January 31, 2014

So Long, Fort Lauderdale...

"Close friends are truly life's treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.” 
Before I shove off from Fort Lauderdale, I must give a special thanks to my long time friend and partner in crime, Craig Sandel and his lovely wife, Linda.  They opened their home to me and allowed me to park Glory Days in their back yard on the Intracoastal Waterway for almost a month.  During that time they showed me many of the local sites, helped me gather supplies, and put up with my boat projects as I rotated my stay between their home and the Lake Sylvia anchorage.

Here we are contemplating photosynthesis, mitochondria, and the wonder of mitosis at a local orchid nursery... There is also a nice display of huge staghorn ferns behind us.
The view from their canal was a great start to each day.  That's Craigs blue boat on the left with Glory Days grinning beside her.
Jogging over the 17th st. bridge made for some nice oogling over megayachts. Again, who ARE these people?

Canals like this are commonplace down here... We observed the sluggish manatees in this one near Coral Gables.


The anchorage at Lake Sylvia above was a perfect refuge to ponder stuff, meet fellow cruisers,  and it served as a perfect location for me to access about a dozen different marine specialty stores for outfitting Glory Days...

Quotes from Lake Sylvia:

" if I could just remember to bring my shoes when I dinghy into town, I would be so impressed with myself..."

"I splurged tonight and used nearly 3 gallons of fresh water for a nice shower aboard the boat after a hard day in the sun..."

"Since when did people start using little baby carriages to take their little dogs out in public?  I don't get it."

                 COMING BELOW ... BOAT UPGRADES !

One of my main reasons for staying in Fort Lauderdale was to access the vast resources of marine products. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Listed below are some of the recent upgrades I made on the boat during my stay here... what a joy it is to be a "do it yourselfer"... A year ago, I didn't know didley squat about marine electronics, sealants, solar, chart plotters, or marine refridgeration ...but thru helpful boaters, research, and taking a few chances I am pleased with the new additions...


Dinghy davits finally! 

Basically these are just heavy duty "brackets" that bolt to the stern of the boat, as seen below, used for hoisting the dinghy out of the water for convenience and to prevent barnacle growth when dink sits in the water too long... An added feature is that they will serve as a shelf to my a large solar panel later this week. Personally, I think they are gorgeous... Solid stainless steel mama.

Another improvement were these shiny new plastic, super clear, windows replaced in the dodger windshield. Oh yes I can dig this.  Why did I wait so long to replace these? Bigtime improvement... Now I am a shiny happy person... With a clear view ahead 

These are not very exciting I know but, Yep, I replaced these worn out furling rollers with new ones plus a new centering clamp for the furlng lead.  These little pieces of plastic were eight bucks apiece and I needed eight of them.... Go figure...Just another gleeful adventure in the high markup of marine products... I'm just grateful I could buy them and actually FIND them on line. Somebody somewhere behind some desk in some town made a buck off these... Good for them.. So Now the furling line for the genoa sail reels in nicely like a greased piece of eel juice...

Ventilation in the tropics is important, so This is a custom-made rain fly so I can leave the front hatch open for ventilation even during a rainstorm. Sweet. Only $40 made by my new friend Rob at the canvas shop... 
Ya ya ... This big solar panel will provide 140 W of electricity to recharge my batteries and Power up all types of toys like refrigeration,  computers, lights, and electronics whenever I am at anchor or sailing.... just add sunshine and youre in business...
Now this here thang is a new VHF radio equipped with AIS (automatic identification system). It will allow me to spot freighters and ships at night or in fog within 20 miles just in case they are on a collision course with my itty bitty boat... It also gives me their ship name, length, speed, and course over ground (COG)...It's sort of like the poor man's version of radar to help you see what's "out there."

