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Swing Set

Jun 23, 201408:28 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Dinghy Ride To Boca Grande

Once I had our SeaDek pads in hand, and they were found to be cut properly, I set to removing the old pads early the next day. A plastic putty knife came in handy, and the pads peeled up without too much difficulty. But then the real work began.

The residual glue was very difficult to remove, so I read the FAQ provided by SeaDek and set to work. First, I used mineral spirits to wet down the surfaces and laid a mineral spirit soaked rag onto each surface for at least 10 minutes. The glue was then easier to wipe up, and then I used acetone to remove all traces of the mineral spirits. A little glue was still in evidence, but I made sure it would be concealed by the new pads.

The next morning, after the solvents had plenty of time to evaporate, we applied the pads in no time at all using the easy "peel and stick" method.

I sent Tyler Shealy of Castaway Customs some pictures of the finished product, and he sent a quick reply, harboring no ill feelings. He apologized again for the delay in getting the pads to us in a timely manner and offered his assistance in the future if we needed to replace these pads at some point. I hope they last more than two years.

I've been mentioning our engine overheating problems recently, so again last week we went over to our Caterpillar dealer at Key West Engine and spoke to our "go to" person over there, Celeste. She asked me when was the last time we ran Barnacle Buster through the engines, and I replied it was only last fall and that we hadn't put many hours on the boat since then. It was then I realized that last September was nearly 10 months ago. (Yes, time flies when you're having fun.) Celeste informed us that in this environment our engines need to be flushed with acid every six months, especially if they sit without being run.

Remember me saying that the boat breaks even when we aren't using it?

I bought a couple of gallons of Barnacle Buster, which we'll not only run through our main engines but also the generator, and then we'll even run it through our air conditioners, too.

We went to Home Depot to gather some more fittings to rig up a system to allow us to flush our engines with fresh water after running them, and after buying a bunch of ball valves and fittings, I searched the web for engine flushing kits and found some made by Groco that are installed at the sea cocks, or strainers. They come with adapters to fit a garden hose to the flush kit and make a neater installation. I ordered three kits from Defender at half the price that West Marine charges.

Not one to rush into such things, and the kits weren't due to arrive here at the marina until a few days, we decided to take the boat out last Thursday to give it some running time, maybe even to stay on the hook for a night, as we've been neglecting that pleasant chore.

Thursday was rainy, though, so we stayed in and waited for Friday morning to check the weather. The forecast was iffy, but we figured that either we could stay at the dock in the rain or on the hook in the rain, so we prepared the boat to cast off.

Holly knows when we are getting ready for a boat ride, whether it's in Swing Set or the dinghy, and she waits patiently until we start removing dock lines. Then, she begins to bark instructions, which we apparently are able to perform flawlessly every time, since she eventually settles down on Rosie's lap once we are leaving the harbor.

We spent an afternoon in the rain, anchored near Saddlebunch Key, just a few miles up the coast. It was actually nice laying around in the boat with the air conditioning on, reading our books and listening to the rain pelt the topsides. By the end of the day, the sun was back out, and so were the bugs from the nearby mangroves, so we headed back to the barn and rustled up some supper, making it an early night.

On Saturday, we had planned to take our dinghy out to Boca Grande, quite a trip in the dinghy, but the winds were really calm over the weekend and the 20-mile trip seemed like a good idea. But as soon as we got things ready, a squall came in and we sat for two hours, waiting for the rain to quit.

One thing about calm winds is that the squalls don't move on, they just hover overhead, so by the time the rains subsided, we decided that even if we would have wanted to make the trip out to Boca Grande, no one else in their right minds would be out there, so we opted for a jaunt over to our favorite spot at the Boca Chica sandbar, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. We like to go places where we can inflict ourselves upon others.

Ah, but Sunday! Sunday we woke to a cloudless sky and, after a big breakfast, we got the dinghy ready, topped off our fuel tank and set a course due west.

It was a 90-minute cruise straight along the coast of the smaller keys that string out westerly from Key West to Boca Grande. The only islands west of Boca Grande are the Marquesas, just visible from the beach at Boca Grande, and then the Dry Tortugas, many miles further west. The beach at Boca Grande is a favorite spot for many Key West locals, and we met a few of them and had a very nice time.

I'm not a rock hound or a shell collector, but in all my years I never noticed something that I found to be interesting while we were cooling off on the beach. Look at the shell in the picture above; see how straight the back edge of the shell is? I found other shells like it and never noticed, or realized, just how straight an edge that this sea creature is able to produce. I can't seem to think of another living creature in nature that has the ability to produce a straight edge such as this one. I know humans who cannot draw a straight line with a ruler. Isn't that amazing? Yawn. (Hey, I'm grasping at straws here, trying to find things to post in this blog.)

When it came time to leave, we were invited to follow a fast pontoon back on the "inside route" of the bay, so we readily accepted the offer. I switched on our Garmin chartplotter, so we'd have the track set to follow the next time we go back out there, because the ocean route can become bumpy very quickly.

With the dinghy loaded up with our supplies, we can only coax 20 mph out of our 15-hp Mercury at wide open throttle. We were barely able to keep up with our pilot vessel, but soon we were within site of the familiar Northwest Channel. We peeled off when our new friends headed in to The Galleon, and we turned toward the Garrison Bight mooring field to complete our inside run back to Stock Island. The ride back from Boca Grande was another 90 minutes, and we were whupped by the time we got back to port. Boy, the air conditioning was a welcome pleasure when we got home to Swing Set.

After we unloaded the dinghy, I began to crank it up on the davits, and the little keeper spring on one of our Fulton winches broke, making the cranking a two-handed operation. Not a big deal, but it was just one more thing that needed to be fixed. It seems like a day doesn't go by that something else needs to be repaired or maintained.

I had three such springs in one of our various parts bins, as the same spring on the other winch broke when we were in the Bahamas and I ordered some spares last year from the factory. Replacing the spring requires nearly a complete disassembly of the winch, but since I've already done the job once, replacing the spring this morning didn't take too long at all. But by the time I was done cleaning up from that chore, the sun was beating down with a vengeance, making it easy to decide to hold off on installing our new engine flush kits until another day.

As I was cleaning grease off of the repaired winch with some Formula 88 from Home Depot, I decided to squirt some on our Magma Grill and was pleasantly surprised at what a great job it did on removing the grease from the grill. Well, it is described as a "degreaser." Go figure. You get a gallon for less than five bucks. What a deal.

Tomorrow we both have overdue visits scheduled for the dermatologist, something we did every six months back "home" but have neglected until we settled down some. The doctor in St. Louis would scold me every time I went there until I finally told him that we own a boat, we go boating, we are going to be out in the sun. Period.

With an attitude like that, I'm bound to get bad news tomorrow, but we'll take that as it comes. If we find out that either one of us has to stay out of the sun for the remainder of our lives, the next blog you read may be sent from dreary old England. Do they have bars there?

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