Captains log 201704.23

Another long stretch of time passed before writing an update, mainly because there is little to report. That crazy couple that ran into our boat, lost our bridal and threw the line to me with the shackle attached, well they moved on as soon as the tide was high enough. I tried to contact them by waving and yelling. They saw me, completely ignored me and were out of here as fast as they could go. Did they score a bridal and about 40 feet of 5/8 double braided nylon line? I have no idea. All I can tell you is we no longer have that bridal and line as well as the stainless steel shackle that went with it. Pity, I spent a lot of time making that thing. Doing eye splices on rope that thick which has had a few wet/dry cycles is not easy and now I have to do it again. Luckily we bought 600 feet of line so have plenty spare but I'm not exactly looking forward to making four eye loops.

Our fridge died a couple of weeks back. The fridge lost gas. Initially I thought one of my solder joints failed.Turns out there was a little kink in the copper tubing that just gave out through cycling and while we were loading and unloading food into the fridge bumping the coil. The solution was to cut the tubing, unwind one turn of coil, pass that through the fridge and solder it to the 1/4" return line. Eric left me some of the correct brazing rod that he uses for A/C and fridges but I did have to buy a new butane torch since my old one died back in Colonial Beach. That and R134a gas and we were up and running again. I moved the coils higher up while I was at it which had the added benefit of making it distribute the cold better than before. The original plan was to make it fan forced but I just never got around to it. Now it'll stay as conventional cooling. I also moved the TXV sensor further along and completely insulated it so it would have better control.

While we were in Florida I was figuring I'd get some work, maybe even settle down here. We were debating the hurricane season and the associated issues and switching between staying here or going back North to Virginia. In the mean time a company recruiter found my resume online and asked me to apply. The position was in Seattle Washington and we decided that I should apply, so I did. I got through their initial screening and then had to do an online technical test. As I passed that I was then given a phone interview. It's been a long time since I've had an interview and never a phone interview. My last interview for a job was in 1994. Since then I was always offered a position by people based on my work. I read reviews about the company, some good, some bad and decided that I have way more in common with the people writing the good reviews than the ones writing the bad ones. There were also a lot more of the good reviews and since every single person I dealt with in the company was absolutely fantastic I was pretty sure the negative reviewers had some issues that they projected onto the company. In any case, I was offered a position a couple of days after the phone interview, which I accepted. The offer is contingent on me passing background checks and drug tests, which should be easy since I don't use drugs and haven't even gotten a parking ticket. The position is in a technical role working with all manner of machinery. The interviewers were all there for decades and described the position and what to expect working there. Let's put it this way, if I could choose a job tailor made for me, this seems like it. Mechanical, electrical, CNC, Robotics, hydraulics, pneumatic's, PLC's, design recommendations etc.

The hard part is the logistics. We're in Florida, our stuff is in Virginia. We have no idea if the relocation package covers the boat and if it doesn't we'll have to move it to Virginia first as we're not leaving it in Florida in the hurricane season. If they can cover the relocation, which should be similar to the cost of moving a furnished home's contents, we can put our belongings into the boat and have it shipped there while we drive with the cats. If we go down this path, we will most likely fix the boat a little more, new paint top and bottom and a little tidy up, sail it around what I hear are some wonderful sailing areas there. If they don't ship it, it'll probably mean taking a 10k loss or more on the boat and selling it as is. So we're not that keen on such an option.

That's basically it for now till we hear more.

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Captains log 201703.04


It's been a while so I figured I'd better update things for you all. The day after the Fort Lauderdale shooting I flew to Colonial Beach to pick up the car. As it's quite warm in Florida, I wore my sandals. My big Winter boots were in the car. Steve, a friend we met at Stepps Harbor View Marina picked me up at the airport in Charlottsville and I stayed the night at his place. In the morning he made breakfast (which was really good waffles and bacon) and we headed to TSC to pick up a new battery. The one in the car had collapsed. We get to the marina and the only people there were some guys working on their boat. It was a pretty miserable day, in the teens Fahrenheit (about -10C), snow covered the ground and I was in my sandals...


We called around to find out where the keys to the car were, and via Eric, another friend from the Marina we got onto the owner Brian who guided me through finding the car keys. At which point Steve and I unlocked the car, pried open the frozen doors and pulled out my tools to change the battery. I naturally changed into the boots but not before having to spend a good 20 minutes thawing out my toes which were screaming from the cold snow. We got the car started and headed back to Steve's place as there was no way I was going to be able to make the drive from Virginia to Florida leaving so late.


In the morning, yet another great breakfast and I was on my way. The weather cleared up so there was no snow fall but it was cold. I believe it was around 10F when I left in the morning, if I remembered correctly what Steve told me. The drive back was pretty uneventful other than the crazy drivers tailgating with black ice on the roads. I saw a few accidents but nothing serious. It took until part way into South Carolina before the lst of the snow was gone. It was a big storm.


