The pleasure of sailing. “Not this day!” True story with David Alexander

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Sunday… today… We were scheduled to deliver our sailboat to a ship-yard about four or five hours up the Florida intercoastal. The diesel was running just under the hot zone. Delivery time was not that important because they were not going to haul it until Monday after lunch. We were told to tie it off to their sea wall and they would move it to the lift with long ropes. We both had to work.

I went over to the Marina Friday after work and thought I would get things ready for an early departure Saturday morning. I got the key from the Nav Station and thought I would let the diesel run while I carried a few things to the truck that I didn’t want in the ship-yard.

RRrrrnnn RRrrrrnnnn TTTtthhhh! You know that sound! The battery’s dead.

I’m on shore power with a $400 charger that monitors both battery banks at all times. I pulled the floor panel, and the bilge was holding water. The central air is still working, so, all the 110V is still good but the 12V DC is out. I grabbed a voltage meter from the back cabin and checked the batteries at the terminals. Both banks barely registered, 12V from the charger is dead, 110V to the charger was hot. Okay, the charger is fried. I removed the charger and tested it on the galley table, dead, and the transformer coil is melted. Zero continuity. Must have had a voltage spike in the marina. Not the first time.

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I went home, got a battery charger, and left it on each bank for about 2 hours each. The diesel started, bilge kicked in, lights came on, instruments still work. Okay, we’ll still deliver the boat, tomorrow. I stopped by Auto Zone and bought a big deep cycle battery for insurance, and put jumper cables in storage for this run. It was 99deg in the hold, where the batteries are. I had a heat/stress headache, sweaty clothes, and a Band-Aid on my bald spot. Time to go home and hit the shower. Cold!

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Sunday morning. Gonna do it! I still have that shaky acid stomach feeling that I have learned to listen to over the years. The diesel fired right up. I removed all of the dock lines but two. I use four dock lines and two spring lines, with the four dock lines doubled with black 5/8” braided, for the big storms at this time of year. There was no wind, the water was calm, and my stomach was settling down. Looking good.

Last line on deck, backed it out, shifted into forward. No rudder?

NO FRICK’IN RUDDER!  No matter where I turned, it kept moving to the right. We have HUGE manatees around our boat all the time.

“We NEVER pet them or give them fresh water.” BUT, they are big enough to snap a rudder if they wanted to. My rudder is about 15” x 5’. They call it a Barn Door rudder because of its size. It gives me instant handling and I can run closer to the wind. BUT, it’s size is a weakness, so I figured it was on the bottom, below where I just left.

THEN, something (my father) taught me kicked in. “PROP WALK” I used the prop forward and reverse back and forth, to eventually slide the boat into another un-occupied dock space.

My nerves were shot and I tied her off…What to do? No choice “I have to dive.”

No, we had just been watching a small shark cruising the marina. Still have to do it. I pulled the gear from below deck and hit the water.

“Where’s that shark? Tell me if you see the fin again.” I went under the boat and the rudder was still there. Happy day! So! Why do I have no steering? I had my wife turn the wheel back and forth, while I held onto the rudder under water. Full left , full right, and STRONG? Dove again and checked the prop. FULL of barnacles! Bingo!  With no movement, there is no steering. Okay.

I went home and got dive gloves, various scrapers, a bigger dive knife for that shark, and jumped back in with weapon in hand.

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The shark kept getting closer with each pass. Finally, his dorsal fin touched my stomach as he went below me. I was only in 10’ of water. This time I came out of the water and reconsidered. I described the fish to another sailor next to me. He said it was a huge Tarpon that hangs around the docks. I felt better and jumped back in. I finished scraping the prop after about 9 or 10 dives, and had to switch my tool to a big wood chisel instead of the drywall knife. I left the boat tied to the dock with spring lines and started the diesel. Forward, good… reverse, good… okay, untie it. Time to do or die. It came right out of the slip, turned and maneuvered perfectly. We took it out into the bay tested and tested, and then put it back on its original dock.

There’s always next week. The one thing I didn’t mention is that as of today, I don’t have a lease on my dock, and it goes to transient fees. Tomorrow I’ll get them to pro-rate me a week.

