July 13, 2014
The full video of our most recent Florida Keys diving trip will take a little while to produce, but in the meantime, get a little taste of it with this trailer video of the Adolphus Busch Wreck Dive!
July 12, 2014
One advantage of living on land with a trailerable boat is the fact that you can hit the freeway and get the hell out of dodge when bad weather rolls in. As Tropical Storm Arthur made it’s way up the east coast last week, we were loading up and heading south for the Florida Keys. It was a last minute trip, which I always like the best…open to all options until the day before we left, we waited until we could tell where we’d have clear weather and then we booked it down there on an overnight run Thursday night to spend 4 solid days with the best diving window you could ask for. We had light winds and calm seas for the entire trip and got in 4 days of unlimited diving from our 19′ Regal Bowrider. We found what I consider the deal of a lifetime…$93/night for a house on the water, on the Atlantic side! Having our boat floating in the canal just outside our backdoor, we were underway each morning with minimal effort and within 4-5 miles of all the best diving of the Middle Keys.
Arriving on July 4th, we hit heavy traffic on the Overseas Highway as we reached Key Largo. Our place was on Cudjoe Key, still another 50 miles away and there we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic as we passed by John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park. Knowing how close we were to some of the best diving in the world and weighing our options “sit in traffic” or “go diving”, we decided to turn around and head back for Pennankamp for a day of diving while the July 4th Parade traffic wrapped up and left us a clear road to head on into Cudjoe Key later. That was the best call we could’ve made. We launched the boat, loaded up our gear and Chase and headed for the Spiegel Grove, a 120′ wreck dive, part of the Florida Keys Wreck Trek, which we started on this trip! It was beautiful! Once we’d convinced Chase (with just a little persuasion) that he didn’t want to be floating around at the surface without us, we were sure he’d stay put in the boat while we headed down the mooring line and explored the wreck in gin clear water, even at a depth of 120′. Conditions couldn’t have been better!
Once we arrived at our place, Venture Out on Cudjoe Key, we did all the rest of our diving from there. We dove Looe Key, the Adolphus Busch Wreck, American Shoals, and a few other unnamed reefs where we could get some spearfishing in. Other than the last day when we had some bad weather roll in while we were out at sea, we had nothing but good weather. The storm rolling in was quick, but it caught us for a short window facing white caps all around, taking water over the bow, and racing back to shore as quickly and safely as we could maneuver. Wouldn’t you know it…once we made it the 6 mile stretch back in, the sky lightened up and the seas laid back down like nothing had ever happened…
Of course, a video is in the works, but in the meantime, enjoy the pictures!
Blue Heron Bridge has got to be the best shore dive in all of Florida. It’s even been featured in SportDiver Magazine as one of the top 50 dive sites in the world! As one of our favorite treats, we throw our gear in the truck and head 3 hours south for a day or two…sometimes a roundtrip all in one day! You can’t beat it. We’ve experienced some of the best salt water diving ever in West Palm Beach and the last time we were down there, we enjoyed a good comedy show too! Anyone recognize this guy? I never knew he did stand-up, but he was great. Kept us in stitches the whole time!
Parking is free at Phil Foster Park and the beach is easy to access. It’s a good dive for all skill levels. You can easily plan it all on your own and it requires nothing but the gear on your back and a dive flag. Use the “Check the Tides” link on the right side of our page, look for Lake Worth and Port of Palm Beach, and plan your dive around high slack tide. If you enter the water about 20 minutes prior to high tide, you’ll usually enjoy a full hour of calm blue water before the tide shifts. Enter the water on the east side of the beach and you can dive all along the pilings across the waterway (careful of boats overhead) and underneath the fishing bridge which is the Crème de la Crème! When you feel the tide start to shift, just slowly begin to drift out with it and exit the water the same way you came in. The inlet out to sea and the use of Peanut Island keeps the area pretty congested, so use good judgment when diving just out in front of the beach and don’t get out in the channel where you’ll encounter heavy boat traffic.
Check out the video and tell us what you think! Watch all the way to the end for the highlight of the dive!
