Coconut Grove Walkies

The Commodore Says “Living on a boat is gorgeous, but it interferes with taking evening walkies.”

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I think this is code for “can we go to a bar and eat bar food and drink beer?”

She feels guilty about idling in a bar. We’re supposed to be productive. Right? You know, idle hands do the devil’s work, that kind of thing.

But we like idling in a bar. Especially a place like Taurus that has seats facing the street.

Besides “idleness,” there’s the budget-busting aspect of spending all our savings on beer. We have more important things. Diesel fuel. Radar. Sailing Instruments. Asymmetric Spinnaker. Metal portlights to replace the plastic ones that sometimes leak. 

But sometimes, sitting at a bar is more valuable than all the technical upgrades we could ever make to Red Ranger. You see a much of the world from a boat. Some days, you just need to get off the boat and see even more of the world. Especially in a place like Miami.

Yet Another Picture from Annabel

An amazing photo from from Kayda on Annabel. Just breath-taking. So much wow. 

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Her other pictures can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/kayda/photos.

Back to the Ball and The Price of Failure

Started: Star Island 25°46.56′N 080°09.25′W

Mooring: Coconut Grove near Dinner Key Marina, 25°42.92′N 080°13.63′W

Log: 8.5 nm. Time: 2 hr. Engine: 2 hr.


Great party on Perfect Partner. Great tour of Lincoln Road Mall on Miami Beach.  Lousy trip back. The price of failure can be very dear indeed.

The party involved plenty of food and drink. Plenty of salty conversation with cruisers. Good lessons learned on what to do, what not to do, and how to fix the problems that arise.

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Plus, we saw folks with Rocket Pants. Something you don’t see every day.

However, this is the third pair of rocket pants I’ve seen around here.

The next morning, we finally saw Miami Beach. After coming 1,000 miles from Norfolk, it’s hard to believe we didn’t get to the world-famous Miami Beach until yesterday.

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Behind Belle Isle, is the Collins Canal, which parallels Dade Blvd on Miami Beach. If you go under two of the big bridges over this canal (close to ½nm), you’ll come to a small wooden stage on the N side. It’s across the street from Publix. And a short walk from Lincoln Road Mall.

So glad this is a full day away from where we’re moored. If it were closer, I’d waste all of my money on the various bars, restaurants, lounges and coffee shops.

As it is, we have to replace the broken running light, rewrite the macerator pump (again), upgrade the sailing instruments, add radar and fix the damage to the bang rail. Drinking in a swanky outdoor bar while eye-candy in bathing suits parade by is simple craziness.

The Return

We had a sloppy motor back to Dinner Key Mooring in some brisk winds. By brisk I mean blowing 20g25. This means relatively big waves in Biscayne Bay. It was almost like the Cheasapeake Chop.

Some waves broke over the bow, splashing white water as far as the dodger. That’s a right big splash for little Biscayne Bay.

It took us two tries — and two boat-books — to snag the mooring. The wind made it difficult to judge the approach speed to the ball. I overshot the first one, and did the wrong things to try and help, dropping hook #1 in the bay.

On the second approach, I had the speed set better to allow time at the ball before the wind pushed us back. CA was flustered by my first failure and didn’t drop hook #2 in it’s usual spot on deck. She tossed it on top of Scout, where it rolled off and (improbably) dropped into the bay.

[A boat hook falling into the bay is like bread falling butter side down. Improbable, but it seems inevitable.]

Once the lines were secure, we stood on deck in the howling wind and watched the hooks drifting away. About the time I suggested that I should swim for them, our neighbor drove by in his dinghy.

We went right by Atlantic on the first pass at the mooring, so he’d popped up to watch the show. We do the same everytime a boat goes by us. 

He was amazed at how tightly I could turn Red Ranger, and was disappointed that our first pass at the mooring ball didn’t work out. He was watching the second pass to see if I was going to make as tight a turn as I did the first time, when he saw a boat hook floating by.

