Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back in Charlotte Harbor

Previously, back in November, Jimi left me in Nebraska while he finished out the Rediscover America Tour by himself. When he arrived back to the boat yard in Florida, where Sanibel slept, in mid-November he got started right away with boat projects. Among his lists were fiberglass repair on the rudder, the creation of a secondary battery bank, fixing the outboard engine, selling unused boat parts and new bottom paint. He allowed himself about a month to complete them all.

On December 16th he launched Sanibel back to her natural habitat. Jimi and Sanibel sailed up to Fort Meyers, where on December 22nd they picked up lifetime friends Juraj and Matt. Both of whom have been out to visit previously. The three men spent two weeks together; they sailed, fished and ate. Juraj and Matt flew back to Denver on January 5th.

Juraj's photo of them going through a bridge.

A shrimp dish Juraj cooked on Sanibel.

Juraj's sunset photo.

The guys sailing Sanibel.

Meanwhile in Nebraska, I had been staying with my parents, sister and daughter. I got involved in the local church activities, at least as much as my injured back would allow and otherwise, I was mostly laying on my back usually knitting something for Christmas. I went crazy with knitting Christmas presents and loved every minute of it. 

My daughter, Jennifer, when we went to the dinosaur museum in Hays, Kansas.

Regarding my back, I started out by seeing a Chiropractor, but didn’t see the results I’d wanted and quit going. I went through two bottles of prescription muscle relaxers with no long term fix, I tried sciatica nerve exercises, a tennis ball and an inversion table. None really seemed to show me any signs of improvement…or so I thought. Looking back on the long term, there has been improvement, I’m just not sure what helped. I can at least sit up for longer periods and lay on my right side now. I’m still very careful not to twist or lift, as I still have some pain.

On January 9th, I hitched a ride with my long time BFF, Melody. She moved to the pan handle of Florida and offered to take me home. Though I was a little worried about riding in the moving truck for three days, it had to be done. Melody, her dog, Mali, and I were in the Penske truck while her daughter, Summer, and friend, Cicero, were in Melody’s car. The trip went well. We arrived in Destin, Florida Monday afternoon about 3pm CST.

At this point Jimi realized it was too daunting to sail North to Destin to retrieve me, so he turned around and headed South. He spent the next several days, sometimes sailing non-stop overnight, to get Sanibel back to the boat yard. He put her on the dock and then drove the van to Destin. He arrived on January 13th. We spent the evening with Melody and her peeps and then we drove back down to Sanibel the next day.

Reunited…so now what? Well, we stayed on the dock a couple of nights, so I could unpack, do laundry and re-implement some female organization to Sanibel’s interior.

We left the dock on Saturday the 16th, motoring just a couple of miles up the canal and anchoring in a very protected pond like area. And it’s a good thing we did. We were hit the gale force winds. In the middle of the night Sanibel blew over on her side, but as we are a “weeble wobble and don’t fall down”, she popped right back up leaving us a mess inside to clean up. That weather band that came through Florida was a nasty one. It caused a lot of destruction and lost lives. We were so grateful to be in the protected pond.

A couple of days later we motored rest of the canal to the lock. When we arrived at the lock there was a long line of boats trying to leave. Come to find out a boat with the same draft as us tried to go through the lock and got stuck on the other side. The storm pushed so much water out that it was only about four feet deep and we draw close to five. Therefore, we anchored and waited it out. High tide would be at midnight, but Jimi decided to attempt it at sunset, around 6pm; luckily we made it through.

At the lock. Jimi decided to paddle to check the depth for himself.

Goofy Jimi - excited he made it without falling in to the Alligator infested waters.

After confirming it was too shallow for us, he paddled back to Sanibel.

We sailed the next two hours to Charlotte Harbor. This is where it all began for us three years ago. We met up with our New York friends, Gary and Judy on S/V Cool Runnings and have been here since.

We encountered another blow over the past weekend. Jimi moved Sanibel to a more protected area for that blow too. When we woke the next morning Sanibel was proudly sitting straight up on the bottom of the ocean. It was low-low tide and with Sanibel’s wide and long keel, she just sat there without tipping over. After a couple of hours the water rose and we were able to move back to the Punta Gorda side of the channel. 
Sunset as we left our friend's boat in Fisherman's Village.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Android apps I use for weather

There are an overwhelming number of weather apps out there and when you find one you like you tend to get a bit biased. Here are mine:

My goto app is a grib downloader called PocketGrib. A free version is PocketGrib Lite and will download two days of grib files. The full version is four bucks and allows eight days of weather to be downloaded. For your file you can select resolution down to .25 degrees, interval of time down to 3 hours, up to eight days, and a mess of parameters  that include: wind, pressure, air temp, waves, clouds and humidity. Once downloaded the data can be displayed  on a map, meteogram which is basically a bunch of graphs, and the data tab that is in column  and rows.


Raindar is my next app. This is an intuitive map and radar display. Zoom in and out with pinch and move around with ease. It automatically  animates to give you a clear picture on when you are going to get clobbered. My boat neighbors think I have a sixth sense after they see me checking the anchor snubbing  line and bringing in the cushions  then 15 min. later we get hammered.


Weather Underground is a nice local weather app that includes some helpful features such as moon phase, sunrise and sunset times, and a easy to read forecast chart.


An honorable  mention is this modeling website not an app at all, though there are similar apps they are not suited for mariners, the site stands out because it gives a great visualization of coming weather. It takes some fiddling with to get the most out of it but once you do, it will improve your sixth sense that much more.  


These have been what I use when we are on grid, in a coming post I will write about my off grid system. 


Anchor chain

Lately it has been a fight to bring the anchor in. The chain will jump off the gypsy and get jammed on the windlass. This is potentially  dangerous if the seas and wind are bad when the jam happens. One problem is if the gypsy is just getting worn, but at 300 plus dollars to replace I need to try all the free options first. There are two issues that have been on my mind with the chain. One, the chain may be a bit worn and two, it is as twisted as a middle aged man at Key wests fantasy fest. First we need a nice calm day and now after 3 consecutive  storms have come through we have it. Next is to deploy our secondary anchor. Now i can remove the primary anchor from the chain and flip it end to end. There, new chain and I can get the twist out. I keep a line spliced to the bitter end and then attached in the anchor locker, this way I don't run out the anchor and chain right off the boat and if I need to I can  cut it away. BTW  splicing old line sucks. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Big blow

Well we have been back on the water for a week or so now and have had 3 good blows come through. We are in Charlotte  harbor for the last one which was 30 plus knots of wind for 36 hours. You can imagine   how boring that gets. The good is that it all calmed down this morning when we decided to lift anchor. The bad is we were now in 4 ft of water and the boat floats in just under 5 feet. So we are now a little island until the tide comes in.