Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Feb - Mar 2019: Hanging in Fort Myers

We Had a Front Row Seat on the Bow of Ghost Rider for Viewing the
Pyrotechnics that Concluded This Year's Edison Festival of Lights
Two months have passed since our previous post, so here’s another catch up entry from the crew of Ghost Rider for the months of February and March.  Our days have been a good mix of recreation, social events, some travel, lots of reading, occasional boat business and even some actual boating.  Since we started our dirt-dwelling winter spell here in Fort Myers Chelle has turned her attention back to her golf game, playing an average of twice per week.  She even has taken some corrective lessons and spent time at the range, which used to be heresy for her.  Meanwhile, Rick has continued his recovery both in terms of energy level and weight gain, which of course means he’s gotten quite active once again with his main hobby – more boat projects.  (There’s always a list.)

February Update
With guests occupying the condo we moved back onto the boat in February, still moored at Legacy Harbour Marina in downtown Fort Myers.  That gave both of us the luxury of combining dirt-dwelling with live-aboard life.  That also meant we had a front row seat for the Edison Festival of Light fireworks finale right off the bow of Ghost Rider….it was a sustained and percussive pyrotechnic display that we thoroughly enjoyed, see the YouTube video link HERE.

Rick finally began construction on a new page for our web site, with the purpose of documenting the more significant boat projects that we’ve undertaken on Ghost Rider.  That page is still under construction, and while mostly of interest to boat geeks, a partially completed version/preview is available HERE for the curious.  It’s also worth noting that these blog page(s) now have a search capability, and you’ll find the search box towards the upper right hand corner of the current web page.
The Ships's Computer and a Bluetooth Laptop Feeding the Fusion Stereo
System with Either Internet Streaming or Our Own Music Library

As for February boat business, Rick completed configuration and testing of the boat’s revised sound system, using a full screen media player (MusicBee) with access to our fairly large music library, as well as Internet-streaming music (and Rick’s favorite podcasts) all now accessible via Bluetooth devices as well as the ship's computer, piped through our Fusion marine stereo system.  We’re also happy with the smartphone remote control capability.  And, as has become our custom when wintering here in Fort Myers, we had the U.S. Coast Guard aboard for Ghost Rider’s annual courtesy inspection.  Legacy Harbor sponsors these each winter and we find it comforting to have that third party evaluation of the boat’s safety readiness.

March Update
Ron & Mercedes with Daughter Stephanie Preparing Dinner Aboard Moonrise
The month of March brought spring training baseball to Florida; it was a treat to attend a Red Sox game on a perfect sunny afternoon, even if the Sox got trounced by the Pirates.  Immediately after the game we drove over to Fort Lauderdale on the other coast to visit with good friends Ron and Mercedes, who had just returned from months of cruising the Bahamas in their Nordhavn 47, Moonrise.  They were waiting on some water maker parts before resuming their journey north to their home in Charleston, so we were able to spend a couple of very pleasant evenings together.

Shortly after returning to Fort Myers we finally got the boat out of its slip for a three day period, heading down river and then up the ICW to an anchorage between Cabbage Key and Useppa Islands.  We got a good chance to fully sea trial some of the previous repairs: the stabilizers performed well with no more leaks, and the new wing engine throttle did its job admirably for both hydraulic power and as auxiliary propulsion.  We were met at the anchorage that Friday by friends Dan and Juli in their Grady-White Marlin, FloMotion, and we anchored together just west of Useppa.  We launched the dinghy and ferried them over to Ghost Rider for dinner, drinks and a fun social evening. 
The Water Taxi Going from Ghost Rider to Nearby FloMotion
The following morning (a Saturday) we were greeted by some spotty rain, so Rick tended to some boat chores.  On the sortie north the previous day we had noticed some rubber chunks of an alternator belt beneath the main engine, so Rick pulled off the engine and belt guards to take a look – sure enough both drive belts for the #2 alternator had begun shredding themselves.  We had spares on board and it didn’t take long for Rick to remove and replace those and reassemble the guard shrouds.

