Swing Set

Feb 19, 201306:04 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Prophets Come in Many Forms

Remember that fella we met in Key West at the Conch Republic Bar? The one who started his conversation with me by saying that our wind generators were noisy and were going to break? Yes. Him.

It turns out I should probably go back and find him and anoint his holiness with adulation and praise, for he is apparently a prophet worthy of being the center of a new religion, because his prediction has come true. Our portside wind generator is broken.

The portside wind generator started "braking" for no apparent reason when we left Key West 12 days ago, but I suspected it was because our house bank of batteries was just fully charged and the generators don't supply a charge when the voltage is at an acceptable level. Then, over the weekend, when winds were blowing continually at 30 miles per hour, and the voltage had dropped on the house bank because we were running the water maker, the port side wind generator continued to "brake" unnecessarily and then ceased to run at all. Boo.

Southwest Windpower has just been bought by Primus Wind Energy. This took place in January. Our wind generators are under a three-year warranty, but it will be interesting to see how this process will go. I called them yesterday, but realized they were probably closed due to the holiday. (President's Day, in case you missed it.)

I did call Dave Ludwig from Bloch Marine back in St. Louis. Dave did the installation, and I had a question regarding the method we used to plug in the generators to the six-gauge wire that he ran to the control panel. The wind generators were installed in such a way that replacing them, or taking them down for service, would be an easy operation. What won't be easy is shipping them off to Colorado to have them "inspected" before the warranty is honored. I'll keep you posted as to how this transpires.

I've mentioned the bad weather we've been having. The temperatures have been only as high as 55 degrees during the day at times, and we've had plenty of rain. Yes, my repair of the water leak on the bridge has been successful. The view in the photo above is looking to the south towards Looe Key. Little Palm Island is the land mass on the left. We are well at anchor in Newfound Harbor and have been here in the same spot going on five days now.

The days are lazy ones. We've been reading a lot, and Holly has been getting her share of naps in, too. Rosie is keeping the decks mopped, and the rain has washed most of the salt off of Swing Set. I've done some minor chores and even some sewing, but otherwise any other service that the boat needs will have to be done where I can take used oil, engine coolant and diesel fuel. So, basically I'm resting on my laurels due to my status of having solved our rainwater leak. I'll milk it.

We have also started playing gin rummy, a card game we used to play quite a bit years ago but had lost interest. We found some interesting new rules to play by, and since we've been cooped up inside, we are enjoying it again.



On our coldest day, we made this big pot of chicken soup. I am an expert at making homemade chicken soup, chicken and dumplings and Hungarian Goulash, and I may have outdone myself with this variation of my grandmothers age-old recipe.

I boiled two chicken leg quarters in eight cups of water, added some pepper and chicken bouillon and a can of carrots, including the juice. I deboned the chicken after an hour and added four packages of Ramen noodles, along with the seasoning that comes in each packet. Then came the secret ingredient, catsup. Yes, catsup. I squirted about half a cup of regular old catsup right into the pot. This took place of the tomato paste that we didn't have on hand, which is in my grandmother's recipe. It gives the soup a nice rich color and really adds to the taste. Try it sometime.

Today is the day we plan on venturing out. We were going to take the dinghy, but our water tank is low. We aren't making as much water as I would like because the 12-volt battery bank that supplies the water maker isn't charging with the wind generator and we don't need to run the diesel generator just to make water. It's easier to just cruise over to a nearby marina and take on water than it is to run another wire to the other bank of batteries. We need to dump trash anyway.

We've been getting some good comments and emails about the blog, with people saying that our exploits are an inspiration to some people that want to do this very thing. Those comments make my writing the blog worthwhile. Sometimes, I feel like the blog is just a way to say, "Hey look at us, how much fun we're having!" I don't like to give that impression.

We get requests from folks who want to see our Facebook page, but generally we decline those requests. I use our Facebook page to express views that would not necessarily be acceptable to the general public, so we keep it separate. Some readers want to share phone numbers, but that's not something we do much of - talk on the phone - unless we need to talk to someone that finds the blog and wants to meet nearby. We don't relish talking on the phone to people we don't know. We like meeting people in person better. Usually.

Anybody want to visit? Please realize the limitations of our not being at any specific location. Just finding a place to pick up passengers for a daytime cruise can be problematic. We also aren't travel agents, and don't know where the best hotels or resorts are, because we don't use them. We might be able to squeeze an overnight guest onto the boat for a night or two, but space is tight on Swing Set for people and for their "stuff." We'd love to have a continuous succession of overnight guests if our boat was bigger, but it's not. It was great getting visitors in Key West, because everyone had their places to stay and we were at a dock. It was perfect. If we ever get settled into a specific location for any length of time, we'll be able to plan on having visitors a lot easier.

Why the picture of Holly sleeping? Because we get requests to see more pictures of Holly. Nobody ever asks to see pictures of me, and that's OK.

I almost forgot. I bought an app months ago called Boat Beacon. It's supposed to show ships and other boats in our area. I haven't used it for that, but I've found a good use for the app. It has an anchor alarm that can double as a theft alarm. If I use our iPad to set the alarm and leave it on the boat when we leave, the alarm will send an email message to my iPhone if the boat moves further than a predetermined setting. This can give us some peace of mind about the anchor dragging when we are away from the boat. The app is only a few bucks, so it's worth it if it works. We might try it today.

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