Go Crimson Tide (or Roll Tide as they say here in ‘Bama)

(a note from Beth: we’re finally someplace with decent internet and it is so much easier to add pictures and post – so we’re doing some catching up)

We departed Pensacola yesterday, and headed over to the Wharf Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama yesterday.  For various reasons, all of them good, it was time to get out of Florida and see some new to us sites.  The trip was all done with the diesel pusher, and took about 4 hours.

For those of you not familiar with college football, Bear Bryant, a legendary college football coach, coached here for many, many years, and is one of the most respected college football coaches ever, and he ruled the Crimson Tide (That’s the University of Alabama  football team for all y’all who aren’t sports fans).

There wasn’t an abundance of traffic on the Gulf side of the ICW, and we cruised along at a nice leisurely 6 to 6.5 knots, our 100 hp turbo yanmar barely breaking a sweat at 2300 rpms.  Our raymarine chartplotter chip ran out of close in information just past the Florida-Alabama border, and we navigated with our I-Pad until Keith, the former owner returned my phone call about chart chips and told me to just back out to about the 3 mile point on the screen, and I would have chart information on the screen.  Not as intensive as having a chart chip for Alabama, but sufficient to allow me to relax somewhat.

At times on this trip, there was only just over 3 feet of water under the keel, which makes me very nervous.  That makes for a little better than 9 feet of water, but with a 6 foot draft….I get just a wee bit edgy.  The center of the marked channel is the obvious choice for transit, and moving over when meeting traffic allows me to do so.  It should be interesting for us in the Bahamas, as there will be a constant 1 or 2 feet of water under the keel for extended periods of travel….oh boy!  Definitely not the north channel.

There's the first bridge

There’s the first bridge

How high is that bridge?

How high is that bridge?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

No crunching or ping sounds

No crunching or ping sounds

Made it!

Made it!

We passed under two bridges, both with a height of 73 feet.  Our boat has a mast height of 65 feet plus instruments, so going under the bridges also had me a bit nervous.  But, no issues at all, and we carried on as if we are normal.  The houses along the ICW are incredible, as are the various yachts that we met, all BIG!  Our 47 foot sailboat felt like a dinky toy when meeting some of those yachts.  The ICW twists and turns along this stretch, and is just gorgeous, and very well marked.  We finally met some dolphins just before Orange Beach, they are always such a treat to see.  You should google Orange Beach, it is an amazing area, white sand beaches, beautiful hotels and an awesome vacation area.

Houses along the beach

Houses along the beach

The ICW around Ono Island

The ICW around Ono Island

A very cool condo at Orange Beach - zoomed in

A very cool condo at Orange Beach – zoomed in

The sand is so white

The sand is so white

A very cool condo at Orange Beach

A very cool condo at Orange Beach

IMG_0685

The Wharf marina is a very nice marina facility, and Beverly and Ryan made us feel right at home when checking in.  Ryan helped us into our slip, provided us with some great info and insights to the area.  Beth was very pleased with our docking procedure, smooth as silk and totally uneventful.  I’ll take the time today in the 75 degree sunshine to wash the boat down and remove the salt.  Each docking procedure is making it easier to dock successfully, thank goodness.  She is a big girl, and just a wee bit different to dock than Kewalo.  This marina caters to “loopers”, and when you tell the staff that you are a looper, dock fees are significantly cheaper.  I told Beverly that we were “loopy”, and that got us the reduced rate.  So, with the 11% tax that is charged here in Alabama for hotel rooms, docks etc., our total dock fees for two weeks is $525.  Not bad at all, much cheaper than a hotel room.  By the way, if you can stay here for 6 months, the 11% tax fee is removed……hmmm, 6 x 30 or 31…nope, no can do.  The customs and border folks wouldn’t like that…….Floating docks, laundry facilities, loopers all over, even from Canada….nice place to stay for awhile.

Tony from Coastal Canvas is going to bring our car over for us one day this week, good thing, as the closest grocery store is 3.4 miles away.  A bit of a hike when hauling groceries on foot.  There are quite a few nice restaurants very close by, and one of them, Ginny Lane offers a lunch special, good to 6 p.m., that comes with a free martini!  YES!  We will come to know this place very well methinks<grin>  There is a ferris wheel just across the street, and all kinds of attractions on the wharf here in Orange Beach.

