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Swing Set

Mar 27, 201410:29 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Having Other People Do Things For You Is A Lot Of Work Sometimes

Let's start with some fun stuff! In the picture above is James and Marny with us at Turtle Kraals last week. James and Marny are friends we met at Lake of the Ozarks late in the last century. We haven't seen them since we left St. Louis almost two years ago. They came down with their son, Alex, on the Key West Express, a ferry that operates from Fort Meyers, where they had been visiting Gary and Judy, our mutual friends in Cape Coral.

The weather was great last week, and we were able to spend time at Dante's pool and get Swing Set out of her slip two days in a row. We took a 34-mile route one day out around the western end of Key West to show James and Marny downtown from the water, and then we cruised out to Sand Key Light, where we saw the sunken tug boat Tilly on the way.

There really wasn't much to see of Tilly. She's in 35 feet of water, and only the light mast is sticking above the waterline. There's a danger buoy in place, and Active Captain already has the spot marked on our Garmin Bluechart Mobile chart. I think they should just send divers down and cut off the super structure and let it fall, providing a cool diving spot, yet keeping her well below the surface so it's not an obstacle. The DEP will probably "study" the situation for a couple of years.

We had another day out on Swing Set with James and Marny the following day, but we mostly hung on the hook and enjoyed the sun, something they haven't been able to do back in St. Louis. We put Swing Set on plane for a bit to see if she was still running good, and she is, however this report most likely will jinx everything. "Never brag about your boat" is an adage I usually adhere to, but I also like to tempt fate.

Rosie and I also found time last week to run by Geslin Sailmakers, where our dinette, or at least half of it, was being re-upholstered, but it was closed and no one was around. This was not a real big surprise, as it was the morning after St. Patty's Day and this is Key West. But we also buzzed by there on Friday and was met again with a dark shop and no one home. Oh oh.

I called Peter, the owner, on Monday morning to tell him we'd like to come by and see how the work was coming along. When he got back to us, he told us he'd like for us to come by "for a chat." Oh oh.

We entered the shop, and there was our dinette section, placed nice and neat on a table, still only half finished, apparently nothing having been done on it since Peter's assistant took off. Three weeks had gone by and only the base of the seat had been upholstered, and upon closer inspection, Rosie and I were not happy with what had been done so far.

Peter was very nice and offered to refund our substantial deposit and return what is left of our dinette seat. We discussed the possibility of giving him more time, but in the end we decided to take our money back and go elsewhere to have the work completed.

We couldn't take the dinette parts back on the scooter, so Peter delivered them the next day, and I put them back in place, covering the undone section with three towels and fastening them in place with bungee cords. This is not a look we are going for, but at least we have our seating back while we plot out our next course of action.

Before we had even gotten our dinette section back, I had contacted Boatswain's Locker, the folks who are making our bimini top. Karina at Boatswain's Locker promised to make some inquiries at Sea Ray about getting new "skins" for our seats and to see about what other options we had available to us.

I also contacted another marine upholsterer in Key West that we saw advertised on a Marine Fabricators Association website, but they apparently are out of business.

Karina got back with us in short order with some bad news. Sea Ray only keeps the patterns for upholstery for seven years and then destroys them! Who knows any boats less than seven years old that needs new upholstery? One way to sell new boats is to make it hard to restore old boats, I guess.

The good news that Karina had was that they could recover our seats if we sent them up to their facility in Jacksonville. We're looking into that option, but meanwhile, I again reached out to another shop, All Keys Canvas, located here on Stock Island.

Dave Cutler from All Keys Canvas came by yesterday and is working up a quote. His shop has been in business since the 1950s. I hope we can get a fair quote from him to avoid shipping our dinette seats up to Jacksonville. My worst fear is that we lose the seats altogether and I have to have someone fabricate them from scratch.

On the bright side, Boatswain's Locker is going to make a new sunscreen for our windshield at one-third the cost of what Geslin was going to charge, not to mention that our early dealings with Geslin is how we wound up contacting Boatswain's Locker in the first place, again saving a lot of money on a new bimini and enclosure.

I would still recommend Geslin Sailmakers for most canvas work, particularly sails, because Peter really is a nice guy and I thing he is honest. Sometimes, honesty is the best thing to have. He's eating the cost of our materials, saying he'll use the vinyl on a future walk-in job. No hard feelings from us.

I do want to mention that our friend James (who visited last week) has a fledgling canvas business he has started in the St. Louis area, Marine Canvas Solutions. Google it our look for it on Facebook. Admittedly James is "learning as he is going," but his prices reflect that, and he is somewhat of a perfectionist. Have him do some work for you while his prices are low!

A dock neighbor spotted a rat on his boat the other night, and since then, we have found rat poop in our cockpit. Rats are around boats, and have been for thousands of years, but not on our boat. We don't suspect they have gotten inside, just nosing around outside, checking on our trash can, etc., but we're taking an offensive approach.

First, no more "garbage" gets placed in the trash can outside. We'll only put beer cans and potty pads from Holly in there. (It seems like that is the only thing ever in there anyway.) Second, I'm putting out some traps, and we've asked the marina to do the same. We won't use poison on the boat due to Holly being around. I'm also going to make some rat guards for our dock lines, and have been thinking about a good way to make them.

Rat guards are on the mooring lines of all big ships, and they can be found for small boats but are expensive. Once I make ours, I'll post a picture of the finished product. Rats can sink a ship, large or small, so we'll launch an all-out effort to prevent them.

We had great weather last weekend and explored some new areas in the dinghy. We took a looksee at the Harbour Keys, just north of here, and found a pristine beach area, it being a beach only at low tide. Rosie and I were walking around on it when a two-foot-long shark came snooping by. It was funny watching Rosie high stepping it back to the dinghy like she was being chased by Jaws. Propriety prevents me from posting a picture of the episode.

We also spent Sunday at the Boca Chica sandbar, where we met a few folks, some down on vacation and some locals. The Boca Chica sandbar is close for us, and we usually find someone to share a beer with.

Some fierce winds blew in here on Tuesday night, and we are getting rocked around here at the dock. Temperatures even dipped into the mid-60s yesterday, and we made a big ol' pot of chicken noodle soup from a recipe I've had from my paternal grandmother for years and years. It was a good day for soup, of which you don't get many of, here in Key West.

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