The second pass, BTW, was an even tighter turn. Red Ranger has a high bow and does not like to turn up into the wind. With a big pulse of forward power, she’ll pivot on her keel: this scoots her stern around as much as it brings her bow up into the wind. 

After Rob picked up our two hooks, he sold them back to us.

The price of our failure?

Beer, cheese and crackers.

The bonus?

He had great sailing stories about sailing Atlantic (and his previous boat) around the northeast: Connecticut, Long Island, Massachusets and Maine. Whales. Dolphins. Fog. Places we want to go this summer.

On the whole, the value received far exceeded the price paid.

Star Island Anchorage

Started: Coconut Grove near Dinner Key Marina, 25°42.92′N 080°13.63′W

Anchored: Star Island 25°46.56′N 080°09.25′W

Log: 8.5 nm. Time: 2¾ hr. Engine: 1½  hr.


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Our weekly daysail took us up to Star Island. We dropped the anchor near Perfect Partner and Tulum III.

We had some excellent tacks in 10-15 kts of breeze. We could sail with Main, Yankee and Stays’l, banging along at over 6 kts in the puffs.

We were able to smoothly come about without any problems. Good breeze. Flat sea state. A bit more experience with Red Ranger

Then it started to rain.

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And we got close to downtown Miami that sailing didn’t seem prudent. 

Too bad it was so gray; the pictures of Miami aren’t very interesting.

Too bad I don’t have the cool polarizing filter than Kayda has; maybe I could turn the grey clouds into dramatic highlights.

In spite of my photographic failures, it was a delightful sail. It’s good to get off the mooring ball.

More Pictures from Annabel

Another amazing photo from from Kayda on Annabel.

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It’s so hard to find color in a grey overcast sky. As far as I can tell, this composition was simply what Kayda saw from the deck of Annabel. I don’t think she took the dinghy out to drive around and fiddle with the composition.

Her other pictures can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/kayda/photos.

Pictures from Annabel

Here’s the first of some amazing photos from Kayda on Annabel. They’re moored next to us, so we wind up in some of her sunrise and sunset art projects.

Her other pictures can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/kayda/photos.

Some Goodbyes

Today three Whitbys (and a Beneteau) started from the Bahamas. Without us. <sniff/>

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Joie de Vivre, Dream Ketcher, Creola and `Tis Good are on their way across the Gulf Stream. Weather today is pretty sporty, but the wind is out of the S. Wind that goes with the Gulf Stream means that the ocean will be relatively flat. 

Their plan is to depart at something like 0100 so that they arrive around 10:00 in Bimini. They can check in and then push through the Baham bank doing another 14 hours overnight for an early arrival in Nassau. 

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Tonight, they should have SSW Winds, 5-10 kt; tomorrow they’ll have WSW winds 5-7 kts, seas around 2’: delightful conditions.

We’re staying in Coconut Grove for a few more weeks.

And yes, that’s a Portugese Man O’War not a proper jellyfish, actually a cnidarian. A very weird thing that lives in the ocean. Very weird.

Wow — That was stressful

I want to be honest. The liveaboard lifestyle is not a zero-stress, grand vacation. It’s low-stress. And the stress is of a fundamentally different kind than the stress people who have jobs (or struggle with unemployment) suffer. The stress of living on a sailboat may be a better stress, if that makes sense.

Weather, for example, is a big stressor. Nothing can be done about it. The stress is not one of “I hate my job but I can’t quit” kind of daily frustration. It’s the stress of “oops, rain today, guess we’ll adjust our schedule.”

Equipment Failure, for example, is another big stressor. Since we’ve been doing a lot of our own work on Red Ranger, equipment failures are not “I hate that stupid plumber who kept me out of work for a day, costing me 8 hours of paid work” kind of frustration. It’s the stress of “oops, I guess I have to go up the mast to replace that. Again.”