(June 2014 – “Blue Heron Bridge Shore Dive”)
June 26, 2014
We had such a busy work week last week that by the time Saturday rolled around, the last thing we wanted to do was go to work in the boatyard. We decided to take the weekend off and have a little fun instead! We needed a little R&R and soul restoration rather than boat restoration! It did us good and now we can again look at Mofilla with our dreams and dedication to what she will be rather than the dreadful situation we’ve put ourselves in with a 46 year old wooden boat, soaking up all of our time and money while keeping us captive in the boatyard for what seems like an eternity! We’re gonna need a lot more of those “weekends off” if we’re going to make it through this alive…
Saturday morning, we threw a few things in the cooler, grabbed our doggie, and loaded up the Regal. Okay, so we had to dust off a few cobwebs to get to it, but she fired right up and begged us to put her in the water. We haven’t had her out since our Keys Trip in December and that’s just not fair to any boat, especially one that runs!
Launching at Bing’s Landing, which is just a mile down the road, we cruised up the Intercoastal and anchored off of Mellon Island, a little island owned by The Town of Marineland and managed by The Florida Department of Environmental Protection through Favor-Dyke’s State Park. This island along with Jordan Island is kept up by volunteers of Palm Coast Yacht Club, who’ve adopted these islands to help preserve their natural surroundings. There are a few primitive camp sites available and the only thing they ask is that you leave it cleaner than you found it. Brady’s mentioned he and a group of friends wanting to camp out there and I don’t know what they’re waiting for! Load up some friends and gear in a few kayaks and head for the island for a night of campfires, fishing, and who knows what… I would have been all over that as a teenager!
We messed around onshore for a little bit and did find a tent pitched on the island, but it looked like the campers hadn’t been there in a while. Returning to the boat, Chase swam around and stopped for the occasional begging of a bite of our sandwich as we ate lunch. About an hour had passed before we decided to pull up anchor and head south in hopes of avoiding a storm that was starting to roll in around us.
South worked for a little while, but before long, the storm had circled and was now coming up behind us again, so we headed north! Not ready to call it a day and knowing the ramp would be packed with people giving into the weather anyways, we decided to make a run for St. Augustine. If the storm caught up with us, we’d tie up at St. Augustine Municipal Marina and spend the day dodging the rain in and out of the shops and taverns around the historic district.
It took us about 40 minutes to get to St. Augustine from Palm Coast and with hardly a sprinkle catching up with us, we watched as lightning lit up the sky in a distance and the clouds grew darker and darker behind us, but we stayed out ahead of it, tying up to the dock with sunshine to spare. Making our way off the docks and thankful that Chase didn’t stop to pee on any multi-million dollar yachts, we headed for Nonna’s Trattoria, a quaint little Italian restaurant with outdoor dining tables situated along the brick road, Aviles Street, the oldest street in the USA. That was all she wrote… No need to go anywhere else, but right there, enjoying the afternoon breeze with a few cocktails in the historic district of downtown St. Augustine!
Of course I can’t leave you without a few photos and updates from Mofilla. We’ve had a few working days in the marina since I last wrote (Has it really been a month? I suck at this blogging thing). We’ve almost managed to finish the repairs to the deck where we’d taken the dinghy davits off and found it all rotten underneath. We’ve confirmed that the black specs we were finding, thinking they were mold spores, are actually drywood termite poops! Nice…add that to the list. Before it’s said and done, we will likely have to tent the boat. For now, we’re trying to cut out all of the areas we find tunneling and replace it. It seems to have only been in the transom and deck area we’ve just repaired, but we’ll see. We’ve also given it our best shot at repairing the rotting apron underneath the propeller shaft/engine area. That weekend almost came to blows! Let’s just say we were hot, stressed, rushed, uncertain, irritable, and impatient! Qualities that don’t work well together, but we pulled through it… Now you see why we needed a break?
May 30, 2014
Okay, so I’m one of those people who doesn’t always instinctively react to the basic things most people don’t even waste a brain cell on. I’m not dumb by any means, but let’s just say I reserve space in my brain for more complicated matters and the basic ones throw me for a loop from time to time Like what? Well, like determining left from right. Maybe it’s because I learned it as a kid by holding my hand up and the correctly facing “L” shaped by my forefinger and thumb meant that was my left hand. Well, to this day, when I have to react to “Take a left”, I quickly form the “L” with my left hand to reassure myself that I know Left from Right. I just realized as I’m writing this that I never hold up my right hand to check, I just quickly feel for my forefinger and thumb on my left hand as I react to identifying my left side. I suppose that means I do instinctively know it, but I still rely on my hand as a crutch because that’s the way I learned it. Old habits die hard!
