Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Boat Maintenance Flowchart

Many of you who follow this blog regularly know that I undertook a great many projects on Drift Away.   What you don't know is that I used this flowchart to figure out how to fix many things.

Everybody should have a system.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Prolabs Cat Tape Worm Tabs Warning

I write a lot about our dogs. I really should include a bit about our cats too. And I know a lot of you boaters have pets aboard.

Meet Sassy and Leo Pard. Sassy is scowling at Leo, who is wearing the sweater.

Sassy belonged to a good friend of ours in Norwalk. She got into a situation where she couldn't keep Sassy in her apartment, and Sassy was stuck living in a crate at the vet's office where she works. We were overrun with mice in our rental Unabomber Cabin, and so Sassy came to live with us. For the record, she is a champion mouser.

Pam was in the barn feeding Jeremiah the Horse a few months ago when she heard meowing from up in the loft. The next thing she knew, Mr. Pard was on her shoulder, purring up a storm. The next thing I knew, we had another cat. Leo is also a champion mouser, birder, and anything else that moves that is small.

So what's the deal with the sweater? I used to take Ruby to work with me every day from the time when she was a small puppy. The furnace broke and I only had a small electric heater, so I bought that sweater for Ruby. She hated wearing it, but soon outgrew it anyway. Pam happened to find it in the dogs' toy box and put it on Leo. Leo was less than pleased, as you can see, but he was a good sport and let Pam put it on.

Catching so many mice, Sassy caught a bad case of tape worms. I picked up this bottle of tape worm pills at our local Tractor Supply. The bottle comes with three pills. Pam and I looked everywhere on the bottle and the instructions inside. Amazingly, there was no dosage instructions. Anywhere.

Pam ground up one pill in a bit of canned cat food, a real treat that our cats never get. Like the dogs, they get dry food. The next day, we were debating whether to give Sassy another pill. Three pills, one a day? I decided to google the company, but the print on the bottle was so small that I couldn't read the company's name. Lacking a magnifying glass, I took a photo of the bottle and blew it up. Prolabs. I then googled for instructions, and what I found was very unsettling. The dosage is one pill. That's it. And actually, if your cat is four pounds or less, the dosage is a half a pill. If your cat contracts worms again, you have to wait 30 days before the next dose. Otherwise, your cat will overdose and possibly die.

I didn't find this information on the Prolabs website. I found it on an internet message board, where someone posted who actually called the company. I'm not the only one outraged. Many people are.

How can a drug company be so careless? So incompetent? So... stupid?

Tape worms are common in cats that eat mice, since many mice have tape worms. It is also easily spread to other animals through feces. I wonder how many pets have been lost due to poor instructions on medications?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Quarter Million Hits! A Toast!

Our Seinfeld-esk blog about nothing has passed a quarter of a million hits.  I know that if each hit was a dollar it would mean nothing compared to our national debt, but if each hit was a beer...

I think this is pretty awesome.  Especially considering that I no longer update it everyday since we're no longer on Drift Away, and that it is for sale.  There must be some nuggets of information in there that keeps people finding it, and coming back.

I think our boating life is over.  My accident last summer has left me incapable of doing many boat related things, and it is time to move onto a more sedentary life style.  We bought a motorhome, which doesn't need to be docked and doesn't rock and roll.  Some have suggested that we name it Drift Away and continue this blog.  That doesn't sound like a bad idea.  Perhaps we will.

I am somewhat humbled, though, that a whole bunch of you clicked on our blog's links a quarter of a million times.  To me, that shows that a whole lot of Americans (and some others overseas) have a great sense of humor.

For sure, Pam and I had a blast on our cruise.  We did it in a dumb fashion, with large dogs.  Not that I would change a thing.  I wouldn't.  I love our dogs.  I also love our horse, and bringing Jeremiah would just be plain stupid.

But then again, no one has ever accused me of being overly bright.  So here's to a quarter of a million hits, and many more adventures to come.  And a toast.

Friends may come, and friends may go.
And friends may peter out, you know.
But we'll be friends through thick and thin,
Peter out, or peter in.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Was Writing This Blog Worth It?

I stopped my daily updates of this blog when we moved off Drift Away and back to upstate New York last May.  We had a bit over 200,000 hits and 90 followers of our Seinfeld-esk blog about nothing, except for the ridiculousness of living on an old boat with large dogs and cats.   This old boat did well by us, getting us from Stamford, Connecticut to Albany, New York and then down south of Jacksonville Florida.