The water was really warm! No wonder the barnacles are so bad. Felt good to be back in the saltwater again. Seems like since I moved here all I do is work and rest.  Right now, I’m glad I’m still working. I was supposed to be off this next week, and they decided that they want me to come in anyway. I worked it out with the finish dept to not finish any yacht cabinets until Monday. That will keep me working at least until Wed.

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If I do get laid off, for any long stretch I have a 40# CQR anchor out in the garage. I’ll bury it in the sand, run out about 20’ of chain, bolt it to a couple engine blocks, and attach a mooring ball. We can still get away with that here for another year or so. Anchoring out will save me about $350 a month. I have been thinking of lots of “Survival “ ideas lately.

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Gotta go…wife says 3-minute warning for supper. Shut it down.

Stay in the shade. David

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#Sailing #Caribbean #Travel #Cruise #Islands #Alzheimer’s #Health #Medical #Romance #Love #Sex #Hurricane #Florida #Family #Adventure #book #Fiction #Entertainment #Education

The author builds a new galley table. I am a woodworker too.

The music was loud, the Heineken was cold, and the fans were blowing on a hot Florida afternoon. I am a cabinetmaker too!

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Above is the new galley table I built for my sailboat. The original was ugly, and I was always hitting my knees and feet against the pedestal trying to get in or out of the tight sitting area. I have photos of how I built it, so I thought I would show you a bit of the carpenter in David Alexander.

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I planed down  an adequate supply of Sepele and Wenge that I had been hiding on my shelves. I applied a coat of polyurethane to see the color on a test piece. I cut a piece of teak plywood to the size required to drop between the seating, allowing me to have a third sleeping area on this sailboat. In the future, I found that this area had better ventilation and made a much larger bed. It became the TV pit since I had a large flat panel TV on the opposing wall.

 

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Using Titebond III glue, I started by doing my layout on the plywood, started in the center, and worked my way out, using a pin nailer to secure the pieces to the plywood. The surface and all contact points were secured with glue. Each ring of wood was allowed to dry before the next ring was added.

 

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I did this project in my garage. The music was loud, the Heineken was cold, and the fans were blowing on a hot Florida afternoon. As you can see from the above photo. the wood hides its beauty at this stage.

 

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I thinned the first coat as a sealer and sanded it to a glassy smooth. Sepele is easy to work with but Wenge requires control and patience. It works like stringy oak and will blow apart if your router moves too fast. The end results are worth it. I plan to build my new office out of Wenge. After several more coats of finish, sanding between each coat, it produced the table in my boat.

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A pedestal? I still have Sepele on the workbench. I have an idea! I cut the angles into the Sepele and glued all but one side with Titebond III. I added Sepele trim pieces to the top and bottom after cutting the pedestal to my required height.

 

The top and bottom plywood pieces are identical size with rubber T-edge, as edgebanding.

In the end, the height of the rubber edging, when the pedestal is laid on its side, is the exact height between the floor and the bottom of the table top, when the table is dropped to seat level. The side cushions fill in and make a comfortable bed with added support under the table top.

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The floor and table top have recessed threads on the top and bottom. I found big bolts with rubber coated handles to soften the accidental contact with bare feet.  You can barely see the knobs in the following photo.

 

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The pedestal had a hidden door? Many of the islands I visit have issues with piracy. A Mossberg 12GA shotgun with marine-coat, fits right into the pedestals quick release mounts.

 

If I get much response from this post, I may add an additional page and start posting my many, many, projects. I am, a cabinet-maker too.

#Cabinetry #Cabinet Maker #Woodworking #Carpentry #Carpenter #Sailboat #Boat #Transportation #Refit #Rebuild

Do you smell cigarette smoke?

Phantom smelling of cigarette smoke, burning wires, or something rotting, is common.

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Many, many, years ago, I played guitar in a rock band. Our band never got beyond the small bars so I’m sure you never heard of us. We argued all the time, fought over girls, and wanted to become big rock stars by… tomorrow. The world had not been educated yet… into the dangers of cigarette smoke, and all of the other things that followed the night life. I remember nights that the smoke was so thick, I couldn’t see the bartender, or the people at their tables. I closed my eyes from the smoke, and learned to control the coughing. I never developed the desire for cigarettes, but would do anything… to play my music.

Now, 2019, I still don’t smoke, and have a closet full of guitars that I haven’t played in ten years. I know, I can’t believe it either.

