Entries

Time in Florida - March 26, 2007

Time to go - June 3, 2007

Sea Fox Power - June 19, 2007

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Time in Florida

March 26, 2007
by Mary

It is now late March and we've been in the same spot since the end of January. We're at Loggerhead Marina just off the ICW in Palm Beach Gardens - about 50 miles south of Fort Pierce; 20 miles north of Palm Beach; and about 50 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. It is beautiful. The weather has been great. We're just a couple of miles from the ocean and gorgeous beaches. I love the color and the warmth of the ocean here. The town of Juno Beach is just east of us. Juno beach is the country's largest nesting area for loggerhead turtles. Loggerhead Park has a turtle nature center with exhibits and a turtle hospital where you can visit the patients. Farther up US 1 is Juno Beach Park, another county beach park. Palm Beach County has built very nice parks with picnic areas, lots of parking and beaches with lifeguard stations. There are also a number of parks in the county where you can hike along trails through areas that retain the natural aspects of the land: dunes, scrub, and wetlands which are quite a contrast to the lush landscapes of the residential developments.








 

I'd expected this area to feel much like southern California, but it doesn't. The vibe here is very different. I suppose that part of it is that Florida seems to have attracted folks as a retirement destination for people from the northeastern states who bring their attitude with them, while southern California has drawn a younger crowd probably from the heartland more than from the east coast. California also has many more "environmentalists" per square foot. Also since we're so close to Palm Beach where mere millionaires are at the bottom of the economic scale, it has that $$$ feel we didn't have in San Diego.

Local politics is very entertaining - it's a real soap opera. They've just had local elections so the daily newspaper has been filled with the local issues and scandals. If you've read some of Carl Hiaasen's books you may think that he's exaggerating and poking fun at Florida politics but, in my opinion, he's not even scratched the surface. Everyone has their hands in everyone else's pockets with not much apparent effort to be subtle about it and its just business as usual. And they do it all with a straight face. What a circus.

Early on we made a trip across the state to Tarpon Springs, famous for its sponge fleet. In the 19th century Greek sponge divers brought their advanced techniques to the area and built the industry. One delicious result is that the dockside area is lined with wonderful Greek restaurants. It's also a bit of a tourist trap, but the food made it worthwhile. We ate very well.

Tarpon Springs
         

 

Our original intent was to stay here for a month to get projects done and then move on. But after spending so much time hurrying to get to good weather, we decided to stop hurrying. We're doing what retirees are supposed to do - whatever we feel like doing at any given time. The projects are getting done but we're also just enjoying ourselves at a leisurely pace.

Sea Fox Power

June 19, 2007
by Mary

Two major projects were accomplished while at Loggerhead Marina: Installing and wiring the wind generator; and wiring the solar panels. These were time consuming because the wiring required a great deal of planning. Neal spent a lot of time and effort making sure that it was done well. The result is that we should have adequate power wherever we go.

Both power sources have charge controllers to ensure that the battery bank is not overcharged. The wind generator can be turned on and off with a switch inside the boat. Additionally, the wind generator system has a resistor bank that takes excess energy and converts it to heat. Placement of this was crucial because of the potential fire hazard. Unfortunately we were not able to use the altenative which could have diverted excess to our water heater.

Sea Fox Power
 
   

 

Time to Go

June 3, 2007
by Mary

It is early June and we're finally just about ready to head back north. It will be good to get moving. The local no-see-ums have feasted on Neal since we got here. He's really had a struggle trying to keep them out of the boat - they love him. To add to his discomfort, they rarely bother me. Additionally, it's long past time to go. The projects have been done. Solar panels and wind generator all wired and making electricity. It was good to finally get everything out of the storage locker and back on board. We eliminated a lot more stuff - some going to Goodwill - some sent to my brother for storage - some just getting tossed. Hasn't seemed to make much more space available, though.

   
 
   

 

We took a week's vacation in early May to spend time with Jennifer & Jim Bagley on Scarlett as they brought her from Fort Myers on the Florida's west coast around to the east coast. We anchored off Key West for a few days. I like Key West much better from the water than approaching and staying on land. Our next stop was Marathon where we waited for weather for a couple of days. They dropped us off in West Palm Beach and continued on.

Sailing on Scarlett
Click here to see more photos
         

 

Then there was a week in the yard at Cracker Boy Boat Works for new bottom paint. The old paint was in surprisingly good condition with absolutely no growth on the hull. There was some blistering on the keel fairing, however, that required some grinding and re-fairing before the paint job. The prop had quite a community of barnacles and we think they were the cause of the vibration we'd felt at certain RPMs. So Sea Fox got new bottom paint, a clean prop, new zincs and a good wax job above the water line. She's pretty again and ready to go.

On the hard at Cracker Boy Boat Works
Click here for before & after photos
 
 
         

 

It wasn't until just before we'd planned to leave that Neal took a look at the boom brake to see why it wasn't working. Turns out the rigger had installed a medium sized brake (charging us for the large one we'd ordered) but used lines sized for a large size brake. So here we sit waiting for the correct device to be delivered.

We've made a final round of visits to our favorite places. The Square Grouper is a funky littie tiki bar on Jupiter inlet hidden in a neighborhood and virtually unknown to tourists. We sit at a table on the sand and watch the boats and pelicans go by. El Colonial is a great local Cuban restaurant. We've had wonderful food there including the best black beans ever and very nicely done plantains. And China Taste Inn has the best Chinese we've had since we left southern California. The Thirsty Turtle has the best ever fried shrimp - the batter is perfect. Cheeseburgers & More has the best burgers in the area.

The good news is that we missed being at sea as Barry, the second tropical storm of the season passed through. The weather is looking good for our departure.

 


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