We're close to a quarter million hits now, and have 96 followers.  That's remarkable to me.  I hope everyone who reads and follows the blog got something out of it.  Useful information, what to do, what NOT to do, maybe some inspiration... or perhaps just a few laughs.  Please, feel free to laugh.  No one has laughed at me more than myself.  I just do stupid stuff all the time.

We've had lots of lookers at Drift Away, and several offers, but no checks and it's still for sale.  I truly have mixed emotions about selling it.  I know this boat.  I wouldn't hesitate to take it anywhere, including off shore to places like the Bahamas.  But life changes, and an accident probably precludes me from any further adventures on a boat.  Pam and I have purchased a more sedate and steady underfoot motor home, which will be our next traveling adventure.

We both miss Drift Away the boat.  We also miss Drift Away the adventures, and Drift Away the friends we've met along the way.  There truly has been nothing like the short time we spent cruising on our boat in our lifetimes.  We've met many good people who have become good friends, and we miss you all.  We're going to try to correct that while living south this winter, and hope to catch up with many of you.  Beaufort, South Carolina... Isle of Hope, Georgia...  Brunswick, Georgia... all are must stops for us.

So only four more followers to hit 100, and we'll probably hit a quarter million hits within the next month or so.  It's been an amazing trip.  Thank you for sharing in it with us.

Oh, and for the benefit of my cruising friends down south, this was yesterday morning.

Ruby and Chevy the pit bulls had experienced snow in Stamford, and for them this was no big deal.  But for our Georgia German Shorthaired Pointer Olivia, this was her first experience with snow, and she was feeling particularly frisky.  She thought she might wrestle Ruby to the ground and roll her in it.

Ruby is much shorter, but outweighs Olivia by 20 pounds.  Ruby is also an expert pit bull wrestler and regularly beats up Chevy, our male pit.  Olivia, at 60 pounds, was not successful.  She never had a chance.  Ruby taught Olivia what snow tastes like.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Book is Coming Together

I haven't been working on the book every day.  Some days are better than others for me.  But as of now, I've got 14,699 words, or 54 pages worth down on "paper". Only 45,000 words or so more to go.  I thought I'd give you dedicated blog followers a sneak preview of the draft of the introduction:

What you are about to read is true.  Nothing has been exaggerated, or enhanced just to make a good story.  This is a compilation of our almost daily written blog, Drift Away.  After reading this book, if you doubt that this could possibly be true, you can find our blog diary at  Each entry was usually written the morning after the previous day’s events, and included many photos to document the truth of our story.  Sometimes written very early in the morning.

There are so many people to thank for making our cruise an adventure of a lifetime that we don’t dare list them, for fear of leaving someone out.   You know who you are, and you know how special you are to us.  When designing our little house in the Adirondack Mountains, we included a guest bedroom just for you.  Please make sure you visit if you are able.  You are all welcome.  Yes, this means you.

As of this writing, Drift Away is for sale.  While we kicked around the idea of selling him, now that Dave has had his accident, it’s a definite.  It’s time for the next adventuresome family to enjoy a great boat.  And we fully expect a daily blog, with photos.  Drift Away deserves nothing less.

- Dave and Pam Gibson

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Progress On The Book

I've actually started writing the book.  It starts in Bleecker with me laying on the ground, have just been whacked by a tree.  I struggle to get to a chair in the screen house.  My right arm is numb and I can't drive Pam's standard shift car to get out of there.  All I can do is (are you ready for this?) sit there and drink beer, and think back on our wonderful time spent living and cruising on Drift Away.

From that point, it's a compilation of blog articles, although in a different format.  Rather than being a linear diary of the previous day's goings on, it's arranged by subject, such as boat critters, wintering aboard, writing, and so on.

I hope people find it entertaining and somewhat humorous.  Perhaps even a bit educational.

I hope Johnny Depp plays my part in the Drift Away movie.  Pam says that if Johnny Depp plays me, she wants to appear as herself, whatever that means.

After the movie hits, I suppose I'll be inundated with requests for autographs, product endorsements, and TV appearances.

After several days work, I'm up to 6,000 words.  It's not all copy and pasted, but a lot of new material as well.  I'm torn about the boat projects.  I don't want this to be boring for folks who don't do boat projects, or maybe aren't even boaters, but also useful for wannabe loopers and liveaboards.  I guess the book will come together on its own as I progress.

My target is to be 60,000 words or so, so I have a long ways to go.  But then again, what else do I have to do?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Drift Away - the book?