I finally get back to the marina in Fort Lauderdale and we pack things up to go to a more permanent place. What we didn't expect was just how permanent that would be. The very next day, while we were having coffee we got hit by a boats wake and the MIL spilled hot coffee on herself, in an area no one wants to spill hot fluids. We got dripping towels as fast as we could but she was badly burned. A call to 911 and we moved to a dock to meet the ambulance. Turns out she was really badly burned. Second degree, almost third in parts. She was taken to a special burns unit in Miami after the first hospital saw the injuries.


The result of this was five weeks of the wife changing her mothers bandages daily while we waited on approval from her insurance to get the surgery done. The hold up it turns out, is that skin grafts are considered "cosmetic" surgery by the insurance company. Plus it was Medicare (USA not Oz) and with the latest Trump ACA reforms, no one knew what they were doing. What could have been done long ago was completed only last week. Close to eight weeks after the incident happened. The recovery time expected for the surgery is two weeks. So weeks of agony were the result. Our lives then revolved around her health and she was pretty much bed ridden all that time. Every day she would need to wash the injuries and redo the bandages with special cream (that the hospital pharmacy sells for $80) but if they use it in the burns unit, they charge $835 per tube for! That's not a misprint. She needed close to a tube a day initially but that reduced as she healed. Oh, the way we found out how much they were charging for a tube from the burns unit stock was by overhearing a nurse. pretty sure you can imagine that the wife would have been happy to walk to the pharmacy for $755 dollars!


Yesterday was the wife's birthday and the hospital tells us late on a Friday that the MIL is being discharged soon. Imagine Miami traffic on a Friday afternoon. They informed us so late we were already planning dinner. The wind was blowing about 25-35 knots making lifting the anchor and going to the dock a nightmare. After the girls got back we made dinner and were relaxing. Then at about 10pm, Spaz, our guard cat, informs us of a problem. She saw a boat anchored not far in front of us. In the howling wind. It started dragging its anchor. Apparently they were headed for another boat and the owners of that boat towed them away and put them right in front of us. They told us they were done helping them and suggested we move our boat so they don't hit us. Well, that would have been great, but you dropped them off so close that our anchor line was under their boat and we have no way to pull up anchor without first slamming into them. So they went and moved the boat about 20 feet and let without saying a thing. Like they were upset we made them move the boat! The exclamation mark was for both their attitude an the fact that they moved a boat that was over our anchor line to basically, a little further along so it was still over our anchor line. In effect we could not do a damned thing to move our boat short of cutting our lines and losing the anchor, chain and about 40 feet of 5/8 double braided nylon rode.


I felt at that point like a supertanker captain. Basically if you are piloting one of those, your mobility is so restricted that you can predict a collision way in advance but be totally unable to do anything about it. Sure enough, we were witness to a 30 minute slow motion collision of our boats. The keel or the rudder of their boat was on our line so it just guided the boat into ours and there was nothing anyone could do.


After we were locked, I suggested that they find our anchor line and disconnect it from the chain but not to lose our chain. I was willing to sacrifice the line but not the anchor or the chain. In the meantime , their boat was sideways into the wind bouncing on our line, slowly but surely pulling it bit by bit till our two interlocked boats were on a collision course with a third boat that was way behind ours but now rapidly approaching.


With no alternative, I started our engines and pushed ours and theirs against the wind till we could release the line from the chain and hold position so we didn't slam into boat three. I asked them to throw me the line so I could secure it to their boat. Which they obliged. Suddenly there was great pain. Turns out when you ask someone to separate the line from the chain, the big huge shackle that joins the two, naturally belongs with the line not the chain. I never realized this quirk of flawed wisdom till the shackle hit me in the forehead. Why the hell would anyone leave an expensive large stainless steel shackle on the line that might have had to be sacrificed, instead of leaving it on the chain where it should be. Commons sense it appears is not so common.


In any case, we pushed their boat forward with the our engine and made enough slack to release our bridal and line. With the shackle that I now have to go find a replacement for. We got out anchor back from them, they did manage not to lose it. Now I had to secure our 5/8 line to it without a shackle in howling wind at 2am. So I decided the wisest thing to do was to go to the boat ramp, tie up there and make the new bridal and attach it to the chain somehow. Looking in my tool drawer I found a 1/4 D shackle in stainless steel. Just big enough to pass the end of the chain link and the line through. Certainly not good enough for long term use but it will work for a night or two. I tied the line to the chain, made a bridal out of two dock lines and hooked it all up. The anchor to line hitch was then stitched at the ends to prevent it coming undone. After that we left the boat ramp and found a nice spot with no one in front of us to drop anchor. We did the same that day too but this time we were confident that at 3am, no one was going to dump a drifting vessel in front of us. When morning came, we were still secure and no one in front. Low tide hit and their boat was on a 30 degree angle. I guess they will wait till high tide to do what I suggested and remove our bridal and line from their rudder. I warned them if they don't, they may end up losing their rudder. It's /8 nylon, rated to 15,000 pounds. If it dangles behind them and gets caught on something (likely with 40 feet of line) they can kiss their rudder goodbye. Of course, the more likely thing is that it will get tangled in their propeller and really make a mess. We'll see what happens. I just noticed activity there so will be watching.