Sunday afternoon we sailed with Keith and Linda, the former owners.  Their in depth knowledge of the waters around Pensacola, and their vast sailing abilities are remarkable.  Linda is an avid racer, and delivers sailboats, while Keith no longer races but truly enjoys sailing.  His ability to trim the sails was something to watch and learn from, his skills obvious to my constant observations.  It is awesome to watch a truly skilled and experienced sailor trim a boat.  We arrived back at Palafox in the dark, and I was able to dock our boat in backwards on the second attempt with some help from the crew.

Pensacola Bay sunset 1

Pensacola Bay sunset 1

Pensacola Bay sunset 2

Pensacola Bay sunset 2

Pensacola Bay sunset 3

Pensacola Bay sunset 3

In closing, a Hinckley 46 with a beautiful dark blue hull, gold trim, and woodwork that gleamed, was at Palafox.  I had noticed a different wake when he arrived, and in talking with the owner, from Traverse City, Michigan, discovered that he had jet drives.  Big, strong, Hamilton jet drives.  He claimed that the drives gave him about a 10% better fuel economy, and made the boat as easy to handle as a jet ski, and only a 2.5 foot draft.  I have no idea what it was worth…..but scary would be a good term.  Awesome motor yacht!  Should have grabbed a couple of pics in hindsight.

So, Orange Beach, here we are!

Keep you stick on the ice.

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Getting Ready to Cruise

Moorahme, (which will be our boat’s name, once she is fully registered in Canada federally) is a 1982 Sparkman Stephens designed center cockpit cutter rigged 47 foot sailboat.  She has a registered net tonnage of 20.37 tonnes I believe, give or take a pound or two.  She has a 6′ draft, and her mast height is 65 feet plus instruments.  She carries laminate sails, has a factory hard dodger and is currently being re-fitted with a full enclosure to keep us warm, dry and happy in the cockpit.  She has 3 staterooms, although we mainly use the 3rd cabin as our “garage”, storing the tools, spare parts and spinnaker, two heads, currently only one has a shower set up, and there is a shower set up on the stern, as well as a fresh water wash down system near the bow.  She carries a 100 hp Yanmar turbo with a nice folding prop, a 5kw generator, two Shell solar panels and a wind generator.  She has a Spectra watermaker so that we can convert salt water to fresh water, a freezer and refrigerator, if we can ever get the system serviced, it needs a R-12 charge, so we have been using a lot of ice since we got here.

There is a 33 kilogram Rocna anchor, an oversized windlass and ample chain to anchor out most anywhere.

Anchor windless

Anchor windless

Wind, Solar, Radar and Dinghy on the Arch

Wind, Solar, Radar and Dinghy on the Arch

wind, solar and radar

wind, solar and radar

The stern arch carries not only the gps antennae, the solar panels and wind generator, but the dinghy (a 10 foot Avon hard bottom) with a 9.9 Yamaha two stroke outboard as well.  There is an awesome swim platform off the stern, which makes access so much better for both Beth and I, but especially me with my gimp leg.  She has a 20,000 btu air conditioning and heating unit, Lavac electric toilets.  So….one would think that with all of these appointments, that we should be able to just sail away so to speak.  Well, it doesn’t quite work like that.  I ordered Racor diesel filters with a vacuum gauge today which should hopefully be installed on Friday of this week.  We have also ordered the new enclosure, a Xantrex 3000 power invertor with a built in 150 amp 3 stage battery charger, the invertor converts the battery power to 110 type power.  We replaced the worn out water pump, and ordered a spare today as well, and a spare electric poop pump…..once we do get out cruising, parts are not always easily found.  I will also be ordering a spare alternator for the Yanmar engine, and a few other bits and pieces.

Tony insaling the "glass" on the dodger

Tony insaling the “glass” on the dodger

The point of all this is….when someone tells you that you will spend another 30% of your purchase priced getting your boat ready for you…they are telling you the truth.  It will run pretty close to that.  It really is not much different from purchasing a new home and installing hardware floors, updating the kitchen and bathroom, or paving the driveway.   Really, a small price to pay for sunshine and warm weather.

Being in the sunshine and warm weather does not exempt you from illness.  I have been fighting a losing battle, so far at least, with a miserable chest cold.  It is very similar to the one I had this past January….the one where Beth and her sister Cheryl had to finally perform an exorcism to rid me of it…not saying they are witches or anything like that…but my cold was gone the next day<grin>

We are fortunate to have our car with us, it makes restocking the frige and obtaining parts needed right away so much easier.  We will probably be purchasing bicycles when we become official cruisers, then we can pedal our asses all over the towns we will be visiting.