I know many of you probably didn't make the transition from our Drift Away blog to our Bleecker Mountain Life blog.   Many of you are interested in cruising and living aboard stories, not dirt dweller stuff.  That's why I started a different blog when we left Drift Away.

Short story shorter, I had an accident.  I was attacked by a vengeful tree.  It's all in the Revenge of the Trees.  I broke my neck, and I'm lucky to be alive, or not paralyzed.  I have to be in a neck brace for the next couple of months.  No lifting, turning, twisting, or anything much at all.  It's only been a few days, but I'm going nuts already.

We're living in a small rental cabin in Bleecker, New York in the Adirondack Mountains.  We don't have TV and we only get a small handful of awful radio stations.  I could only read so many books.  So what to do with myself?  Someone suggested writing a book.

I've never thought of myself as much of a writer.  What would I write about?  They say you should write about what you know.   I think one should also write about something that would interest others.  Well, I guess that would be cruising on Drift Away with Pam and all our critters.  We've certainly had our share of adventures, like losing both engines off Sandy Hook.

I supposed I'd leave out all the various boat projects I did.  There are enough how-to books out there as it is.  Just stick to our travels, adventures, fun times, and funny times.

Any suggestions out there?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Green Cove Springs Marina WARNING!

In preparation for our departure north, we needed to find a good place to leave Drift Away for the many months we'd be gone.  Cost was an issue and we eliminated all the expensive marinas.  We didn't care about amenities since we wouldn't be there anyway.  We also wanted a do-it-yourself yard to perform some needed maintenance,  like painting.  We narrowed our list down to a few.  Green Cove Springs Marina looked good, relatively close by to Brunswick Georgia where we were docked, just south of Jacksonville.

I gave them a call to make sure they could accommodate us.  They asked the size, weight, and beam, and then confirmed that they could easily haul Drift Away.  Pam and I even took a road trip there to talk to the staff in person.

We arrived at Green Cove Springs Marina on May 10th, tying up to their wall.

Not the prettiest marina we've been at, but the cleats were adequate.

We were there for a few days and made arrangements to rent a U-Haul for our trip north.  The marina owner and office manager came by in a golf cart and we chatted a bit.  They both seemed like nice folks.  

I prepped the boat for long term storage, putting loose things in the Whaler and covering it with a tarp.  I turned off everything on the boat, both 110V and 12V.   The shore power didn't work on the dock and so we ran our generator to keep our food cold and water hot, but no big deal.  The only things running would be the bilge pumps, so I hooked both batteries together with booster cables to double the battery capacity for the pumps.  I couldn't just turn the battery switches to "all" because the engines won't start that way.

On the day of our departure, I stopped by the office to check out.  I paid for hauling, bottom cleaning, pump out, blocking, and three months storage in advance.  I asked that our boat be hauled as soon as possible.  I didn't like leaving a 33 year old boat in the water without someone reliable to watch it and check on it.  I was told that it would be hauled within a few days.

A couple of days passed and Pam and I were almost in North Carolina when the cell phone rang.   It was the marina.

"We can't haul your boat."

"WHAT?  Why not??"

"It's too big.  We can't do it."

"When I called, you assured me that you could!"

"Well, we can't.  It's too tall."

"So now what do we do?  We're on our way north towing a U-Haul and almost in North Carolina."

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it.  I'll have it hauled by Holland Marine and then stored at Reynold's Park Yacht Center right next to us.  They charge more than we do, though."

"When can you do this?"

"I'll make the arrangements right away and get it over there."

"OK, do it."

After I hung up the phone, I was extremely aggravated.  I found it incredibly unprofessional that they didn't take a few minutes to size up Drift Away in the few days I was there.  Plus, it would cost me half again as much as I planned on.  If I knew there was a problem hauling Drift Away at Green Cove Springs, I would have taken it someplace else.

Days passed and I heard nothing.  I called.  Drift Away was still in the water.

"I just have to get on Holland Marine's hauling schedule.  I'll get it out in a few days."

A few days turned into a few weeks.   Another call.

"Your broker said to leave your boat in the water because it shows better."

"What?  No way.  Look, it's MY boat and I want it hauled.  Why would you take instructions from a boat broker?"

And then a couple of months went by.  Finally, on the 12th of July, I had a call from Holland that Drift Away was hauled and at Reynold's.

I called Green Cove Springs and asked about refunding what I paid them.  I spoke to Crystal, the manager.  

