Before leaving Virginia in the fall, we had packed our old Raleigh touring bikes into the truck, thinking they would come in handy when we arrived in Marathon. However, as Dave began to explore the maintenance required to bring them into riding condition, he was also learning that there were some great deals to behind on used bikes in Florida. The bikes mainly needed tires. However, for the same investment, we were becoming convinced we could purchase bikes that were more comfortable to ride (not with the “butt in the air” of the old touring bikes) and pretty good quality.
As the boat sat in her slip at Port LaBelle Marina, she was pointed generally north, so that the companionway and cockpit were pointed toward the south. That meant that the sun was shining in almost all day, and when the day was sunny and warm, it could get pretty hot. We started talking about making some shades that could hang from the bimini. Cathy looked into various alternatives, from sunbrella, which would block 100% of the light to some open weave shade material that would block only 50% and several in between. We finally decided on something called Coolaroo, which we ordered on-line, but which is available from Home Depot. It comes in various colors and blocking percentages. We opted for a light gray, that blocks 85% of the light. To mount it, Cathy sewed zippers on the bimini and the top edges of each shade panel. Then to secure it, she inserted grommets in each corner. With a few roll-up straps installed on each panel, they can be rolled-up while we are underway and don't need them. So far, they seem to be working pretty well, although the temperatures have been cool enough, they haven't gotten much of a workout yet.
Back in December, while visiting with Tom and Dau, Tom hauled out a drifter sail he had used on his smaller sailboat, but no longer had a use for. We tested it out on Jr while we were visiting and it appeared to fit well. So, we loaded it on board and began a series of investments to make this sail work for us. The sail works like an asymmetric spinnaker. It is intended to allow the boat to take better advantage of light winds, especially when they are beam (on the side) to broad (from behind). And this sail is colorful: blue, red and purple.
And, it is so pretty!
We arrived back to the boat from Christmas with a number of parts ordered over the holiday to fix or install new fixtures on the boat. The lights in the V-berth and the head were having problems. The lens had broken on one and was partially melted on the other. Dave managed to find 2 fixtures with the exact footprint of the originals. He installed the 2 fixtures in place of the old and inserted the LED bulbs we had installed in November. The lights look almost identical to the original fixture and work great.
The dishwashing soap pump on the galley sink had stopped working, so we found and installed a replacement that had a similar enough footprint that no changes were required. Just some silicone around the base and it was done.
We had some unexpected repairs as well. While running the computer off the inverter, Dave noticed the wires to the inverter were alarmingly hot. He realized he needed to upgrade to a heavier gauge.
Then of course, the endless chasing of leaks. When we were reaching for a can of WD-40 one morning, we were shocked to see that the shoebox tub containing it was full to the brim with water. What?! In short order we began looking for the source of the water. After re-seating the swim ladder bracket screws and filling some gelcoat holes with epoxy, we watched the spot over the next few rains (and boy have we had some rain). Amazingly, no more leak. Wow! I guess we got that one nailed.
Epoxy has a number of uses on the boat. One night Dave reached up to grab the fiddle behind the starboard settee to adjust his position and the fiddle came off in his hand. There were 7 screws attaching it to the hull! So out came the epoxy again to fill the back of the screw holes. Once it hardened, he re-drilled the holes and fastened it down again. It seems more solid than before, and the backing is now thicker. Hopefully it will hold for a long time. Cathy still has to re-install the plugs and refinish the varnish. Given the disruption this causes to life on board, it's not as high a priority.
Finally, we took care of the administrative side of keeping the boat in the water. Orion Jr and the dinghy have been inspected and sport their 2014 stickers. We also re-registered them in Florida, which expires each year on Dave's birthday.
Since we've been cruising, Dave's birthday has been celebrated in all sorts of interesting and bizarre places. (Can we ever forget the close encounter with a trawler in Georgetown on that birthday.) So, as this milestone birthday approached, it was going to be hard to guess where we would be. Maybe away from all communication in the Everglades. With that in mind, it was only at the last minute that we put together a celebration in LaBelle, as we realized that we wouldn't be moving from there before month-end. Pat and Fred joined us for a dinner on Orion Jr and then a spontaneous celebration, complete with cake and ice cream outside the marina building at Port LaBelle. (Our 8-year old friend Nina wanted to make sure we had cake.) The all-day rain the day before finally gave out early on the birthday Friday and we had a great celebration.
This guy joined us in LaBelle, but we decided to not to let him come with us.
And since the month began in Bradenton, we just wanted to share some pictures of our time with Dave's parents and sister's family while there