Saturday, March 26, 2016

Key West Sortie

Sunrise 2 Hours North of Key West
We had to delay our plans by one day, but that allowed us to find a slip at the Galleon Marina in Key West, so we threw off the lines on Friday morning around 10.30.  Our first (and only) stop was next door at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin to take on 710 gallons of diesel and a hefty dose of Stanadyne fuel treatment.  Coincidentally, while we were waiting for an opening at the fuel dock, fellow Nordy drivers Jim and Ann Crossley cruised their Nordhavn 55 Giddy-Up right past us as they headed up-river towards Stuart.

Arriving @ Key West
By noon we were tanked up and headed down-river to the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south towards Key West.  We steamed straight through the day and night, taking the helm in shifts.  Michelle took the graveyard shift from 0200 to 0600, while Rick provided the night coverage before and after.  Total trip time was 21.5 hours, although we had throttled back quite a bit so as not to arrive in Key West before our slip was available.  While the Coast Guard was issuing weather warnings for the entire west coast of Florida, all the nasty stuff stayed well north of our route, sea conditions were very tame at 1-2 feet, and the worst we had to deal with was some light fog just before sunrise.
View of Galleon from Ghost Rider's Slip

This was our first overnight voyage, and we enjoyed it….Ghost Rider purred the entire way with no new boat issues arising, while averaging about 2.3 NMPG. We were all tucked in at the Galleon well before 1000, although we spent over an hour giving the boat a much needed bath. 
Blossom Sitting Pretty Next Door

We’ll be here in Key West until Thursday, enjoying some time with friends Martin & Stephanie who are also here with their Nordhavn 60, Blossom, berthed just two slips away.  This afternoon is recovery time – Michelle is off to the pool for a nap in the warm sunshine, while Rick is heading to an air conditioned berth for his shuteye.  Then it’s Key West and NCAA basketball party time.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Captain School & Other Notes

Chelle's Diploma !!
Michelle & I completed the USCG captain’s course & testing today, and we are both very happy that’s over.  It certainly was informative, and I suppose it’s satisfying for each of us to hold a captain’s license, as we anticipate it will be beneficial in a number of ways.  But after 2 weeks of night & weekend classes my brain hurts.  Our main conclusion is that our studying / learning capacity isn’t what it used to be.  In some regards I felt like I was back in pilot training….there’s nothing like professional training to make you realize how much you didn’t really know.

But now we can get back to more enjoyable Ghost Rider specifics….as always the punch list doesn’t seem to get any shorter.  In the near future we hope to attack: 

·         Autopilot settings adjustments to improve tracking in following currents / seas
·         Troubleshoot the spotlight controls in the pilot house
·         Change both primary & secondary fuel filters for the generator & troubleshoot a “droop & surge” issue when A/C chillers & pumps cycle on
·         Change the genset’s oil / oil filter
·         Take on (lots of) diesel fuel and perform a preliminary calibration of our fuel tank sight gauges
·         Schedule a thorough wash & wax before we head out on the big cruise in May
·  Revisit the damned stuffing box on the wing engine….probably will be a complete disassembly if I can figure out the tools needed for that 

And of course we want to get out on another sortie soon.  It does not look promising for our Key West plans and hoped-for RZ with Blossom – thus far we’ve been unable to find a suitable marina down there with space for us.  But even if that falls through we’ll head out somewhere soon….marina fever has set in again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Back in Fort Myers

Docked bow-in @ Legacy
We’ve been back at Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers for about a week now, catching up with some admin duties (condo cleaning, medical stuff, auto/truck maintenance, etc.), as well as tending to some additional upkeep on Ghost Rider.  And Michelle & I are both attending the local “Captain’s School” for the next two weeks to obtain our USCG captain’s licenses.  But we are hoping to sortie down to Key West towards the end of the month.  Between now & then we’ve got plenty to keep us busy.  More on that in future posts.

For now, an aside:  A few folks have inquired as to why we dock Ghost Rider bow-in vs. the more common stern-in approach.  It has nothing to do with ease of docking – either way is equal in terms of ease of effort.  For us it’s mainly that we want the dock on our starboard side, since Ghost Rider has the “asymmetrical” layout where we have a walkway only on that side, and that’s the way our slip at Legacy Harbour Marina is oriented.  A secondary consideration is that our shorepower and cable TV hookups are also located on the bow, so the nose-in arrangement means a shorter run of cables.
Groove antenna and enclosure
The boat has had three baths already this week – the first to get rid of all the salt from our last sortie, the second to have her bottom, prop & keel cooler cleaned (below the water line, and a zinc health check), the third just a few days later to wash off all the damned green pine pollen that accumulates in short order down here at this time of year.  That stuff gets everywhere.

I finally mounted our MikroTik Groove Wifi booster antenna in its permanent home on the fly bridge dash.  Previously we had it hiding deep inside a fly bridge locker to protect it from the elements…while MikroTik advertises the Groove as weather-proof, the salt water exposure on an ocean going trawler in hurricane country isn’t likely in their test cases.  So we waited until we could find a custom enclosure and stainless antenna mount before taking this step.  The Groove (technically known as a GrooveA 52HPn – a marketing company MikroTik is not) is actually a combination router and Wifi access point with an omni-directional high gain antenna and gets its (24V) power via POE….so it’s an ideal Wifi amplifying solution for a number of different outdoor scenarios.  I’m a fan of it, along with their indoor routers (which have even more mystifying names, but if they just work – and they do – who cares?)