"I'll talk to Bob, the owner."

"Fine," said I.  "I'll pay for the few days we were there on the boat, and I'll pay for the pump out you did, but I don't expect to be charged for the two months my boat sat tied up to your wall."

"I'll have to talk to Bob about that."

Several telephone calls and emails went unanswered over the next few weeks. It was apparent to me that they had no intentions of refunding me anything.  I guess they figured they could continue to play games since I'm in New York and they're in Florida.  They were wrong.

I filled out paperwork and sent it to my bank to have my debit card charged back the full amount I paid them, $773.

Now the tables are turned and it's their turn to wait.

A word to the wise.  Always put major expenditures on a charge or debit card.  You can always have the card charged back if goods or services are not delivered.  

Avoid Green Cove Springs Marina.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Own Less And Live More

I think we all go through various stages in life.  Young adults are often determined to "get ahead", as was I.  I was particularly driven to succeed.  I worked hard in various sales jobs to earn a decent living to pay the mortgage, the car loans, the boat loan, and to provide for my wife and daughter.  I worked long, hard hours and often stressed about money and paying bills.

As I got a little older, my priorities started to change.  Money was still important, but "stuff" not so much.  I decided, at age 32, to chuck my sales career and return to college.

"You're going to do WHAT??" shrieked my then-wife.

"I'm going back to college.  I want to learn a skill."

"You suck at school."

"This time will be different."

"What are you going to major in?"

"I don't know, but something where I can work an 8 to 5 job and earn a living."

Long story short, I excelled in college.  I would have gotten a 4.0 except for a B in stupid tennis.

I went to work for a computer software company and within a few years became vice-president.  I made a lot of money for that company, but it wasn't enough to undo the debt incurred prior to my involvement.  The company went out of business.  All was not lost though, and a company in New York City offered to buy us out.   They made me a very generous offer, which I declined.  I had enough of working 80 hour weeks, flying all around the country, and waking up and not knowing what Holiday Inn I was in.

The older I got, the less important money and possessions became.  I decided I had to make a choice.  I could either work my butt off to support my lifestyle, or I could adjust my lifestyle to fit my budget.

I'm leaving out a lot of details here.  This is a blog, not an autobiography, but suffice it to say that I'm living more simply, owning less and living more, and living more stress free.

Now, to shift gears.  Many of you know that Pam and I lived on Drift Away for several years.  We put the boat up for sale and had many prospective buyers come to look at it.  One nice couple, Conrad and Roxanne, took a liking to Drift Away.   They didn't like it as much as Pam and I did apparently and we didn't agree on a selling price, but there were no hard feelings and we exchanged many emails.  During the course of this, Conrad mentioned that he had written a book about their travels.  I mentioned that I've edited a few books in my day and I'd love to read his.   He sent me a draft, and I made a few suggestions and returned it to him.

In our mailbox yesterday was a signed copy of Own Less & Live More by Conrad Cooper, available on

Conrad and I are truly kindred spirits.  As are most cruisers, liveaboards, and folks who live in the mountains.

By far the best sailing-travel adventure book to hit the shelves in years. We all dream about escaping the 9 to 5 and sailing away but Conrad, his wife Roxanne and daughter Logan didn’t just dream about it, they did it. Freeing themselves from jobs, house mortgages, car notes, monthly bills and all the other anchors of life that have us tied down, they managed to escape the default American lifestyle and live the adventure of a lifetime. In an extremely humorous way, Conrad describes quitting his job, medical visits and all the trials and tribulations that an adventure like this will create. This is more than just a humorous book, but a life philosophy. Conrad employs the theory of owning less and living more to live life to its fullest. Luxury cars and expensive houses mean nothing to Conrad and his family as they have learned to live more simply thereby allowing them to experience much more than they ever dreamed.

Tired of the rat race? Convinced that you need to work one more year before you retire? Read this book and get back to me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Erie is Open

According to a local news source, the Erie is now open.

This is lock 11 in Amsterdam this morning.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What An Imbecile!

If there's one thing that really pisses me off, it's power boaters who don't have a clue.  Sure, there are sailors who don't have a clue too, but any damage they do is usually to themselves.  Power boaters can endanger the well being of others, and their property.

Yesterday, Pam and I decided to attend a music festival in Stillwater, New York at Admirals Marina, which is on the Hudson River north of Albany.  This is also the Champlain Canal.  Between sets, I wandered down to the water to get my boat fix when I saw three boats leave the lock headed north.   A small runabout, which headed towards the marina.   A canal boat, which was traveling at a leisurely couple of knots.   And a red trawler which decided it had to pass the canal boat as quickly as possible, and in doing so tossed up a huge wake.