By noon the skies cleared and we had another pleasant afternoon hanging on the hook.  Dan and Juli departed later that day but by then we had been joined by yet another Grady club couple, good friends Dan and Cher.  They rafted their small Freedom (Lady GoDiver) to Ghost Rider and that evening we dinghied over to Cabbage Key for dinner.  We returned to the anchorage just after sunset and enjoyed more social time aboard, with Dan and Cher spending a comfortable night in our guest stateroom.
Two Grady-White's and a Nordhavn at Anchor...and the Dingy as Water Taxi

The next day the four of us enjoyed a lazy morning hanging out on Ghost Rider’s fly bridge while watching light traffic pass by out on the ICW.  By late morning we had gathered enough energy to begin departure preparations and by noon Dan and Cher had pushed off to head back to their home in Punta Gorda.  We retrieved the anchor and chugged back south to Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers, arriving just after 1600 in calm conditions for an uneventful docking exercise.  It had been good to be back out on the water.

A busy March was concluded with a long flight out to Tucson, Arizona where we were privileged to attend the wedding for our niece, Morgan.  She and her soulmate Claudio hosted a backyard affair under crystal clear desert skies and it all went perfectly.  Making it even better, we got to spend quality time with Rick’s lifelong wing man, Dick Schulte, at Dick and Cindy’s gorgeous home in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  It was a fabulous five days.
Rick and Dick Next to a B-52D (Tail Number 067 in Which Rick Had Many PIC Hours) at Tucson's Pima Air & Space Museum.  Two Buddies Who Went Through Grade School, High School, College and then Pilot Training Together.  Brothers.
March Boat Business Updates
New Fire Bottle in the Engine Room
As for the latest boat business:  First, an unfortunate modernization opportunity arose during our annual fire suppression system inspection; the big Fireboy bottle (900 cubic foot capability) in the engine room failed the weight test, indicating some propellant leakage had occurred.  These auto discharge bottles are not serviceable, so a new one was ordered to the tune of two “boat units”.  During the same inspection the smaller fire bottle (350 cubic foot capability) in the lazarette passed, but unfortunately experienced an accidental discharge during the remounting process.  The poor technician got a face full of FM200 propellant, but fortunately emerged without serious injury (apart from a temporary burning in the eyes and a numb tongue.)  Lesson:  wear eye protection when messing around with those things.  We’re not sure what that replacement cost since ABC Fire Equipment Corp footed the bill for that ‘oops’.  We also replaced the manual pull cable for the big engine room bottle while we were at it….it had some fraying and was difficult to operate at full travel.  Once all that was completed we re-tested the system’s auto-shutdown sequence and all was well once again.

Draining the Coolant from the Diesel Generator
Next up was the coolant service for the generator that comes at 600 hour intervals, a threshold we crossed while anchored at Useppa.  That’s a relatively simple routine maintenance operation since (unlike the wing engine) the drain spigot and hose is well-designed and easy to access.  Rick drained the old coolant, flushed the block twice with fresh water, then refilled with a 50/50 mix of Peak Fleet Charge, which meets all the SCA specs for these Lugger diesel engines.  Changing out the thermostat (a recommended precautionary measure) was a slightly different story since that damned thing was located on the “wrong” (outboard) side of the engine, thus requiring some boat yoga, and is mounted vertically with a rather beefy internal hold-down spring.  With four hands it would have been easy, but with only two it took Rick a while to get it done right.

New Caframo 12V Fan Added to the Pilot House Bridge
The final project on the list was to mount two more Caframo 12 volt fans that Chelle had purchased a while back; she liked the one we installed in the galley so much that she asked for one in the master stateroom and one in the pilot house.  Mounting the hardware was simple enough but figuring out where and how to tap into the boat’s 12V system is sometimes challenging….at least for Rick it is.  But we figured it out and these new fan additions help address some dead-air spots when not running the AC.

Morgan & Claudio as Wife & Husband...and Ready to Get Out of There and Over
to Europe for Their Honeymoon.

Dick & Rick Next to the F-16 Viper at Pima Air & Space Museum.  Dick Flew the Viper During
 the First Gulf War.  He Also Has Time in the F-4 Phantom and the OV-10.
Among the 300+ Aircraft at the Pima Museum was this F4D Skyray.  It's Obscure to Most, but Rick's Dad Flew This Carrier-Based Aircraft.  Note the Tail Number '4748'.  Our First Nordhavn was an N47....Hull Number 48.

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