Working Interlude

After my shift in the emergency department last night, I reached the halfway point in my twelve-shift work marathon. Six down, six to go, as I prepare to go into work this evening. I am, once again, extremely grateful for the scheduling flexibility of my present position allowing me to come back to Lakeland to work a string of shifts consecutively which gives me time to be away for several weeks at a time cruising.

A little wine and cheese aboard Beatitude before leaving

A little wine and cheese aboard Beatitude before leaving

Our boat remains moored in Dinner Key Harbor in Miami (at least I think it does), while we are here in Lakeland. The thirty-six hours spent aboard before we left her were among the dreariest, windiest hours of our short cruising career. It rained for >24 hours straight and blew pretty steadily at 20 knots or so. The morning we left, however, was a bright and sunny, beautiful south Florida day. While we are away, Matthew, from AMPS, is doing a little installation work on Beatitude. He is installing our more energy efficient freezer, our new hot water heater, and our wifi booster this week. I’m excited to have those things taken care of before we return.

Dinghying in the rain

Dinghying in the rain

IMG_0041

We were bobbing and swinging for about 24 hours straight.

We were bobbing and swinging for about 24 hours straight.

As mentioned previously, our cruising plans for the winter are to take off to the Bahamas for two or three months upon returning to Miami. The only delay we anticipated was waiting on a proper weather window to cross the gulf stream. Unfortunately, it looks like there will be an unanticipated delay as well. I noticed, a couple of weeks ago, that there was a separation between the hull and the deck along our transom. There is a strip of rubber that covers this joint ordinarily. This rubber has been slipping off revealing the separation. At first, I was unsure if I could just bond these two layers back together or whether a more significant repair would be necessary. Is this a serious problem, or a minor detail?

More boat work to do!

More boat work to do!

The deck/hull separation

The deck/hull separation

Well… I contacted my friend Brent Hermann, through whom we purchased Beatitude two years ago, about the problem. To do so may not have crossed my mind if not for a serendipitous meeting across the mooring field a few days prior. He was on a Lagoon 380 on one of the mooring balls next to our boat talking with a couple. I forwarded a few photos of the problem to Brent who then discussed it with Thierry Menetrier who works (like Brent) for The Catamaran Company, the worlds largest Lagoon Catamaran dealer in Ft. Lauderdale. Thierry is a Lagoon service expert. It now looks like, we will need to take Beatitude from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale upon returning to South Florida on November 5. I have no clue yet how long this will take, nor the extent of the problem, but I feel more comfortable having the expert take a look at the problem and recommend a solution. At this time, it doesn’t look like the boat will need to be hauled out, which I’m also thankful for.

We were happy to be at our home church in Lakeland, All Saints.  This is the Resurrection window above the exit, flanked by Organ pipes

We were happy to be at our home church in Lakeland, All Saints. This is the Resurrection window above the exit, flanked by Organ pipes

Speaking of reasons to give thanks, the hurricane season, though not officially over until the end of November is winding down and our first season of cruising in the hurricane belt was uneventful. It is hard to believe that it has been nine years since a hurricane has made landfall in the state of Florida. Tropical Cyclones were the main worry when we were contemplating heading south to start our cruising adventures in August. We have been graciously granted great cruising weather over the last 3 months.

Up the Mast Again

With Tropical Depression No. 9 in the Southwest Gulf (perhaps soon to be Tropical Depression Hanna), I was thankful for a calm morning with flat seas in the mooring field. It’s always easier to climb the mast when the water is flat rather than swinging back and forth.

Cloudy Morning

Cloudy Morning

After listening to the morning Dinner Key Mooring Field Net on our VHF, we gathered together the tools and accessories to ascend the mast. When we stopped to anchor in Buttonwood Sound off Key Largo en route to Miami, our anchor light didn’t work again. We used the portable light we have for backup that night, but I needed to check out the problem. Our wind direction indicator is also not working (since leaving Key West). So, I also wanted to investigate the wind indicator atop the mast.

Strapped in and Ready to Ascend

Strapped in and Ready to Ascend

After strapped into the Boson’s chair, I told Cindy that I cancelled my life insurance policy. One can never be too sure when one’s life is in the hands of one who has significant financial interests in the outcome. 🙂 This tactic proved effective as I survived the 65 foot ascent up the mast and the following descent. It turns out that I had used the wrong kind of bulb for the anchor light last time. There are two types of bulbs: one with offset pins and one with pins which are directly opposite each other. Well, I had the wrong one, and one of the pins sheered off. I replaced it with a correct bulb and now we are ready to anchor again.

Perched at 65 feet

Perched at 65 feet

Beatitude from atop the mast. Can you find Cindy?

Beatitude from atop the mast. Can you find Cindy?

Found!

