Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cape Coral to Fantasy Fest, It's Hot Hot Hot - the weather that is

I was on my hands and knees struggling with an air conditioning strainer that was completely plugged with barnacles. Of course it was one of the hottest days of the summer and despite wearing only a bathing suit, I was absolutely drenched with sweat. The daily high was forecast to be in the mid 90’s all week so not getting the A/C back in working order was not even remotely an option. Ironically, before we left Toronto, I had looked longingly at the premium space occupied by our 18,000 BTU compressor and almost decided to pitch the thing overboard in order to gain valuable storage space. In the end I’m not sure if it was laziness or prescience that made me put the wrenches and wire cutters down, because on the West Coast of Florida in the summer, a non air conditioned boat would become a totally uninhabitable oven.

We were tied to an end dock in the Cape Coral Yacht Basin, which is where Pat and I headed after our return from China to await the delivery of our friend’s Connie and Richard’s new boat. They had contacted us while we were in China to ask if we would help them bring their new baby from the dealer in Palmetto over to her temporary home in Fort Lauderdale for outfitting. Of course we were honoured to be asked so we jumped at the chance to take a squeeky new IP 485 out for a 400 mile cruise around the tip of Florida. As luck would have it however, the boat was not quite ready, so instead of hanging around Cape Coral for a week or two, we ended up there for almost a month.

When one is living on a boat, home is where the keel is so it really shouldn’t matter too much where the keel is lying. Well a very substantial challenge to this theory would be offered up by anybody who is stuck in Cape Coral during the dog days of summer. I am fond of calling the place the suburb without a city, because it is an amorphous blob of housing, without a real center. Since the mortgage meltdown the community, which during the boom years was the fastest growing city in the USA, has become a ghost town of bank owned homes and shuttered store fronts. On our 2 mile walk to the nearest supermarket, it was not uncommon to make the entire return trip without passing another person on the street.

In some ways the quiet streets and lack of people reminded us of our days in Mississauga, when during the dead of winter, the cold and snow often kept people indoors except for brief forays out to accomplish necessary tasks like go to work or to buy food. The big difference down here however is the fact that when the weather becomes more comfortable, there won’t be people coming out because many of the residents have left the area permanently. Fortunately we have good friends Bob and Mary Ann here, who checked in on us regularly to see if we hadn’t died of boredom, and their visits helped Pat and I maintain our sanity. Needless to say we couldn’t wait to get away from Cape Coral.

When “Sea Salt”, Connie and Richard’s IP 485 was finally ready to go, Pat and I were chomping at the bit to get going. We would have been ready to deliver an Optimist across Lake Ontario at this point, so it was decidedly luxurious to be given towels and our own queen sized berth in a private cabin with en-suite head and shower. The trip around the coast was uneventful apart from a few thunderstorms that generated waves large enough to put 6 inches of water in the cockpit before the scuppers drained it away. I discovered however that I’m still not over the sea sickness that comes with sailing after dark, so once I went below after my stint at the helm, the nausea took over. I’m determined however to beat this thing so I won’t have to live in the cockpit when we decide to take longer passages.

It’s funny how time flies once you start to get busy. We arrived in Marathon on October 1 by way of a visit to Naples FL, and a night hanging on our hook, 3 miles offshore from the Everglades. In Naples I had a chance to reconnect with my friend Vince S, who I had worked with during the high tech part of my career. It was great to catch up with Vince, eat in a restaurant that used table cloths and play tourist by visiting the local zoo. Most importantly we were underway again on our own boat and moving towards cooler weather and cleaner water.

Threepenny Opera desperately needed a new coat of bottom paint because the Micron CSC paint that we put on in Port Credit had been completely over powered by the nutrient rich 90 degree water of South Florida and the Bahamas. When we finally hauled the boat, it seemed that around the waterline the barnacles had set down roots. Even sanding with 80 grit discs did not remove all of the little spots of natural adhesive that barnacles use to hold themselves to the hull. If one could figure out a way to bottle the barnacle spit, they might find themselves onto a new IP 485! Thank goodness for the assistance of friends Mary and Wilger because without them Pat and I would have spent at least an extra day in the boat yard sweating under the now cooler 85 degree sun.

It will be several more weeks before Pat and I return to our normal colour, but every time I look at Threepenny Opera, I know that all of our efforts were worth it. She has held up extremely well over the past year, and when we had a surveyor came aboard, the only deficiency requiring immediate correction was the lack of a written waste management plan. Once we get around to writing down and signing a policy specifying who has to take out the garbage, we will be in total compliance, not bad for a 10 year old boat that has seen a few miles under her keel.

We spent the past weekend in Key West for the beginning of Fantasy Fest 2009 and next weekend we will be in Fort Lauderdale for the boat show. The weather is getting cooler, and the hatches are starting to catch some decent breeze. The harbour in Marathon is starting to see the first arrivals in this season’s new crop of cruisers, and we can still get $1 tacos and $.25 wings at the local hang outs. All in all life is pretty good.

Have a great week. I know I will


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1 comment:

Carol & Helmut said...

Hi there Pat and Addison, another great update as usual. Helmut and I attended a conference in Naples two years ago - it's a pricey city for sure but we had a great time walking around downtown and enjoyed some great restaurants. The blue face paint is quite funny, lucky you had some friends to assist (are they still friends?!). Love reading about what you're up to, keep up the good work!
Carol & Helmut