Friday, December 6, 2013

Not neutering them yet, but...squirrel!

The facilities at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina have numerous signs sternly advising boaters that pets are not allowed in the showers nor allowed on the furniture, underscoring the fact that many cruisers consider their pets to be their children. Of course, kids (at least ours) and pets DO have a lot of similarities. In the small confines of the boat, we have noticed some behaviors that remind us of this. When Mark feels seasick, he refuses to take the 1/2 tablet of Stugeron, even though it helps him feel better, because he hates the taste. So after he refused it even in a spoonful of syrup, I buried it in a piece of cheese and fed it to him. He noticed it and, though he didn't spit it out, refused it the second time. This next time, I had to wheedle him into taking a tablet crushed up into sugar syrup with a cheese chaser.

Just as pets are conditioned to certain sounds, our live aboard kids have Pavlovian responses to some boat noises.  Even from the farthest recesses of the boat, Conrad can hear us reeling in the fishing line and comes running like a cat to the sound of a can opener. "Do we have a fish?!" When we arrive at an anchorage and the kids hear the windlass lowering the anchor, the boys start yelling from inside the boat, "Do we have internet here?" Of course, I check for internet access right after filling out the boat log, so I'm right there with them as well.

Then there's the drinking out of the toilet and chewing on shoes. OK, I'm just joking about that. But getting pee outside of the toilet like they're marking a territory, well...never mind. That's probably just a guy thing.

Disney may bill itself as the happiest place on earth but the folks in West Palm Beach seem pretty happy too. Maybe it is the sunny weather, clean streets, and scenic coastal views. Maybe they're all just well medicated. Either way we like it here.  The only negative is that the free city internet connection doesn't allow the boys to play their favorite Battle Dragons game so they have uttered the phrase, "I don't like this place because the internet is bad" a couple of times. Stated opinions aside, they could have fooled us as they were admiring the intricate Christmas sand sculptures and playing in the numerous fountains.

One of the many sand sculptures around the city.

We went to the "sand tree" lighting. "Sandy" is a very impressive sand sculpture shaped somewhat like a tree and dressed in lights. There were live country music singers and an almost spectacular light show. There was also a  Chick-fil-A food stand, which is apparently a big thing here (we were amused by the overly giddy responses of several people when they noticed the stand; isn't it just a controversial chicken-y McDonalds or are we missing something?).  While Sandy is a unique answer to gigantic Christmas trees everywhere, I don't know whether I'll ever get used to Christmas in a warm place.

Our trip over from St. Augustine was relatively smooth. There was very little wind so we didn't get beat up coming out of the inlet (Kiwi Spirit was leaving at the same time so we tailed the armada going out with him). We motored most of the way but there was enough wind to get some help from the jib for a lot of the 200 nm trip.

At around 2 a.m., probably as soon as Matt fell into a deep sleep, the port engine sputtered and died. The fuel gauge showed that we still had 1/2 a tank left. Matt fiddled with it for about an hour, including switching the tank over in case there was a problem with the fuel and changing the fuel filter when the engine kept conking out. For awhile it would run for a minute or two and then just when we thought it was fixed, it would choke and die again. Just when we thought our engine troubles were behind us.

Finally, without really knowing what ended up solving the problem, Matt got the engine working smoothly again, we completed our trip, and anchored in Lake Worth at around noon on Day 2. The following day, Matt opened up the tank access hatch (which is deeply in the bilge and requires the disassembly of 25 uniquely spaced bolts) to see if there was gunk in it like on the starboard side. That's when he discovered that the tank was utterly empty, contrary to the lying dog of a gauge. The gauge had apparently been stuck on 1/2 full (or 1/2 empty if you're a pessimist). After the engine ran through the diesel, a bunch of air must have gotten into the line, which took awhile to clear and kept the engine from running smoothly until it worked everything out. The bottom line is that we "ran out of gas" in the one tank but that's only because Matt said before we left that we should have enough fuel to get us there. Not that I'm <cough> laying blame or anything.


  1. You wouldn't blame poor Matthew, would you??

    1. Only because he jinxes us all the time by saying one thing and having something else happen. Good thing I'm not superstitious...


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