Recently installed, that little radio you see here is a remote VHF access. It allows you to communicate on the radio from the cockpit instead having to dash below to access the main radio.  Very handy, especially for all the frequent communicating with the draw bridge tenders 
 I'm proud to report that Dazy The Dinghy is now equipped with official running lights, bow and stern.  I am barely legal now.  
This new metal eye ring for the mast will allow me to mount the spinnaker pole to a fixed position for downwind sailing. Nobody likes a floppy genoa on a downwind run, and this bugger should fix that, once I carve out a wooden backing plug for it and create threads in the mast, and screw in 4 set screws without dropping any of them overboard.... Piece of cake.
Thanks to Craig, Glory Days is now equipped with a full set of scuba gear. I hope I don't regret lugging it all the way to the Bahamas,  so I'm going to make darn sure I use it. I also bought a spear sling and a lobster noose for catching one of those rascals ...and yes it is true, I have decided to become a male model for wetsuits. 


 Good music ...
Good workout...weights, bike ride, and yoga is a great start to any day

Good friends ... biking at Univ of Miami campus

 Good tourist sites...I'm  always amused at how the high society ultra rich folks spend their time and money collecting art, making art, gardening, eating rich food, and how they treat their help. ..thankfully these folks were philanthropists and they left an entire 60 acres for the public green space on the coast never to be developed. The Bonnet House and the Hugh Taylor Birch Park are the only vestiges of green space preserved for miles and miles of the south Florida condo jungle .

Nice digs.
A Wealthy swan

We toured the home.

Here's their own private orchid house...this is the little one.. Bonnet House is worth a visit if you're  ever in Ft Lauderdale.... 

And could this be another boat named Glory Days?? ... Yes, it is... This guy went nuts trying to flag me down cause we share the same name...

But I'm glad to say THIS is the welcome mat that greets me as I approach her back home on a dark night in Dazy. ... (I know, I'm obsessed ... but there could be worse things.)

Keep in mind, a cruiser's inflatable dinghy is his connection to land, ... and it is like your "car" that gets you out and back home again... Sometimes finding a place just to park your "car" can be a challenge... Some of the high end marinas may charge you $20 just to use their dinghy dock, others less.

Thankfully, this here place called the Raw Bar only charged $10 to park your inflatable dinghy...plus they let you apply that $10 as credit toward food or beverage... Sweet.

Thats about it folks for this post...

 I didn't want to dwell on it, but I did sprain my foot when I had a little misunderstanding with the last step on a staircase ... It was just one of those quirky little missteps than can alter your entire week or month... It was a good thing in disquise now that I think about it... It made be realize how valuable just ordinary stuff like walking around without pain is... Thank you Craig for taking me to the ER and sitting around for hours waiting to get X-rayed.  Thankfully, there was no fracture... But a lovely little sprain that is still giving a nice little wobble to my hobble ... It's All good.



January 25, 2014

Lobster, Lion Fish, and Little Known Secrets

CRUISING: (kroozing), verb or noun,   A waterborne pleasure embarked on by one or more people.  A cruise may be considered successful if the same number of individuals who set out on it arrive, in roughly the same condition they set out in, at some piece of habital dry land, with our without the boat. 

(Not to be confused with my mother's old saying,  "You're  cruisin' for a bruisin' if you don't clean up your room right now!")

Greetings!  Iit's been a little over two weeks since arriving here in Fort Lauderdale.  I can't believe how fast time flies these days... these Glory Days.  Every now and then tho, one needs a change in scenery, some need it more often than others...

So out of the blue i untied the comfort of the dock lines and took her south a little piece... Not very far, but into a lovely little anchorage known as Lake Silvia.  Technically, its not really a lake, but it's more more of a wide spot just off the Intracoastal Wateway .. Many other boats are anchored here....    You can see the satelite image of where I am located above...that's me at the little blue dot.

Upon leaving the dock, I soon realized I was in the vast company of what seemed like hundreds of boats all trying to get somewhere on a sunny Sunday afternoon....zoom, zoom, everywhere it seemed... Motor boats, skiffs, yayaks, sailboats, and mega yachts all competing for space in the narrow confines of the ICW... And I also realized this was the first time I'd taken her out solo in these South Florida waters, far different from my comfort zone when I was in Fernandina. Im just a little Georgia boy here trying to squeeze through the gauntlet of vessels so I can hover another 30 mins for the next draw bridge to open... "This is the Big League", I thought, as my mind wandered to more quiet and remote anchorages that surely lie ahead of me.... It's all part of the plan... Patience Grasshopper.