Public services, for example, are another big stressor. Since we don’t have a vehicle, we’re big on public transportation. And public docks. And roomy dumpsters. And available water supplies. We wee the folks who struggle to get to work with combination of bus and bike. We’ve missed the last ferry across the Elizabeth River, and been forced to buy an expensive taxi ride. But we can afford to make a few mistakes.

This week we had a Quad Threat of stress.

  1. Equipment Failure. Scout was unusable. Fixing a Hypalon inflatable is challenging technical work. We have the adhesives and fabric. But. It’s the kind of thing that’s better done in a controlled environment, not on the pitching deck of a boat.
  2. Weather. Monday’s weather was predicted to be epic foul weather. 20g30 meaning “20 kts gusting to 30 kts.”  That means Red Ranger pitching as if we were at sea. 
  3. Services. And the shuttle boat can’t run. Scout is in Dinghy Hospital at Lifeline Inflatables.
  4. Work. Yes. I had an inquiry that was too appealing to beg off on. Rather than try to do a job interview from Red Ranger, I booked a room with Regus on Tuesday to do some work-related things.

(Quad Threat is not “quadratic.” If it was truly quadratic, then aggregate stress, y = ∑ ax2+bx+c for each stressor, x.)

Watching the weather on Monday, we saw that Tuesday was going to be almost as bad: 15g20. No Scout. No Shuttle. And an expensive Regus room booked.

The good news?

Tuesday’s bad weather blew through before 11:00. It was an epic storm, but brief. Mercifully brief.

The shuttle operator at Dinner Key Mooring Facility had heard our sad, sad story all weekend. Friday, he helped us take Scout ashore. Saturday and Sunday we talked on the radio about whether or not the shuttle could run. Monday, it didn’t run. 

Tuesday, we got to shore. Used the Regus room. Just barely got back to the boat on the last shuttle trip at 17:00.

And Kenny the Dinghy Wizard called from Lifeline. He (eventually) found a small puncture in Scout. It’s patched. It’s holding air.

On Wednesday, we celebrated the end of that big pile of stress. We took the Avenue 22 bus up to Lifeline and picked up Scout. It was on the workshop floor, fat with air. Yes! No further deflation.

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We brought Scout back to Red Ranger. Had hugs all around.

Things are back to normal. We have our usual stresses back again.

Our ordinary weather concerns. Our normal list of repairs. Or core jobs — water, showes, laundry, food — that make life challenging but not wickedly stressful. 

Scout’s Puncture Wound

After our day sail, we noticed that Scout’s port-side tube was a little flabby. Before launching, we pumped both tubes up the recommended pressure (0.25 bar, 3.5 PSI)

After going ashore we noticed that Scout's port side tube had progressed to very flabby.

After dinner, we were so alarmed that we took engine and gas tank out of Scout. We didn’t think she’d last the night.

Today, we brought her up on deck, pumped all the air out of the tubes, rolled her into her valise. So far, so good. Nothing too difficult there. 

Then we put her on the launch and took her to shore. She ways 90 pounds, so that was a bit of work.

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Then we horsed her onto our folding hand cart, dragged her up to the bus stop and took the bus (for 90 minutes) to 159th street where we went to visit Lifeline Inflatable Services, Inc.

Yes, we took a 90 lb. dinghy on a city bus for an hour-and-a-half bus ride from Coconut Grove to North Miami (almost Miami Gardens,) a distance of about 15 miles. 

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The Miami Dade bus system is quite nice.

And one of the passengers on the way back was so delighted to see our bus driver that her joy was infectious. She was so excited, she started calling friends to announce to the world that she’d run into Rhonda driving the route 22 bus! Loudly. It wasn’t just a bus ride, it was a family reunion.

Lifeline Inflatable Services have a great-looking facility. They seem to know what they’re doing. We think the hole is a small nail-like puncture straight through the rubstrake, so it would require some real work to get the rubstrake off, patch the hole and replace the strake.

