criteria.

  • It had to be short to make it easy to fill out customs forms and make shore side dock or dinner reservations via VHF (radio).
  • It needed to be dignified.  It could not be silly or demeaning to ship or crew.
  • We wanted it to be unique.
  • It needed to be understandable so we didn’t have to explain it to everyone or add confusion to SAR (search and rescue) if we ever needed their assistance.  (Turns out Echoes is the same word in a number of languages.)

We went round and round with the final contenders and had hit an impasse.  Then Cannon, while making a sandwich in the kitchen one late afternoon said, “Echoes…call the boat Echoes.”  Echoes is a song by Pink Floyd off the album Meddle that has ties to the sea and to things greater.  We would regularly play this song as a family on past sailing vacations late in the evenings in tropical anchorages laying on deck looking up to the stars – perfect!  If you ever get a chance to do this, do it – it may help you get ready for what’s next in life.  The song also has whale calls in it which strike a cord with Candis.  And echoes has a great nod to the generations of sailing enthusiasts in our family, Candis’ dad, ourselves and now our sons.  It seems appropriate that after years of debate we found her name days before we had to send it in for registration as we had different names picked out for both sons until the last minute.  It must be the way names find us.

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What have we been doing the last couple of weeks?

We are still on Marco and have been getting to know the boat intimately since we arrived.  We didn’t take pictures of outboard engine repair, detail cleaning, waxing, grill installation and plumbing and many other projects.  We have made uncountable trips to numerous hardware stores that had limited inventory and that were staffed with people more suited to the fast food industry.  We’ve been to West Marine so many times that when we leave they say: “See you tomorrow, John!” (Bendel – thank you for the WM gift cards.  Great to have since a spray bottle of dinghy cleaner is sixteen bucks!)   The ACE hardware on Marco Island deserves special mention here – the owner does know hardware and his store – he’s operated it for 44 years!  He’s the only one who knows where anything is or what it is used for.  He’s hired complete fools but they are nice guys so I’ve provided extensive training to them on many of the products their store sells.  Fools are much easier to suffer when you are retired and its 78 and sunny every day!

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Fixing the aft holding discharge pump – a good job for a smaller dude!

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Installing the bimini and solar panels

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The impeller extraction took 3 days due to lack of proper tools to pull it from the spline shaft it was frozen to.  Hard to believe that no one in Florida knows what a gear puller is.  Without one it was a real MF!

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Greasing the winch.  A parts washer would have been nice.

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Installing new stereo –  someone before me could benefit from a basic electrical wiring course!  I’m sure I’ll find more surprises – just hope I find them before they start the boat on fire!

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Inflating the dinghy – we use a 1.5 HP, 2.5 gal mini shop vac, one of the most frequently used tools on board.

 

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The engine – a 4 cylinder Yanmar Diesel that produces 50 HP.  It now has a new impeller and 5 fresh quarts of Amsoil 15W-40.  Next on the list is inspecting the hear exchanger.

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What we call “The Garage” – an over packed storage area located under the port cockpit seat.  It is starting to accumulate numerous tools and equipment.

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Our first sail with our first guests, Tonya and Marc

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We sailed out 3 miles into the gulf to empty the holding tanks and then returned up the Marco River to anchor and burn some Italian sausages on the new Magma grill.

 

 

The Inspection

Closing on the purchase of a boat is contingent upon accepting the results of an inspection by a certified marine surveyor.  You pay the surveyor a bunch of money and he goes through the entire boat from rig to keel including (almost) all the electrical and mechanical systems.  (Ours missed checking the batteries but a thousand dollars later we had brand new ones!)  Part of the inspection is the haul out to check the hull and other bits hidden below the waterline.

The boat was located just south of Miami.  For our inspection we needed to sail the boat up the Miami River to the boat yard for the haul out.  The boat weighs about 22,000 lbs so the lift used for the haul out is not small.

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View of Miami to the north on inspection day.  Shot taken in Biscayne Bay.

Lift bridge in Miami River and haul out at boat yard

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My broker letting me know the check I’ve written for the haul out (in the envelope) is the first of many!