  Here's my view from the anchorage at Lake Silvia.  Thats the Hilton Hotel way in the distance.

Arriving at dusk, I found the anchorage to be very popular, but I did finally manage to find the perfect place to drop my anchor in the far south end of the cove as seen below.

Lots of transient boaters in this Lake Silvia.

Secrets to Sleeping

I'm sort of a night owl when it comes to bedtime... but on this particular night, I actually went to bed at 8:30, tired and ready... And as you probably know, early to bed early to rise... As was the case, this evening, I woke up at 3 a.m. and just couldn't go back to sleep... I peeked out the hatch and found the water to be calm as glass... peace is around... Sweet... nobody enjoys a rocky anchorage... 

Anyway, I think I woke up as a result of another "responsibility dream."...  It's one of those dreams, in my case, where you are back at workplace and there's some mild challenge to be reckoned with... For me it was in the classroom ... and in this dream, there's some big looming "responsibly" you are facing or overcoming... For me, my "responsibility dream" always returns to the first day of a new school year ... Facing a new batch of hormonally raging teens.

yeps, so there I am going through all my opening day schpill to the students, sometimes cutting up (me cutting up?).  Imagine that.  and reliving what I did for so many years... I miss it sometimes in a fond way, like an old lover.

Anyway, for some reason, in this this particular dream there were several administrators in my classroom on Day 1, and I was on a roll ... cracking jokes about plants and seeds, singing songs, and just carrying on... Imagine that.  

That's about it... As an educator, I always taught by the premise, if you get the students to "like" you in the first week, then you can usually get them to do just about anything for the rest of the school year... If I express myself without fear of crashing, then they will be more likely to do the same.  

Then there's the other-side of the coin where some teachers will say, "Never smile until Christmas" if you really want to maintain control of the classroom... ". That'd be hard for me. 

Ok, I'm done w/ this scattered talk of responsibility dreams....I fully realize that nobody really cares about your disjointed dream, even tho they will nod politely to maintain social cohesion.

But one more thing , let's get back to the topic.   I was talking about getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. .. When I can't get back to sleep, it's no fun just tossing and turning. So I just repeat 4 little words over and over silently, .... and in no time, I'm back to sleep. "GOD IS.  I AM" always works for me.  It matters not which spiritual path you follow, it just works.  On the inhale I say silently, "God Is", and on the exhale I say, "I Am"... After repeating this a few times, It's like a sleeping pill, and before I know it, it's morning! It Works for me anyway. :) give it a try if you can't sleep.

Posted below are some random photos and vinyettes about stuff I end up doing or seeing. 

My friends, and hosts, Craig and Linda treated me to a nice day of scuba diving on the reef right in front of the main beach at Ft. Lauderdale .... sweet.  Here I am giving the international hand signal for "EVerything is ok".... I think I'll do this hand signal just walking down the street and see what kinds of reactions I get from folks... at least the fellow divers will know what I  mean.

Excellent vis today!

Craigster at the helm... A thinking man's reliable captain!

Linda the lobster slayer... She snagged 4 on this day.  the lobster season is relatively short down here.  However, during the open season, a diver is allowed to take 6 per day!  That seems like too many in my opinion, but I guess somebody behind some desk somewhere in some lab has it all figured out what can be allowed.  Craig and Linda have a freezer of these guys, and they've served me lobster twice already since I've been here... I may never leave... :)
I have some cool underwater videos of catching these guys, but it won't seem to post using the Ipad... I'll add them later from a computer.

Nice center console for diving

This must be what things look like if you ever get sea sick.  Thankfully, did not happen.

He said "eat me." ....  And so I did.