Kenny was pressure-testing the dinghy all afternoon. He called around 17:00 to say that there’s no problem that he can fix. He’ll give it the weekend to see if there’s a leak.

No leak? That’s confusing. The tube was nearly flat when we brought her up on deck.

It appears that I didn’t shut the valves correctly when I pumped up Scout after our sail. That’s awkward to have schlepped Scout all over Miami for nothing. We’ll, not absolutely nothing. A clean bill of health has some value. 

Having dead transportation is very stressful. 

Yes, the launch runs every hour.

But, now we’re tied to the launch schedule. No sauntering back from Starbucks whenever. We need to be at the dock at 11:00, or Noon, or we’re not getting back to the boat.

And the winds are predicted to be harsh 13-18 kt for the next few days. The kind of wind that keeps the launch safely at the dock. Monday, it’s unlikely that the launch will even run. It may be gusting into the 30’s or even higher as the expected cold front passed through.

Saturday, is laundry day. We’ll see how awkward getting into the launch is with a load of trash, and laundry bags, too. 

Another Day Sail

It’s Biscayne bay. It’s breezy. It’s beautiful. Let’s go sailing!

We’re trying to do this weekly. We =haul Scout up on deck and scrub the algae off. Then we take Red Ranger out and sail.

We’re getting a little better. Let’s not get silly though, things can still go very much awry. 

Last week, we had light conditions: wind 5-6 kt from about 170°.

This week, we had much sportier conditions: wind 15-20 kt from about 220°.

Much sportier. 

We started out with our full yankee-cut headsail and the full main. We were banging along at 6+ knots. We were also heeled over so far that stuff was falling off shelves below.

Maybe this was too sporty for all that sail. Or maybe it was too much sail for these sporty conditions.

Red Ranger handles it well. We tacked smoothly. We may even have looked like we knew what we were doing.

We certainly felt confident. Nothing went too much awry.

But. 

We were heeled over so far that things had jumped off the counter tops and wound up on the cabin sole. The fiddles are meant to stop things from sliding around when CA is trying to prepare meals in the galley. They’re not big enough to be an actual storage solution. 

This requires thinking. We’re not doing it right.

We struck the yankee and unfurled the stays’l. With the smaller sail, speed fell from 6+ knots to 4 knots. Hard to believe how much power that big yankee creates. And the boat was designed for an even bigger genoa. 

Under a more prudent sail plan, Red Ranger was closer to straight up and down. Much less stuff falling off shelves in the sporty conditions.

Switching Sails

We’ve always been lazy (or cautious) about raising and lowering the main and mizzen. It’s important to have the boom aligned with the wind before hoisting or dropping. If the boom is not aligned with the wind, the sail will either be impossible to move because of the sideways forces or it will get hung up in the lazyjacks. Or both.

We have always started the engine and driven Red Ranger to weather before trying to move main or mizzen. It assures that things are less likely to go awry.

Today, in 15-20 kts of breeze, we decided to try and drop the main without starting the engine. This is fairly heavy conditions for messing with something we’ve never done before. But. Based on our earlier success at tacking and shortening sail today, we’re feeling pretty salty.

We furled the stays’l, turned to face as close to the wind as we could. With the main sheeted amidships, we point about 60° off the wind. Not really close enough to actually drop the sail. At 60° off the wind, there’s huge pressure on the main: we’re sailing: that sail won’t drop more than few inches when the halyard is released. 

If, however, we cast off the mainsheet then the boom flops to leeward and the sail luffs. Once the pressure’s off, we can then drop the main, and stuff it down inside the sailbag.

Done! 

And nothing went awry. Wow!

Once the main was down, we could unfurl the yankee and take off sailing toward the Dinner Key Channel. Cool. Like a real sailboat. No motoring around and cheating.

Under yankee alone (no main), running downwind, we were making close on 4 kt. Lesson learned: main and mizzen are more for balance than power. The yankee is for power.

