Monday, April 5, 2021

March 29th:Making progress and some good weather

I have gotten a little behind on the blog. I started this one March 29th but here it is April 5th! We had a few days of good weather so not much other than kayaking and fishing took place. The winds have picked up again so it's been back to work! I plan to do another one soon to catch up.

Wool Runner

Still slowly working on some cleaning issues after ten months on the hard. I usually rented a little carpet shampoo machine from Home Depot, which is across the street, to clean the carpets and cushions. Unfortunately, they no longer rent them. Nor does anyone in Marathon! No idea why, it's just the Keys. 

Polyester Runner
One of the long runners is pure wool, 10 feet long and a very nice rug. Another I use in the aft cabin is polyester and much lighter. Both needed a good cleaning. So I got out the scrub brush and hose and cleaned them on the dock. The pure wool runner was so heavy after I rinsed it that it was difficult to lift. Wool sure holds a lot of water! It took two days in 80 plus degree weather to get it dried out but it was worth it. It came out great. The polyester runner also came out well and was much easier and lighter to work with.

Mike and Natalie went out in their new fishing boat and had a great day. They gave me a huge Yellowtail. A delicious fish. Thank you Mike and Natalie!

I also wanted to get the wood floor in the dinghy. We were in a hurry to go for the St. Patrick's day dinghy run so I didn't bother putting it in.

The floor is nice because that makes a flat surface instead of the v shaped floor. Not difficult to install, just had to screw it together and put it into the dinghy. It is mostly important when we're fishing.

There is a nice farmer's market run by the local Episcopal Church. Everything is Florida grown and very fresh. They are open every Saturday. Since COVID began, they operate as a drive through. You pull up, They show you what they have, you select what you want, pull up further to pay and you are on your way. It's kind of slow but their produce is worth it. They also have sticky cinnamon buns which I am told are to die for. I resisted, but one of these Saturdays?

I was returning to the marina and pulled my car in to park. Right in front of me was a beautiful woodpecker on a palm tree. Very fun to see. It was really going to town on the tree. Fortunately, it was not very skittish, so I got a picture.

I took a before picture of the rust on the stainless steel railing. Polishing it is on the list. So far all I have is the before picture. One of these days!

There is a great little island relatively close to our marina. Jay and Emily, boat neighbors, told me it was a great place to snorkel. Emily works on curing the bacteria killing the reefs. She goes out and puts an antibiotic on the coral and the results have been amazing. Jay told me this little island was a great place to snorkel. It looks so small I was skeptical, but I checked it out. It's wonderful. 

The currents created a shelf around the island and numerous fish and invertebrates hang out there. Emily tells me one of the anemones is quite rare! I saw two nurse sharks the last time I went out. They were just laying under the shelf. One was 3 feet and the other about 4-5 feet. Nurse Shark Info

When I returned to the boat from California, I found the nice brass mariner's clock no longer worked. Beside being a nice clock it has sentimental value. Years ago Linda saw it on ebay. She put in a bid and fortunately the owner didn't have a minimum price. She got the clock for around $15.00. A great bargain.

I took the clock apart and found the working mechanism. I thought surely someone on the web must sell these. I was right. I was able to buy what was needed and the clock is up and running again!


The maintenance man showed up one day with a 6 week old Chocolate lab puppy. Reminded me of Cocoa, Linda's mom's Chocolate lab. This puppy was very friendly and cute. His name is Hank and we think he will be quite large because he has very large feet!

We have many nice sunsets here. This one was a little unusual due to the haze making a large halo effect. The camera accentuated the halo but it really was visible.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

March17th: Bimini Top, ongoing work and St Patrick's Day fun

Last year I noticed the front zippers on the bimini top canvas were getting seriously worn They are important because they hold the canvas to the poles. I was hoping to get this season out of them. I had tried to get them replaced before I left last year but the wait time was a couple months. These zippers require a heavy duty sewing machine.

When I tried to put the canvas up, The straps holding the top down in front were completely deteriorated. 

Hmmm. Ordinarily Linda would just get out her sewing machine and whip out some new ones. I looked and found I had the strapping material. Surely I can sew the straps. I got out the machine, and after a slow learning curve, figured out how to thread it and successfully made the straps.


Next I checked out the zippers and found they were completely shot. I thought I might just need to forget the bimini top until next season. But then I decided I might as well drive down to the canvas guy and see what he said. Turns out he was a new owner. He looked at my canvas and said I had quite a few thread issues due to sun rot. (I was aware of that!) Happily he said he could install four new zippers and re-stich everything. He said it would take two days. That was great. And it cost only $225.00. A great price.

I decided to put the mast and boom up so I could put the outboard motor on the dinghy. It weighs 85 lbs., and takes two people to manage without the boom to assist. The mast and boom make it easy. It was nice to have that completed with the help of friends.