We also used a speargun and killed a couple of Lion Fish.  See the photo below. Although beautiful, these guys are invasive species, and are doing great harm feeding on, and wiping out, many of the native reef fish...  it's really become a huge problem for the conservation of the natural reef. Yes, the Lion Fish is beautiful, but this ain't his back yard, and he's literally destoying the natural ecosystem here and all over the Carribbean.  It's always OPEN SEASON on Lion Fish.  I hear they are delicious to eat, but they have poisonours spines, so be carefull if you try to harvest him for dinner.... not worth it in my opinion.  Here's what they look like.

More stuff in and around the area below...

South Florida Folk Fest.  This guy put everybody to sleep.  Pretty rowdy crowd, eh?

Whoever she was, She tried so hard.  "I can DO this!" She thought... Yet she crashed, and crashed, and crashed..

Bless her heart for trying...

This is what they mean by " Like 2 Ships passing in the night"... 
Or in the daylight in this case.

Little Pink houses and little pink bicycles.

Iguanas have adapted here.... Sleepy creatures..,. another example of a non native specie coming in and making himself at home...

Sonny and Cher lived here back in the 80's I was told.  A litte "plain" for Cher I thought. 

Why would anyone ever want to take a cruise ship I'll never know...  Port Everglades is the world's 2nd busiest cruise ship port, 2nd only to Miami which is only 30 miles south of here. 

I'm always amazed at boats like this one, where the owner has All the gadgets to live off the grid... I'm getting there slowly.  Keeping abundant Fresh water is always the most carefully rationed commodity for a Glory a Days... We carry about 75 gallons when full.

17th street bridge... It has a height of 57' so I could slip underneath without an opening required... My mast is 47' tall.... although there's 10' to spare, it's still creepy going underneath it, watching your mast come so close to the bridge...  I try not to look. 

Spielberg's 7 Seas... nice little toy for a rich man.,. I'm anchored about 700 yards to the east of Stephen here.... What a contrast.

I feel this boat name describes the way some boaters operate their vessel.  

Just because you are bigger does not mean you have the right of way at passes, bridges, and crossings.  Just like in car traffic, You gotta always watch out for the nutty driver.  Mind you, most boaters are very courteous, law abiding, conscientious skippers... It just takes one nut case to alter your day.  Any monkey can drive a power boat, but it takes knowledge, skill, planning, and intuition to pilot a sailboat.

The only vessels I ALWAYS yield right away to are freighters, cruise ships, and working boats like shrimpers and tugs.  Keep a watch behind you too, cause they sneak up fast on a slow moving sailboat.

Sometimes, there can be lots of waiting to get through certain bridges.... Hurry up to get there, then wait.... Then wait some more.  All the bridge opening times are listed in your local cruisers guide.  You must hail the bridge tender on the VHF radio in advance in order to get an opening... 

Once I get an opening, I always enjoy a personal power trip as my little Glory Days holds up 6 lanes of traffic just for me to get from one side of the bridge to the other... I kinda like that.    waves and thank you's are always in order. 

Another iguana sunning his torso... 
One of these guys startled me as he fell from a palm tree right in front of my feet yesterday... evidenty, it scared him more than me, as he quickly scampered away in a flash.  

Next, Craig and Linda took me to a real landmark in town called the Mai Kai... It's a Polynesian experience complete with fancy foo foo drinks and this live dinner show.   I am told it used to be frequented by Frank Sinatra and the infamous "Rat Pack".... It's a bit pricy, so we opted for the half price Happy hour and great hor'doervers... (never could spell that word.)
Here's the mens' Potty at the Mai Kai... It's like being on an old ship. I couldn't resist.

Beach comber... No shark teeth today ...

Replacing the clear plastic in my snap on windows is coming up next.  Oh boy!

I scored some boater loot at the nautical swap meet... I was in heaven here.  It was like this huge fairgrounds area... lots of boaters junk, lots of treasures... Also found a good deal on some dive gear, and my personal favorite... more rope!

Good night.