You can see how close he is to the marina in the pic above.  In the photo below, you can see his bow pointed skyward, and his huge wake.  

When his wake hit the marina, boats and docks rocked like crazy, as you can imagine.  If anyone was on the docks, especially children, they would have been tossed into the Hudson.

This is, of course, not only dangerous but illegal.  In New York, it is against the law to operate a boat at more than five MPH within 100 feet of a dock, the shore, or a moored boat.  Five MPH is a fast walk.  This clod was motoring at least twice that speed.

Quite honestly, this is one thing that I don't miss about boating.   The inconsideration of others, that their time is more valuable than your safety, or that of your property.

If you see the owner of this boat,  please give him a link to this blog.  Thanks.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Erie Canal is Still Closed

I've never seen so much rain here in upstate New York.   Since we left Drift Away and drove up here, it's rained every single day but four.  And when it's rained, it's often rained big time.   June set a new rainfall record.

The Erie Canal has been closed since mid-June.   There's been flooding in Ft. Plain and the canal is so high and flowing so fast that it's just not safe.  According to the NYS DOT website,


locks E-8

For updates and information monitor 1-800-4CANAL4 and (Scotia) to E-18 (Jacksonburg) remain closed until further notice and will reopen as soon as flows recede and conditions allow.

I know this is a real problem for you "Loopers".  It may be that this isn't your year.  Then again, with climate change, this may be the new normal.  The Erie isn't closed because of a hurricane like in years past.  This is only from rain.  Al Gore predicted this in An Inconvenient Truth, record heat in the southwest and rain in the northeast.  Has the time come?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Erie Canal Closed

Yesterday was a down day for Pam and me. We needed a break from working on our land in Bleecker. We decided to take a road trip to Waterford, my hometown. We stopped at the Canal Center to see if there were any boaters there that we knew. There weren't. But we chatted up a nice couple who, like everyone else there, were waiting for the canal to reopen. It was closed for a time due to high water from biblical rains, but now its closed because of a damaged dam by Amsterdam that needs to be repaired. Everything has stopped.

Here's an article about the closure in the Daily Gazette. Everyone is taking this in stride, especially experienced cruisers who know not to cruise on a schedule.

Want to experience life on the water? You can rent canal boats like this one. Once the canal is reopened.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here Be Monsters

I think that many of you who love the outdoors, and boating, are probably readers.  After all, you're reading this blog, and probably many more.

I'm not a big reader.  I was when I was a kid, I just about lived in the Waterford village library all summer long.  Most of the books I enjoy reading, even back then, are "how to" books.  How to build a house, how to fly fish, how to... well... when I was maybe eight or ten, I noticed a book high on shelf that was about sex.  I looked around.  No one was near.  I reached up for it, opened it, and...

"Would you like to check that book out, David?" asked Mrs. Lavender, the librarian and possibly the nicest lady I've ever met.

"Um... I dunno what it's about.  I guess not."

Mrs. Lavender smiled and put it back for me.

I've read novels that interest me, usually about sailing in the South Pacific or the North Pole (Tristan Jones) or something.  Not too many novels.  Maybe it was because of a bad experience with an English teacher in 10th grade.

We were assigned to read "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane.  It was about symbolism in writing.  I'll never forget the question on the test.  What does the dead fish in the swamp symbolize?  I wrote what I thought was a very insightful and reasoned answer.  When I got my paper back, my answer was marked wrong.  My hand shot up.

"Yes, Mr. Gibson?"

"You marked my answer about the dead fish in the swamp wrong."

"That's right.  Because it's wrong."

"How do you know?  The only person who really knows what it symbolizes is Steven Crane, and he's dead!"

It didn't go well for me in that class after that.  Nor in any other classes, for that matter, because I started questioning things.

But I digress.  Sorry.

We don't have cable or satellite or over-the-air TV here.  We feel we don't need it.  But we've had so much rain lately (it rained again all day today!) that I'm getting bored watching old westerns even.  I noticed a book on the bookshelf - "Here Be Monsters" by Jamie Sheffield.  Jamie was the best man at my daughter's wedding last fall, and he was just about to publish this, his first book.  I ordered it for Pam as a gift.  She loved it, and demanded that I place an order for any upcoming sequel.

