Swing Set

Aug 1, 201203:17 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Some Realities Set In

Sunday night found us on the Upper Watts Bar Lake, where boat traffic did settle down and we had a peaceful night. As I wrote in the last post, our Saturday nearly did us in. There were some things nagging at me that I didn't share before.

There were a lot of people on our boat on Saturday, and we didn't know most of them. At one point, we were on the front of our boat, and when I went back to the cockpit, the door to the salon was wide open and a man and woman were standing at the doorway. What was worse, another man was inside the salon coming from further inside. I disregarded the two outside for the moment and asked the guy inside, "What the hell are you doing inside our boat?" I added that no one should go inside another person's boat without asking, and that was especially the case on our boat. The terms I used were stronger than the ones I'm using here. The guy started to get testy about it, and so did I, until he came to his senses and apologized. Once he did that, and I could see he wasn't carting anything away, I calmed down and accepted his apology. But the rest of the day I spent watching things while trying to have a good time.

By "watching things" I mean making sure one person didn't fall through the screen door and stopping smokers from lighting up, even though we did sustain a cigarette burn on our rub rail. (It sanded out.) I had to stop people from sitting on the cockpit door and from standing on the cockpit seat. These are things we have been forbidding on our boat for years, and our friends are used to it, but when it's strangers who don't take care of their own things, you can't expect them to take care of yours.

This left me in a sour mood all day on Sunday, and it carried into Monday, and to make things worse, I pinpointed a definite vibration in our starboard running gear. Either the prop is slightly bent, the shaft is bent or both. We can't run on plane without a serious vibration, and that won't do when we get into the big water.

While I was considering how would be the best way to get our props changed out with the spares we keep on board, the starboard engine started surging with the engine synchronizer engaged. This can only mean the synchronizer is going to quit working, and it did. Without getting into how a mechanical engine synchronizer works, I suspected that the flex shaft from the "slave" starboard engine had broken again. This same thing happened on our trip up the Mississippi two years ago, and I replaced the shaft and had no more problems. At issue is the fact that we replaced belts on both engines last April and didn't align the shaft, something I've learned is a requirement. Now, I was busying my mind with how to best get parts for the synchronizer, but first, I had to confirm the problem was what I suspected.

We were getting near Blue Springs Marina, and I wanted to stop in there and get some Roll Off; it's a product that easily removes diesel soot from fiberglass. We don't get much soot, it only gets around the stern quarters and where the generator exhausts, but it makes for easy removal, so I use it for that. They also had Bud Light there at a decent price the last time we went, so there were two reasons to stop in.

As we were pulling alongside the gas dock, I was coming in about as gentle as one would kiss a puppy, when a dockhand came running down the gangplank like our boat was on fire. I had already told Rosie to not hand over any lines to the dockhands there, as they didn't know what to do with them last time. I told the girl to relax, as this is something we do all the time, that it was too hot to be running around. She agreed, but still was nice and tied the bow line up. I checked; she did fine.

Blue Springs didn't have the Roll Off, and they didn't have canned Bud Light. Two strikes. We left with a $4 bag of Doritos to add to our larder. It cost us more than that in fuel to get in and out of the harbor.

We had been accumulating quite a brown stain right above our waterline due to our boot stripe being so close to the water, and a shallow water spot was just around the bend. Sand Island is a big hangout, and a nice sand bottom surrounds the island, giving us an opportunity to get some cleaning done.

On a Monday, there were still quite a few boaters using the island for the day. We came around the far side of the island, so that we could face the setting sun, giving us some shade in the cockpit for the late afternoon. We also were facing the gentle breeze, so that once I dropped the hook into the relatively deeper water of 14 feet, I let the anchor line pay out freely and used a bump or two on the shifters, along with letting the breeze push us, as I backed into shallow water. Rosie stood by on the swim platform with the stern anchor, ready with some line coiled up. Once I reached our minimum depth of four feet, Rosie popped the stern anchor in and I tightened up the bow anchor with the windlass. I then got out and adjusted the stern anchor, so that we were strung between both anchors as tight as we could get. I don't like the boat swinging when I'm using the polisher or broom on it.

As soon as we got situated, a couple of guys from the two boats in the picture waded over, and I could tell they wanted to chat some. I said, "Hi," and so did they. They both were interested in our dinghy setup and had some questions about it that I was glad to answer. As usual, the next questions were about the wind generators, and I was glad to field questions about those.

Rosie busied herself with amusing Holly while I got started on cleaning the stain along the waterline. I had just got started when three younger guys pulled up in a runabout and one of them started in with his questions. Now, he didn't know that I covered everything in the last class, but when his first question was, "Did you all drive that boat all the way down from St. Louis?" Followed up with, "How did you know about this place?" and "Do you know anyone around here?" I was about done with questions. I politely told him that I'd talk with him later, and even have a beer with him, but first I had work to do and had to get to it before the sun went down.

I got the hull really clean and was applying wax when, in the meantime, my new three friends began to toss around a football while at least one stood within 10 feet of the boat, ensuring a miss or two. This was engineered to get into a conversation with Rosie, but she has been down that road before and didn't play along. Mr. Twenty Questions tried me again with, "What do them propellers do?", meaning the wind generators. My reply had an exasperating tone to it when I reminded him that I'd be happy to tell him all about it when I was done, and that I better get the wax off before it gets wet somehow. Thankfully, I think, one of his buddies said to him, "Can't you see he doesn't want to talk right now. He's got work to do?"

I know trouble when I see it, and these guys were trouble. Had we been alone when they pulled up, I would have gotten out of the water and circled the wagons. I'm a good wagon circler. They finally left, and we were glad to see them go. I finished my job, and we had a beer with the other folks, who turned out to be really nice.

We wound up having a late dinner and then turned in early after a quick game of dominoes in the dark. My new LED lights that Tom and Abby gave us weren't working, and I didn't feel like troubleshooting them. We went to bed fairly early after a long traveling day and woke up to a threatening sky.

After breakfast, I found a loose connection on our LED lights, and the fault was in my installation, so I fixed it fairly quickly. Then, I discovered yet another mechanical problem, and it was the circuit breaker on our master stateroom air condition unit. It had tripped the last time we used it, but I figured it was because we were using the convection microwave on the same circuit, so I didn't think much of it. But in this case, it had tripped and we hadn't even used it. Now, I have three things to fix.

Which brings me to the last item on our "we have to find a way to do this" list. I'm not getting into details too much, but Rosie discovered a raised mole on her temple. She had asked our dermatologist about it back in St. Louis, and it was flat then. He said that it was "just something old people get," and she actually let him get away with that one. We both know not to fool around with moles that change appearance, so Rosie started once checking doctors in towns that we'll pass through for dermatologists in our network. At one point, she said to me that maybe it was her brain hemorrhaging, but I disagreed, saying that the bump was too big for it to be that. We have lots of fun with these type of things.

Short story, we got a tip from a person who read an inquiry I put on the Loopers forum about finding a doctor on short notice, and we got a possible lead in the way of the woman who runs the Florence Harbor Marina, Eve. She contacted her dermatologist, and we are trying to set up an appointment for Rosie in nine days. We think we can be in Florence by then.

We have nothing to complain about. All of the things I've mentioned will get repaired. I'm already on it. What's more important is that it's only going to take money to fix these things, hopefully. It could be worse. Rosie just got a call from her sister saying her brother-in-law died of cancer. We're going to spend some time thinking about Max this evening. All that other stuff seems insignificant now.

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