27 May 2012

Part 2: Escape from Marathon and Hurricanes

A quick recap from Part 1.  Assuming (hoping, really) that we can eventually overcome the inertia that is keeping us here in Marathon, we will spend the hurricane season south and west of the "hurricane box."  We're thinking to visit Cartagena, Colombia; Guna Yala, Panama (aka the San Blas Islands); and Rio Dulce, Guatamala.  Mas o menos.  We will aim for Cartagena first, then let the winds and currents push us to Panama and then to Guatamala.

If we could plot a course straight to Cartagena from here, it would be just a squooch east of south.  We would sail about 900 nautical miles, and Bob's your uncle.  But we must contend with Cuba.  Okay, we don't really have to contend with it, we just gotta go around it.

24 May 2012

Part 1: Planning Our Escape from Marathon and the Hurricane Box

As of tomorrow, we have been in Marathon for seven weeks.  Holy Mackerel.  We have got to get out of here.

So we've started to plan our escape.  Yes, it's about making lists and doing a few more boat chores and projects... buying those last couple of crucial items -- the spare propeller for our outboard, the extra can of non-stick baking spray (do they have Pam in foreign lands?)... reading all our new owners' manuals, so we understand (to some small extent) all the new stuff we have on board.  But it's also about deciding: Where shall we escape TO??

This is "the hurricane box," as plotted by Ean

18 May 2012

There's No Place(?) Like Home...

We have broken an anecdotal record here at the Marathon Marina: most packages ever delivered to a slipholder.  In another post, I'm taking up the issue of hobbies for live-aboards.  One of Jane's, we realized the other day, one that has carried over from our land lubbing days, is online shopping.  Since we can only get packages while in port, Jane buys all the items she's been putting into her online shopping cart for the past however long.  It's like Christmas morning meets Groundhog Day.

The day before yesterday, we got a clear acrylic tray which we're using as a spice rack.   While cleaning off that thin film of grease that always coats the tops of spice jars, I let out a quick chuckle.  To Jane's query regarding what I found funny about wiping off spice jars, I said with what felt like a sad smile, "spice jars always get that coat of grease on them, even on a boat.  It's something familiar.  So little is here."

The guys from SALT, who have been on JOY for so long now, they're practically crew are pretty much finished now.  They would have been finished sooner but we kept adding back those last few things on our original list.  Yesterday, our iPod integrated marine stereo arrived.  We were going to toss "install new stereo" onto the tail end of their list, but a potent combination of impatience (the stereo that was on JOY when we bought her didn't accomodate iPods, so the 626 song "boat track" we so lovingly compiled before we left has been shelved all this time)  and chagrin (it's embarrassing to own a boat and be so inept at all things electronic) inspired us to give hooking it up ourselves a go.

13 May 2012

Pretty as a Pixel

Some pictures are worth more words than others.  Up to now, sad to say, every shot we've taken has been either on a smartphone or on an entry level point-and-shoot camera.  If some have looked amazingly good, it's likely that they got cosmetic assistance a la Photoshop.  

Since beginning this adventure, I've gotten to experience the torture, albeit only mild to moderate, of losing both pictures and fish (and yes, even pictures of fish).  My fortune as a fisherman will likely only improve with experience, but technology has ameliorated my photo woes in a, er, snap.

After extensive research, we chose a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ47.  Consumer Reports categorizes it as a "point-and-shoot super zoom."  We decided this was the best choice for the money we were willing to spend.

Here's the dif:  (All shots composed on cameras' "auto" setting.)

Bougainvillea shot with htc smartphone
Bougainvillea shot with Lumix
Marina shot with htc smartphone

Marina shot with Lumix

 'Nuf said?

11 May 2012

Thanks for the Memory

Just another spot on the ICW?  Not so much.
Our friend Michel
Yesterday, our friend Michel emailed us a photo.  The email had one line: "What's missing from this picture?"

It's May and he's taking his boat, Gatito, back up the ICW to Lake Champlain, her summer home.  We knew immediately what he'd been so kind as to take a picture of and what was missing from it.  It was at this spot that we first spent quality time together, Michel and us, though not the first time we met.

