Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thanksgving - Holidays

We stayed in Beaufort for an additional two days after the inverter was installed because we wanted to give it a real test before we left the area. Just about the only way to thoroughly evaluate it was to turn off the electricity coming into the boat, ramp up the juice we were using and see how the inverter behaved. Actually, it is not just an inverter; it is an inverter-charger. That fact is important because the Magnum seems to do as good of a job at inverting as the Xantrex did, and a MUCH better job of charging that the Xantrex. In particular, it seems to start charging at a higher rate and stays in the “bulk” and “absorb” levels longer that the Xantrex (NOTE: Modern battery chargers have three different charging levels: “bulk,” which puts as many amps into the battery as the battery can handle for a short period of time, “absorb” (or acceptance) which slows the charging rate (so the battery doesn’t overcharge), but still pumps juice into the batteries and “float,” which keeps the battery charged when it is almost full.) Anyway, we wanted to try a number of different scenarios so the testing took more than the one day we had allocated. At the end of two days, however, we were confident that the inverter was working well – even better than we expected.
Because we spent additional time in Beaufort, we were unable to visit our friends Mark and Becky Covington aboard Sea Angel. We saw them in Beaufort when they came to visit us at the marina, and had intended to see them just outside of Savannah. Actually, right now they are not aboard Sea Angel. Although it is a very long story, their boat broke loose from its anchor during Hurricane Matthew and ended up ashore on Green Island, some distance from where she had been anchored. Although the situation is not nearly as bad as it could have been, they are still working with the insurance company and having Sea Angel made seaworthy once again. Anyway, sorry we couldn’t make it Mark and Becky, but we really needed to make up some time.

Russ and Lori with Ann during our Thanksgiving Celebration.
On Tuesday, 22 November we finally made it to our mooring ball in St. Augustine. We had been planning on stopping in St. Augustine and staying a week for several reasons. First, St. Augustine is one of the four places in the southeast (along with Brunswick and St. Mary’s in Georgia and Vero Beach, Florida, where they have a “Cruiser’s Thanksgiving,” and we wanted to try it out. In case you were wondering, our Thanksgiving was wonderful! It was not as big as some we have attended – certainly not as big as the one at Vero, but it was fun, interesting and had good food. I would guess that there were about sixty people, but more importantly, our friends Russ and Lori were there.

Additionally, we still had places to go in St. Augustine, and had things to see. St. Augustine is quite a tourist town. We have been there four or five times for a couple of days each, and every time we find something new to see and do. Usually, the first thing we do is to get a three day pass for the “Old Trolley Tours” that allow us to travel the touristy district get on and off the tram as often as we want. We generally take the tour on the first day, then determine what we want to see and where we want to go for subsequent days. This year, we (meaning me) decided we just had to see the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” Museum. I know what you are thinking … what a waste of time, blah, blah, blah. But wait a minute … we had already seen the fort (Castillo de San Marcos), the college, the historic district, the medical hospital museum, and most of the rest of the serious sights, it was time to see some of the “over the top” touristy places. And, as we learned, Ripley’s certainly qualifies as over the top. Anyway, now that we have checked that box, I don’t think we will need to check it again.

 Finally, although being tethered to a mooring ball isn’t the same as being anchored, you still have to use your own devices (e.g. inverter) to make it through the week – so it was a good long test for the inverter. There really isn’t much to say about the inverter test; it worked very well. I did determine, though, that the Xantrex battery monitor that we have does not work with the Magnum inverter. I am not quite sure why. The monitor is entirely separate from the inverter and is supposed to determine what is happening with the battery itself – not with the inverter.  Oh well, Magnum has its own battery monitor and I think I can put it in myself – but that will probably have to wait until we return from the Bahamas.

Some of the tools on display at the Saint Augustine's
Military Medical Museum. Did you know that
Spanish medical procedures were far in advance of
 those of the Brits?
While in St. Augustine we also used Uber for the first time. For those of you who are not part of the digital, sharing economy, Uber is based on a phone app that allows the user to request a ride from point A to point B. Drivers use their own cars and when they see a request that they can fill, they jump on the opportunity and provide the transportation. Everything is handled over the phone, even the payment – there is no discussion over fares and no worry about tipping – tipping is prohibited in Uber. In short, it is a great way for people without a car to get someplace and return without spending the fortune that taxi drivers normally charge.

Having enjoyed Thanksgiving and all that St. Augustine has to offer, we continued heading south. We stopped briefly at Cocoa Beach because … well … we like Cocoa. After that, took the boat to Stuart, Florida for yet more repairs. We needed someone to fix the air handler in our air conditioner and replace some of our windshield wipers. I knew what was wrong with the air handler and that we would need two new fans for the system – we had been using it on borrowed time for about two years – so the cost wasn’t that surprising. The windshield wipers, though, were a different story. About a year ago, one of our wipers broke. Since we have three, it really wasn’t a big deal and we managed with the other two. On this trip, however, we had a second wiper break. Obviously we needed to have them fixed. As a matter of fact, you might think – as we did – that the smart thing would be to have all three replaced. You might think that until you realized they were going to cost $1500 apiece!!! Once we heard that, we decided that the third windshield wiper could probably last another year or so before we needed to replace it. Even so, three boat units for WINDSHIELD WIPERS was quite a shock to the pocketbook.
Anyway, after Stuart it was on to Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Florida. Last year we had wanted to stay at OPC, but found they were full by the time we made it to Florida. Having broken the code, this year we made reservations nine months in advance – we called in March for a slip in December! Having a slip was important because of our complex holiday plans. We intended to leave the boat at OPC for three weeks, rent a car and drive to home (with Spot, of course) to our friends and family in Northern VA and to our condo in southern MD. After the holidays we would then return to Florida, provision the boat and head off to the Bahamas.

I am not going to spend much time describing our holiday trip and travels other than to say it was GREAT. Our condo was still there, our friends Dave and Joan Wolf are still our friends and our Virginia family (Tim, Carrie, Caylin and Gavin) still acknowledge us as their parents and grandparents respectively. Why, you ask, am I not going to go into detail discussing our vacation? Well, there are two reasons. First, and most importantly, I am lazy – and I am old enough to know that I don’t have to make excuses for being lazy. Second, we tend to think most of you are more interested in what happens on our travels than what happens at home.
Ann participating in one of the many little boat
projects we had to do.
So, after the holidays, back we went to Old Port Cove. We washed the boat, did all the preventive maintenance checks that I can do, had two of our heads repaired and updated (I know some of you are now experts on marine toilets and want details so you can kibbitz our solution. Suffice to say we had one “old” Purasan made into a “new” one, and the electrodes for the middle unit changed out – and yes, it costs several boat units. In the next issue I may go into more detail.) In addition, we provisioned the boat and executed a few minor projects. When I say “provisioned the boat” I mean we bought things specifically for the boat. We do that once a year in Palm Beach because there is a “Boat Owner’s Warehouse” (BOW) store. The price of things at BOW tends to be 10%-15% less than West Marine (the nation-wide boat chandlery), so we like it a lot. Still, we spend about a BU buying things we have deferred throughout the year. This includes:

·         Ropes (lines on a boat)
·         Boat cleaning supplies
·         Oil and fuel filters for both the generator and the engines
·         Ten gallons of oil for an engine oil change
·         Five gallons of extra engine oil
·         Extra generator oil
·         Interior lights for the boat
·         Cedar plugs (for fishing)
·         30# and 40# test line for fishing (Ain’t no fish gonna break my line this year!)
·         Extra float switches
·         Tea Tree Oil
·         Extra floating cushions
·         Etc.

We also provision the people (and cat) on the boat by purchasing lots and lots of food. I think I figured out that we have about four to six weeks of meat aboard and lots of other food. The only one we know that eats better than we do is Spot. For her, we have a case of duck pate and a case of chicken-and-lobster pate; and we have twenty pounds of gluten-free kibble from Canada (eh?). Nobody aboard is going to starve.
Ann’s Notes: Dear Readers…This blog has been proof-read and Approved by the First Mate… (Moi)

Have a Happy and Healthy 2017…