Swing Set

Oct 14, 201308:49 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

The Rainy Days Have Come

It's been two weeks back in Key West, and we've gotten reacquainted. We've visited some of our favorite haunts from when we were here last January, and we've discovered some new ones.

A week ago, we took Swing Set out for a Sunday cruise over to a marina we've been wanting to check out, Sunset Marina. Sunset is on the "back side" of Key West, and it's a long boat ride to get out to the ocean through some skinny water. The marina is typical of what you find in the Keys, full of questionable looking vessels in various states of repair, or disrepair, however you want to look at it. Although the condos adjacent to the marina look fairly nice, the opposite view is of the prison, or "correctional facility." The landfill we had been recently reminded about is within view, too, but it doesn't appear to be operational anymore. There is grass now growing on the huge mound of dirt. I don't know where the trash from Key West is going now, but it's not going there. Sunset Marina also doesn't allow "liveaboards," at least officially, so all things considered, it's now off of our list of potential marinas where we might spend some extended time.

The dinghy dock in Key West Bight is a busy place. Unfortunately, it's busy with dinghies owned by the folks anchored out in Key West Harbor, and some of them haven't been used in a while, taking up space for those who actually need a place to land their dinghy if they are coming in to Key West Bight. Not even in Marathon have we seen such a sorry bunch of watercraft in one spot.

Swing Set is sitting not quite alone at A&B Marina, but slips are filling up fast. By this time next week, every slip will be full. We'll still be here because the dock master informed us last Thursday of a recent cancellation, allowing us to stay here and not move over to the Galleon for five days, saving us some dough. We have found out about other boat owners who were given slips long after we were on "the list," but these were boat owners who have stayed at A&B more times than us and are higher on the pecking order. If we behave ourselves, maybe we can get priority next time, too.

We haven't let grass grow under our feet, even if that was possible. This was our sunrise last Thursday, when we had arranged for Mark of Mark's Diesel of Key West to come and inspect our generator because it wasn't starting.

Let me just get to the point: Here's Mark (in the bilges) with his helper Bubba, pulling out our old generator because it was pronounced near to death. Had I not been dutifully changing our engine oil every 100 hours, the generator may not have lasted as long as it did, because sea water was getting into the crankcase. But, adversely, had I been hiring someone else to change the engine oil, they would have probably noticed something amiss with the oil, or noticed salt residue on the backside of the engine.

 

Doing my own work is not always about saving money, it's about being independent, but this time I paid for it. Doesn't mean I'm going to change my ways entirely. I wouldn't have been able to find anyone to do regular maintenance in The Bahamas anyway.

We had picked up our new water heater at West Marine shortly after we got here in Key West, and our first day here I attempted to take out the old one but didn't get very far. Two exhaust lines stood in the way of extracting the old water heater, as well as installing the new one, so I hired an electrician referred to me by Mark, and he came this morning. I watched him work and actually was able to help him out some. Kevin got our new water heater installed without incident in four hours, and he had a hard time of it. I'd still be down in the engine room.

I'd been waiting for an estimate to rebuild our generator, wanting some hard numbers to compare before deciding to rebuild or install new. I had gotten some good advice from our friend, John, the owner of Meramec Marina, years ago, and we were both waiting to see what a rebuild would consist of, and at what cost.

Just as Kevin was finishing up with the water heater, I got a call from Mark and got a rebuild estimate. Without getting into specifics, I had just about decided on what to do, but ran things by John and sent him the estimate via email. For not much more money than a costly rebuild, we can get a brand-new Westerbeke generator with a two-year warranty. So, that's what we're going to do, especially when the rebuild didn't include some key things that John felt were necessary.

Even before we got the estimate on the generator, I went out and bought a sheet of Starboard and made a bigger base for whatever generator we were going to put back in. The base is extended toward the bow by four inches. This will allow us to install the generator a bit further away from the back to allow better access to the water pump, but after watching Kevin wrestle with our water heater in the close quarters, I've decided to install the new generator in the same spot as the old one, but the bigger shelf will allow us to remove the mounting bolts and slide the generator forward when we have to access anything on the back side of it. The 400-pound generator will slide easily on the slick Starboard. At least we'll be accomplishing something to make service easier in the future.

There is one good thing, though. One year ago at this time, we were just getting out of debt from some service we had gotten done in St. Louis before we left. Our condo was still for sale, and we hadn't built up any reserves. But now, we've been saving for this rainy day, and we'll be able to pay for a new generator and the installation of it without going into debt. Anytime you can solve a problem with a checkbook, you really don't have a problem.

We have another change in our lives coming soon. No, nobody is pregnant, but we bought a new bicycle! I had been contemplating getting a bicycle for some time, especially after seeing all the cyclists here in Key West. Plus, our move to Stock Island in December is going to require some type of transportation.

Last week we walked over to Eaton Bikes on Saturday just to look around. We met Chris, a member of the staff over there, and he was very helpful. I asked about bikes that would haul two people, and he showed us a brochure of a Yuba Cargo bike, the Boda Boda model. The Boda Boda is all aluminum and is about a foot longer than a regular bike. It has an integrated rack on the back big enough for an adult to comfortably sit on, and has cool running boards for the rider to rest their six inch high heels on, if that rider happens to be Rosie.

When Chris mentioned the price, I balked, and we then asked about some of the refurbished tandem bikes they were selling, because Eaton is overturning their rental fleet. For $300 bucks, we could get a tandem bike, and I figured for that price, we'd just leave it here in Key West when we left in the spring if we couldn't sell it. (There's no way a tandem will fit on board the boat.) Time for a test ride. It was the shortest test ride they had ever seen. I was on the front. Rosie mounted the rear seat. I pointed the bike toward the street, and no sooner did I get my second foot on the pedal, Rosie started squawking. "Stop! Stop! No, No! This is NOT working!"

Apparently Rosie didn't grasp the co-ordination involved with having to pedal when I did. We went a total of four feet. I told her to suck it up and don't be a baby and give it another try. (I learned my encouragement techniques at home.) We wound up riding a few blocks, but the result was the same; Rosie did not like the tandem bike.

We consulted with Chris a bit more, and he herded us out the door with our fists full of big brochures. Before we had even gotten back to the boat, I was considering each of us having our own bikes, but our history with Rosie riding her own bike has not been pleasant. I didn't want to be riding my bike and hers, too. Pllus, storing two bikes on the boat is not something we ever wanted to do. We won't even get into the subject of riding two bikes back from a pub late at night from downtown Key West to Stock Island.

Back at our computer, we looked into the Yuba Boda Boda bike and liked what we saw online. The price Chris had quoted for it, even though it is half what I paid for my first brand-new truck, was lower than some prices quoted online.

Now, this was before we found out our generator was toast, but I told Rosie that if we were going to get a bike, we were going to get a neat one, and the Boda Boda was what I wanted.

"Let's go back and order this bike", I said, and we gathered up Holly, and back to Eaton Bikes we went. I told Chris that I was an impulse buyer, and he said he liked impulse buyers.

Here's the other thing: The Yuba comes in a "step over" model, and a "step through" model. The step over model would be considered the "boys bike." We wanted a white bike, and it only comes in the "girls" version.

Hey, we're in Key West, and we see some crazy stuff, so who cares what model of bike we're gonna have? But I can't help but think of the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," when Jonathan Winters trades his broken down truck or something to Phil Silvers for a bike and finds out "This is a girl's bike!" You had to see it.

New generator coming, new water heater installed and a new bicycle coming! You'd think we were Rockerfellers. But no, we've just been saving for a rainy day.

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