Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Viva la company!... and fun with lionfish & lobsters.

Well, Cynthia is gone: my bird has flown north (well, her 2:30 flight is now planning to leave 4.5 hrs late), back to the world of wind and cold and work. Her time here was exceptional..... as usual.

First of all, I sailed to Lindberg Bay and anchored a quarter-mile from the airport, then paddled to shore and met her a few minutes after she had snagged her luggage. Exhausted by the red-eye flight following many hours of work, she swam and cleaned the boat bottom with me, then curled up on the bed and slept for hours and hours, finally waking enough to say she did not want to spend the night there.... so we hoisted the sail and headed east (I keep wanting to say “north” since it is upwind and feels like up...which translates as north in my map-mind). We spent the night at Buck Island, arriving just after darkness had fallen, making catching a mooring trickier than usual.

The next morning we headed out again, going as far as St James Island where, exhausted by fighting the intense winds, smashing through the turbulent waves, and dealing with hot sun and (surprisingly) chilling showers, we caught another mooring in Christmas Cove. We ate lunch (one of these days it might be fun to go over to Pizza PI, a well-known sailboat/carry-out-pizza-restaurant there), then went for a nice snorkel/hunt, finding and killing one lionfish.

Anyway, you get the idea: we worked our way up the islands toward home, cooking and hunting and sailing,
 woke Christmas morning at Haulover, where she gave me a coffee mill and beans,
 then we did an early fishless hunt in Haulover Bay, then a later one in Elk Bay,
she found a den in Elk Bay and shot six fish!
 then sailed to Salt Pond, arriving at the Christmas party in Kiddel Bay a bit late, but in time to enjoy the full moon, food, company, and music. That night we "slept" on a wildly rough mooring in Salt Pond and, at sunrise, got another lionfish hiding under a knob of coral.

On her final day (yesterday? Time flies!), we dove Elk Bay where we found three more lionfish in the same spot and she killed two. She also found a very cool slipper lobster...

Then we sailed to Rams Head where she got another two lionfish that had been reported a week earlier... and found many spiny lobsters.

I've never met a gal who can tire me out in her eagerness for the sort of adventures I love. Now I think I will rest for a day.... then off to hunt lionfish, capture and raise monarch larvae (I found at least twenty today), repair my boat, deal with a fungus gnat infestation on board, and dig away at my todo list.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Butterflies, so many butterflies! Every time I walk over the hill to Brown Bay they burst forth from the foliage. I saw one big black one the locals call a bat moth, but most measure about 2” across the wingspan, about the size of the white cabbage moths (really butterflies) so common in the states. Here, the most numerous species looks almost like those cabbage moths and I'm sure I see a thousand or more on each walk. I also come across a few groups of a half-dozen tiger-stripped species, often mixing with the white ones, but the white ones are the main show: hitting me in the face as I walk, easily caught in a one-hand grab. I don't know what has caused this enormous population explosion, but perhaps it has something to do with the several-month drought that just broke in October.
Found dying on the trail

When I arrived here two years ago, I noticed a species of something that appeared to be a milkweed shrub and, on closer inspection, found a monarch caterpillar upon it. No one else here seems to know about the monarchs and I haven't looked much since until last Friday, when I altered my path to walk past a milkweed. There, hanging from a leaf, was the first monarch chrysalis I have ever seen in the wild. And, nearby, a caterpillar busily ate its way toward its own oblivion and rebirth.

Very cool.

Good night, everyone. I hope that you find wonders in your days.

Contemplating.... leaking boats and beautful sunrises.

So, here I am in my little house on the waves, bobbing about on anchor in Lindberg Bay, waiting for morning and the flight that arrives at 8:30, carrying my gal to visit me. It seems so long since I've seen her and yet it is less than ten days. Hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was bundling up and taking the dogs for sunrise walks on the cold Cape Cod beaches.

I guess the days have been really full, but with what?

Well, I've certainly had my share of tribulations..............

I pulled the ancient and rusted refrigeration unit (yes, it was empty of refrigerant, but filled with rusty water), cleaned underneath it, and managed to find a very slight leak that I quickly exacerbated, finally calling Peter over to help lend an extra hand. I could have done it myself, but a level head and good mind is helpful and I hoped he would provide those. Anyway, it hasn't leaked a drop since, but I really should pull the boat and patch the hull there.... hmmmm..or should I? Alternatives swirl in my mind!

I figured out how to install the masthead lights and, at the same time, run the radio antenna and new wire in the mast wire channel so they don't clang all night... or clang far more gently. Unfortunately, I'll need ot climb the mast at least three times.

I wired up the engine and now can crank it with the key! The bad news is that I then found diesel in the bilges, so had to clean that up well and will need to track down the leak. Oh unmitigated joy!

A large area (18” square?) of the plywood core over the entrance to the aft stateroom seems to be missing, almost certainly decayed. Now I need to track down the source of the water, dry out the core, and fill it with epoxy. No wonder the teak handrail was rotten and loose and the dodger foot rusty and wobbling.

It rained for a couple hours today and water dripped in through multiple screws that punctured the void (see above) and from hatch handles and ancient portlight seals. At least I have seals coming tomorrow!

So many more, but who has time to list all troubles?

Plenty of good stuff, of course.........

Coffee in the morning with my neighbor Peter and occasional visitors: a nice way to start the day: good coffee from a French press, a bit of conversation and contemplation, a nice sunrise, then off to another day.
A few walks to hunt lionfish and exercise and explore. Got four more: confirmed kills are now up to 58, I believe.

Making progress on wiring, engine, etc. Very enjoyable.

My experiments with preventing rust on my stainless steel is working pretty well, although certainly not 100%.

I tested the park service assertion that boats do more damage to moorings if the boats are moored backward. It turns out that with my boat, the stern produces a strong, steady force and the bow swings from side to side, producing far larger momentary forces. I think that means that, for my boat, the park service should prefer mooring it backward!
Stern mooring leaves some slack in line
bow tension pulls bungees until line is straight

I experimented with adding a layer of styrofoam to a cooler. Now it holds a bag of ice for three or four days rather than one! More experimenting to follow...

I found weevils in a bag of oatmeal. “How is this good?” you ask. Well, the weevils are out of the boat rather than spreading to other foods (Yes, I KNOW I probably didn't get them all, but many are gone). And the wild chickens were a delight to watch in their excitement over a pile of oatmeal (“With bugs? Cool!”)

I dumped my composting toilet for the first time! Smelled like peat moss, I'm pleased to say. And I think I'm getting a handle on making it all work even better.

Both water tanks are full, as are four buckets in the cockpit. Showers and laundry!

I have lots of good, meaningful, adventurous repair to perform on my boat. I like doing things that matter!

Last and far from least: my gal is arriving tomorrow!