Through my life, I have had a few major career changes. I was a finish carpenter in new construction, then I became the vice-president of a construction company, and now I build yacht interiors for a Florida company that sells them for $5.4M each.

Even with that resume, what I derive the most pleasure from is writing. It also pays the least. BUT… that’s not what this post is about! I started typing tonight to tell you about a strange condition I have acquired. The above history lesson is my way of searching for straws in my past.

For a few weeks now, I have been occasionally smelling cigarette smoke. I still don’t smoke, but many of the guys I work with do. I assumed that having to walk through their break area three times a day, or having them with me with their smoke saturated clothes, had rubbed off on me and was just an occupational hazard. I could smell the smoke at my workbench, in my truck, and even in my land home. Again, I assumed that the odor was following me, from my association with smokers. This weekend, I was on my sailboat. I had fresh clothes on and there has never been a cigarette on my boat. I could smell it down inside my boat, which eliminated passerbys on the dock. The other component is that I don’t always… smell it. Even at work it comes and goes. This is driving me crazy, and no-one else was smelling what I described.

I Googled it! “Happy Day!” There were hundreds of people asking the same questions that I had. I spent hours reading the threads, comments, and analysis of doctors and ENT’s. I am not crazy!

“It’s called Phantosmia.

Phantom smelling of cigarette smoke, burning wires, or something rotting, is common and is nothing to be alarmed about. Often, the problem will go away on its own, and in some cases, it has been cured by antibiotics inhaled as a nose spray. I suspected that mine may have been a sinus infection because months ago, whenever I sneezed, I could smell mold. The environment I work in supplies multiple sources for a sinus infection.

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If the smell issue remains for a long period of time, you should consult an ENT or neurologist to take your condition to the next level. One of the more serious things that can create the same symptoms is a brain tumor. A tumor that creates the illusion of smell would be located in the temporal lobe. This also interests me because I had a severe injury to my skull when I was a kid. A punch… (Different story), to the side of my head caused a blood clot the size of my fist. Surgery was performed after removing ALL OF MY HAIR… and multiple therapies began. This was also the end of my rock-star fantasy when a young nurse brought me my hair in a brown grocery bag, and left me to figure out that I was shaved beneath my bandages. Again… I am getting off the subject.

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Several of the reports that I read on-line said that they were getting an MRI of their brain to check this possibility. There are other things that cause phantom smells such as a stroke, seizure, or epilepsy. Some people are not aware that they have had one of these conditions. Even if one of these disorders are benign, the smell problem can still be present. In any event, it sounds to me like a warning to find a specialist and have it checked out.

NOW! I am not a Doctor. As I stated, the information here was collected from the internet in an attempt to research my own problem. I welcome any input or suggestions and strongly suggest that you do your own research and don’t base your conclusion on any of my research.

Leave me a comment… tell me how you have dealt with a phantom-smell… or send me an email. Add “I smell smoke” to the title so I don’t think it’s spam.

AND, FOLLOW my blog. I have a book that will be out soon… I hope. The editor has had it now for six weeks. It is a fiction, but tells of a man who learned how to reverse his age and stay young indefinitely. I’ll send a notice when it’s available. It’s called Longue’ Duree, if the editor hasn’t changed that too.

 

#medical #Health #Boat #Yacht #Carpentry Cigarette, #research #Medical #RocknRoll #LongHair #sailing #Smell #Odor #

Abaco Bahamas. Too much sand, too much fog, too much beer.

I idled into the fog  and almost broadsided a dark blue sloop. We were within a few feet of the passing boats and I could see ours ahead.

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We sailed into Abaco not realizing that it was so shallow. When the depth indicator started beeping and I could see the shadow of the sail on the bottom, the time to relax was over. My boat has a 5′-8″ keel which cuts into the wind very nicely. It does however require a little studying of the tide tables when coming ashore. It was an hour or so after lunch, and my first mate had located an interesting place to drop the hook and spend the night. Ahead, was a sandbar that extended into the path of my present tack. I played the strong wind like a game of chess. Tighten the sails, pull tighter into the wind… adjust for a shift in the wind… get it back… almost there… almost dead into the wind! CRUNCH!

