Swing Set

Mar 17, 201412:07 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Zoomin' on the Zuma

Here's Rosie standing next to our new Yamaha 125cc Zuma, the 15th motorcycle I've ever owned, and even though it's technically a scooter, it belongs on the list of motorcycles. You Harley riders will just have to live with that.

Even though a better deal could have been made on a larger, used bike of some kind, once you begin to learn the ins and outs of scooter parking here in Key West, you can quickly see that smaller is better. If you can't find a secure place to lock your ride to a post or rack with a cable, you won't have it long, and the Zuma is the most stolen scooter in the Keys, mainly because it's the most popular.

Being a popular model, it will make selling it that much easier when or if the time comes to go somewhere else, but in a pinch we can stick this small vehicle in the cockpit for a trip to another marina or area. For the time being, we have the Zuma locked up next to our Yuba Boda Boda. I remember when I only knew about Schwinns and Chevy's.

Speaking of models, here's one sittin' on our Zuma. Notice how the girl in the background can't keep her eyes off of this stylish creature? Must be the shorts.

Even though we've been doing a good job of getting around the island on our bicycle, the marina shuttle and other public transportation (with smaller success), we still felt limited in where and when we wanted to go. When we were traveling constantly, we just dealt with that, but since we've decided to stay put for a while, there is no reason to retrict ourselves so much.

Other things are happening, too. We contracted with a local sailmaker and upholsterer to recover our dinette and to make a new windscreen cover. The dinette had some major surgery some years ago in St. Louis, but we tried to marry a new cloth seating area with the still good looking vinyl around the edges of both seats and we began to see the vinyl start to fail about a year ago. It was time.

We did have a setback yesterday. Peter Goldsmith, the owner of Geslin Sailmakers, came by to tell us that the woman he had down here from Maine to help him with some of his upholstery work has left the building, so to speak. It turns out she had come down with a major case of the Keys Disease, a malady that attacks many of the transients that arrive here. The sickness causes people to miss work or just quit work altogether, especially if the weather is good and the fish are biting. It also affects the liver.

Peter already has a helper lined up, and he has assured us that we'll get our dinette back in one piece in a reasonable amount of time. In Key West, the term "reasonable" has a broad definition. At the core here is that we like Peter, and for that he's going to get a fair amount of latitude from us. This is why I always keep a pleasant demeanor about me. For the latitude.

We've also been contemplating getting a new Bimini top and enclosure made, and even mentioned it to Peter, but we figured we'd have to wait until next year to address it, given the expense of the new generator, the current upholstery work and, of course, the much needed Zuma scooter. But I got curious one day and started looking into a replacement top and enclosure made by the company that made the top in the first place for Sea Ray.

I was searching the Internet and found outfits that will arrange to have a new top and other "factory made" canvas made once you give them a hull identification number, but some of these outfits are in varying locations across the U.S., so I figured there had to be a main factory where they had the work done. It was easy to find out.

Our 18-year-old original top still has the tag attached to it with the name "Boatswain's Locker" and a phone number. Yep. Number was still in service and a very nice girl took my call and assured me they were still in business here in south Florida. I gave her our hull identification number, and she told me exactly what came with our Sea Ray from the factory, made right there at their facility.

Within a day I had a bid back, at less than half of what I thought it would cost us. They quoted us a price that reflected a 30% discount and free shipping if we ordered everything this month. Sunbrella and Seamark (lined material for the top) materials with Gortex thread, lightly smoked Stratoglas for the windows, along with better zippers than original and new Lift the Dot snaps, with shipping, were quoted at less than six grand. We can't possibly have a new top and enclosure made from a local canvas maker for less. Even Peter agreed.

We sent Boatswain's Locker a VISA deposit, and they sent a sample so we could see the colors of the canvas and the Stratoglas. We should have it by the middle of April.

I've also surrendered in the war of the barnacles, at least for now. The other day, I spent four hours under the boat cleaning the bottom, and even if you remove the nagging feeling that you're about to be lunch for any lurking creature that comes near, scraping is scraping, whether it's above water or not, and it's not a good endeavor for anyone with joint issues. And I have joint issues.

A fella just happened to be scrubbing the bottom of a 57-foot sailboat on our dock and I asked him for a card and a ballpark quote. The price I got was for $2.75 per foot, which is under $120 bucks for our boat. That would be for a once-a-month job, and I don't have to get my toes wet. Sign us up. We spend more than that on a night out, and I don't have to worry about drowning or getting eaten by shark.

We had some storms come through southern Florida recently, and there were even tornadoes in the forecast. On the night of the storm pictured above, a boat a few slips over sustained some extensive lightening damage, and I think I witnessed the strike first hand. At first, I thought we had been struck ourselves. In addition, some of the dock boxes were blown off the docks and into the briny deep, which prompted me to have a discussion with Mark, our new dockmaster.

