Whither We Goest?

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Blog Posts thru 2014

When we started this blog, our full-time cruising plans were open ended as to all but duration. That, we said would be about 2-3 and then 3-4 years (when we got off to a slow start thanks to the housing market). It has ended up being three, which is where I would have put my money were I a gambler, which I am not.

Would we do it again? Of course. Would we do it differently? Of course. Could we have done it differently? Not really, or we would have. All sorts of factors shaped our cruising. The very best were one another, our boat, Bahamian weather & water. The very worst were much of the ICW and summer marina living.

And now we no longer cruise full time. What does that mean? We live in a very nice house. We travel with a very nice boat. But where?

This part of Florida is not sailboat friendly. We could go up the ICW but we would be in the Chesapeake before we found much sailable water. We can sail offshore to the Keys, where the sailing is offshore and the anchorages are few and the natives don’t like people who prefer to anchor out. Or we could go back to the Bahamas.

Living in a house again, we don’t want to be gone for extended periods. We can’t rationalize the distance, expense, and hassle of the eastern Abacos for just a few weeks at a time. At least with the Keys we could rent a car and come home if need/want be. Also we now live in the “there” a lot of folks are trying to reach each winter. While the Bahamas and the Keys are better than the Chesapeake in winter, They aren’t better than here — except for the constrained sailing here and the clear water there. Perhaps we should winter store our boat in Maine and go there during the hot, humid, lightning-laced* Florida summer. Nah.

We haven’t figured it out yet. It’s not a bad problem to have, but we know we don’t plan to go back to the Bahamas this year. We may give the Keys a try if we can convince ourselves it would be a pleasure not a misadventure (as in rough seas, bad anchorages, official hassles and boat bums).

NLDN CG Flash Density Km 1997-2010

*

Stay tuned.

PS: Interestingly, quite a few of the folks we know who go to the Bahamas each winter are deciding not to this year, opting instead to absolutely pack the local marinas. Even transient docks are being partially blocked by wintering cruisers.

417 Resolutions in One

klaxonstrongIt’s important to remember that virtually every image on TV is put there to bring eyes/ears to ads. The same is true of the Internet and the “services” it enables. This is nothing new; it was and is still true of newspapers. And I bet, if we could go back and listen, we would find several millenia of town-criers who finished up with a shout-out for a pub or a farrier…

What’s the point? Whether the images are acoustic or graphic or textual or a mash, they are chosen and they are written and they are edited to get us to look at/hear embedded or peripheral ads for something. Therefore, the news, the editorials (hard to distinguish these days), live or die on the basis of their popularity not their utility to the hearer/looker/reader.

Stories are killed when they don’t bring eyes/ears. Stories are dragged far, far down the road past boredom as long as they do. And in some cases, non-stories are created to fill the gaps on slow eye/ear segments. Facts are the first casualties, and retractions and apologies, if  forthcoming, are usually found by journalistic archeologists, not the rest of us. And even if factually correct, much of what is offered as news is carnival freak show stuff.

Some media appear to pander to whatever appetite will bring those eyes/ears to the ads. This is nothing new, but is is greatly more visible as technology prevents us from escaping the deluge of drivel. Sadly, bad news sells better than good, and if we are left with nothing but headlines to inform us, then angst is the only emotion we need. (OK, add disgust.)

“Follow the trend lines, not the headlines,” Bill Clinton* is said to have said.

The trends are hard to dig out. They seldom have the neat clean edges of a skillfully crafted eye/ear-grabber. But there is something interesting about trends these days, the majority of them are good. Is there room for them to be better? Always. There is something interesting about that too. There are lots of qualified, committed and seemingly tireless people working on those improvements. But their stories don’t sell ads.

dollarFor New Year 2015, add one more resolution — click on one less lurid eye-grabber each day, and dig into one more trend each week. By year’s end, you will have wasted your emotional energy 365 times less (times the number of ads per look!) and you will have educated yourself 52 times. You will have benefited 417 times. If you pay yourself $1 for each, that’s a pretty positive trend too. Remember:

Look up and not down; Look out and not in. Look forward and not back; Lend a hand! ― Edward Everett Hale

*Also attributed to Bill Gates

Geomagnetic Reversal >> Flips and Flops…

Interesting piece from Archeology News. It won’t affect your cruising plans (much), but it’s part of the out there we all cruise in.

flipflop

[Credit: WikiCommons]

The left side reminds me of the path a dog takes to find a place to rest for a bit, until someone says, “squirrel,” and then it’s the right side.

