Monday, January 14, 2019

Dec 2018 / Jan 2019: Holiday Time in Fort Myers

Winter in Our Fort Myers Condo is....Pleasant
Happy New Year! Since arriving back in Fort Myers back in late November we’ve grown accustomed to being dirt-dwellers once again, thoroughly enjoying time in our waterfront condo and visits from daughter Suzi, Chelle’s mom, and Rick’s sister and brother-in-law.  Southwest Florida is simply a fabulous place to enjoy the winter holidays and long overdue family visits.

It also occurred to us that with all the travels and blogging during the past year we had forgotten to mention a second interview we had conducted with James Ellingford of N62 Pendana fame, way back in June 2018.  For those of you who have not had a chance to browse through that exchange, you can find it by clicking HERE.

December Update
The Healthpark Hospital Lobby Looks More Like a Hotel but We
Would Have Preferred to be Elsewhere in December
We had hoped to use the month of December to resolve the few problems that had arisen during our November return to Fort Myers, but that didn’t work out. The week after returning to our home port at Legacy Harbour Rick took ill….severe abdominal cramps turned out to be a nasty intestinal infection with a complete blockage, resulting in a 24-day hospital stay and two surgeries to remove & otherwise untangle a real plumbing puzzle in the gut. The surgeon likened the procedure to “removing blocks of concrete” and then reassembling what was left.  Rick compared the surgical aftermath to having the entire 1st Infantry Division march over his abdomen in spiked boots. 

Recovery has been predictably slow but still has allowed us to spend some abbreviated time on the boat whittling down a long list of overdue but mostly minor Wheelhouse maintenance items that had accumulated over the month.  Towards the end of December we even managed to enjoy an inshore fishing expedition with one of our favorite local charters (LINK), although Rick was more a spectator than an angler at that point.  Nonetheless we boated seven nice Sheepshead (Wayne took honors for the biggest) which made for some delicious fresh fish dinners.
Bro-in-Law Wayne with a Very Nice
Sheepshead Catch...the Biggest of the Day
Chelle Boated This Nice Redfish....Which We Tossed Back to Fight Another Day
January Update

As the calendar rolled over to 2019 we began to progress with some of the needed repairs for Ghost Rider.  Our preferred technicians for the Naiad stabilizers (Stabilized Marine, link HERE) made the trip from Fort Lauderdale, diagnosing the actuator oil leaks as faulty feedback valves (again).  And after tearing apart the starboard side unit we discovered the source of the clunking noise:  its torque pin (which connects the hydraulic cylinder to the actuator yoke) had come loose and dropped down in its sleeve where it was striking one of the mounting bolts as it neared the center position.  It was a relatively simple fix to restore the pin and re-secure its set screw (with generous amounts of Loctite this time.)  During the ensuing system test we also noticed the fin position indicators in the pilot house were grossly inaccurate, which led to adjusting one potentiometer and replacing another.  But now the stabilizer system is finally back to ops normal.
The Red Arrow Points Out the Torque Pin That Had Worked Loose and
Caused the Starboard Side Clunking Noise.  We Were Lucky It Did
Not Cause Further Damage.

As for the wing engine’s messed up throttle mechanism, we had ordered and received a whole new Morse throttle assembly back in December, but we were slow to make any progress on remediating that.  There is a certain amount of “boat yoga” required to disassemble / reassemble the new control head and cable guides, so that got addressed in stages as Rick healed up.  He probably set a record for the most time needed to complete such an installation – several hours spread across several days – but in the end we got it done.  After verifying proper operation of of the gear (transmission) lever – forward, neutral, reverse – and RPM range for the throttle lever – from 700 RPM at idle to 2500 RPM at WOT – we declared victorious completion on 23-January.  And we put the vice grips back in the toolbox where they belong. 
The Shiny New Wing Engine Throttle Control Head

Along the way there have been plenty of other things to work on: Chelle has been systematically progressing on a thorough cleaning of Ghost Rider’s interior; we’ve coordinated the requisite monthly bottom cleaning services during our extended layover at Legacy Harbour with Adams Diving (LINK); and we also scheduled the boat’s annual “spa treatment” (shampoo, compounding and wax) with our preferred boat detailers, Frank & Pedro of Ultimate Marine (LINK); that got underway the week of 21-January.  Additionally, given that we and Ghost Rider will likely end up spending the bulk of the 2019 tropical storm season in Florida waters, we also joined the “hurricane club” at the River Forest Yachting Center in nearby Labelle.  If you are curious what that provides, information is available at this RFYC web LINK, but it guarantees us a haul-out and secure tie-down 35 miles upriver in the event of a big blow.

And a New Project

Lastly (for now), Rick decided to embark on another new, albeit minor, project to find an optimum way to use standard Bluetooth technology for piping music through the boat’s stereo systems.  Our two separate stereo systems – Sony in the salon, and Fusion serving the pilot house & fly bridge – both supported MP3 playback via USB memory sticks, but with over 8,000 tracks in our collection (and growing), the user interface for that input source was klutzy at best and not always reliable.  
The Red Arrow Points Out the New Fusion Bluetooth Module. Later
We Permanently Mounted It Further Inside the PH Equipment Panel

We wanted a PC-based or tablet-based media player interface with full screen navigation, and one that supported the standard album/artist protocols and custom playlists, but also folder-based organization as well as Internet streaming services…plus smart phone remote control.  The Fusion unit required a separate Bluetooth module installation, but that was a simple $45 Amazon order.  While installation required splicing new power and ground connections with new butt connectors behind one of the pilot house dash panels, that went smoothly enough.

For now we are using the freeware "MusicBee" media player on our Windows 7 laptop PC, and are pleased with the connectivity and sound through the Fusion and Sony stereo systems, both from our MP3 library and also using the Spotify streaming service. It can also be remotely controlled from our Android smart phone app. 
The MusicBee Player Has a Richer User Interface than the Stock Windows Media Player, but More Importantly Offers Better Organization and Control Options.  And It's WAY Better Than Tiny USB Scrolling Displays on the Small Stereo Units.
We've got more testing to do which we'll tend to once we move back onto the boat in mid-February and have a chance to "live with it" on an extended basis.
The MusicBee Android App Connects to the Full Screen Media Player on the PC.  It Uses a Reliable WiFi Connection
and Provides a Convenient & Functional Remote Control Anywhere on the Boat.

More to come later in February.  Happy 2019!


  1. You two continue to amaze me for what you be doing. Sorry to hear about Rick but glad he be doing good again. Look forward to seeing you two end of Feb at the Annual.

  2. Good to hear from you guys. Sorry to hear of your medical problems I had one to. Look forward to your next trip. Give our best to Charmaine

  3. It was great to catch up with both and share some quality time together. In spite of the warnings before we arrived, Rick looked, sounded and acted like a determined person to quickly get back to his previous top shelf energy. Shelly is doing a great job of controlling Rick to activities just slightly more active than his doctors prescribe. Thank you both for a wonderful visit.

    1. Billy/Becky...thanks for spending time with us, it was great to catch up once again. Good luck with the winter up there.

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