Not So Fast

We have to chug down the “Dinner Key Channel” (about 1.3 nm) from the entrance mark to the sheltered deep-water around the docks. On the chart it starts at a purple exclamation point that leans down and to right, labeled Fl G 2.5s 5M “1”. It runs NNW between the dashed lines to Fl G 4s “15”

There we turn SW for a short stretch between the ends of the docks and a little mangrove island with no name.

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Then, we turn SE and chug another ¼ nm back out the John A. Brennan channel to the place where our mooring ball is. This starts at Fl R 4s 8ft “16” PA; we go to about R “10”. The mooring is marked “2014-02-20”, our arrival date.

Today, we tried something else that’s quite radical (for us). Instead of chugging, we sailed most of the first mile down the narrow Dinner Key Channel. The wind was fair. Other people do that kind of thing. As a precaution, we started the engine. We’re feeling good about our skills. But not that good. Things can still go awry.

Somewhere around G11, we furled the sail and put the engine in gear.

It took two tries to pick up the mooring. The wind was still blowing 15 kt, gusting higher. It takes a bit more skill than we have to snag the mooring on the first go.

Lessons Learned

We can drop the main or mizzen without anything going awry.

We sailed down a narrow channel without anything going awry.

We missed the first grab at the mooring without anything else going awry.

We have to have a much better stowage plan for sporty sailing conditions. We need to be more careful about leaving things on counter tops even when the tops have fiddles. Countertops are not a storage solution.

We put in about 15 miles over 4 hours with only 1 hr or so of engine time. That’s almost like being real sailors.

The Galley Sink Story

I am not good at finished carpentry. That’s the kind of job that intimidates me: it’s something we’re going to be looking at for a long time. It has to be done right. Am I up to it? 

Mistakes were made. But this is how we tweaked our counter-top for about $3.00. You read that correctly Three Dollars

Once upon a time, Whitby’s came with double sinks. Small double sinks. 

For those with big, roomy houses or apartments with big, room kitchens, you might have a double sink that’s 36″ in length, 22″ in width. Roomy. Some folks I know have multiple double sinks in their kitchen.

Boat builders will cram a double sink into a 22″ space. And it might be awkwardly shallow. Each half is a little 10″×12″ basin. You’d barely be able to wash your pressure cooker in that little sink.

The simple solution might be a 12″×22″ single sink to replace the old 12″×22″ double sink. Seems simple.

But that’s not what was done.

What was done was this:

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That’s a 15″×18″ sink with a 4″ piece of a cutting board used to fill in a hole that was originally for a 12″×22″ sink. The new sink is wider and shorter. Sigh.

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Note the crumble factor on the cutting board. The wood has seen better days. It was rotting from sink water.

Also notice that the lip of the sink is propped up above the counter top by about ¹⁄₈″. There was a wooden shim of some kind around the sink.

If you’re weekending, this is no big thing.

The Commodore Says

The wood is rotting. And water is getting under the sink onto the things stowed there. 

For those with big, roomy houses or apartments with big, room kitchens, you might have a few cleaning supplies under the sink. It’s a popular spot for a bucket, a brush and some soapy chemicals. 

We keep food there. 

Food that gets wet. 

Ick. Rusty circles under the cans. Wet onions.

So the Commodore has issued orders to plug that hole.

A good carpenter might replace the counter top. 

The lazy bo’s’n suggests we “patch over” the mess. Remove the old cutting board fragment. Get a ¹⁄₈″ thick sheet of counter-top material of some kind that’s at least 15″×24″. Cut a sink shaped hole in it and put it over the old counter-top. 

Remove the Offending Member

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We pried the old sink out of the counter top. For those of us unfamiliar with the basics of plumbing, there were four little brackets that hold the sink in the hole.

One of them was placed in such a way that it was almost impossible to get a screwdriver on it. That’s a lot of mirror and flashlight work to unscrew the bracket. The fasters are cylindrical (not hex-headed) so only a slotted screwdriver will do.