Well, I pulled the book off the shelf and opened it mid-morning.  I finished it late in the afternoon, all 282 pages.  I've never done that in all my years of reading, even as a kid.  Rather than me trying to describe it, here is the back of the book.

Like all good books, it is based on the experiences of the author.  Well, all except the gruesome parts, I hope.  But it's based in Jamie's world, the Adirondacks, and include some of his activities, such as camping in the dead of winter, sleeping in a hammock.  And I'll bet there's no symbolism in there at all.

I'm sure that many of you are avid readers, and love mysteries and detective novels.  I don't think you'd be disappointed with this one.  It's available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle versions.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Final Entry For Awhile. Thank You All.

It's been quite a ride, both blog-wise and Drift Away-wise.   Our first blog entry was January 13, 2011 and was titled Beginning of the blog of Drift Away, our 1980 46' Cheoy Lee trawler.   Including this one, there have been 633 entries since then, and over 200,000 page views.  One of our followers, MarkJ, happened to be the 100,000 hit.  He then prided himself on being number 200,000 and was kind enough to send this screen shot.  We have 90 regular followers, for which I'm grateful.  Each of you will be receiving a bottle of Dom with a thank you card.

I've tried to be honest in showing our lifestyle in this blog.  And that's what it is, a lifestyle blog.  It's not a cruising blog really, because we spend so much time in each place that we stop that we like.  We cruise, but at a glacial paces.  It's not truly a liveaboard blog because we actually move from time to time.  And move we did.  1,429 nautical miles.

We left Seaview House Marina in Stamford on September 20th, 2011.  Our intended destination was Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey, but we lost both engines and were towed to Oyster Bay in Long Island.  Not a good start.  It's all in Getting SeaTowed.  But Pam and I eventually made it to Albany, got married, and then headed south.  Our worst time on Drift Away was losing both engines off Sandy Hook in very rough seas.  One to two foot seas was forecast, but kicked up to six footers, which shook up all the gunk in our old fuel tanks.  Luckily, I don't get seasick easily and I spent hours in the engine room, getting one engine at a time to start and move us a bit before it died again.  It's all in Getting the Snot Kicked Out of Us.  We spent almost three weeks in Atlantic Highlands while I fixed the problem of fouled fuel tanks for good, installing a fuel polishing system and two Filter Bosses.

Since that time, we've traveled all the way down to Florida, and Drift Away has been pretty much flawless.  In total, we've traveled 1,429 nautical miles, which for my landlubber friends is 1,643 statute miles.  We've gotten together with many friends along the way, most of which we've met through the internet.  Not a crazy one in the bunch.  Oh sure, a tad off center perhaps, but aren't we all?

We've made many new friends too.  Perhaps our fondest memories are our liveaboard friends and locals that we met at Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah.  Sadly, all those liveaboards have moved on, and it will never be the same, but I think we captured the spirit of that group fairly well in this blog.

This is the final blog entry for Drift Away for some time.  We're heading out, towing a U-Haul full of our stuff and headed for Bleecker New York where we'll begin the process of putting down roots and building our Unabomber homestead.  You can follow our progress on that blog, Bleecker Mountain Life.   Like restoring Drift Away, we'll be doing much of the work ourselves, which should be pretty comical.  As you know, I don't sugar coat anything to make myself look good.  I do stupid stuff all the time, and I'm pretty proud of the fact that I still have all of my fingers and appendages.

We'll be busy all day today loading up the U-Haul here, then driving to Brunswick to fetch the rest of our stuff out of storage, and then spend a few days driving up to Bleecker in upstate New York.  Internet coverage will be spotty, but I'll update Bleecker Mountain Life as often as I can.  I'll be looking forward to seeing you there.

Although I just found out the cabin we're renting has only a woodstove for heat, we plan on staying there through Christmas and then returning to Drift Away and heading south more.  Unless Drift Away sells.  Who knows?

Last night's  sunset.

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

See you in Bleecker. Or I'll see you here in January 2014.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chevy and the Crazed Cat, and Final Maintenance

We took the dogs off the boat yesterday morning for their potty break.  We had just gotten down to the end of our long long dock when a snarling crazed cat came charging at the dogs.  Ruby was spellbound and froze.  Olivia was curious until a swipe at her nose, at which time she howled like a little girl dog.   Well, I guess that's OK since she is a little girl dog.  Then the cat went after Chevy.   The cat swiped at him and got him on the nose, and he jumped back.  The cat went at and got him a second time and he jumped again.  Chevy then got a cold icy stare on his face and I saw a lip go up.  If the cat came a second time, it wouldn't be good.  Just then, a fella came sprinting from the bathrooms calling his cat's name and got between the cat and Chevy.   After some effort, he finally scooped up the cat.  It was then that Ruby realized the cat meant harm.  All of the cats that Ruby has known have been friendly and so it took Ruby a minute to catch on.  Then she decided she was going to kick some serious cat butt, but luckily was on her leash, as were Chevy and Olivia.  That cat had a death wish.