Bahamas Is Caribbean’s Top Tourist Market Share Loser

klaxonBahamasSome additional context for cruising in the Bahamas. Read at: Tribune242

Bad/Stale Fuel, Dirty Fuel, Wet Fuel and In-Line, On-Board Polishing

trawlerWe have observed Waterway and Bahama sail cruisers operate their boats in very close parallel to the way trawlers operate, and we spend a lot of time among both. A primary topic of conversation is fuel quality — getting it and maintaining it. We have yet to meet one who did not have switchable filters at a minimum and most have in-line fuel polishing which can be run underway or when power is available. Most of these pumps draw around 2 amps.

Since form follows function and so many of us end up motoring for far more of our trips than we might like and are dependent (want to be or not) on power to get us in and out of places and situations where sails just don’t work, it seems the discussion has to end up on what kind of fuel quality systems, not, can one get by without them?

We have been cruising for 40+ years seasonal and full time. We have had 20, 120 and 200 gallon fuel capacities over those years. We have had no less than a Racor 500 2 micron on the diesel boats. We have dual Racor H-leg bypass fuel polishing on the current boat.

Picture 15Fuel polishing will help with dirty and wet fuel. Polishing won’t help with bad or stale fuel — these are physical vs  chemical issues. We know of  a bad fuel incident in Maryland when gasoline was pumped into a (kinda iffy) marina’s diesel supply tank and it was noticed six wrecked engines later. The watermen involved were NOT happy.

Unless the fuel is unburnable for some chemical contamination reason, e.g., gasoline mixed in (not a rare thing on a boat-by-boat basis either), too much additive (not a rare occurrence), etc, burning the fuel through the engine GENERALLY will not be a problem as much as it will be an performance irritant. Also, local pollution ordinances need to be considered. We know of boats stopped for emitting too much smoke. If you don’t want to or can’t burn it through, you will want the services of someone licensed to dispose of it. If an unlicensed service provider breaks the law in disposal, you may well get to share the fine and/or whatever else goes with the penalty. Some locales offer bounties on illegal disposers (much as with refrigerant). We are aware of a spill from this process that ended up being charged to the owner’s pollution liability coverage because of license issues with the disposer, even though the spill was not near the boat.

Wet fuel comes primarily from bad supply, water inflow and condensation. One boat on our last trip south was alongside for several days as they dealt with the results of a water hose being put in the diesel fill — by the owner. If water has made it into the tank, an easily reachable sump (we’ve seen maybe 10 in 40 years) from which it can be slurped is great. We used an engine oil change pump for this. If a sump is not built in then it’s empty the tank and add a filter-separator. Or a polishing system.

If the fuel is getting wet from sucking in humid air into the tank which first condenses on the fuel surface and tank walls there are a few remedies. A chemical air dryer in the vent line can help, but it adds complexity and if it gets wet from liquid water or fuel the vent will cease to be one. A good strategy here is to reduce the volume available for damp air to occupy — by keeping the fuel level topped off.  However, this is not necessarily a great idea if the fuel is bad/stale. Table on this below.

Dirty fuel can be from bad supply or crud accumulations in the tank. I won’t get sucked into the debate as to the degree this is the result of flora or fauna. Suffice it to say, filter, filter, filter. That same pump for water will handle the crud that ends up in a sump. However, vacuum style pumps that use small tubing will choke almost instantly.* Beyond that would be a separate  post on tank cleaning and off-board fuel polishing. [covered very well here] Even if we did not have on-board fuel polishing, we would have two selectable filters. One of our boats under a later owner ended up adrift in the Delaware Bay ship channel because one filter was completely compromised with crud, and there was no second filter.

So what about in-line, on-board polishing?