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Once the brackets (and drain) were off, we could lift the sink out of the hole and see what else might need to be done. In our case, we could remove the soaking-wet shims around the sink.

We also spent time cleaning and then letting the wood dry. The wood was damp from water intrusion through the old  ¹⁄₈″ shims.

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We found the holes where the old faucet had been. And that showed why we had so much water under the sink. The hole was partially covered with a shim that didn’t really keep much water out.

This confirmed our plan to put a piece of countertop over the whole area so as to keep water out of holes like that.

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Remove the Other Hardware

Once we knew that all the holes needed plugging, we had to remove the fixtures. This revealed details of other holes. 

We could have filled these. But the new counter-top like panel would cover them well enough. We figured that adding a bead of silicone around everything would keep water out even better.

First Cut

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We bought a damaged 24″×24″ piee of 1/8″ countertop-like material. Since it had a big scar, it was about $3.00. I think it’s a kind of particle-board, so it may not last more than a few years.

CA made the first cuts to shape overall. This involved two clever little cuts around some corner bits, and a long straight cut to fit the counter-top space. 

While it’s generally true that nothing on a boat is square, the galley countertop was actually nicely rectangular.

She cut it a hair large. It took a little bit of sanding to get a good, tight fit. That means narrow slots that require silicone. Less chance for water intrusion.

Second Cuts

Cutting the sink hole is challenging. There’s not much support, and we don’t have a really good workbench on the boat. 

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We elected to cut the panel in place.

We drilled up from below to mark the corners of the sink hole. CA traced lines on the top. Then I took the Fein Multimaster and made a bunch of erratic cuts around the edge. We used the existing countertop to support the panel as we cut it. This prevented twisting or cracking the flimsy panel.

We were so happy that we had a good cutting tool. And a ShopVac for cleaning up the sawdust. And a working inverter. And solar panels. And plenty of Florida sunshine to charge the panels to power the inverter to power the tools to make the hole in the cheap counter material to replace the hole the former owner made to fix the small sink that Whitby built.

We did the same trick for the various faucet and spigot holes. I drilled a pilot hole from below then finished the drilling from the top side. I had circular hole saws that were the exact right size for all three holes. 

(Whew! The alternative would have been another trip to Shell Lumber and Hardware to buy one more hole saw for the one unusual size. That would have raised the budget above $3.00.)

This second cut involved a large amount of sanding. And a third pass at cutting on one edge. The initial guide holes were drilled far enough inside the corner radii that the first version of the cutout was too small. By a lot.

Goo and Brackets

We had some clear silicone on board. CA applied this liberally under the new countertop panel before we put it into place.

When you redo your countertops with a patch like this, do all of the goo before you reassemble the fixtures. We did this wrong, and CA was trying to apply goo around the fixtures. Needlessly ugly and messy.

The brackets that hold the sink down were placed sort of randomly around the edge. Two in the back, one in the front and one on the inboard edge. Nothing on the side with the cutting board section.

I put some ¾″ shim material between three of the brackets and the piece of countertop that had no other support. I put one bracket on the other side. 

CA applied goo around the edge of the countertop material to keep water from sliding under it.

Also, the thin material buckled slightly under the pressure of being squeezed in. We could have sanded the corners so more. Instead, we put screws in it to keep it down. Ugly, but necessary. 

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The galley is brighter and shinier. We think it will be easier to clean. We think we won’t have water dripping on the food stored under the sink.

It remains to be seen how long this lasts.

[BTW. The left-most spigot is the manual freshwater pump. The center one is the powered pump and filtered water. The right-most one is raw water from whatever body of water we’re sitting in. Today, it’s Biscayne Bay.]

Our fallback plan is to get a 24″×24”″ piece of ¹⁄₈″ Starboard or similar HDPE material if we have to do this again. We can use the piece we just installed as a template before cutting.


What are the odds?

What are the odds of seeing other Witby folks in cars at the corner of 27th and South Dixie Highway. 

Actually, remarkably high. We don’t get that far up 27th all that often.

