The Florida Trip
This trip started by digging the dinghy
out of the snow in Brooklin Maine
. The idea was to take it, the outboard
, the dinghy
, extra lines and sufficient other stores to outfit Morgana and take her from Jacksonville
Florida to Ft. Meyers. Paul brought the dinghy to Augusta so that I could mount it on Joelís 2005 Honda
Civic Hybrid and drive to Florida. I was aware that I would be quite noticeable on the road with a dinghy, almost as big as the car, mounted on top me and I was sure that I would be the slowest vehicle on Interstate 95.
Morgana is a Krogen 38 foot cutter
rigged, shallow draft
vessel that Joel and Paul have owned since 2006. I am very familiar with this boat as her mooring
is only about a hundred yards from Pacemís mooring
and my son and I helped sail her from Virginia to Maine
in a six day offshore passage
. Joel sailed her in Maine during the summer and Paul took her to Florida and the Bahamas
during the winter. Two years ago Paul ran out of time and Morgana stayed in northeast Florida and she has been on the hard
Being a gentleman of a retired nature, I have time to come up with ideas for hair-brained schemes like reactivating Morgana and moving her farther south and to the west coast
of Florida where her thirty-eight inch draft
, with the boards up, will be an advantage in the skinny waters of the Pine Island Sound and nearby areas.
Paul went to Florida first for a few days of intensive inventory, cleaning
and removing the holding tank
. I shall drive down, spend some time working on the boat and put her in the water. Then I will slowly make my way down the east side of Florida, cut through Lake Okeechobee and continue to Ft. Meyers where Joel, his wife and my wife will meet the boat for a week of sailing in April.
I started out on the drive on a Tuesday after a storm dropped snow across the Midwest and the mid-Atlantic shore. The northwest winds could have been of some help if Ben and I had built the automobile dinghy rack to support the dinghy upright. I might have been able to rig the mast
, boom and sail and get a bit of sail assistance as I drove from Maine to Wilmington Delaware.
The drive was uneventful once I figured out that the dinghy was strapped on tightly enough that I could drive at highway speeds and not have it fly off. An hourís delay going through New York
and across the George Washington
Bridge hurt my timing but the Civicís gas mileage averaged almost 32 miles per gallon with the dinghy on top. I stopped for the first night at Paige and Anneís. Paige is my very close, almost an uncle, best friend of my father who had been the best man at my parents wedding and a close personal advisor to me when I was aged ten to fifteen. He and I sat on benches along Main Street in Nantucket
while he advised me on deep personal situations like the social responsibility of shaving your face every day and ways to deal with my mother even when she was being difficult. His uncle-like advice has served me well for over fifty years.
Paige tells great stories of traveling from the Chesapeake to Nantucket
in an open twenty-two foot sport fisherman and picking my Dad up, along the way, at the bottom of Wall Street in New York
and running under the pier mounted runways of LaGuardia airport
. The powers that be would probably have some security
concerns if that was done today but those wild and crazy guys of the sixties did it without any official notice.
I think that all of us should apologize to South Carolina. When climate changes increase sea level most of South Carolina will be submerged. The part of it that I saw on the three day trip down I 95 anyway. After Paige took me to his local breakfast place I hit the road and only stopped every two hours to stretch, gas, pee and walk around for that day and the next. I got to the boat yard in Green Cove Springs on the St. Johns River which is just south of Jacksonville Florida.
I checked in with the folks in the office and went to look at Morgana. She has been up on the hard
for two years and she needs some work
before she goes in and is ready to sail. I spent the afternoon ordering a new float switch for the bilge pump
, checking on the head holding tank repairs
, scheduling our launch, servicing thru-hull seacocks, general cleaning and going shopping
My next day was dominated by the bilge pump
. I thought that it was just a bad float switch but it turned out to be a busted valve in the Jabsco
rocker arm pump
that is the first and automated bilge pump
. I had to service
the pump in the area under the cockpit
which houses the bilge
pump, the refrigeration
unit, the batteries
and, a bit forward, the engine
. I do not know whether that space has become smaller over the years or if I might be less agile that I once was.
I did a bit of jury rigging
for this repair. I just bolted the valve back together after drilling out the broken stainless steel
rivet. I was concerned about the clearance from the pump action with the bolt and nuts but they seem to clear so I reinstalled it, hooked up the new float switch and now we have two operational bilge pumps.
While I was crawling around the nether reaches of Morgana working on the pump project
I noticed that the sacrificial zinc that I ordered was not wired to anything. The bonding system had corroded to point that the hull
zincs were isolated. I removed the zincs and the through hull
bolts to get ready for tomorrow when I will drive over and get parts
. It is Friday evening on Easter weekend so commerce may slow down a bit.
In the morning I checked the catalog in the Marina office for the part number of the zinc and they called to check that there was one in stock before I drove over to St. Augustine to get it. I drove back, installed the zinc, and I then spent an inordinate amount of time up-side down securing the bilge pump float switch in the very depths of the bilge. Why is it that we all like a deep bilge but then we have to deal with it?
The yard here at Green Cove Springs Marina is a great collection of boaters. The yard has a long term storage
area where boats just stay. There is no work
going on in there. Then there is the work area. There are probably forty or fifty boats whose owners are working on them and easily thirty are live aboards. There are couples who have stopped their world wide travels to refit
their boat and they work sun up to sun down on a seemingly endless list of projects. Some of the projects that I have seen nearby Morgana include new stainless steel
tubing with wood swim platform and a new bow sprit.