Mast and Boom

At docktails March 16th someone suggested we do a dinghy run to an on the water watering hole for St. Patrick's Day. I said I had a physical therapy session for my shoulder at 9:00 AM and my dinghy wasn't ready.  I did have the mast and boom ready to go. Help was offered to put the motor on and get it ready when I got back from Key West so I was in. 

The next morning I arrived early at Key West and was waiting in my car when one of the Key West chickens and a chick were walking around. I thought I might be able to get a picture. I rolled down my window and they came racing over. Clearly people are feeding these chickens! No problem getting a picture. 

Key West Chicken and Chick


I returned to Marathon about 11:00 AM. We had the dinghy motor on and everything ready to go before noon.

Cruising across the bay side of Marathon.
The other four dinghies are behind us. We passed under a very low bridge to take a short cut!

Sparky's fun logo

The weather was perfect, calm winds, smooth water and sunny. The cruise took about an hour up the bay side of Marathon. We arrived at Sparky's, an open air restaurant/bar on the water. We enjoyed lunch and the conversation and then headed back to the dinghies. It was determined we should cruise to the Islandview Restaurant since it wasn't very late. It is also on the water and a fun place to have a drink and talk.

Kim & Steve (Maya) Karen and Mychael

Dennis & Lois, (Mystified) Bill, (Snowbird) Keith
 & Stacey (Big Sailboat) and Mike (Flight Risk)

We had a pleasant cruise back to Banana Bay. Everything went very well.

Marathon Yacht Club
I needed to be back by 5:30 PM because George and Pat had invited me to the St.Patrick's Day dinner at their yacht club. 

Donnie, a local boater and musician provided enjoyable music. 

Pat & George (Reflection)


Of course, my dinner was
corned beef and cabbage,
enough for three meals!

It was a fun evening. By the time I returned to the boat I was pretty tired.

While at dinner I had received a voicemail message from the canvas guy that my canvas was finished. When I got back to the boat I thought I'd call and leave a message that I'd be in the next day to pick it up. It was 8:30 PM so I was surprised when he answered the phone. He said he'd be there for an hour or so if I wanted to pick it up. It's a five minute drive so away I went. He did a wonderful job. I paid him extra and said his price was too low. By now I really was worn out. It was a great day and I went to bed early.

I was happy to get the bimini top up the next day. It provides shade and the boat just looks better with it up. 

New straps and zippers

As I was on the flybridge I once again saw the rust on the bow. I decided it was time to clean that off if I was going to sit on the flybridge looking down. I have a good rust cleaner so it wasn't too bad of a job.

We had some calm winds and good fishing weather coming up Monday. I asked Robbie, a newly arrived nice young boater if he wanted to go out in the dinghy. He said, "Well we could take one of my boats and others could come!" One of his boats? Turns out he manages a fleet of fishing boat rentals and is allowed to use them. 

So Robbie, Steve, Bill, Lois, Dennis and I headed out fishing in a very nice fishing boat. The weather was perfect. We anticipated a good catch. Unfortunately, we were reminded why it's called fishing and not catching. We caught enough fish to make it interesting, but not the Yellowtail we were hoping for.

Bill caught the Grouper

Three nice fish were caught, two Groupers and one Hogfish but they were out of season. Still fun to catch something. 

We caught many Grunts, small but tasty fish, and one Yellow Jack which was the best fish of the day. We had enough fish for dinner for those who were interested.

Yellow Jack 

Friday, March 26, 2021

March 15th: Final chapter of the Linda Franko Celebration of Life

The Zoom Celebration of Linda's Life went very well. It was wonderful to connect with everyone even if it was virtually. The memories and stories shared made for a true celebration. Having the celebration virtually in February, instead of waiting until May, was the right decision. It had already been way too long after Linda passed away. I included a few favorite pictures.

July 10th, 1971

Horseback riding in the Dominican Republic
Lobster dinner, Oceanside, CA

Colorado Trip

Kayaking on the Trent Canal, Canada

Linda with Trevi

Warren, Linda, Pat, Dick Tom (Linda's Brothers)

Linda with London

Great Loop friends, Peter & Cheryl Webb,
Cheryl's mom Lois, Linda & Jim Murray

Cindy, Randy, Cricket, Gigit & Linda - Bobcaygeon,
Canada - Favorite spot on the Trent Canal

I had been waiting until I returned to Florida to drop some of Linda's ashes in her favorite kayaking spot. There is a small very protected harbor at Crane Point. I had no idea it would take so long to return to Florida when I left last May. I saw this as the finale to celebrating Linda's life.   

I waited for some very calm weather and then kayaked out to Crane Point, a place Linda and I always enjoyed kayaking. 

View from inside the harbor
Crane Point harbor opening

End of the protected harbor
where I dropped Linda's ashes.

Crane Point is a protected preserve with a very nice harbor that houses lots of birds, fish, jellyfish, etc. I still miss Linda terribly but knowing her ashes have a home in the little harbor at Crane point makes me happy. I'm certain Linda approves. I'll enjoy connecting with her whenever I kayak there.


Linda and I always truly enjoyed our trips to spend time with Matt & Wendy and Rebecca. 