On Thursday, we were up there so we could take the train to the modern art museum PAMM. The Miami public transit was just part of the entire modern art exhibit.

The 25¢ circulator (route 249) goes up 27th to the Metrorail station. The $2.25  train connects to the free People Mover downtown. The inner loop took us to First Street where we had lunch at Bryan In The Kitchen. Then the Omni Loop took us up to museum.

They had a huge Ai WeiWei exhibit. One of the photography rooms had no little cards by the pictures. The descriptions were on iPads in a central seating area. The “For Those In Peril On The Sea” was quite something and hit us quite close to home.

Today we happened to be at 27th and South Dixie when the crews of Simbi and Joie de Vivre honked at us from a passing car. Not the first time that Whitby folks have honked at us as we made our way to Shell Lumber and Hardware.

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We’re working on adding GFCI outlets to Red Ranger’s electrical system. For the port side, this is easy. There’s a 4” box with a “Line” side wire back to the main panel and two “Load” side wires to the various port side outlets. The box didn’t have an outlet, so I added one.

It’s right ugly because it’s got the wrong face-plate. But it’ll do for now.

The entire port side is properly ground fault protected through this junction outlet.

The starboard side doesn’t have a single such outlet. It has two pairs.

We have two choices: Add an extra outlet near the breaker panel or replace two of the four starboard side outlets and boxes with proper GFCI outlets. We don’t have to replace all four because the other two outlets are on the “load” side of the two being replaced.

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Adding an outlet isn’t too bad a job. Considering the pain required to replace an outlet, I’m rethinking my strategy to head in that direction. 

The outlets to be replaced are in 1” thick plywood paneling; the original boxes are too small for the GCFI outlets. The replacement boxes require larger holes in the paneling. 

Cutting a larger hole for a larger box to replace an otherwise perfectly good box is an annoying exercise. It’s challenging enouh to do this for one outlet without slipping and sawing something I didn’t mean to saw. Doing it for two outlets? Not prudent.

Simply adding a junction outlet means putting a 4” box behind the panel somewhere. A short run of wire from panel to the new box (and new GFCI outlet) can then meet up with the other two wire runs for the forward pair and aft pair of outlets.

A compromise position is to replace just one outlet. The one I started on is about 2’ from the panel. I could finish enlarging this hole and put in the new outlet. I could then reroute the wiring for the two forward outlets to come from this new GFCI outlet instead of coming straight off the panel.

I just need to stretch the wires for the forward pair of outlets about two feet. There isn’t much slack in the wiring behind the panel. I’ll have to add a bunch of wire nuts. Or I’ll have to add a small jumper block. 

Some of the 110V AC stuff uses exposed jumper blocks and other parts use fancy-schmancy water-resistant boxes with super-fancy connectors that have a little bronze screw inside a sleeve with a plastic cap over it to make it look like a wire nut. Mostly, it’s the old air conditioner wiring that used exposed jumper blocks.

Sailing and Racing

Here’s our sailing video: Sailing Day.

Here are some photos of the Star Class racers tearing through the mooring field after their day of racing. These are sailors bound for the Olympics. And they were right off our bow. 

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Wow are those boats FAST!

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In Annapolis, we saw this every Wednesday. 

Sailing

This is something we haven’t done in months and months. Recreational sailing. Not moving the boat. Just sailing around to see the sights.

Important lessons learned yesterday.

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First, the “genoa” cars (they’re really yankee sheet turning blocks, but most sailors will know them as genoa cars) are waaaay too far forward. Indeed, the big yellow Jim Buoy brand rescue float turns out to be in a right awkward spot: it prevents pulling the starboard car far enough aft to get good sail shape.

In the light airs (5-7 kt) the car had to be moved bumped up against the buoy to get the telltails to show good airflow on the yankee. Another foot or two would have been nice to be able to overtrim.

The buoy has to be moved. But it still has to be accessible. It’s important safety gear.