Found!

Cindy with my life in her hands!

Cindy with my life in her hands!

I couldn’t really see anything wrong with the wind indicator except that the wire was stretched very tightly from the base of the indicator to where it goes through the mast. There may be some chafing there. I basically just took some of the tension off the wire and we’ll see if this does anything to rectify the situation. On the way down, I also resecured the SSB antenna to the port shroud.

Looking East over the Mooring Field from atop the mast

Looking East over the Mooring Field from atop the mast

Looking West over the Mooring Field from atop the mast

Looking West over the Mooring Field from atop the mast

Miami from atop the mast

Miami from atop the mast

Hanging on to the spreader to resecure the SSB antenna

Hanging on to the spreader to resecure the SSB antenna

In only three days, we’ll be back in Lakeland for another work marathon. I’m hoping the tropical weather in the gulf stays south of us as it seems to be forecast to do at this time. It is supposed to merge with a front and dissipate somewhat as well towards the end of the week. We have been blessed with a lack of tropical storms so far this year. Only a little longer to last until the season is over.

Tropical Depression Nine

Tropical Depression Nine

Miami

Friday, our first full day in Miami, was filled with a mixture of work and play. Upon arising early, we tackled the clogged kitchen sink. After taking apart the drain and cleaning out “God only knows what” from this fixture, we snaked the drain hose to make sure it was open. A little while later and Voila!, it works like new.

Working on the Galley Drain

Working on the Galley Drain

Mid-morning, we dinghied in the half-mile distance from the mooring field to the dinghy dock, and spent a while in the marina using wifi. I arranged for a mail-shipment from our mail-forwarding service to Miami. I reserved a car-rental, and afterwards we took the Coconut Grove trolley to within about a half mile of the Hertz rental agency. We walked the remaining distance to pick up our rental which we will used for the next week here and also for our upcoming trip to Lakeland to work for a few days.

Upon returning to Beatitude, we tackled another chore on our to-do list: Marking the anchor chain. When we purchased the chain several months ago, we had painted red a small section of the links every twenty-five feet. This is done so that, when dropping anchor, you can know how much anchor rode you have out. Well… it didn’t take long for the paint to fade into near invisibility. So, we decided to use colored wire-ties to mark the chain. We have 200’ of chain and 100’ of line. For the first 100’ of chain we marked it every ten feet. For the second 100’ we marked it every twenty feet. This was done alternatingly with fluorescent pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue markers. We dropped the anchor and chain overboard at our mooring ball and measured as we went. As with most boat chores, this turned into a little bit more of a production than we had planned. Nevertheless, it was eventually completed, and we felt happy that another item of maintenance was taken care of.

Measuring and Marking Chain

Measuring and Marking Chain

I said our day was a mixture of work and play. So far – all work and no play! But, after marking the anchor rode, we cleaned up and headed to perhaps the best pizza restaurants on the face of the earth. I know I’m not qualified to make that claim, having only eaten at a small sample of the total number of pizza places in the world. But, it is good. We ate there previously on trips to Miami. It is a nugget of Italian authenticity in Miami Beach called Fratelli La Bufala. The red wine, salad, and a “La Parma”, a thin-crusted masterpiece topped with mozarella, basil, and prosciutto, was perfect. Oh… and the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar – amazing! Alright, enough salivating.

Ready to for dinner and the orchestra

Ready to for dinner and the orchestra

At Fratelli La Bufala

At Fratelli La Bufala

Fratelli La Bufala, Miami Beach

Fratelli La Bufala, Miami Beach

From there, we drove a few blocks north in Miami Beach to the New World Center, a contemporary, Frank Gehry designed building which houses the New World Symphony. The New World Symphony is comprised of graduates of distinguished music programs who are preparing for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. Fifteen-hundred young people compete for about 35 available fellowships each year. Each fellowship can last up to the three years. The center provided for an excellent experience. The audience surrounds the orchestra in seats which rise fairly steeply from the stage. This makes for a cozy atmosphere in which no one is far from the orchestra.

Cindy, in front of the New World Center

Cindy, in front of the New World Center

New World Center

New World Center

The music was wonderful. The program consisted of an orchestral piece from Richard Wagner’s last opera of his Ring Cycle, Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods), followed by Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major. The third movement andante was near heaven. The virtuosic playing of the moving piano melody contrasted with the wonderfully emotive cello was marvelous. Cindy and I had a wonderful evening of food and music to cap our busy day of work.

Interior of the New World Center

Interior of the New World Center

Let the music begin!

Let the music begin!

