Swing Set

Sep 11, 201302:54 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Making Ourselves at Home in the Grove

We met with John and Jen Ziegler last Friday night at Scotty's Landing. Scotty's is dog friendly, so we brought Holly, and John and Jen brought their poodle, Bella. Wagering was light on the possibility of a dog fight; in fact, it was a non-event. Bella and Holly largely ignored each other, but happily barked at anyone passing by. The humans had fun, too. We hadn't seen Jen in 10 years, but we saw John two years ago before leaving St. Louis. As always, we reminisced about old times and what public school was like for us in a suburb of St. Louis.

On Saturday morning, we left Grove Harbor Marina and found our mooring ball next door at the Dinner Key Mooring Facility. We wanted to get a pump-out on our way out to the mooring, but the pump-out station at the dock was broken. We were going to have to wait until Monday for a pump-out unless someone fixed the pump-out at the dock. I was counting on Monday.

There are over a hundred moorings at Dinner Key, and the exposure is pretty open, especially from the east. The photo above is an early morning shot. The moorings closer in to the marina are better protected, and we had number 34. We were told that any number under 50 would offer decent protection.

Earlier in the week, we had run into Leslie Hannah, half of a couple that we had met in Georgetown. They were only a couple of moorings over from us. We went over on our way out with the dinghy to catch up with what they had been doing. We learned they were taking their sailboat north in the next few days and putting it up for sale. They want a catamaran because they have grown tired of the "dungeon like" feeling of a mono-hull sailboat. We tend to agree, and haven't even been on a sailboat.

There is a gathering spot across the Bay at Nixon's Beach, a shallow spot near where our former President had a home. The home has long been torn down, but the heliport is still there. We spent some time people watching at the "beach." There was a lot to watch.

On Sunday, we took the dinghy back out and first took a spin up the Miami River. The river is brackish, and there are lots of city type things to see. We wouldn't rate it as a "must do" event, but it was interesting.

 

What was more interesting were the activities going on at Nixon's Beach. Naturally drawn to the party-type atmosphere of such places, we returned for a whole afternoon of people watching. We met some folks who came up to us and wanted to meet. We were definitely older than anyone we saw, and most of the folks were Cuban or Latino. Last time we checked, our ancestry on either side contain no lineage of those types. Those folks didn't hold it against us that we weren't Latino, and they sure know how to have fun!

We returned to Swing Set under the threat of rain, which it did, and then we had a nice dinner and turned in early after watching the sunset.

For the last few days, we've been visiting the hardware store, the grocery store, the marine supply store and the Dinner Key Laundry Facilities. We've also been getting packages from Amazon and St. Brendan's Isle, because I've ordered some items we have been needing, and we've had some mail on hold, waiting to be delivered to us when we finally got somewhere where we'd stay for a week or two. We miss the air conditioning that we had at Grove Harbor! I did buy a larger oscillating fan at Home Depot, and we've enlisted the help of that to move a bit more air than what our little Bora fans provide.

I've been accumulating the fittings and hoses necessary to clean our heat exchangers, both for the coolant and the oil cooler on each engine. I have purchased enough plumbing to hook up both engines in one single loop to circulate Barnacle Buster through both heat exchangers on each engine simultaneously. I had made a call to Key West Engines and got some pointers on how to do it, plus was told that they charge around $700 to do the job for us. I'll have the equipment to do this chore each time, and it's suggested that removing the scale from the heat exchangers via this method is an annual job.

I bought a small bilge pump, and I'll mount it in an old Igloo cooler I keep in the engine room, and I'll "CIP" (clean in place) the whole system at once, circulating the cleaning agent for an hour or two. This method eliminates the chore of removing each component separately and taking them into a shop to soak them, a very labor intensive operation. We'll see how it goes and give a report. I expect success; any beer brewer worth his salt knows how to clean brewery equipment. The same logic is applied on the process of which I am about to try.

One thing we have learned first hand; we have eliminated any thoughts of ever staying in this mooring field long term. It's too rough. If a storm was predicted, we'd probably go elsewhere for more protection, but we are experiencing light winds and are still getting bounced around out here.

Lots of boats are anchored around the area and are not in the mooring field, but paying for the mooring gets us pump-outs (when they come by), and it gives us access to water, the laundry and someone to accept mail and packages, and the rent is only $300 per month. But a mooring is only as good as its location, and even though we like Coconut Grove way better than Marathon, the mooring field at Marathon is far, far better. If we come back here to spend any length of time, we think it'll be at the marina.

A few mornings ago, before this latest unsettled weather, we were treated to this sunrise with Miami in the background. It would be great if the water was this smooth all the time.

For now, we'll be here for another week or so. A friend from my beer factory days is coming into town next week, and we want to see him and his new family. Then, we'll make our way to Key West and stay two months in Key West Bight, and then move to Stock Island, where we'll be for at least two more months at the new Stock Island Marina Village, which is opening on October 1. The dockage rates are fair at this new facility, and there is no requirement to sign up for a year to get a good rate.

Our handle of "Swing Set On the Hook" may be inaccurate for the next four months, but after 18 months of continuous travel, we are wanting to take a bit of a break. Did I mention about how spoiled we got using the air conditioning at Grove Harbor?

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