A fella asked me yesterday what I miss most while being on the boat…I had to say that family functions would be the number one issue.  Although with today’s technology we are a phone call or e-mail away, attending the family functions is number one, getting together with our friends, whether hauling out a boat, enjoying a quiet dinner or night on town would be next.  After that, I’m not sure….he said he was contemplating purchasing a sailboat and heading out.  My response was don’t wait, do it now.  Life is too short to wait, and can throw some twists and turns at you when you least expect them…so do it, and do it now.  Don’t wait, we’re having way too much fun.

Keep your stick on the ice.

Lets Talk A Wee Bit About Last Night…

 

Yesterday was a blustery type day, winds 20+ knots…for our non nautical friends, a knot is e,qual to 1.2 miles per hour, pretty much out of the south.  We have backed into our dock, so our aft end is facing the breakwall, which usually pretty much blocks all wind and water views as well.  Sitting this way in our slip, this pretty much creates a parachute effect with the bimini and dodger.

Just before darkness fell, I went out to check our lines to ensure that all was good.  Mission accomplished, no issues.  We could snuggle in for the night, or so we thought.  As soon as darkness fell, the winds really picked up, not sure of the wind speed, but no doubt that they were running an easy 30+knots, and things were a tad uncomfortable.  About 9 p.m. or so, I went out and put on more lines, adding another single stern line, and doubling up on the bow and one other stern line.  Beth helped me get these set up.  The docks, which are floating docks here at Palafox, were bucking and bouncing about big time, walking the docks was a task as I went to shower in the complex.  Beth and I settled in, Beth reading her e-reader, and I was trying to get internet on the laptop.  Things really picked up about midnite, and the bimini was pounding away.  Beth suggested we take the bimini down and roll it up on the aft most piping, which we went out and did.  Good thing, because one of the fittings had let go, the set screw loosened up, and the whole structure was compromised.  We got the bimini down and secured, and when we  went to re-enter the boat, a wave sprayed right over the breakwall and down into our companionway.  Damn, salt water in the boat!  Not what anyone wants!  And one of my tool totes was open, and was splashed with salt water, which meant all the tools had to be pulled out and washed, rinsed and dried.  Great fun!

The breakwall behind our

The breakwall behind our

Our boat(with swim platform and yellow life ring) stern in

Our boat(with swim platform and yellow life ring) stern in

Suddenly, there was pounding on the boat, someone frantically knocking.  I opened the companionway hatch, and a lady pleaded that we help them with their boat, it had broken it’s mooring lines and they needed help and any spare lines we had to re-secure their huge Cheoy Lee trawler.  We quickly exited Moorahme, once again getting deluged with water cascading over the breakwall and into the hatch opening.

We staggered down the docks to the trawler, and another sailor was already there securing lines, Joe, from New York state, who had purchased a pdq 36 catamaran and he and his wife Deb, and their golden lab were now living aboard after sailing the cat over to Florida from Texas.  We finally secured the Cheoy Lee, it is one huge trawler, must be a 54 footer, extremely heavy with our extra lines, and some lines that I appropriated from the fuel dock.  Jack and Terry had just received their new to them trawler two days before, and the previous owner had stripped all of the good docking lines when he left the boat, leaving them with what I would call “poo lines”, not lines of poo, just poo lines.

So, trawler secured, off we staggered down the docks back to Moorahme.  Once again, the spray from the breakwall deluged our companionway, time for some clean up.  Around midnight, or around 12:30 a.m., suddenly, all was quiet.  Absolutely no wind, no monsoon rains, the docks settled down…..the calm before the storm?  Nope, we already had been through part of the storm…they eye of the storm perhaps…yup, exactly!  No more than fifteen minutes passed, we scrubbed Moorahme down, I washed and rinsed the tools….and then the storm started all over again.  Only this time, even more intense.  Suddenly, we were heeled over at the dock at least 10 degrees, maybe more.  Even tied down as heavily as we were, and with a rather large Sea Ray power boat between us and winds, we heeled over rather uncomfortably too far.  I reassured Beth that we were on a good, solid boat that would fare well no matter the conditions, and it did.  Leaks?  Oh yeah, we had leaks!  We have had rains since we started living on Moorahme, but not like this!  The wind was driving the rain in over the top of the companionway hatch cover, and into the top of the hull.  Then, this water travelled across the ceiling and dripped out  under the ceiling cover near one of the portlights.  Enough so that we had to set up a container underneath it to catch all the water.

The winds finally eased somewhat, and Beth decided to retire to the aft cabin around 2 a.m. I stayed up until about 4 a.m. to ensure that we would be good.  At 7 a.m. I went topsides, and all was good.  Not a mark on the hull, the rain had washed the boat nice and clean.  The dinghy was over half full with cold rain water, which I bailed and pumped out.  All the other boats seem to have faired well, and in talking with dockmaster Ron, he pulled out quite a few boat parts from the water which owners will claim later.  What a night!  Thunder, lightning, huge, huge winds and rain…….aaaah, the joys of living on a boat!<grin>

The Cheoy Lee did not suffer any further indignations, and Jack was off to West Marine today to spend the big bucks and get some good dock lines. They were sailors in a previous life, and enjoyed sailing the south pacific and seas beyond, so Beth and I are really looking forward to spending some time with them and listening to their travel stories!  And they have a really nice dog….Moo….lol….a mutt they rescued from a shelter and has some fantastic colors and markings.  Mooooooo!

We haven’t tried our on board washing machine out yet…there is a Laundromat here that washes, dries and folds your clothes for $1.25 per lb.  So…we have yet to do laundry since we left home.  Nice!

We had a great sail on Saturday with our friends from Alabama, but I will save that story for the next update, this one has already developed into an epic!

Keep your stick on the ice!

October 12 – so much to be thankful for this Canadian Thanksgiving

Here we are……Pensacola, Florida.  Is this really possible?  Yes!

Peek-a-blue - This blue heron checks on us most mornings

Peek-a-blue – This blue heron checks on us most mornings

 

Then tries to sneak way

Then tries to sneak way

Today, Beth and I did a few odd jobs…Beth scrubbed the cockpit floor, I entertained a refrigeration tech…..Jordan Duprees…is that a southern name or what…and then scrubbed down the deck.  It really was time for some cleaning.

A little squid checking out our rudder

A little squid checking out our rudder

Yesterday, Beth and I took out our Alabama friends Aaron and Caroline for a sail.  They had just completed a sailing course, and were itching to get out for a sail.  So, out to the Gulf of Mexico we went..under power….no wind!  But wait, as we completed the passage out of Pensacola Bay into the Gulf, the winds picked up to 10 knots…the tide appeared to be coming in, and going out the channel to the Gulf gave us some 6 foot waves with a rather large fetch…motoring along at 7.2 knots, less than 2500 rpm on the Yanmar…..out of the channel, hoist the mainsail…lol….a few times, because this time the lanyard was caught up in the spreaders….geeeesh…is this ever going to be easy?…..Finally, Aaron and I had the main hoisted, threw out the genoa….and…………yes..no wind…no freakin’ wind!  How the heck?  Oh well….time for a rest, some water, some treats…..and lo and behold…up came the wind!  Really….slowly rising, and Moorahme responded like a new colt out of the pen!  As the wind rose…so did our SOG…speed over ground…just about matching wind speed to hull speed…no, I’m leading you astray……if the wind was at 10 knots…we were pushing almost 5 knots SOG..which is really impressive for a 40,000lb sailboat!  All the tanks loaded up, all of our gear….yes, I was happy!  Rock on!

Caroline and Aaron

Caroline and Aaron

Straight up

Straight up

We headed west for about 14 miles, passing into Alabama waters, at least 3 miles offshore….the Alabama shoreline is so impressive with the pure white sands, the ultra modern buildings built on the shoreline…..hard to describe.  We encountered acres, literally acres of baitfish jumping, breaking the surface, trying to elude the fish preying on them from below, and the gulls from above.  The breaking water sounded just like rain they were so plentiful…we’ve not ever witnessed so many!  Further along, we encountered tuna like fish chasing the bait fish, jumping right out of the water in their quest to fill their hungry bellies. The winds were pushing us along at a healthy 5 plus knots…aaah….sailing at it’s finest!  Bright sunshine, awesome company….a sailboat that craved wind and waves…holy crap…can it possibly get better than this?  YUP…it sure can!  How about dolphins swimming along, diving under the bow of Moorahme, sea turtles with heads the size of a football…..perfect winds…perfect company?

We turned around about 14 miles or so into Alabama, and headed back towards Pensacola.  The channel was much calmer, and actually pulled us along.  I saw a large Beneteau cruising along, entering Pensacola harbour via the ICW…the Intercoastal Waterway…he was quite a ways ahead of us….probably a mile or so….I rallied the crew…let’s see if we can catch that boat!  And, off we went, trimming sails, forecasting wind changes, trimming here and there, and yes…we are catching him!  We ARE!  This is so cool!  We trimmed, altered course, pushed and pulled, and finally pulled this big Beneteau into our reach…and passed him!  YES, we passed him!  A big Bene…….no, we weren’t racing….sailors don’t race…they just sort of trim sails and change course to adapt to the wind changes…….<grin> but we got him!  Our Moorahme is 32 years old….the new Bene..who knows…maybe 10 years old..but we got him!  And no left turns!<for you Nascar fans>  What a feeling!  Yes!  High fives all over! LOL!

So…close to the marina, douse the sails, and motor in.  Docking was a real show….I just couldn’t get it…..the short bus was about to pick me up if I couldn’t get Moorahme in to the dock with this one last attempt….but…success!  Yes, the daysail is finally over!  Dinner at Jaco’s to culminate a wonderful day spent with our sailboat, and new friends Aaron and Caroline.  I actually think that maybe Aaron is enjoying sailing!  Hopefully he brings a fishing pole next time we go out!<grin>

The day before, Friday, Keith, the former owner called and asked if I had the new inverter/charger installed…no, not yet!  I’ll be there in twenty minutes to get ‘er done Keith said.  Time to rock!  Out with the old, in with the new.  Keailli had a 400 watt inverter…not near sufficient to run any real electrical appliance, so we had purchased a new to us Xantrex 3000 watt invertor with a built in battery charger.  Now we could operate pretty much any appliance we would want, including Beth’s Mixmaster..and fully charge the boat batteries with the built in 3 stage 150 watt battery charger!  Keith, Beth and I worked about 6 hours on the installation, and I am very happy to report that it is working just fine!  Now, we can live “on the hook” that’s sailor lingo for having the anchor dropped and not living at a dock…we use the power from our batteries and charge them up with the on board 5kw generator…and once we head to the Caribbean, we will then make use of the water maker…and we will only have to go to shore to get rid of our garbage, obtain fuel and replenish our food supplies…..which means cheap living!  Not like at present, where we are paying $600 U.S. for the dock, plus hydro…..ouch!

We are really enjoying Pensacola….the weather is awesome, the sailing is awesome….there are great restaurants, nice wine shops to satisfy our lust of fine wines…and the Gulf is less than an hour away to sail to our hearts content.  In November, we will be heading over to Alabama, and there we will discover new anchorages, docks, things to do and see…..it just never ends!  We are blessed to be able to live this life…we have so much to be thankful for.

So….happy Thanksgiving to all of our Canadian friends and relatives!  We hope to see you all….or y’all as they say down this way….soon!

An couple of nice afternoon Sails -Little Sabine and Pensacola Bay

It is very warm here once again, I had to close up Moorahme and turn on the air conditioning last night, it was just too warm to sleep, at least for me.

What have we been up to the last few days you might wonder…well, another trip to Joe Pattis for more royal red shrimp, and some fresh grouper…done up nicely on the grill.  Visited a very nice wine shop in a fruitless quest for Turley wine, or Ridge…perhaps they can order it, they said they would get back to us…..so far, no call.  Island time mon.

We visited the local Publix grocery store, nice, clean, somewhat pricey.  A nice selection of beer and wine….the way it should be in Ontario!  Beth found a large bottle of Kraken rum in the high end liquor store that Publix has next to the grocery store, and there were actually some very nice wines in there as well.  I picked up a nice white and a new to us Cabernet Sauvignon to try at a later date.

We sailed the day before yesterday around the bay, and over to a totally protected harbour called Little Sabine.  The channel is very well marked, and shallow.  It is a dredged channel, and will be a great place for us to anchor out next month.  We are paid up here until the end of the month, and next month we plan on anchoring out and exploring a lot more.  On the way back out of LIttle Sabine, we bumped across a shallow spot….a first time ever event for us.  Quite gut wrenching I might add….but…sand bottom=not big deal.  Local knowledge can so very useful at times like this!

Skinny channel into Little Sabine Bay

Skinny channel into Little Sabine Bay

We were sailing slowly along, not much wind, and Beth quite excitedly says….SHARK! Over there!  SHARK!  I look over and sure enough, a shark fin about a hundred yards from us…..doo doo……dooo dooo…remember the music from Jaws????  Yup, that’s the tune….it was screaming in my ears<grin>.  It swam away, or we sailed away, or maybe a little bit of both.  I suggested to Beth if she wanted a close up that she should splash her legs in the water off the swim platform….after very little consideration her reply was that I might as well do that, especially since I am the one with a bum ankle…LOL!  Some time later we came across at least 10 dolphins swimming in the warm waters of the bay, not close enough for great pictures, but we could easily see them surfacing and generally having what appeared to be a good time.  One of these days, we will great some great close up shots I am sure.

