Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What’s Buggin’ Us? Love Bugs?!?

love bugs
The pen provides scale for this "love bug" couple
copulating on the Ortega Landing Marina's clubhouse

(exterior window!).
Mahogany birds, Timothy Burton spiders and, lately, “love bugs,” that’s what’s bugging us.

“Love bugs?” you ask, wondering perhaps if I’m serious.  Yes, and I'm not referring to the lighthearted Mill’s Brothers/Tommy Dorsey love song (click here to hear that really “moldy oldie”).

Contrary to urban legend, love bugs (less commonly but more officially known as plecia nearctica) are not escapees from a lab experiment gone wrong (click here for more facts on the love bug migration).

They don’t bite but  “The love bugs will get you if you don’t watch out” Love Bug lyrics do indeed ring true, literally. However, it’s more likely to be your car than you that get it, with the love bugs being far worse for the wear….  They are dubbed “love bugs” because they are joined in a 12-hour long mating frenzy, too busy procreating to focus on anything else.

Love bugs are so prevalent, some seasonally astute Floridians claim “There’s the hot season, cold season and love bug season.” 

Indeed, I do recall back in the days of yore, living in Florida in the 70s…. There was a veritable love bug epidemic.  Concerned car owners sometimes needed to add a protective shield of sorts, typically netting over their car, to keep it from getting gummed up from these hordes of horny buggers.  Keeping windshields and other car parts clear in the midst of this mating ritual is challenging, not to mention just plain disgusting.

Love bug “season” is, blissfully, short-lived.  

More on “Mahogany birds” and “Tim Burton spiders” coming soon…. 

Meanwhile, if you can't wait for or get enough creepy crawlies, check out these prior buggy blog posts

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Primordial Ooze & Boat Bucks

replacing anchor chain
Eeeewwww!  This pile of rust came off the chain we’ve been using.
“If you leave it there too long. It will seize, and rust into place,” warned our marina neighbors and longtime boat owners Dee and Ron Claus (click here to see Ron and his now dearly departed “puppy.”)  They were referring to our hideously rusted, once-upon-a-time galvanized anchor chain.   It was rusty by the time we met Journey, in September 2012.  So much so we didn’t bother attempting to clean the rust stains off our bow’s deck; we knew it was a lost cause.

Ironically, as Labor Day weekend offered Wayne his first 3-day weekend off since our Jacksonville arrival in June, we used the no-paid-work time to get filthy-dirty and sweat like pigs (do pigs really sweat that profusely?) to remove our rusty anchor chain and replace it.
dock cart
Then again, this is the chain it came off of.
Thank goodness for dock carts!

Michael of Goldilocks (click here for Goldilocks’ blog) and Marc of Nirvana (click here for Nirvana’s blog) can be proud that their efforts of showing Wayne how to splice line into chain, stuck.  He did the honors, so Journey is now in proud possession of clean, new rode nicely spliced into our new anchor chain, attached to our new Rocna 20 anchor.  Thank you West Marine for your awesome Associate (employee) Discount program!  The purchase would otherwise achieve “boat bucks” level $1000+; without even counting the anchor.  With our engine / propeller’s beyond wimpy reverse, even though we consistently backed up on our CQR anchor (except when we didn’t have reverse) to no avail.

Cheapo zip-tie markers to measure off
every 25 feet of chain.  Found out after
my first go that the 3 markers/25’
weren’t supposed to all be on
the same link.  Oops!
Wayne then bravely proceeded to tackle cleaning the thick layer of primordial sludge which settled previously into our anchor locker.  Wayne wondered if it was vintage ’78, Great Lakes….

I got the easy job of whisk broom and vacuuming the 3’ high pile of rust flakes, accumulated from the former anchor chain.

It was a productive day.  Sigh… next project…
replacing anchor chain
Wayne works his splicing
magic with 25’ chain lengths
measured off in the background;
200 feet in all.  Does this look
like $1000 (aka “1 boat buck”)?
It is, retail.