Well, when it comes to determining the Port and Starboard side of a boat, there are all kinds of rhymes and riddles to help you remember. Port wine is red, the word red has less letters than the word green. The word port has less letters than the word starboard. So Port, Red, Left belong together and Starboard, Green, Right belong together. Hmmm….Then there is that nautical saying “Red Right Returning” that has nothing to do with port or starboard, only has to do with which side of the channel the red marker is on when returning from sea yet, it always enters my mind for a brief moment when I hear reference to anything having to do with red on a boat. Can you picture me now? Your confident and able bodied sea captain up on deck holding up my hands to form an “L” and counting letters to determine that “Port is Left and the Port Sidelight is Red”? The need to know it will have ceased by the time I figure it out! That’s where the toes come in From here on out, the only two colors of nail polish I’ll have on hand are red and green! LOL
I’m happy to report that we have completed our Sea School program and passed all 4 exams consisting of Deck General, Navigation General, Navigation Rules, and Plotting! The 54 hour course lasted 2 weeks and then we had 2 weeks before taking the exam. We didn’t study a whole lot that first week off, but the week before the exam, we crammed hard and come Saturday morning, we were as ready as we were ever gonna be. Talking with a few classmates before the exam, the anxiety level was definitely up for everyone. Some studied, some not so much, but everyone was a little uncertain of how they would do. Testing from 10am until about 3pm, with an hour in between for lunch, Dieter and I both walked away from there with passing scores in all 4 areas! The exams were tough, but based entirely on the course content and practice material we were provided. It was just a lot to cram in and if you didn’t study, I don’t know how anyone would have passed. As a matter of fact, of the 13 people who showed up to test on Saturday, only 4 people (including us) walked away passing all 4 sections. The way the exam is given, you get 3 chances to pass the test (each a different version of course) and if you fail that third time, you have to sit back through the course again before being able to test. I know of quite a few who failed all 3 attempts that day… I myself failed the Navigation Rules test on my first attempt. It has 30 questions and you have to score a 90%. That means you can only miss 3 and I missed 5 The thing is, 2 of them that I missed, I knew, I just read the question incorrectly and answered too quickly. Ugh… But another one I missed was a bad question because it said it was applicable to Inland and International and I knew the answer to International was a choice, but it would not have been the answer for Inland. The question had to do with light signals for “Constrained by Draft” and Inland Rules don’t recognize “Constrained by Draft”. That threw me off and made me think it was a trick question so I instead chose an answer that was also wrong, but I had convinced myself it could possibly be correct since in my mind, the right answer, 3 vertical red lights, was the trick part of the question. That would only be correct for International Rules and not for Inland Rules. Confused yet? I know, I tend to over-complicate matters sometimes but when I’m looking for the right answer on a test, I expect it to be 100% right, not just the best answer to part of the question. Our instructor popped in later that day and confirmed that I was right. That was a bad question. But, he pointed out how the answer I’d convinced myself could possibly be right was definitely wrong, so as it turns out, there was no right answer offered as a choice to that question. He also gave me a little shit for missing two other very straight forward questions, so I guess it didn’t matter. I still would have failed the first attempt even if not for that invalid question. I passed my 2nd attempt though! Dieter who has been gloating about his higher level of intelligence all week, passed all 4 on the first try and with a little higher scores than I did. I guess that means the long lived battle over who is Captain is solved. Dieter is the official Captain! However, I’m still reserving the title of “Admiral”! LOL
That’s not all we’ve been up to. That first weekend out of Sea School, before we began the process of cramming, we worked on MoFilla. I was just too busy studying in the evenings during the week to get a chance to get a post out here. But, we made great progress that weekend. Hoping to make some more this weekend if the rain holds out.
May 13, 2014
Okay, so it was just a couple of posts back when I wrote that our time was finally all ours for a few solid months and we hoped to devote it all to the restoration of Mofilla. Remember that? Well, as always seems to be the case, something else came up. An opportunity that we really had to consider and that ended up landing us in Sea School for two weeks working toward earning our USCG OUPV (Six Pack) Licenses. You see, we were presented with a unique situation and decided to go ahead and get in on the class in Jacksonville while we could even though we were still considering what to do with this new opportunity. The USCG Licenses are something we planned on earning at some point and if not for this opportunity, we probably would have waited until we finished with our restoration, but given the circumstances and timing, it made sense to go ahead and jump on it.
