Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I know that we're no longer working at paying jobs (I can tell by looking at my checking account), but we're still working hard getting Mr Mac ready to cruise. Last week we gave ourselves some R&R by meeting up with my sister Karen and her family. They were visiting from Massachusetts, staying at a cousin's condo in Fort Myers. We had a blast playing in the pool with the kids, and having a sunset picnic on the Sanibel causeway. The kids were kind enough to sleep in the closets (these were BIG closets, so they were kind of camping out) so that Chris and I could have the bed. This picture shows Chris trying out a new pool game with the kids - Sharks and Mermaids - that he made up for his upcoming book Scimitar Moon, soon to be released from Dragon Moon Press. After our fun, it was back to work! We hope to be taking off in a week or so, so stay tuned!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's spring, and love is in the air...and water

It's quite nice being on a dock to finish up our pre-cruise task, especially since we don't have to pay rent to the Municipal Marina! Wildlife watching is a great pastime when out sailing or offshore, but being on the dock provides it's own opportunities. Chris called me out the other day to see the oysters spawning. Very cool! For those who aren't familiar with piling-clinging critters, the eastern oyster (scientific name Crassostrea virginica) is a mollusc commonly seen on shore-side structures (for more information on oysters, see this species profile). These oysters were spawning on an ebbing tide (tide was going out), and all the oysters on the pilings and along the seawall were participating (use your imagination if you wish to go in that direction). In this picture you can see (yes, you can, if you look closely) a little puff of gametes (eggs or sperm) that an oyster just released - the gametes make the water look milky.
I think my family would call this one of Anne's "can you see the animal" pictures; I'm sure there will be more in the future, hopefully of wildly more exciting (and larger) animals.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Our new life, or Where's my internet!

Well, we finally made it out of the boat yard, which is a good thing. One thing about the boat yard is that it's dirty dirty dirty. Between the dust and sand and sanded-off paint floating on the breeze, the deck get filthy. Fortunately, we had a hard rain just a couple of days before we left, and were able to clean the decks pretty well.

Since leaving the boat yard, we've been residing on the dock at the house of our friends, Carl and Cathy (Thanks, Carl and Cathy!), who have room for not one, but TWO, count 'em, TWO, sailboats. The blue-hulled boat in the picture is Persuasion, which they are readying for a trip of their own to the Bahamas.

Chris has been working on installing a bracket to hold the engine-driven refrigeration and emergency bilge pump, uninstalling (can you tell we use computers too much?) the dining table, which we are having revamped (more on this later), and doing sundry other tasks. Anne has started provisioning for their trip by buying some necessities at Sam's Club and Super Target. We want to spend some time in places where there is no shopping, like the Dry Tortugas, so we're stocking up on some essentials. One thing that we haven't found a good supplier for is Anne's coffee, Nescafe Taster's Choice Hazelnut (Anne is no coffee connoisseur, it's instant). Some Publix stores have it, but information on any other sources are welcome.

So, with regard to the title of this post. We're starting to experience some of the changes we'll be making with our new life. One is internet access. Right now we're sitting in Panera, working on our computers. We'll be seeking out new WiFi sources wherever we go so we can blog, do bills, etc. We've been so connected to the internet both at work and at home, it's going to be an adjustment, but we're up to the challenge. "Hey Chris, I need to write a blog. Oh, and would you please order me a cinnamon bun..."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Out of the marina...into the boat yard

Question: What's wrong with this picture? Answer: No docklines on the dock or pilings. Not that anyone else would notice, but our docklines have hung in this slip for the last nine years, awaiting our return from a daysail or short vacation. But this time we took them with us to use whereever else we might end up.

Since Monday morning we've been on the hard (read: out of the water) to have the boat's bottom painted and to do some maintenance. Fiberglass boats tend to develop osmotic blisters. This occurs when water penetrates the paint and outer gel coat of the hull, and reacts with the resin in the fiberglass layers below. This produces an acid, and may result in a puffy blister-looking spot on the hull. When the boat is out of the water and has dried, the acid leaks from the blister, a handy way to find the troublesome spot! It's Anne's job to find the blisters, and Chris' job to fix them. Each blister is opened up, ground down to eliminate the water-infiltrated area, and washed out (OK, Anne does the washing out, too). Extra fiberglass and resin are applied if the hole is deep, and the area is faired in with epoxy to protect the glass and even out the hull. Then the whole hull is painted.

In the process, monkey boy (see post #1) transformed into a pale Gumby (I'm Gumby, dammit!) to work on the hull. We had some blisters, but not many at all - we were quite pleased. We also were pleased to be able to stay at the home of our friends, Jeff and Elise (thank you, guys!), who offered us a bedroom in lieu of staying on the boat. Although we've usually stayed on the boat while hauled out, as you can see in the picture, it involves a lot of climbing up and down the ladder, and also using the boatyard bathroom, which is an adventure in itself. We're happy to put that off for another time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

There's nothing as good as good friends

Chris and I brought a camera to the Mr Mac party, but were too busy enjoying the company to take many pictures. So a big thanks to our friend and neighbor Kristel who captured the moment with this great picture of the party attendees.

Thanks, Kristel!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Farewell Mr Mac

We had our final Mr Mac party at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina last night. We had a truly wonderful time, and thank all our friends who attended. We provided hamburgers and hotdogs, but our friends outdid themselves in providing side dishes such as dips, chips, appetizers, potato salad, green salad, cole slaw, hush puppies, chicken wings, deviled eggs, and more. For dessert there was cake, pie, strawberries and ice cream, and a beautifully decorated, berry-topped, oversized sugar cookie made by our good friend, Lynn Kaufman on Celebration. Thanks, Lynn!

Although we're excited (OK, ecstatic) about our upcoming journey, it's really difficult to leave our friends. We've lived in St. Pete for nearly 18 years now, and at the marina on Mr Mac for nine years. If you're looking for a great neighborhood experience, you can't beat a marina. Everyone is friendly and helpful, and they kindly look the other way when you're on your way to the shower in the morning looking like death warmed over. Each person has a different background and perspective, and it's facinating to see what other types of personalities found themselves drawn to life aboard. Our friends from work and elsewhere are equally beloved, and we hope that we will stay in touch.