We ran aground on what my navigator identified as Porgee Rock. I quickly started the diesel, left the sails full for the keel angle, and by some miracle… backed it out. The sails were whipping back and forth and I released the tension from the main sheet and furled the head sail. We motored into deeper water. (Not a lot deeper.) We dropped the anchor, fixed an overdue lunch, and took a long nap.

I didn’t want to be sitting out here overnight, so I motored toward a big red and white light-house. “This is Hopetown.” said my first-mate, “It says the channel is 6′ deep at low tide. We should have no problem since we are mid-tide.”

“Good enough.” I stayed in the darker water until I was on a lineup approach to the channel. I idled slowly watching to stay in the deepest areas. The channel was narrow with no room to reverse course. Passing a boat leaving the harbor would be really tight. About the time I was standing at the helm, leaning from the bimini to see the full lighthouse… CRUNCH! The boat was still moving but was cutting a trench in the soft sand bottom. I revved the diesel and continued pushing. The water became deeper and I came around the curve toward the bay. There were only a few boats in the bay so I found a comfortable spot, dropped the hook, and let the chain run out until I felt the anchor grab. We secured the sails, put a snubber on the anchor chain, and dropped the RIB into the water. We took the dinghy to the south side and walked on the small roads into a residential area. A small boy walked beside us and kept looking at the tall American with a beard. I glanced down and saw a bent piece of wood that he was carrying like a gun.

“What is that?” I asked
“It’s my gun!”
“GUN!” I put my hands up. “What are you going to do with a gun?”
“Shoot you!” He laughed.
“If you try to shoot me… I’ll have to put you in jail.”
The boy was confused and looked at me for a while. “Sir… what is a jail?”

While we continued walking, we talked to a few other people… adults… and found in fact they didn’t have a jail. On the way back to the boat, we saw what looked like a large shed. Inside was a gulf-cart fully outfitted for fire-fighting. On the glass of the door it said. “In case of fire, get the keys from the grocery across the street.”

Safely back on the boat, we took another nap and woke as the sun was setting. More sailors had anchored around us and we could hear laughter from a bar on the docks. We grabbed our money, a few towels for the dinghy, and all of our old paperbacks to trade for new ones. We headed for the dock.

We walked into the bar and found a table along the wall. Several people had ordered before us, so we had several drinks before our food arrived. We ate, talked, laughed, and yelled across the bar at a Canadian captain that was making jokes about Americans. More drinks were served and we sat picking at our Dirty Bird Pie.

It was late. Anyone with family was already gone. We paid the tab, picked up our cloth bag of paperbacks, and checked to make sure the keys were still in my pocket. Normally, when we return to the boat, we have to sort through the tangled knots of 10 or 15 dinghies to find ours. Tonight there were only two or three. The bar lights illuminated the dock, but out in the mooring area a thick fog had settled.

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I motored slowly toward the fog. The masts of the sailboats looked like a forest of dead trees. The rotating light of the lighthouse gave us a short glimpse of the hulls shrouded below them.

“David?”
“Yeah.”
“I have to pee.”
“Good grief! You couldn’t have taken care of that at the bar?”
“I didn’t have to pee at the bar. Hurry up.”

I idled into the fog  and almost broadsided a dark blue sloop. We were within a few feet of the passing boats and I could see ours ahead. I went past the stern, flipped the outboard to do a 180 deg. turn and brought it to a stop against the scoop like a pro. While I tied off, Ayrn left everything on the dinghy and jumped onto the sailboat. I started gathering up the books, the towels, and a pair of heels.

“David.” She whispered.
“What?”
“Is this our boat?” Her eyes were wide open, and her sobriety had returned. I glanced down at the name on the transom. About that time…

“HEY, I HAVE A GUN!”

“Shit!” Both of us started laughing and as she fumbled back into the dingy, I started the motor and got away from that, boat. We cruised up and down the mooring field, from one boat to the next, reading all of the names and laughing. We finally found ours. By the time I got out of the head, Ayrn was already asleep.

We decided to spend another day in Hopetown and have dinner in the bar again the following night.

The music was loud, the voices were loud, and the Heineken was flowing. “YEAH! Last night some drunk sailor came aboard my boat after midnight and pissed in my cockpit.”

Ayrn and I just smiled across the table.

 

#Islands #Sailing #Transportation #Bar #Hopetown #Weather #Aground #Drunk #Bahamas #Lighthouse #Adventure #Boat #Vacation