What opportunity, you ask? Well, there is a Dive Boat Operator we’ve caught wind of who needed a licensed captain to take a job for 90 days beginning in August in order to fulfill a Government Contract he had open. He’s had a stroke and can’t do it any longer and was looking for someone who could sustain without pay for 90 days and the prize in the end would be to take ownership of the Dive Boat and along with it, the ongoing Government Contracts if they so desire. At first, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to acquire such an operation and during those first 24 hours of excitement, we enrolled in Sea School! Dieter would have actually been the one to take the position, but I wanted to attend the school at some point too, so why not do it together? That’s the way we roll…
Well, after the initial excitement had a chance to sink in and we had a look at the boat, we realized we’d be INSANE to take on two project boats! This boat is operable now, it’s well set up for supporting a Dive Operation, but it still needed some work to ever be something we would consider long term. Not to mention, the guy operating the boat must be a midget because the little space he has set up as his steering station would have Dieter crawling and slinking around to get into and then remaining in a tightly crouched position. He was getting a little claustrophobic just checking it out, so it would definitely be something he had to change. After sleeping on the idea that night, he decided he was quite happy here working on Mofilla and continuing to chase the dream we have without throwing any additional boats into the works. Actually, I think he said “I hate the restoration project we’re in now, why in the hell would I want to take on another!” But I take that as, he’s happy to be here with Mofilla and doesn’t need another boat drawing his attention away from her
So we turned that proposition down, BUT, we were now very excited about attending Sea School and going ahead with obtaining our Captain’s Licenses. For the last two weeks, we’ve put in evenings and weekends to complete a 54 hour course preparing us for the USCG Exam (well, a Sea School version of it). It was a pretty grueling schedule on top of our regular 9-5, but we really learned a lot. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Were they just going to force feed us and prepare us to pass a test or was it actually going to be more meaningful and practical content. Our instructor, Captain Don, was great and we felt the class was well worth it. He teaches sailing courses through ASA too, so that’s now on our list of things to add to our cruising arsenal. That is….after we get a little further along with Mofilla.
The next two weeks will be devoted to preparing for the 4 exams we’ll take on the 24th. If I could just stay focused on the subject at hand… I swear, you put toys in my hand and my mind always wonders off somewhere else. Part of what we’re practicing of course is plotting and navigation. Using dividers to measure distance on a map got a little boring and I started doodling with them. I can’t draw worth a damn, but turns out I can create some pretty cool geometric designs. After a bit of toying around, I came up with a Logo idea for Diving Into Cruising. Taking a few stabs at it, I finally perfected the image. Trying to first color it using colored pencils, the finished product was seriously lacking any flare. I then tried markers and it was a little better, but still not great. Then I remembered a post I’d read by Kevin on Catchin’ Rays and he used a program called Phoxo to fill in his image that I remembered had teeny tiny detail lines and he did a beautiful job of it. Hitting him up for more information, he walked me through using the program to get a perfect finished painting for my artwork. Thank Kevin!
What do you think? Applied for the Copyright today!
April 30, 2014
We’ve finally had a very productive weekend working on Mofilla, but as I’m sure you can guess by the title of this post, our sense of accomplishment was very short lived as we uncovered our next major concern. We thought we’d isolated all of the rotten part of the apron to be in the transom area of the boat and with the repairs we’ve completed, we were feeling pretty good about it. Putting some final touches on it this weekend, leveling it out and wrapping a few layers of 17oz fiberglass cloth around it, we thought the surgery had gone well and the rest of the backbone was ready for action. Well… not so fast there whipper snapper! Just a couple feet forward, starting to dig away the rot where the hull meets the keel, we’ve found it to go all the way into the apron and through the other side.
