Monday, July 29, 2013

Lizard Condos

A light by night; lizard condos by day.
While there’s still a slew of Caribbean posts to catch up on (keep posted – they are coming), mother nature in Jacksonville is just as exotic, sometimes!  Manatees, gators, dolphins, lizards, herons, cormorants, and more (“Oh my!”). 

Today’s observation….

Flick of a tail.  Look again.  There’s a carnelian Adam’s Apple bulging, lizard-speak for “Hey, Baby, C,mon, get down and dirty with your real local resident lounge lizard.”  Given the proliferation of lizards, whatever they're saying or doing, it seems to work.

There’s one or two lizards in each of these lights
along our marina’s walkway.
Considering my aversion to mosquitos and worse yet, no-see-ums (click here if you’re up for a squirmy prior post on that) the local lizards get my top vote for scaly heroes in Jacksonville.  Despite lots of rain and standing water, we are mosquito and no-see-um free here.  Thank you.

What alternate universes co-exist in your paradise, urban or wild?  Are you missing them?  If you’re not, please share your stories!

More domesticated marina wildlife; fellow cruiser Ron
holding his senior schnauzer, “Shultzie”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snaggletooth Sailing

Our main sail, definitely worse for the wear.
It was May 3rd, sorry to feel compelled to leave Great Inagua so soon (click hereclick here and here and here for more about Great Inagua), we took off for what we believed would be an overly calm and too slow a sail between storms.  As the crow flies, we were still a scoch less 500 nautical miles away from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, our planned landfall 6 weeks out.  With a typical sailing speed of only 4-6 nautical miles/ hour, we needed to get going.

As a result, we were feeling a little giddy at our serendipitous 7-knot sail… until it came to a screeching halt.  Amazing how the sweet joy of drafting of the fringe of a squall can so swiftly shift and slap you silly.  Or worse.

Swirling forty knot winds yanked aggressively at our reefed sails.  Our main sail separated from its luff rope and slugs (which hold the sail into the mast track).  Translation:  we were effectively without a mainsail. 
Wayne, Ron of Tovarish and Jose of Atlantica determine
a sail loft repair is our best solution.

That still left us with our genoa and our mizzen sails, and our engine.

Or did it?

The same gusts that disabled our mainsail, damaged the clew on our next biggest and favorite sail; our genoa.  Half an hour later, the strain ripped the clew out, rendering that sail ineffective, too.

We totally lost control, spinning in circles.  It sounds worse than it is, considering that we remained perfectly upright in deep water far away from anything that if we hit it would damage the boat. 

Castle Island, where we first limped into with
our snaggletooth sail set.
Wayne, thank goodness, is a master at problem solving.  He quickly lashed our main, and together we pulled our genoa down and rolled it up. Wayne pulled out the backup genoa Ned, Journey’s former owner, and the king of spares, so thoughtfully left on Journey.  We’d never used it, but up it went.  We appreciated its substantially larger profile (our usual genoa is 110, the backup is 150) as we’d be relying on it more heavily without our main.

This left Journey with a funny looking profile.  A great big genoa sail at the front our boat stretched over a third of our boat’s length. At the rear of our boat toward our cockpit, up high above our cockpit dodger, flew a little tiny mizzen sail.  I dubbed Journey’s sailing setup “snaggle tooth sailing.”
Phillips Sailmaker shop in Nassau.  Fast, affordable and competent.

Even though we were now woefully underpowered in our sails, we still our engine to rely on.  Ummm, sort of. 

From the beginning, when we joined out boat in St Lucia, Wayne got our leaky raw water pump repaired and the spare raw water pump repaired, too.  Unfortunately, the repairs weren’t that robust.  The job of those pumps was to keep our engine cooled.  Instead, they sprayed a lot of salt water where it wasn’t supposed to go, and didn’t flow enough water where it needed to go to keep the engine cool.  Technically, the engine worked, but we didn’t want to run it any more than we had to.  Not only was it not getting properly cooled, we were concerned about what the corrosive saltwater spray was doing to areas best kept dry, like electrical connections.

Phillips Sailmaker makes more than sails.
Ultimately the only real harm besides to our pride, was losing our ability to make decent time until it was fixed (our average speed dropped to from 5-6 to 4 nautical miles / hour). Of course it took “boat buck$” to fix it.

In Nassau, a little over 325 nautical miles from our Great Inagua blowout, we were at last able to get both sails and the raw water pump fixed. We’d heard from our friends Jose and Char Pagan of Atlantica that Phillips Sailmakers was excellent.  They were correct!  Fortunately, both the sail and the pump repairs were faster and less expensive than we expected. 
Despite appearances, Albert's raw water pump repair seems solid.

Seems rode hard and put away wet is more fitting for sailing than cowboys, even when we don’t blow through our two primary sails in ½ hour.

Should there be a “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be sailors?”  My mom would probably agree.

Yet, we feel a strange sense of accomplishment in our ability to successfully sail over 325 miles without a normal sail set set or a reliable engine.

We've stuck to our backup genoa, even though our "main"
genoa and mainsail is now sailable
Note:  This is a retrospective.  We are at the moment busy replenishing our cruising kitty until we set sail again in December.