My concern, as I presented it to Mark, was that the boxes were not attached to the docks by any method other than the weight of two bricks per box, and I want to see a more permanent method to attach them by the time hurricane season comes in another couple of months. I had mentioned this same thing to one of the staff when we first got here and was told that due to the fact that drilling into the concrete docks was not something the marina management wanted to consider, some new-fangled brackets were being made just for this marina, and they were on their way. They must be on a slow truck.

 

Mark has been slammed with issues since he started his job recently and prioritizing problems is, well, a problem, but the issue of the dock boxes are on his radar screen for sure. He mentioned that the current plan was to remove the boxes in the event of an approaching storm, but I countered with the fact that that solution was not only labor intensive when there would be other things to worry about if a hurricane is breathing down our necks, what about the contents of each box? The owners of boats may need the contents of the box that is assigned to their slip, especially if they want to store items in the box that they'd like to have off of the boat when a storm comes.

We both agreed that making holes in the concrete is out, as eventually the holes will compromise the concrete in the way of cracking and such, so he mentioned using epoxy to glue the boxes down as another method being considered, but I asked him to also consider that using epoxy was not only expensive, but it would leave a mess if the box was ever to be moved if a boat owner wanted some flexibility in the location of the box. (I, for one, would like the box to be offset to the side of where it is now if we ever needed to park "bow in" at some point.) I think I've convinced him that using an epoxy is not a good idea.

I've been around a lot of docks, and in areas of the country that are conducive to tornadoes and floods, and even had our own docks on the Meramec River for 20 years, so I know a little about mounting dock boxes and keeping docks, so I threw my idea out there.

If I had my way, I'd use a 12-inch length of 2x4 inside each box on either end, with a hole drilled through one side of it (because the boxes sit on the edge of a skirting) to accommodate a 3/8" lag bolt, either stainless steel or galvanized, 5 or 6 inches long. Because the skirting surrounding the concrete decking is made of PVC "lumber", backed by thick treated framing under it, the two lag bolts only need to be drilled through the 2x4 in the box, then through the thin fiberglass of the box, through the PVC decking, and then into the thick framing of the dock. The 2x4s will keep the dockbox from tipping and breaking a hole in the bottom of the box, and using a 3/8" bolt will keep it from snapping off.

The other issue is that the management here doesn't want to put any holes in the PVC decking. A couple of holes in the decking will be invisible, as will the method of attaching the boxes, but if one wanted to move a box and leave some holes exposed in the decking, those holes will be a lot better to have than a bunch of dock boxes flying around in a storm, and just yesterday they added two more bricks per box as a short term solution, I guess, so now each six-foot dock box missile is armed with four bricks each. Could do some serious damage to a boat. Decking material is much cheaper to replace than a boat window.

It was also actually mentioned that another solution would be to fill each box with water if a storm is coming to weight them down. Really? If removing the boxes, or filling them with water and bricks, is the answer, if I was the owners here I'd just sell them back to the supplier and get my money back because the boxes will be of no use to the boat owners when they really need them, and that's to put belongings in when a storm comes, and have access to them immediately after.

I hope I can get someone to seriously consider my idea to mount these boxes, and I'm going to be beating that drum whenever I can, but I'm the "new guy," and the new guy never knows anything. That's why it was so hard at the beer factory to get an idea across, because the turnover in junior management was so frequent, the senior beer brewers were still only "new guys" to them and they had to constantly prove themselves to college-age kids, or otherwise older brewmasters with "stuck in a rut" ideas.

So, why do I care? Because I hate to see anyone waste money. Somebody here needs to do a cost analysis in terms of materials and labor, plus any added liability if they fail to prevent damage to an expensive yacht due to a flying dock box. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Maybe this is a military installation and money is no object.

Progress is seen every day here at the marina, though. Look at the picture of this 200+ foot dive boat that is here for a stay! There really is no other marinas in the area that can accommodate a boat of this size, and the piers at Mallory Square are strictly for the big cruise ships.

Otherwise, we had a visit with some folks following the blog. They don't have a boat yet, and they wanted to discuss some of their options for when they go looking. Hope we gave them some ideas, and dispelled some others.

Our blog is not only inspiring non-boat owners, some friends back home on the Mississippi are beginning plans to retire and come down this way in 14 months or so, and thanked us for being their inspiration. That makes us feel good.

What doesn't make us feel good is folks who resent the fact that we are retired down here enjoying great weather and they are still working and dealing with the cold and snow. We paid our dues. Don't be hatin'.

Add your comment:
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed