“I just hope it will make it to Daytona.” Dave was referring to Orion Jr’s Nissan outboard, uttering these words shortly after we bought the little boat. He repeated them more than once over the nearly thousand miles between Mayo and Palm Coast, where we were putting in for the holidays. Why Daytona? That’s where we had met Blake Hollis a few years ago, when he worked miracles on Fred’s outboard and ours as well. Within an hour of our arrival, Dave had contacted Blake and made arrangements for him to pick up our 2 outboards, the bigger Nissan and the small Mercury for the dinghy.
Although the Nissan had performed well for such a long distance, we did have a laundry list of things to fix. In addition to an overall tune-up, perhaps the most significant problem was the fact that the throttle wouldn’t hold its position. If we wanted to run at a specific speed (frequently before bridges or in rough conditions), someone (aka Cathy) had to lean back over the transom and hold the throttle in position. This was not the way we wanted to travel the rest of Florida. Another problem was the fact that the external fuel connection leaked when Dave primed the fuel line before starting. Blake felt confident he knew what the problems were and could fix them. On the Mercury, there were no issues, but we did want it tuned up and the external fuel fitting changed to match the Nissan. This latter change would allow it to be used as a backup if the Nissan failed for some reason. So Blake took both motors with him back to his shop and we turned our attention elsewhere. One thing was sure. Until they were back on board, Orion Jr wasn’t going anywhere.
Before we left Hampton, we had mounted the 3 flexible solar panels on the bimini, to take advantage of solar power for recharging the batteries. However, we had carried a large, fixed panel on deck, but not connected. One of Dave’s projects for our time in Palm Coast was to find a way to mount this panel. Since this was going to be an experiment, he was looking for an inexpensive, but secure way to position it, so we could try it out before investing a lot money into a permanent structure. Scouring the aisles of the consignment stores in St. Augustine and Daytona, we kept trying to come up with a solution only to be stymied by one thing or another. We were running out of time and Dave was becoming frustrated. On the last morning with the car, he came up with a solution. We would build a frame out of 1 ¼ “ PVC that would stand on deck and reach across the back of the bimini. He bought all the pipes, connectors and PVC cement at Home Depot and put them in a pile on the dock. Hopefully, we didn’t forget anything.
The next day, we began to construct the structure, starting with the rectangular frame that the panel would sit on. Once we were happy with a design for this, we took all the pieces to shore and then cemented them in place and attached the solar panel to the structure. The last step had to be done back on the boat. We would have to put the supports in place (which hopefully we had cut to the right length) and then cement them into their connectors. We managed to get this done without getting the cement on the bimini or each other. Then Dave began lashing the structure to the stern rail and the toe rail. It seemed strong enough. It got its first test a day later, when a cold front came through and the winds blew hard all day long. Everything stayed put. Now we have increased our solar charging by almost 100% and will be better able to keep up with our daily power demands.
More Boat Stuff
So, with engines in place and dinghy riding behind, we pulled out of Palm Coast on a foggy Thursday morning (January 12th) to begin moving south again. After a stop for fuel at Halifax Harbor in Daytona, we anchored out just south of the marina for our first night out. A front was moving through, which helped us by giving us wind behind, but the same north wind started making it colder. Having left Palm Coast in shorts, we quickly switched them for jeans and sweatshirts for the next leg from Daytona south to Titusville.
With the wind moderating during the day, we made what turned out to be a fateful decision, and chose to anchor just north of the Addison Point bridge for the night. A final check of the weather before going to bed told us that the winds were increasing dramatically overnight from the northwest – the direction of the longest fetch. We were in for a bumpy night. Dave put an extra line on the dinghy and switched to an anchor bridle to have 2 points of attachment for the anchor. We bobbed and churned all night long, affording little sleep. The anchor held, but as the winds and waves kicked up a little more just before dawn, we realized we would have to wait until they died down some before Dave could safely go forward to pull anchor.
By 8:30, the conditions were calming down, and we got underway. However, this day was the coldest of all. With the strong north winds and the sun slipping behind the clouds more than it was out, we just couldn’t get warm. We were relieved beyond words to finally pull into Telemar Bay Marina and take a deliciously hot shower. Aaah!
Just after the first of the year, we had a chance to get together with Dave’s sister’s Wendy and her husband Dave before they headed back to NY from their condo in Bradenton. We met them at Disney’s Marketplace for dinner and then went to the Boardwalk to see street performers. However, it was cold enough that the “street” was moved inside, much to our relief. We even got volunteered for a “boat theme” magic trick by one of the magicians, before we went out to see the Epcot fireworks display.
Our nephew Jeff had moved to Melbourne last spring to start a new job and we were delighted to stop by and see him for the first time in his new digs. We had a dinner together the first night and escaped the cold night by spending the night in his apartment. After church the next day, we took him for a sail on Orion Jr, and had a beautiful day on the water. It was sunny and much warmer and the light breeze was just enough to fill the headsail for a leisurely trip back to the marina. We said goodbye to Jeff and prepared to head out early the next morning, still making our way to the Okeechobee Waterway and Florida’s west coast.