Dophins out in the bay

Dophins out in the bay

As those of you who have been following the blog, we are having issues with our refrigeration.  Our broker, who is a very knowledgeable fellow, told us that some systems run better off of the engine than they do on shore power.  So, today we’ll head out and try that, see if it works for us.  We have our fingers crossed, as getting a refrigeration tech down to the boat has become somewhat of a farce, that “island time” thing I guess……a call back would be nice.

Coastal Canvas, a local canvas company was by to give us an estimate on a new full enclosure…this spring we forked out 4200 Canadian bucks for a screened in full enclosure on Kewalo..not a full plastic set up.  The estimate from Tony is more than double that for Moorahme……she has such expensive tastes!  We’ll go and visit him tomorrow and iron out some details.  Pics of other work they have done has shown us that they do very nice work.

So, tumble check time down below, and off we go for a motor sail to see how the refrigeration reacts.  It is supposed to hit almost 80F here today…..partly cloudy, some cumulo nimbus clouds around, but we should be ok for today at least as far as t’storms go.

Well, we had a great sail today.  The foresail finally came through the gap between it and the staysail all on it’s own, it looks like the Grunnert refrigeration likes to run off of the engine much better than the shore power, I quite nicely was able to back into our dock today, we were running at 5.7 knots in 13knots apparent wind with just the foresail up…the sun was shining, the thunderstorms stayed away from us….how could it be any better?

After sailing for about six hours today, all was good.  As mentioned above, we have discovered more on how Moorahme likes to run, and it really was a nice day.  I successfully calibrated the st60 wind instrument so that the wind direction is almost 100% dead on, the refrigeration appears to be much better on  12 volt power…a whole list of plus factors.

When we returned to the dock, I backed in first try, woohoooo, and we set Moorahme back up on the dock, shore power, close the hatches, fire up the air conditioning, heck, it’s only 85 degrees below…..

toward Little Sabine

A very nice dinner of pork chops…by the way, Ontario’s pork has the pork we purchased here beat all to hell, much sweeter, better texture…all round better tasting. Coupled with some potato salad and a spinach salad side, one heck of a tasty dinner.  Some internet time, wash the stern of Moorahme to wash off the salt, life is good.

Then….oh oh…the air conditioner is making a funny noise…and the air isn’t so cool any longer.  Hmmm, no water coming out of the thru hull on the exit side….time to shut it down.  I started tearing apart the water line feeding the cooling side of the air conditioner.  No water at the pump…hmmmm, no water at the valve I had just replaced last week…hmmmmmmmm, interesting.  No water going to the electric head forward…this is not good.

So, I decided it was time to tear apart all of the plumbing on this thru hull, which feeds the air conditioner, the forward head, and the wash down pump forward.  This is not good……1982 vintage plumbing….oh boy.  I closed the thru hull, and disassembled all of the plumbing at the thru hull so that I could remove the fittings to have a good look at the thru hull.  The header appeared quite clean…..a few barnacles, some other miscellaneous crap..no big deal.  Now, to open the thru hull.  Nothing…nada…now water, which should have been gushing thru like old faithful.  I took a closer look…and lo and behold, the valve is plugged solid with jelly, gelatin, guck, yuck and tentacles…..a dang jellyfish was blocking the thru hull!  It must have got sucked into the thru hull by the air conditioning pump.  Wonderful!

2 Jellyfish - one's headed for the bottom

2 Jellyfish – one’s headed for the bottom

We use a piece of wood dowelling to check the fuel tank levels on Moorahme.  So, Beth brought that over to me, and I began to rod out the dead jellyfish.  No easy task….you would have had to see it to believe it.  I am still shaking my head.  I finally clear the goopy mess of dead critter…..re-assemble all of the piping, and re-open the thru hull.  Beth started the air unit back up…still no cooling water going through the system.  So, I slowly remove the cap on the suction pump to re-prime the system, and away it went!  Ordeal over…now to clean up the goopy mess without getting stung.  Wads of paper towel, thank you Kimberly Clark wood products division, some latex gloves..no this isn’t where the story goes south, we have a pg audience here<grin>  A full grocery bag of sopping wet, gelatined paper towels later, and it’s time to cork up the update, have a shot of Kraken rum and pepsi, and cool off.

So….we all know that there are going to be a world, a ton of “firsts” while we adapt to this lifestyle….but a jellyfish blocking a thru hull???

Continuing with the food theme….