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Whisker Pole

We finally rigged our “spinnaker” pole to hold out the yankee for downwind running. We don’t have a symmetric spinnaker, but that’s what the pole was originally for. We’re using it as a whisker pole, even though it’s designed for a spinnaker.

[The difference? Length and weight. Spinnaker poles are longer and heavier.]

Our second lesson learned was that the pole isn’t half so heavy as it appears. It’s bulky and awkward, but once you put the topping lift on, it’s not too difficult to work with. 

We were able to pole out the yankee and further off the wind. We tried yankee+main and yankee+main+mizzen. The mizzen (when running) helps a lot. We didn’t try the wing-and-wing configuration of main and yankee. We we too excited to get the pole rigged in the first place.

The important part was not throwing the pole into the bay: a remarkably easy thing to do before you have the procedures all thought out carefully.

Now that we’re no longer terrified of the pole, wing-and-wing is up next as something to work on.

Go Pro Camera

I still can’t get the WiFi GoPro App to work on the iPhone. The WiFi server in the camera never seems to allow the phone to join its network. 

However. 

In spite of that, the footage we got yesterday was spectacular.

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I just need to get a slightly better set of mounts that will keep the Go Pro closer to level. RAM, for example, makes mounts that aren’t as robust as the GoPro mounts (GoPro has mounts suitable for winds in excess of 100 mph.) But the RAM mount has lots of balls and sockets allowing more flexible setups.

Algae Buildup

We really needed to get Scout out of the water so we could scrub the algae off her bottom. Besides getting the slime off Scout, sailing Red Ranger around stirs up the water on the paint, making sure that she stays as clean as possible.

We think this should be a weekly operation: drop the mooring and sail around Biscayne Bay for a while. Usually on a weekday to avoid the crowds on weekends.

Hardware Upgrades

The old MacBook Pro was limping and wheezing. The trackpad wasn’t clicking reliably. A little rubber foot had ripped off the bottom. 

CA’s iPhone was essentially dead. The display was almost unusable.

One of the other nagging issues was that our old backup device was 500Gb — big enough for most purposes — but it was (a) 5 years old and (b) full. 

When your Apple Time Machine backup disk is full, that means that old, useless backups from 5 years ago are silently being discarded. No real problem, that.

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It also means that a backup will take more time because Time Machine software has to cleanup the space before actually doing the backup. The electricity required is a consideration, but it’s small, so it’s not a real problem problem. But it’s less than ideal.

The 5 years thing, however, is a bigger concern. It’s not a matter of “if it will fail” because all disk drives fail. It’s a question of “when will it fail?” and “what will we do to recover?” Since it’s backup media, recovery is simply a replacement. And a few hours of waiting for Time Machine to make the first baseline backup.

Backups on a boat are mission-critical. For Red Ranger, the computer’s essential. It’s our 3rd fallback navigation device after the Standard Horizon and the iPad.

So we took the train to Dadeland Mall to visit the Apple Store and solve some technology problems. 

The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 2Gb drive was just what the doctor ordered. Rugged sounds good to us.

The best part? “Bus Powered:” backups are simplified to a 1-wire thing: plug the backup drive into the computer and ignore it for a while. That’s very cool.

The iPhone 5S replaced CA’s old dead phone. A recovery through the cloud is an all-day operation. It’s a long, slow download to restore all the various apps, pictures, music, and books. A recovery through iTunes on the computer would be MUCH faster. Except, I’m hogging the new computer to get it restored.

So far, the Apple Time Machine and Migration Assisant have worked wonderfully to get the new computer setup properly. It worked like this.

  1. I created an “Administrator” user just to get started on the new computer. I did this in the Apple Store to register the computer.
  2. Backup the old computer one last time with Time Machine.
  3. Run Migration Assistant on the new computer. Import all of the old users from the Time Machine backup of the old computer.

And that was almost it. The only glitch is GPSNavX: I have to get a new license key.

  © Steven Lott 2016