There are also a number of dreamers in the yard. I met one guy who was about thirty and had been brought up in a military family
and had served in the navy
and now he decided that he is destined to sail the world. This man is fixing up a thirty footer to sail around the world and he has never sailed at all. I wished him well in fulfilling his dreams.
I spent some time cleaning and organizing the copious stores that are on the boat. The amount of stuff on this boat is amazing but there is no organization. I finally figured that I was spending so much time looking for some part or tool that I had to organize the stores before I went any farther.
Now she is starting to look like a sailboat. After another driving trip to St. Augustine for parts
, came more work in the below decks replacing a through hull and the plumbing
for a replacement pump. The pump is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Then the sun was so glorious that I had to be on deck
so I started straightening up the deck
and took the sails
up to get them out of the main salon
. I put up the staysail and rolled it up so now we look more like a sailboat.
Lots of cleaning and slowly the boat is looking better. I have made up the main cabin
but we have still not found the mystery leak and it is at the foot of the master bunk. The first time it rains I am going to lay there until I figure out where the leak originates. I talked to Paul who said that it may be far forward so the hunt is on for the long standing mystery leak.
The next morning I decided to rig the remaining sails
but the yard manager put a quick stop to raising sails while on jack stands. She came walking down the work row yelling and I quickly apologized. She said that Paul had signed the yard agreement which includes the prohibition of sail raising. I contritely told her that I was just the crew and had never seen the agreement. We both fully blamed Paul and have been great friends since.
Launch day came and I found out that I had to have the engine
running before the launch so I rigged a hose and after leaning on the glow plug
switch for what seemed like forever and much grinding of the starter I got the engine going. The launch was uneventful. They backed Morgana into the travel lift
with a trailer
. The foreman said that Paul had taught them that trick. We were going out to a mooring for a couple of days of more work before starting the trip but it seemed a perfect time to take her out into the river for a trial so I worked my way through the moorings while I turned on the instruments. I was initially startled when the fathometer reported two feet of depth
. I checked the setting and found that it is calibrated to report from the bottom of the keel
. The shallow depths are not my normal mind set. I took Morgana out for a few turns, maneuverability trials, and autopilot
test. We returned to the mooring field and picked up a mooring that has a foot and a half of water under our keel
. I was kicking up mud on the approach. I guess this is the way they do it down here.
The best laid plans of man go up in flames at the most inopportune times. My laptop
died and I went into the local computer guy who looked at it and told me to drive up to Jacksonville and buy a new computer. He said that he could get my files from the old hard drive but the box was toast. So my next day was related to rebuilding the computer but I was also able to go to West Marine
and get some additional parts. My jury rig on the bilge pump did not last and I have still not been able to find the rebuild
kit. Later when I got back to the boat I was able to install the newly delivered pump, got the refrigerator
running and fixed the Wi-Fi antenna
power feed. Which is why you are seeing this.
What is with Roman numerals? Why is it that two thousand years later we are still using this archaic system of numbers even though we have a base ten system that is easier to understand?
Today I worked on systems necessary for movement. I am still flummoxed by the bilge pump but I shall persevere. I replaced the broken lights in the head
and the hanging locker and I put up the genoa
, twice. I put it up but forgot to tie on the sheets
so when I was done I was looking up about twelve feet above the deck to the clew and trying to figure out how to get the sheets
attached. There was a weather forecast
of severe thunderstorms with locally high winds so I took it down and lashed it to the deck. After the front went through the winds were light so as the sun set I set the genoa
I am ready, Morgana is ready enough so I think that we shall get underway.
did not agree. It started raining and blowing. I am very comfortable on this mooring so I rebuilt the head pump. Dirty job but it is now flushing
just fine. Just finishing a project
like this gives me a sense of accomplishment. A well pumping head is an important item on a small boat
. We now have a new head holding tank and a smooth pumping head. Life is good.
Isnít Florida called the sunshine state? Well not today. The wind
has been blowing and the clouds are at about the height of the masthead with rain showers passing through on a regular time schedule. I am glad that I stayed here on the boatyardís mooring for the day. I took some time to figure out some of my new laptop
but the wind
was blowing into a vent right above my head and it was so cool that I fired up the wood stove
with charcoal and stuffed a sponge into the vent. It was a bit smoky to start with but it took the chill off the cabin
so I could write in just two shirts.
I am determined to get underway tomorrow. The forecast
is good with sun and Morgana and I are ready.
What a glorious day it was. I woke up early and got underway after coffee. Motoring north down the St. John River for Jacksonville watching bald eagles fishing
. My first bridge was interstate 95 and I was thinking about all the folks in the cars and trucks passing by at sixty-five while I was going under them at five. As I got downtown the shores became built up and I stopped for my first on demand lift bridge at Main Street. There was music
and folks in the shore front park and diners sitting outside restaurants as I passed. Farther on the commercial
port facilities continue for a few miles and my evening anchorage was at the end of them. I anchored in seven feet of water with palm trees just a few boat lengths away, The wind had been strong all day and right on our nose out of the northeast. After I got secured for the night I changed the engine oil
and filter, put rubber mounts under the new refrigerator
pump and finally got the bilge pump running. Sitting in the cockpit
watching a pelican trying to get something for its dinner suggested to me to do the same. Later a pod of dolphins
played around the boat as the sun set for the day