2 Jellyfish - one's headed for the bottom

2 Jellyfish – one’s headed for the bottom

Saturday, October 4, 2014, Pensacola Florida.  Very strong winds from the NORTH….temperature has dropped like the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball…..it is kind of cool here.  As we walk north on Palafox Street to the farmer’s market, we notice that the natives….Floridians that is, are dressed in sweaters, long sleeved clothing, pants, no shorts, some are even wearing jackets.  It isn’t too bad for us, we are still in shorts, Beth wearing a long sleeved tee shirt, I’m in a short sleeved one.

We were slightly delayed in getting to the farmer’s market, as we were walking by the parking lot where we leave the car, we both noticed that it looked strange.  Our immediate thoughts were crap, someone broke into the car, but as we got closer, we knew that we could be not further from the truth…at least so far.  I had parked the car under one of the many parking lot light standards, and apparently the local birds just love it when people do so.  Our grayish-blueish whatever color the car is, was now pretty much white….as in bird poo white.  Totally covered.  Eeeew!  So, off to find a car wash to remove the fecal bombs left behind by our feathered friends.  $5 later, the car looked much better, and while we were out, we filled up the gas tank. $65 for premium at $3.75 a gallon at the local Shell station.  Back home, this was at least a $95 fill up, as we were pretty much running on fumes.  So, for those of you wondering, there you go, about a $30 savings in fuel.

Jellyfish and Mullets

Jellyfish and Mullets

So, off to the farmer’s market.  It was very busy, all kinds of street vendors and entertainment.  Bands with vocals, duos with just a banjo and guitar, solo guitar players, solo banjo players…..Mugger, if you ever retire you can come down here and make some money<grin>  The vendors consisted mainly of food type folks, we purchased a “tomato pie”, which is just like a regular pie but contained tomatoes, bacon, cheese and some kind of special sauce.  It actually tasted ok, but not $15 ok, maybe $10 ok.  We also purchased some “Dixie Smoke” homemade mustard, and fresh organic pork Louisiana sausage.  The usual jewelry and art vendors were there as well, but we managed to get by them unscathed.

Our plan had been to sail yesterday, but the winds were very high, there was a small craft warning, and I did not want to try to re-dock Moorahme in those conditions.  Sailing would have been great fun, docking not so much.  So, we fiddle farted around on the boat, I had a wee bit of retirement style afternoon nap after the walk to the farmer’s market, and we both enjoyed the people’s comments on Moorahme as they walked by on the causeway above us, which, by the way, is a very popular walkway for the locals here.

Aaron and Caroline successfully completed day two of their sailing classes, and we invited them for dinner.  We had visited Joe Pattis on Friday and purchased some “Royal Red” shrimp, and a very nice swordfish steak.  The barbeque was about to be well abused by my culinary skills, as we planned on thinly slicing up some previously cooked rib eye steak, baked potatoes with garlic cloves and of course bacon, and these famous “red” shrimp.  There are a large variety of shrimp in the waters out there, and apparently the Reds are the most prized of the lot.  The Reds reside in the deepest part of the waters here, and this is why they are the color red when caught, much the same color as other shrimp after they have been cooked.  Beth put together one of her delicious salads, and we were in business.

The prep and cooking of the dinner went well, down here the barbeque is called a “grill”, hence, you are “grilling” dinner…so, I grilled dinner last night on the grill, y’all!  Last night was the first time I had ever had Swordfish, it is awesome!  The steak was about an inch and three quarters thick, and with the grill cranking, three minutes per side, give or take a nano second or two, and it was done!  The shrimp was divided into two methods…I put some butter in tin foil, threw in some blackened old bay spices, and threw the shrimp in on top.  The steam from the butter melting and the water from the shrimp quickly cooked the tin foil contents, and the remainder I placed on the grill and cooked them straight up.  Oh My Goodness!  The reds are sweeter, and the meat has a slightly different texture than any other shrimp, hard to describe the different texture, make sure you get some FRESH reds and try them out!  Your best bet….come on down and join us, we’ll take you to Joe Patti’s, then back to Moorahme for an awesome dinner, great wine, funny stories, especially if Aaron is here…

I learned a new saying last night….it’s one of those that will stick…lol.  We were talking about steak, and how we like it cooked.  Aaron piped up and said…I tell the waiter to “lop off the horns, wipe it’s ass, and run it by the grill”……I just find that one hard to forget, especially with the way Aaron talks.  Not saying he has an accent….but.