Picture 13 (2)We’ve been using it for our main engine and genset for 10 years now. The issue hasn’t been power for polishing —  it runs when either engine runs and is powered by the main alternator or the genset via ac/dc converter or solar. We run it independently of the engines when we have been forced to buy less than desirable fuel or if the boat is left to sit for an extended period. We have 200 gallon fuel capacity between two tanks. In 10 years we have removed* around a pint of water from the separators and removed about a tablespoon of dirt.

Key is fuel turn-over. Turn-over at the dock and turn-over aboard. At the dock, we look for fuel suppliers to sport-fishermen and commercial vessels that have additional smaller nozzles and appropriate flow rates for us. “How often do you refill your main supply tank,” is our first question after, “do you have fuel?” If the supplier is really moving the fuel, it is rare to get wet or dirty fuel, but one such place we bought fuel, we found the nozzle stowed in a bucket half full of rainwater.  If it’s an out of the way source, expect water, dirt and crud to get in your tank [Yes, a Baja funnel can help here, but they slow flow rate and extend the amount of time one ties up the fuel dock. If using deck fuel containers. consider a Baja or filter funnel a must even with polishing.]

Turn-over on the boat is a two-edge sword. Here frequent topping off to keep range at the maximum and water vapor condensation at the minimum works against clean fuel. Lets say you started from empty and filled the tank with, you guessed it, fuel too bad to be good but not bad enough to remove and start over. The table below shows how many  top offs by tank percentage fill it takes to really get rid of that fuel. Ten 10% top-offs will add another 100% of the fuel, but 34% of the bad fuel will still be there. It will take 29 ten% top-offs to get the remaining bad fuel below 5%.

Bottom line. To us, fuel polishing is like good ground tackle. It’s a form of insurance and cheaper than the paper kind.

Top Off Table

Top Offs

Symphonic Music in Vero Beach

trebleclefFrom childhood we have both loved good music. From arriving in the Washington DC area in 1980, we always had good access to symphonic music. Janet was even a member of the NSO Women’s Committee. We rarely missed an Air Force performance. And so on. When we selected Vero Beach as our land base of operations, we wondered how far we would have to drive north or south to find a good symphony. We feared it might be Jacksonville or much, much worse, Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

The answer is we don’t have to drive, and if we choose to, we don’t have to drive far. Yesterday, we attended the Holiday Performance of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra’s Wind Ensemble at Vero Beach High School just 2.1 miles from us, 6.1 from Loggerhead Marina and 4.4 from the City Marina.

VBHS PAC

From VBHS PAC Site

First, the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center. This is not a trivial facility. It seats 1000, and with eyes closed, the acoustics are indistinguishable from the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. It also was clean and fresh, not always the case in venues such as this.

Next, The Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. (Aaron Collins, Artistic Director*) Wow! Big Sound, Crisp Sound, Clear Sound, Large enough instrument sections for real nuance in the orchestration and presentation. Sometimes to say people played with enthusiasm is to say they were not so good. In this case, the enthusiasm empowered world class musicianship and musicality. These musicians are there because they want to be, and you can hear the result. We are critical listeners, and from where we sat, there wasn’t a note off, a beat missed, a chair scraped.

The Symphony’s commitment to making music of this composition and performance quality financially accessible to all, especially young people, is great! We can still remember how much we learned from Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts.

And how nice they began with the National Anthem and a recognition of Veterans. It was Pearl Harbor Day after all.

If you are cruising anywhere between Cocoa and Vero Beach, it is worth the time and very modest expense to take in a concert. They perform, among other locations, at:

Please consider making a donation so that the next generation can develop an appreciation for music of this content and caliber.

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR

*30- year old Aaron T. Collins is garnering recognition for his achievements.  In February 2012,  LEAD Brevard named the ambitious Collins one of their “4 under 40″ Young Professionals, the youngest-ever recipient of the honor.  Space Coast Business magazine listed him as one of Brevard’s “100 Most Admired Businesspeople” in their April 2012 issue.  Through his personal involvement with more than a dozen performing arts groups, pioneering reciprocal ad program and social media cross promotions, Collins has gained a reputation for generosity; championing other arts organizations throughout Central Florida for the cultural enrichment of the community. (From SCSO website)