Happy Birthday, USA

IMG_0695.JPGFourth of July. First night on the boat in almost two years. Just a trial run. We went out to watch the fireworks, which are set off over the St. Marys River. Best seats are on a boat in the middle of the river, as Madge is. St. Marys fills up for the fireworks, and afterwards getting back home from the waterfront – even on the golf cart – is difficult. So, we decided to just stay on the boat.

By the way, the guy in the picture with Suzy is me, minus the beard I’ve had for the past 11 years. The beard interferes with the new scuba mask, so it had to go. My biggest worry was that the grandchildren wouldn’t recognize me without the beard. After the parade and lunch and the train ride, while we waited out the half-inch of rain that got us all soaking wet as we raced home in the afternoon, the children packed into the bathroom to watch me shave. Had to make sure it was really me under there.

IMG_0699We loaded up the dinghy and went out to Madge the day before to provision. Activated the wind generator and set up the solar panels. Turned on the refrigerator and made sure the coolant water was circulating. Opened up the thru-hull valves and made sure the marine toilet was pumping properly. The Third of July was beautiful. Not too hot and a nice breeze. There was a wedding in the waterfront park and the DJ at the reception provided background music for more than just the wedding party. The day faded into a gorgeous night.

As I said, a thunderstorm moved through at about three o’clock on the afternoon of the Fourth, dropping the air temperature about 15 degrees and giving us some relief from the day’s heat. The rain slowed quickly, but kept up a steady drizzle until about seven in the evening when it began clearing. The grandchildren (and their parents) went back to Jacksonville, and Suzy and I bailed the water out of the dinghy and headed out to Madge. The first thing we found upon entering the boat was that the refrigerator was not cooling. Not good. It must’ve been running continuously, because our batteries were just under 13 volts even with the solar panels up and the wind generator going. I shut it down. Add another item to the repair check list.

While we waited for the St. Marys fireworks to start, we were treated to at least six other displays from towns south of the river in Florida. I could only identify Fernandina Beach’s display for sure, since you can practically see the town from St. Marys. The other displays just barely cleared the tops of the trees atop the bluffs across the marshes on the south bank of the river. Our display, of course, topped them all. I love being close enough to feel the thump on your chest as the shells explode.

We stargazed for a little while on a cool, bug-less night, then turned in for a good night’s sleep, awaking to a clear, dry, painfully-sunny morning. Suzy had her coffee, we did a few chores and I cleaned out the raw water filter for the refrigerator coolant pump – which didn’t fix the problem – before we packed up and headed for shore. Monday will be a work day on land. Tuesday we’ll resume the serious work on the boat.