Saturday morning, we turned our focus to work again. I’ve been very displeased with our energy management aboard Beatitude. It seems we have to run the generator everyday to keep up with our energy needs. I’d like to be able to manage our energy needs without having to run the generator at night. We have a battery bank of about 1000 amps. We have solar panels that generate up to 40 amps/hour of electricity during a sunny day. Yet, this doesn’t seem quite enough to meet our energy needs without depleting the battery bank below acceptable levels. I had Matthew, who runs a business (AMPS) from aboard his sailing vessel, Coup d’ Amour, over to look at things. We performed an energy audit and then began to examine our system and see what improvements could be made. The diagnosis: We just want to use too much electricity! We have a refrigerator and freezer, which in themselves draw 150 amps/day. This leaves little power left for our other needs and/or wants (ipads, iphones, computers, tv, dvd player, lights, water pumps, bilge pumps, vhf, sub, electronics, microwave, hairdryers, toasters, etc.).

Matthew and I working on our electrical system/energy management

Matthew and I working on our electrical system/energy management

This is a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that our batteries seem to be fine. Our solar panels really crank out the amps on a sunny day. Our generator charges the battery great. In other words, everything seems to be working well. The bad news is that we need to cut electricity use. The big energy hogs are the refrigerator and freezer. So, we have decided to replace our existing freezer (which is relatively new) with a slightly smaller one made by Engel that will use approximately 35 amps each day. And, we are going to go refrigerator-less! By doing both of these, we will free up ~115 amps/day of electricity for our other needs. Oh, and additionally, we replaced our LCD TV with an LED TV which uses less than one half the amps of our old one.

Coincidentally, during our diagnostics on our electrical system, our hot water heater went out. So, we have also ordered a new 6 gallon hot water heater to replace our present one. And, while we are spending money, we’ve ordered a Wirie AP+ Wifi booster to allow us to pick up shore wifi from aboard Beatitude while up to 5 miles off shore. I’m hoping it works as well as the testimonials say that it does.

On Saturday afternoon, we set the work aside and walked up to Cocowalk in Coconut Grove to watch some Georgia Bulldog football. Our Dawgs are looking like a very good team right now. They handled Arkansas easily this week after totally dominating Missouri the previous week. After watching the game at Duffy’s, we returned to the boat for the evening.

Bride and groom in a vintage Rolls Royce driving through Coconut Grove

Bride and groom in a vintage Rolls Royce driving through Coconut Grove

Sunday, we attended church at Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. Cindy and I really enjoyed the service at this assembly which was founded in 1901 by a group of Bahamian immigrants. Afterwards we did a little shopping at Target and had lunch at Chart House by the marina. In the evening we enjoyed watching Million Dollar Arm on our new LED television.

Christ Episcopal Church, Coconut Grove

Christ Episcopal Church, Coconut Grove

My beautiful wife on the dinghy ride back to Beatitude

My beautiful wife on the dinghy ride back to Beatitude

Dinner Key Sunset

Dinner Key Sunset

Glow of the barely-set sun

Glow of the barely-set sun

Monday marked the 35th anniversary of our wedding day. We were married on Sweetest Day in Barberton, Ohio in 1979. Since then, our life together has been exciting and rather unpredictable. For the next 14 years, we worked together in various ministry positions in Superior (Wisconsin), Atlanta (Georgia), Grampian (Pennsylvania), and Berwick (Pennsylvania). Then, in 1993, I resigned the church of which I was senior pastor, and we began the next phase of our lives. I returned to school to study medicine. For the next eleven years, I was in school and residency. Then, in 2003, we moved to Lakeland, FL where I began a career as an emergency physician in the hospital at which I still work. Along the way, we’ve had three wonderful children, now aged twenty, twenty-nine, and thirty-four. Of course, two years ago, we sold virtually everything we had and moved aboard Beatitude. Now, we are cruising, presently located in Miami. We certainly wouldn’t have imagined this trajectory for our lives 35 years ago. Cindy has been amazingly flexible and able to adapt to all of these changes in our lives. Instead of driving us apart, our experiences have brought us closer. And, our marriage is stronger today than it ever has been.

My hand-drawn anniversary card from Cindy

My hand-drawn anniversary card from Cindy

After some morning boat work, we celebrated by returning to one of our favorite restaurants anywhere, Pascal’s on Ponce, a wonderful French restaurant in Coral Gables. We ate here earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, and decided to return for anniversary since we enjoyed it so much. The food and service is magnificent. We decided on the “Degustation Menu with wine pairings.” Our six courses were so wonderful! Making the whole experience feel just a little more like we were back in Paris (we visited France on our 30th wedding anniversary), our waiter was a French young man named Damien, from the south of France. After dinner, we made our way back to Beatitude aboard our dinghy, again filled with an inch or so of water from the afternoon rains.

At Pascal's on Ponce

At Pascal’s on Ponce

A Happy 35th Anniversary Celebration

A Happy 35th Anniversary Celebration