This new section of rot is directly under the stuffing box for the propeller shaft. Is it leaking there? Where is all this water coming from? We have to identify the source. We thought that maybe the cockpit scuppers were leaking and that all the water was pooling around the keelson and by laying up on the hard for the last 6 years with no bilge pump to run, that water just sat there. That’s still our most logical guess as the evidence of duct tape wrapped around one of the drains is a pretty good indication that they leak. Regardless of how the water entered, we’re pretty sure it’s sitting on the hard for so long without a bilge pump running that has caused all the areas of rot to begin in the backbone of the boat. Unfortunately, the years of neglect have really scarred this boat and allowed damage to occur that could have been avoided. Just a little effort to keep her dry would’ve been nice! Again, I will say “Always listen to your moisture meter, even if your broker is telling you he’s known various paints to send off bogus moisture signals!” Remember, brokers are there to sell a boat, not protect your interest. Sad, but true…
I think the following pictures tell the story pretty well…
April 18, 2014
As we closed out the final ASF Florida Surf Competition this past weekend, we realized that from now until about August, our time is ours! It’s been a great experience for Brady and one that we’ll continue to help through, gaining the exposure and edge he needs to surf competitively, but I am so glad to see it as one less commitment we have at the moment.
Surfing competitively against all of the best surfers in Florida, Brady has really gotten a taste for the talent out there and it only helps him to up his game. He advanced pretty well this season, starting off taking last place in the first heat and ending up actually advancing to the second heat. So, he’s learned lots and has a good idea of what he really needs to put into this if he wants to surf professionally. He’s got all summer to prepare for next season!
In the meantime, we hope to be able to put our heads down now and get some real work accomplished with our restoration project. That is….after one more teensey weensey little dive trip. We need something to clear the cobwebs and launch us into another extended period of restoration. This will do it! West Palm Beach Dive Weekend….and thus, the reason I can’t write more today! Cheers!
April 2, 2014
Oh what a difference a little sunshine can make! The rain finally seems to be clearing after a long, cold, wet winter and the air is warming nicely here. We’ve been able to spend a little time with MoFilla and promise to get her dried out and re-glassed just as soon as possible so that we can release her from that big blue tarp! She needs to shine, she needs to breathe, she needs to be on the water with the wind blowing in her sails, and right now, we are her lifeline! We’re giving it all we’ve got to bring her back to life after all these years on the hard!
My parents (who are actually Dieter’s best whitewater paddling buddies from Virginia – he knew them long before he knew me) were back in town this week and had a chance to look over our work and reassured us that we are doing it right and once we finish, we’ll have one bad-ass, seaworthy sailboat. I trust their opinion. They spent six years restoring their wooden trawler and it was a hunk of abandoned rotting wood sitting on the bank of a boatyard when they found it. They’ve since then sold it and today, it’s out cruising the waterways and is absolutely beautiful. When I say they spent six years, it’s because they actually work professionally in boat repair for other people, so they had to fit their own restoration into their time off. The reason I’m telling you this is because working in this field for as long as they have, they’ve seen a lot of methods come and go and they really know what they’re talking about. So, having their vote of confidence that we are well on our way in the right direction makes us feel pretty good and has reaffirmed our faith in our project! The nightly reading has paid off…we actually know what we’re doing! Thank you Gougeon Brothers!
We’ve finished digging away all the rot in the keelson, or more specifically as diagramed here on the Newporter Site, the Apron, but most people can relate to the Keelson. We then saturated it with Tim-Bor Insecticide and Fungicide, and let it dry out good for a couple of months. Then, cutting small pieces of spruce to place back inside the void, we mixed up some West Systems Epoxy with 404 High Density Filler and completely filled the void in the apron. It’s solid as a rock and now just needs another sanding, some final filling, and replacement of the plywood. Once we beef up the bottom with several layers of 17oz biaxial fiberglass cloth, it’ll be bomber! That’s next on the list… Mother Nature – Please continue to be nice to us
March 27, 2014
Okay, so reading over the last couple month’s posts, it seems I’ve become quite the whiney little bitch! Sorry about that That’s not part of the plan! There is little I can do about bad weather, limited time off, endless boat repair, falling stock prices. Out of my control…It is what it is and my whining about it doesn’t help any. We’re in this for the simple life, right? Right! Taking it one day at a time and getting the best out of every day. No more negativity! Enough of my whining! Going to find the silver lining in everything from now on…
We’ve made some time in the last couple days to finish the production of a video we couldn’t wait to get out for you guys. We dove The Devil’s Den in Williston, FL about a month ago and captured such beautiful footage, it would be a shame not to share it! Trying out my new narrating skills, and trying to avoid the YouTube blocking that comes along with using popular copyrighted music, we’ve taken a stab at editing this video with more narration than music. Hope you enjoy it