Sorry, no photos.

Back at the boat, it was time for engine maintenance.  I needed to change the oil in the two Ford Lehmans, including the injection pumps, and the two Onan generators.

I had purchased one of those Shurflo pumps mounted on a bucket but after three hours of pumping, it had only removed about a gallon and a half, and each engine holds three gallons of oil.

This is the lousy contraption in the pic above.  That little itty bitty black tube is stuck down into the crankcase through the dipstick tube, and the 12 volt motor is attached to the lid of the bucket.  I think if I just removed the dipstick and cap on the valve cover, it would evaporate faster.

So I hied myself over to St. Augustine and bought a manual oil extractor pump, which worked much better.  I had each engine drained in a half an hour apiece.

The new manual pump also has a hose that sticks into the dipstick tube.  You pump the handle a couple of dozen times, creating a vacuum, which extracts the oil.  No muss, no fuss, little work.  The old Surflo piece of crap is now being used as a bucket.

The injection pumps were a piece of cake, made easier because I 1) have the manual and 2) read an excellent description on how to do this on another blogger's site - The Trawler Beach House.  I could recount how I did it here, but why reinvent the wheel?   If I went into detail, I'd have to include all the comical spills and oil squirting everywhere, including all over me, and who'd want to read about all that?

It was 100 degrees in the engine room because I had to run both engines and both generators to heat up the oil and to suspend crud.  I spent most of the afternoon in there.   Right now, I'm about to rehydrate with my third victory beer.

Tomorrow I'll fire up everything and look for leaks, and then change the transmission fluid on the two trannies.  The engine room will be done.   Then I'll remove the bimini for summer storage, tarp the Whaler, and generally do anything I can to avoid packing.  I'd only be in Pam's way.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Final Stop- Green Cove Springs.

Yesterday was an easy day.  It only took a bit over three hours to cruise from Jacksonville Landing to Green Cove Springs, and that was at a leisurely 1500 RPM and 6.5 to 7 knots.  I figured we'd arrive about 12:30 or so.

We had slack current so it was perfect to cast off the dock lines.  It was also perfect to sit and wait for the train trestle to open.    It's always open unless a train is crossing.  Must be a train is coming.

We waited and waited for about fifteen minutes for the train that never arrived.  But then the trestle opened, letting us pass before closing behind us again.  Must be a really slow train.

Have you noticed my tendency to leave off the word "it"?  I should have written "It must be a really slow train", but I don't speak that way, and I was taught to write the way I speak to communicate effectively.  I guess we upstate New Yorkers speak in a sort of shorthand.  Anyway....

Goodbye Jacksonville!

Hello Sea and Air Crash Recovery.   I hope this was only training.

The dogs were in sleepy mode.  They were awakened way too early for their potty walk.

Top secret Navy air base.  I can't tell you where it is on the St. John's River just north of Jacksonville.

Weird green plane.  It must be to throw off the enemy by making them think you have no taste.

The entrance to Doctor's Bay.  I wonder why they call it that?


Pam was lounging on the foredeck and the autopilot was taking us down the bay.  I was keeping "watch".   Suddenly, debris the size of the Titanic was in front of us!  With no time to flip off the autopilot and change course, I threw the engines into reverse (for my landlubber friends, I slammed on the brakes).  We stopped with only feet to spare.   I need to keep better watch.  But in my defense, I'm really bad at seeing things and can't find anything where Pam tells me to look.  It's a guy thing.  It's no wonder the two lookouts didn't see the iceberg.

12:22 PM.  Am I good or what?

"The Wall" at Green Cove Springs Marina is huge.  Drift Away feels little.

They take their cleats seriously (for my landlubber friends, that's huge).

Pamela relaxing on the aft deck, admiring my huge cleat.

The sun sets over Drift Away.  No, we're not sinking.  It's a step up to the dock.

Last night's sunset.  Not Golden Isles quality, but very nice.