Fun times...

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Captains log 201701.15

It's been a while since I last logged an entry. For the most part we've just been settling in, cleaning up and fixing things. The head was starting to smell foul so I investigated that and found that the prefilter for the water intake did it's job but could no longer cope. I cracked it open and almost hurled. Yep, found the source of the smell. A good flush and a soak in bleach cleaned it up well. It's a washable fine pore filter so washing it is not harmful and it means less spares we carry on board. The head no longer smells so everyone is happy about that.

New Years was a non affair. We all hoped to stay up and watch the fire works but we all crashed about 9pm. How awesome are we? I heard the fireworks go off but was too tired to go out to look. It's quite amazing how exhaustion and the need to sleep reduces your care factor to near zero.

Once we got settled in it was time to get the car, which involved booking a marina so the girls wouldn't be on the hook while I was gone (nor would I need to swim to the boat when I got back), get a cab to the airport, fly to Virginia, meet up with Steve who would drive me to Colonial Beach where the car was. After that a trip to storage as we had stuff in the car that needed to be put away and the long drive back. That was the plan. The plan failed when we picked a nice weekend for me to fly up based on the weather in Virginia. Needless to say, the "fore"cast was a failure. Initially it was meant to be fine weather. We booked the flight and as the day approached the "fore"cast changed to snow storms and very cold conditions. That turned out to be the least of our problems.

I was in the Fort Lauderdale Airport on Friday Jan 6th in terminal 3 from about 12:30 pm onwards. In case that doesn't sound familiar, that was the day and the time that some looney called Esteban Santiago came in on another flight and took his hand gun and ammunition out of his checked luggage and started shooting people. I can't comment for other people but I can describe things from my perspective.

I was in Terminal 3 E5 sitting down near the hallway accessing a power outlet and getting online with my laptop to let the wife know I was at the airport. A woman walked up to me and asked if I had the Internet and about the shooting in the baggage claim area. I looked it up and saw that the incident was over. The guy was apprehended. I let her know that. About 20-30 minutes after that an announcement came across the intercom that an incident in terminal 2 has happened and all services were suspended. No one really knew what that meant. About 5 minutes after that all hell broke loose. People running down the hallway screaming. It looked like a zombie apocalypse. Someone yelled out active shooter but no one really knew what the hell was going on other than the general air of hide as danger was imminent. I ducked behind the service counter and after a few seconds looked up at the guy who was running telling people to hide and asked what the hell was going on. He said he didn't know. At that point I got up and walked to the hallway to see if I could figure anything else out.

Still people running and screaming and then it appeared they let out passengers from an aircraft and they too were now running. Shortly afterwards I saw two members of the TSA running towards us arms waving and yelling at people to run and hide. They then ushered everyone outside onto the tarmac where we stayed for hours. We didn't see any armed police on the tarmac for hours then they came out with hands on their weapons armed with handguns and military style assault weapons. Fingers on the near the trigger on the ready. Not sure why as we'd been out there for a couple of hours without incident. If someone wanted to do a massacre they would have done it in the hours prior any police coming out onto the tarmac where all the unarmed passengers were herded.

They finally got us into the airport but communication from the top down was sorely lacking. We were directed to go left by some, right by others and when people went the way they said the other person would scream wrong way. One person telling us to go out, the people at the outside telling us to go in and the poor woman who looked like a highly trained FBI agent stuck in the middle had no clue what the hell to do anymore. Eventually she just said do what ever you want and things calmed down.

We waited outside for hours before they announced that anyone with cars can now leave. That made little impact in the number of people left. Then later they announced that they will be bringing buses for the rest of us. No idea where these buses were going to take us however. Eventually the buses came but they started loading people at the entrance instead of the exit. Imagine a train stopping at the start loading one cabin at a time and slowly moving forward. That's what it was like. Much like the train example, they should have got the first bus all the way to the exit of the loop so the rest of the buses could fit behind it and not cause a traffic nightmare of empty buses and full buses trying to cris cross past each other. When I finally boarded it took over an hour to go two miles to Port Everglades and we couldn't make it all the way there due to traffic. They were forced to let us out onto the street. Thankfully the traffic was stationary. I tried to get directions but the one police member there was highly busy directing traffic to be interested in all these people wanting to know where they were and which way to go. I'm to this day still not sure how he thought he could direct bumper to bumper stationary traffic and why it was so urgent but that's how it panned out. Finally we worked out where we were. For me that meant a 4 mile walk back to the Marina in sandals. We'd try again in the morning to get another flight. We got that but that becomes another story for the next log.