*What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hand-Cranked 1870s Lighthouse Keeps on Keepin’ On

Great Inagua’s lighthouse: 
clean, simple and easily
accessible. Looks pretty good
for nearly 150 years old!
“Every household needs a good phallic symbol,” quipped a friend, responding to my compliment on her cool Chrysler Building model.

It would seem that most Bahamian Islands of any stature do too, in the functional form of a lighthouse.  In the Bahamas and elsewhere, I rarely pass up the opportunity to scale these eyrie perches.

Wayne, of, course, would more likely accuse my fondness of lighthouses as yet one more devious plot to torture him by finding the tallest point and cajoling him up it.  He’s partly right; I’m just a sucker for a killer view, and love sharing this literal highlight with the man I love.  Is that so devious?
Spartan yet attractive “lobby”
welcomes DIY lighthouse vistors.

The lighthouse in Great Inagua was one of many highlights in our all-too-brief stay (click here and here and here for more about Great Inagua; and watch for at least one more retrospective Great Inagua post). The lighthouse was much welcomed as a highly visible landmark to us, sailing in from our 4 ½ days sail from Puerto Rico.

Getting up high in such a narrow
space requires steep steps.
It’s a brief walk to the lighthouse from Great Inagua’s Matthew Town and a self guided tour.  No personnel, no signs, no fuss, no muss.  Of course, while I’d like to learn more about the lighthouse’s history, I love the price for the tour:  free.
My "lighthouse green" Crocs view give
a little more perspective on
the step steepness.

The lighthouse is still operational, its kerosene-fueled light requires hand-cranking.  I wondered if a lighthousekeeper, responsible for handcranking the light, inspired Lost’s DHARMA initiative button-pushing subplot (click here for more about that).  Regardless, in Great Inagua’s small and lovely but not oft traveled part of the world, I’ll bet it still saved at least a few lives in its 143 years.
Still working lens in the Great Inagua lighthouse.

Ceiling of the Great Inagua lighthouse tower.
Yes, the rails are this vividly red, all the more so contrasting
against Great Inagua’s gorgeous aqua seascape.
The view:  the perfect reward for a short, steep climb.
For more on Bahamian Lighthouses, click here and watch this space for a post on Culebrita’s far less pristine, but gloriously decayed lighthouse.

Note:  This is a retrospective.  At the moment, we're replenishing our cruising kitty and upgrading our boat while we wait out hurricane season in Florida. There's lots more retrospective and current posts coming, now that my Mac is back from the shop, at long last.  While here, my tentative plan is to post about 2-3 times a week, based on some survey feedback*.

*What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Graveyard Juggling (An Update)

For those of you who regularly follow Galley Wench Tales, Jacksonville is not a Bermuda triangle vortex where cruisers disappear.

Why, you might then wonder, is the blog so quiet?

We've stopped in Jacksonville until December to work and replenish our cruising kitty (aka boat bucks -- click here for more about that).  Wayne's aircraft mechanic skill, coupled with his avionics experience meant within 2 weeks he had several jobs to choose from.  He chose one in Jacksonville, where we could live on our boat in a great marina (Ortega Marina is fabulous!).  Wayne's working a graveyard shift at Flightstar, providing maintenance on planes from Delta, FedEx and Southwest (click here for more about our re-entry).

As the trailing spouse, I couldn't begin my job search until I knew where we'd be.  Once here, after we got some basics squared away, I began my search.

I landed 2 new jobs!

One is with West Marine, as a sales associate; the perfect job for someone working on their boat (awesome employee discounts).  From application to start was just a few days; I've already logged those first few days and am scheduled again tomorrow.  It's at a flagship store (big!) and my colleagues are friendly and upbeat.  It's a fun place to be -- "a toy store!" as our manager says.  

My second job is freelance writing; still writing for Vancouver Family Magazine (2 articles in process) and now also freelancing for a local neighborhood newspaper, The Resident Community News, where I also have a couple articles in process.  As well I have the pleasure of writing and editing for the delightful Connie Dorigan, of Dorigan & Assoc's enewsletters.  All jobs are part time.

Now we are finally someplace long enough to get my Mac fixed under extended warranty. In April,  a few weeks before my 3 year warranty ran out, my tracking pad died.  Apple was willing to grandfather me in as soon I was someplace I could fix it, even though by the time I got there I would be out of warranty.  So, my Mac is in the shop for now, along with my library of iPhoto images.

As well, my phone and phone plan is now capable of supporting the 52 minute wait time from my camera's support line to request the return of my camera's missing parts.  There's a few more similar tasks to chase down; undo-able while cruising.
As Wayne's graveyard shift is 11 pm - 7 am; we're juggling when each of us should be on... and off... the boat for each other to sleep.  Between that at my Mac's inaccessibility, I'm behind on blogging and remiss on photos (Wayne's sleeping whilst I type this on his laptop).

Soon, though, my Mac will be back, and Wayne and I better coordinate our schedules.  Just a few more days and I'll be blogging -- with photos again.

Since I'm in Florida, guess that means it's okay to say "Y'all come back real soon, 'k?"