So, today, it looks like we can get out sailing, which we will.  More practice on the big girl here.  It is 65 degrees here in Moorahme this morning.  I closed all the hatches last night, we had shut the air conditioning off early yesterday morning…..so that should give you some idea what the overnight temperature was like.  Not sure what the temperature actually dropped to, but it was supposed to go down to 50 degrees over in Daphne, Alabama, about an hour away where Aaron and Caroline reside.  The locals will be COLD this morning!

a few dolphins off in the distance

a few dolphins off in the distance

Till next time, keep your stick on the ice.

First sail on our own – woo hoo

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Beth suggested to me that it was time to take Moorahme for a ride……so…..do up the dishes, complete the spill check, check the engine to ensure it was ready to go…

Cast off those lines my dear….and off we go! Out of Palafox marina, and out into the harbour. Beauty of a day, light winds, very little traffic and a 47 foot sailboat chomping at the bit ready for some sail time.

With Beth at the wheel, I began to hoist the mainsail…..and realized far too late that I had neglected to ensure that it was in the mast track. Crap! What a mess we were in now…..the mainsail had to come all the way back down…and of course it did not furl in very nicely on the in boom furler. I managed to start the sail properly on to the track, and then had to manually unfurl the entire sail and ensure that it was going to track properly up the mast. Believe me, that was a lot of winching, tugging, sweating, and cursing myself for being so neglectful.

 

Randy taking a break after all that sweating, George (our Autopilot) is at the helm.

Randy taking a break after all that sweating, George (our Autopilot) is at the helm.

 

I finally got the mainsail fully raised, properly, and away we went, heading for the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. Our hull speed slowly crept up…..and between Beth and I we were able to figure out the new to us electronics, and headed out into the Gulf of Mexico…and our speed increased to over 7 knots speed over ground with about 13 knots of apparent wind…oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Lovin' this!!

Lovin’ this!!

Suddenly off to the starboard side, a pod of about nine dolphins easily kept up with us….only to disappear when Beth went forward to take their pictures!

Missed the shot of the dolphins

Missed the shot of the dolphins

We sailed out to the end of the channel to Pensacola, and turned around because we were running out of time, and I wanted to return to the marina before darkness set in. And we did! The foresail, or genoa, is huge, and really adds to the hull speed. Compared to Kewalo…well, everything is bigger, heavier, faster…you know the old saying….bigger, badder, meaner, faster! She handles the gulf swells like a dream come true.

So, to backtrack a wee bit, we spent yesterday shopping…trying to determine how to best have a hotspot, or cell coverage so that we could have a hotspot…and we are still looking at that. A trip to Wal Mart for some cheap supplies for cleaning and such, and back to the boat. Oh, by the way, we have received official notification that Moorahme is officially ours….and the name will remain ours. Yes! Progress!

Palafox dock is located at the very end of Palafox street, in the old part of downtown Pensacola. That being said, there are a ton of GREAT restaurants within easy walking distance. The fish tacos at Jacos Restaurant, which is located right at the marina, are absolutely awesome..and they have a very nice wine list to compliment the rest of the menu. There is also a refit yard for the oil field ships a block or so away, so we are treated to viewing some of the huge ships that work in the oilfields when they come in for maintenance. The American Navy has their base at the entrance to Pensacola from the Gulf, so we are treated to navy ships, and a ton of navy jets on patrol and training sessions. Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels, and they usually practice on Tuesdays, but we have yet to see them over the bay practicing. We are really looking forward to seeing them!

Tomorrow we are heading to a crab boil over in Alabama. We have met some folks who are taking sailing lessons here at the marina, and they invited us over for a crab boil. Caroline and Aaron are getting into sailing, and are very interesting to talk to, both engineers by trade. Gulf Shores is less than an hour away by car…and Aaron is catching the crab fresh tomorrow morning! Oh man, cannot wait to taste them that fresh.

As with any boat of this vintage, we are having some small issues to deal with. Our refrigeration is not quite up to par, I am suspecting it needs a Freon charge..and we are hoping to get that done asap. Keith, the former owner, has hooked us up with a local repair guy, I will let you know how we make out. And tomorrow, a local canvas company is coming down to give us an estimate on a new dodger, bimini and full enclosure installation. The dodger isinglass is hard to see through, the bimini leaks when it rains, and we want a full enclosure for when we sail in areas with bugs.

So, we docked pretty well again today, no major issues or problems, and I expect that each time docking will become easier and more efficient. Beth did a great job handling the lines and getting Moorahme settled into her dockspace! Yes!

So, enough for today! Carry on as if you are normal!