The last 24 hours have been nerve-wracking. The winds are way up and the temperatures are way down. I’m about on my last nerve.
Aside from that, here’s what we’ve been up to recently, in no particular order of importance…
The Tuesday pump out boat had some engine problems, so it didn’t make rounds – though we desperately needed it to. That meant we had to alter our hygienic routines in order to head ashore for certain activities at a moment’s notice. Not fun. The boat was repaired in time for the Thursday rounds, though it was a couple hours late getting started. What a relief that was. Suzy did laundry Thursday morning and I tried straightening up the boat some. In the afternoon, after our critical pump out, there was a happy hour social ashore for everyone in the marina and mooring field. When we came back to Madge afterword, we discovered that we had a new raft-up companion tied up to us – another Canadian boat, this one named Rivendell. A cold front pushed through Thursday night, dropping a little bit of rain. The front left behind a lot of wind, and we were pretty much stranded on the boat all day Friday.
We got a bit of a break in the weather on Saturday, so we did chores. The items I’d ordered for Madge had arrived on Friday, so I picked them up and prepared for a day of work. My plan was to change the engine oil, then to install a new wifi booster that will allow us to pick up better signals from shoreside hotspots. Before I started the oil change, I wanted to clean up the sump in the bilge, but when I got down in there, I discovered that there was so much sludge under the engine that I needed to clean the ENTIRE bilge and put down new oil-absorbent pads so as not to risk pumping any oil overboard. What a filthy job. It took a couple of hours, and I probably ruined the only pair of jeans I have with me, but eventually the bilge was clean and we headed for the showers ashore. Unfortunately, having been down there “up close and personal” with the engine, I have spotted a couple of broken clamps and a few missing bolts that require replacing. Afterwards, I got the wifi booster installed and working, except for the final concealed cable run from the antenna to the router. We have free wifi now (!) and no longer have to depend solely on our phones for a hotspot.
Another front rolled through on Saturday night, this one stronger than Thursday’s. Madge and Rivendell, lashed together securely, got bounced around severely. There’s a limited amount of slack in the tethering lines, and sometimes the boats would move in opposite directions, only to be arrested by a severe jolt. There were all sorts of noises topside, and I was up most of the night worrying about them, going up a couple of times to check things out. The dinghy was getting slammed into the boat frequently, and the sound of the inflatable rubber tubes squeaking along Madge’s fiberglass sides made for some horrible moaning and shrieking. The wind has yet to abate today (Sunday), but it is supposed to subside by sunset; however, another and even stronger front than the first two is predicted for Monday night. Temperatures will drop into the upper 30s, with winds in the mid-to-upper 20s, gusts in the 30s.
Since I’m trapped inside today, I decided to tackle that oil change I didn’t get to on Saturday. I shouldn’t have bothered. First, the oil wouldn’t drain out of the drain tube, even after I ran the engine for a while. Eventually it started, but it took over two hours to run out. Then, I couldn’t get the oil filter off. This is the same filter I put on at the end of December. I wasn’t any stronger then than I am now. I even bent my oil filter wrench trying to remove it. So, I’ll refill the engine with new oil and change the filter next time, after I’ve procured a more substantial wrench.
The wind is still howling. I am so tired of this. Our friends aboard Kanga, who made it to the Bahamas last week, report that they’re trapped in their anchorage, too. Our friends on Dubhe over on the Gulf coast have the same problem. The weather is squirrelly all over. Suzy and I have discussed it, and I think we’re going to blow off the Bahamas this spring. Opportunities for crossing the Gulf Stream are down, and the weather is iffy. Our friends in Ft. Myers are planning to take their boat, Island Moon, to the Keys soon. We might try to meet up with Island Moon in the Keys and take advantage of their local knowledge, then go back to Ft. Myers along the Florida west coast and return to the ICW via the Okechobee Canal – sorta backwards from the way we had planned to go to Key West. We’ll try to get some good outside sailing in on our way back north to St. Marys.
At least, that’s what we’re thinking right now. As you know, however, all sailing plans are written not in stone, but in water.