So tomorrow we start packing and arranging.  I also need to look at a minor exhaust leak on the port side.  This may involve carpentry work and a jigsaw.  I'll let you know.  I also need to change the oil on the engines and generators, remove the bimini, and a bunch of other stuff.  Our planned departure day is Monday.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Cumberland Island to Jacksonville, in Photos

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day.  Light winds, sunny skies, and temps a moderate 85 degrees. Yes, that's right.  Our blood has thinned, and I start thinking about a jacket when the temperature drops below 75 degrees.

We were ready to get underway at an unbelievable 8:30 AM, quite a feat for us, especially considering that we had to Whaler the dogs in to shore for potty break.  What caused us grief was trying to unplug the 80 pound Manson Supreme from Cumberland's muddy bottom.  But after about twenty minutes, we finally had it secure and were underway.

As usual, I took a bunch of photos to share.

Twilight the night before.  That's the secret sub base.

Fernandina Beach.

This guy caught a small shark.

Don't poke your finger along the waterline.  You'll make a hole and the boat will sink.

Olivia was so tired that she fell asleep like that.

Friggin' Pelican mating dance.  The guy on the left thought he was pretty hot.  The lady on the right didn't seem too impressed.  Typical.

Don't like to bottom paint?

At first I thought it was an eagle.  It was an Osprey, maybe an immature one.

This knucklehead was about to pass that sailboat on a turn, with us approaching.

No, I'm not name calling.  See?

Pam liked this boat.

We stopped at Sister's Creek Bridge because the tide board said we had 22 feet of clearance.  We air draft 22 feet, so we called the bridge.  He said there was 4 more feet in the middle, for 26.  There was a boat approaching as we were doing our bridge dance, so we waited.  It was Summer Wind, a blog I've been following for a couple of years now.  Hey, Dick and Elle, your blog is long overdue!  Time for an update!

For my landlubber friends, see the white vertical board?  That tells you what the bridge clearance is as the tide changes.

Looks low.

We left Sisters Creek and hit the St. Johns River at exactly the wrong time, halfway to low tide.  We had a lot of current against us as the St. Johns River was emptying out.

It was flowing at three knots.  But we've dealt with strong currents before.  No big deal.  While our speed through the water was a constant 8 knots, our speed over ground was down to 4.8 at times.

Pam liked this house.

Jacksonville Port.

Uh oh.  Look what's coming up from behind.  No, not the little boat.  The one behind it.

We had lots of dolphins.  So many that I was sure Chevy was going to jump off the boat.  Notice the cool water turbulence from his dorsal fin.  Enlarge the pic to see it better.

Another Friggin' Pelican.

Our Navi-Nut (patent pending) worked flawlessly.  As usual.

Epiphany called for a slow pass, always appreciated.

Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville Landing's free dock is just past that blue lift bridge, at the orange roofs on the right.  This is a great spot because of all the restaurants.  We spent half the money we saved in marina fees at Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub.   

I had predicted a 3:30 PM arrival.  I'm good.

Honey Fitz, JFK's presidential yacht, which is making a fund raising tour for charities, passed by.

What a gorgeous boat.

Notice the Boys & Girls Club flag.  They'll be doing fund raisers for the clubs all up and down the east coast, giving rides.  Look for it.

The flag pole on Honey Fitz.

Drift Away.

Thought I'd try some hand held night shots.   

The lights were beautiful.

Olivia was on sensory overload though.

And just when I thought the evening was over...

I saw Pam at Fionn MacCool's ordering a chocolate dessert.

Jacksonville is a great stop, but be prepared for something completely different from, say, the seclusion of Cumberland Island.  Jacksonville is hopping.  Pam sat on the bow and listened to live rock music, and then sat on the stern and listened to a rock/Irish group.  People were dining just a few yards from Drift Away, so we were challenged in keeping the dogs from barking hello to everyone.  But as I'm sitting here at 6 AM writing this, the colorful lights are dancing on the water as the city awakens.  Certainly worth the stop.

And don't worry about the current.  The St. Johns River flows both ways, due to the river's current and the tide.  Sometimes it's flowing pretty good, sometimes it's slack.  I think current makes docking easier, actually.  When Pam and I passed under the lift bridge and needed to head to the dock wall, we had about two knots against us.  I just idled Drift Away in forward gear and slowly drifted to the dock wall, barely making forward progress and mostly just slid sideways until we nudged up against it.  Easy.

Today it's the final 25 mile push to Green Cove Springs.  It should be an easy day.