Point Loma, San Diego, California

My thanks again to everyone for making the Celebration of Linda's Life so successful.

Friday, March 19, 2021

March 14th: Still working on cleaning, maintenance on the boat.


You wouldn't think there could be so much to do to reactivate a 36 foot trawler that was sitting for 10 months. Although I couldn't complete the cleaning and maintenance before launching the boat, it has worked out well. Everything I need to work on the boat is readily available at the dock. And I don't have to climb a ladder every time I want to get in and out of the boat. 

The most pressing concern was to assess all the mechanical systems; bilge pumps, water system, electrical systems, pump out waste system, HVAC systems, batteries, and getting the television system with satellite dish working. One of Linda's jokes was if she died first I'd never watch television again! 

House batteries in the bilge

Fortunately, most systems checked out well. One issue seemed to be the house batteries. (4 golf cart batteries that provide power for all the 12 volt needs of the boat. When travelling, and not plugged in to shore power, the 12 volt system is critical for bilge pumps, water pumps, refrigeration and lighting. The engine start battery is a backup for the house batteries. It seemed the house batteries were not holding a charge. The battery charger was on continuously, although not charging a lot. 

Battery Charger

I was not surprised because those 4 batteries were getting old. Fortunately, being plugged into shore power, that was not a big deal. Although replacing those batteries is not an enjoyable task. 

When I went to bed the second night, the wind had died down and it was very quiet. I heard something running. When on a boat in the water you always want to know why a pump might be running. I discovered the float switch on the main bilge pump was stuck in the on position, so it had been running for two days. There was no water coming into the boat so I was very comfortable turning the pump off. Besides, there is a secondary pump for backup.

The float switch is under
 the engine, but the pump 
is the round white object
 with the hose attached. 

The next morning I determined the float switch was shot. The good news was, the reason the batteries seemed to not be holding a charge was that the pump had been running continuously. Much easier and less expensive to replace the float switch than 4 house batteries.

When I went into the bilge to replace the float switch, I noticed the bilge was quite dirty and smelly. Over the ten months, enough rain water had gotten into the boat thru a hatch on the aft deck, that it made a mess. Cleaning out the bilge is my least favorite job. I decided to work on making the boat pleasant to live in and put off cleaning the bilge for another day.

High winds were forecast for ten days so no kayaking nor fishing were an option. The aft cabin where I sleep was already in good shape. I decided to focus on the salon (central living area) next. There was stuff everywhere and everything needed to be wiped down. Also the cupboards would be emptied, wiped down and all the dishes, pots and pans washed. Not hard but took longer than I thought.

I removed everything from the cupboards, wiped down the insides, and then put everything back. I wouldn't say it was entertaining but it looked so much better when I was finished. 

I was pretty worn out after the travel, moving the boat and starting to clean it up. There was no urgency to cleaning it up, but it's just not fun to come back to a sad looking boat. My friend Sharon showed up at the door that night and said there was a party the next afternoon at the house they were staying at. (They typically brought their boat down and stayed on it, but COVID changed their plans and they stayed at a house next door with a friend.) I was invited. As usual at these gatherings, you bring an appetizer and whatever you want to drink. The appetizers are always over the top and eliminate any need for dinner! The gathering was outside and people were social distancing, "Sort of". I'll just say I was glad I was fully vaccinated as many others also were. (It was not a young crowd.) We even had music by a former Banana Bay boater, Donnie and his friends. I'd forgotten how enjoyable simple socialization could be. 

A major goal I had was to go back to the local gym. It's a great place to get a good overall workout and I missed it. Linda and I had been regulars almost daily. Of course breakfast out preceded the gym, which I think was a large part of Linda's participation! It was good to be back. I was once again reminded how much people liked Linda. It's still difficult to tell people who enjoyed her and ask, "Where's Linda?", that she passed away. I knew that would be a difficult part of coming back, but the support and caring have been wonderful, even after all this time. I believe I have connected with just about all of our old contacts now which is a relief. 

The weather has been consistently windy but the water in the marina was nice and clear. There is a school of parrot fish that clean the barnacles and other growth off of the poles. That is a good thing for the poles and great for the parrot fish. They are very colorful and fun to see. They are not safe to eat because of the toxins they ingest eating what they eat. More about Parrot Fish

The good news is, I am quite far behind with the blog. So much more is going on since I got here compared to being hunkered down in California. I have either been busy or too tired to work on a blog. It's a welcome change. I told Wendy that I was getting a little concerned about how comfortable I was getting with minimal projects and almost only virtual social contacts. Of course I very much enjoyed visiting with Craig and Karen in San Juan Capistrano on the way to see Rebecca in Studio City. 

But I stopped making the trip after Thanksgiving when it seemed prudent to do so. 

Upcoming reports on the float switch installation, cleaning the rust off the hull and decks, the bimini top repairs, putting the mast up so I could activate the dinghy, and getting the kayak ready to go. Also, a fun and productive St. Patrick's Day.