Ahhhh… our new 55 lb. 20T Rocna
anchor; photo pilfered from their website,  (Betting
they don’t mind.)  I will sleep
much better at anchor.
We are envious of our friends cavorting about in more exotic climes right now.  But they paid their dues doing boat upgrades; this is our turn.  Just 2 ½ more months….
rusty anchor
Former anchor, CQR doing what it does
best, sitting on top rather than digging in,
though normally it was a “side sleeper."

Chain to rode splice.  Nice job, Wayne!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pearson Peeps… Incommunicado

cruiser sailboat
Incommunicado, a Pearson 365 in the Willis' back yard -- for now.
Actually, in our experience, Allen and Michelle Willis’ boat name is a misnomer, at least when they’re in town.  Another fellow Pearson 365 owner (click here to read about another awesome encounter with another Pearson owner, and click here to read about our connecting in the Caribbean with Journey’s former owner) Allen dropped by within a few days of our Jacksonville arrival and gave us a wonderfully warm welcome.
allen willis of incommunicado
Allen in his workshop

Not only did Allen and Michelle happily share a wealth of local resources, we spent a delightful day together.  It started with a trip into St. Augustine to ogle the oddities at Sailor’s Exchange (click here to get a gander of Sailor’s Exchange). 

When we returned, we toured the Willis’s Pearson 365 sailboat, Incommunicado.  It’s on a trailer in their side yard, undergoing a loving restoration.  In particular, we envied Incommunicado‘s well-insulated, repartitioned refrigerator freezer.  Michelle wowed us with her clear mapping of all Incommunicado’s nooks and crannies, as well as her provisioning spreadsheet and her organizational approach.  Watch for a future praising Allen and Michelle prowess.

Michelle and her puppy, Bella by Incommunicado.
Then Allen and Michelle taught me how to make one of their favorite shrimp dishes, the details of which became progressively fuzzy, as we we worked our way from beer, to Michelle’s special orange-infused rum, wine, and a series of incredibly delicious intensely fruit-infused “o-cellos” that are halfway between a sweet liquer and white lightening.  Let’’s just say none of us were all that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next day.

All that was before Wayne went on graveyard shift, with a mostly 6-day work-week, with spare time in vampire hours.  That seriously cut into our social planning ability with anyone more than a stone’s throw from where we’re docked at Ortega Landing Marina.

A project conspired to bring us back together.  First, a bit of background….

pearson 365 ketch companionway with air conditioner
This air conditioner cooled our boat but straddling it
got me hot & bothered -- not in a good way!
It’s not that unusual for Jacksonville reach to heat a heat index of 107F in the summer. Boats are not well insulated, so since we’re plugged into an electrical source at the marina, we placed an air conditioner (ac) in our companionway. That meant for months, I ungraciously straddled its height and width every time I got into and out of our boat.  For Wayne’s longer legs, this was not such a big deal.  However, it also meant the ac was the furthest point from where Wayne tried to sleep, during the heat of the day, due to his graveyard shift.  We wanted to move the ac over the center of our boat, but it needed a box to hold it into place, recirculate the air, and keep the rain out.

Allen, about halfway through moving our ac over Journey's
center hatch on a sweltering Jacksonville afternoon.  Wayne
slept through the installation!
Allen generously provided materials, labor and more importantly, know-how to build a box that fit a twin to his boat.  With a few tweaks… it worked!

That didn’t surprise me. Wayne and Allen are Pearson forum regulars (Galley Wench Tales is one of the blogs Allen follows).  When asked for blog feedback, Allen begged for more mechanical and technical posts from Wayne on the blog; alas Allen thus far appears to be the only survey respondent requesting that (click here give your input to the survey to improve GalleyWenchTales blog).  Sorry Allen.

Happily, the ac project got us around to coordinating a time to meet up again.  This time, Allen and Michelle taught me how to cook cracked conch (pound the s--- out of it first), which had languished in our freezer.  It was delish!  Well worth making an “I never eat fried foods” exception.

We’re hoping we’ll cruise together this coming year in the Bahamas.  We can hardly wait, even though we're still trying to figure out how to repay Allen and Michelle for all their generosity.