Waiting at the Great Bridge Lock
The first time we met was earlier that same day when we were lined up at the Great Bridge Lock. It was cold and gray and rainy.  We had been miserably cold for days on end even though we wore all the foul weather gear we owned.  Joy was in short supply.

Michel, in line behind us admired our hats.  "Well, at least we'll have met some nice people by the time we freeze to death," I thought to myself.

Smile?  What (aside from my awesome hat)
do I have to smile about?
Not just a piwate, a sock-monkey piwate, yar.
A little while later, Jane asked me to take over the helm.  DUMB idea, but alas, how were we to know?  Within minutes, ten of them at most, I drove JOY hard--and I mean hard--aground while edging over to allow a power boat to pass  Glumly did we watch as the six or seven boats that had been behind cruised serenely past.  Meanwhile, we tried in vain in the rain to pull ourselves off.  We were in the process of readying an anchor to kedge when we saw Michel (known to us only as Gatito at the time) coming back up the canal.  Later, he told us he'd seen us go aground (being right behind us still) and had kept a watch to see if we'd gotten free.  When there was still no sign us of after what he thought should have been enough time, he decided to come back to see if we needed help--the only one in the line nice enough to care.  (Canadian, wouldn'tcha know.)  Yes, he emailed us a remembrance of the spot, the very same spot and what was "missing" from the picture was us, hard aground.

We were so grateful he'd come to rescue us.  It took him awhile to pull us off and we probably didn't help much because we could barely understand a word he was saying, what with his really thick French Canadian accent.  But we tried our best to be polite because we didn't want him to regret having come back for a couple of Americans.  We wanted to be good ambassadors for our country.  I guess it was lucky for him that we don't speak with an accent.

TowBoat U.S.: for those who don't know Michel.
It wasn't the last time I put us aground on the ICW, but by the next time we were prepared. We'd bought a TowBoat U.S. membership, so even without our friend, we were ok.  

Wow.  Hey, thanks, mon ami.  We'd almost put that whole ICW experience out of our minds.

Hope you have a great trip back.

07 May 2012

Good News from the Department of Redundancy Department

Of the many advantages afforded to the owner of the modern cruising catamaran, some are perhaps less readily apparent than others. Sure, there is the increased living space compared to monohulls, the greater access to sunlight, better stability, etc. But one less obviously useful--though by no means less obvious--feature of catamaran design is what I like to call "arkiness." Simply put, much of it comes in twos, for instance two hulls. It is in a very real way twice the boat that is a monohull (hence the joke among cat owners that monohullers own half a boat). This dualist design feature often enables catamaran owners to do something monohullers can only dream about--cannibalize their own boats.
Just a bit of rescrewing  and a starboard piece is perfect for port.

06 May 2012

A Slice of Life

Ean is fixing the port forward berth, which caved in when we loaded it up with 350 cans of cat food, two cases of booze, six mega jars of peanut butter, two mega jars of olives, one case of tuna, one case of Dove body wash, and various other “provisions” (and, oh yeah, Ean was on it, too).

This morning I have TWICE managed to knock over Ean’s FULL glass of iced tea.  MORE TEA EVERYWHERE!

04 May 2012

What's in a Name?

Today, not unlike the last going on four weeks worth of days, we are in Marathon, FL waiting for our JOY to receive transplants of most of her "organs."  Marathon, as evidenced by its one road, the Overseas Highway which connects all the keys to the Florida mainland, is a drive-through town.  This is not only our opinion, but also that of the several residents I've surveyed.  Even they say that there's not a lot to do here for fun; for fun there's Key Largo and Key West.  Marathon's draw is its affordability.  Live here, play somewhere else.
our home and our home away from home

This begs the question of what we do here day after day while JOY remains barely inhabitable for the want of innards.  We got lucky with our slip assignment.  Jane asked for a spot as close to a wi-fi antenna as possible which also happened to be next to a spacious tiki hut.  Most of our days are spent here.  Jane orders things we need, keeps up with her facebook pals, writes posts to our blog and to Cruiser's Forum, and keeps track of things political--all with her iPad.  I mainly work on our website.  One day we moved our pc, our mac, our printer, our scanner, and our new portable refrigerator out there and got a lot of "officey" things done.  Well, Jane did.  I mainly worked on our website.  We affirm our love for that tiki hut daily.