Summing up, it appears the USA 15 years after 911 has got their priorities mixed up based on this one incident. The response to an attack seems to be all about the firefight. There were hundreds of armed troops there. I'm pretty sure they called in everyone on or off duty. There were many departments there. All armed. All ready for a serious gun fight dressed in many cases like military even though many were just police or from the Sheriffs office. Now I can't fault the men and women on the front line. They got their asses in and were ready for anything gun fight wise and that is what they are trained for. My concern is that those up top seemed to have missed the human logistics of such an incident. Thousands of civilians with no advance preparation on dealing with them. That part was a major failure. Crowd control is a very real and serious aspect to these kind of situations. There appears to have been little if any effort done to prepare the ground troops for that aspect and that rests completely on those in charge. If crowd control is not planned for, it is a disaster waiting to happen and no one wants that. It's not just about the gun fight.




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Captains log 201612.20

Forecast for today: less than 1 foot swell from the North, light winds 5-9mph.

The part of Florida South of Palm Beach has about 35 bridges to our destination, Hollywood. Most are North of Boca Raton. That's why I checked the forecast. I checked multiple sources. It seems though that they all get their information from the one source so what we got was the same forecast slightly reworded by different sites.

We exited at West Palm beach and the next available inlet was Boca Raton. We got, 3-6 foot waves from the South, so we were headed right into them and wind was Easterly at about 1 mph so we couldn't even put the sails up and dampen any of it. When I say 3-6 footers, I'm talking over the cabin top high. There is no way they can be less than 1 foot in anyone's language.

The biggest problem was when we got got there it was about 2 foot. After about two hours it increased. We kept going as it's a long way back. Then we got hit with two nearby squalls that generated the 6 footers. Short period nasty stuff. The forecast when we left was cloudy, light winds and near calm water. We got thunderstorms out in the distance, one with a largish funnel, no wind and the crazy waves. All the waves were coming from 180 degree's to the forecast direction. I suspect someone at the bureau saw 6' waves and had dyslexia so read it as 6" waves and wrote in the forecast, "waves less than a foot".  Needless to say, the mil was a complete mess again. The wife is now a veteran at this stuff so just takes it in her stride. As for me, I was just pissed off that I believed the forecast and subjected them to it all.

While we were in the middle of the 6 footers I decided to check the radio weather again. They amended the forecast to an SCA (small craft advisory). No shit, we were in it. A forecast however is meant to tell you in advance not in hindsight. That's what the "fore" in it means.

I saw a guy in a Gemin 3200 (catamaran) sail boat try to sail, he pulled his sails in soon after. His boat was bouncing bow to stern into the water. He had a bigger boat than ours but it sure didn't handle the conditions as good. We only had one wave go over the top and get us a little wet but he was in the drink over and over. Glad I wasn't on that boat!

We pulled into Boca Raton over an hour ago and I just checked passage weather (usually the most accurate) and it is still saying under .5m (less than 1.5 foot) waves. W.T.F.

*Stardate 201612.24 update*

We are currently in Hollywood Florida. The weather is hot and muggy. We're doing a massive boat clean up as it was hard to do good cleaning in the conditions we dealt with for so long. I'll be draining and cleaning the bilges to keep the humidity down. Not that they have much but completely dry is better than sloshing around. We cleaned all the laundry yesterday, including stuff that was just in the storage, simply because this boat has been so humid that much of our gear started to get that moldy smell to it. That's what you get when there's so much rain and condensation for so long. Then we hit warmer weather and boom, a mold/mildew bloom! It wasn't as bad as the time I forgot to open the windows while at the marina and in the heat the whole boat got a fine coat of mold that took a day to clean up. This time it's not really visible but the damp smell was bugging us.

I'll also try to fit a water filter to our tank water. Oddly, we have two filters on the intake for the head but none on our water cooking water supply. Sounds weird. It probably is. What it did for us however is put clean filtered water into the head when flushing which really reduced the smells. Typically little sea bacteria get in and die there causing a foul stench. There is always silt as well. Since putting in the pre-filters we got none of that. I just ran out of time to fit the tank water filters as that is a more complicated job. It's time is due now however.

Our LED lighting that worked kind of well for the trip other than the 3M backing tape not sticking, failed in an interesting way last night. Part of the lights were white, further along the strip they turned crimson. Halfway through the strip they turned red. These LED's were meant to be quality and got good reviews. Possibly by people that used them twice. They are useless for a longer term use situation. I have to find a more suitable solution but for now I'll replace what I have with some more length of the strip since I didn't use all of it.

As it's Christmas Eve we'll also be planning a nice dinner. Not sure what yet.


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