Thursday, May 30, 2019

Apr - May 2019: Continuing in Fort Myers

Keeping Ghost Rider Clean & Shiny at Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers
Spring weather in southern Florida ends about midway through baseball’s spring training season – which is roughly mid-March.  By April we’re into early summer temps.  Early summer means it’s already quite warm but the occasional cool front will drop the humidity to something tolerable for about a day and a half.  And by May it’s just plain hot and humid here with daily afternoon TRWs, and it continues that way until roughly late October.  Which is why we are typically underway and heading elsewhere by this time.

The intensity of the south Florida sun presents a number of other challenges, most notably with its attempts to bleach the boat’s gelcoat into something resembling chalk.  While we’re stuck in port this year we’re doing our best to combat that with frequent fresh water rinses and chamois-wiping exposed surfaces so dirt and bug juice don’t dig in.  Where stains do form Rick is experimenting with a mild soap-with-wax formulation from Z-Tuff, and we also will occasionally follow that up with a quick application of Collonite liquid wax on some of the horizontal surfaces.  The whole goal is to see how long we can make that previous (January) paste wax and detailing job last.
Crew & Ghost Rider Posing with the Grandkids....Grace, Alice & Danny
Rick has also finally completed the boat’s “Projects Page” on our Ghost Rider web site, which can be viewed at this LINK.  We think it’s a fair representation of the more major changes and retrofits we’ve managed over the first two years of ownership.

April Update
Chelle made the first of a few trips to Oklahoma City, initially spending over a week there to assist her mum with move preparations – inventorying, downsizing, packing, plus coordinating some renovation projects.  Around mid-month we also made the move from the boat back to the condo.  But our April highlight was a visit from kids and grandkids during their Easter break.  Lots of pool time, some golf, a visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estate, and a fishing charter were among the fun activities that kept the din and overall chaos to reasonable levels.
Nick & Danielle with Grace, Alice & Danny After the Easter Egg Hunt on the Beach....and Before the Sugar Highs Kicked In
May Update
Early in May Chelle made another trip to OKC, once again back in her project management mode, to manage the final renovations and move preparations for mum.  But upon return a healthy portion of the month was focused on Rick’s second surgery and subsequent recovery.  An old body is just like an old boat -- lots of maintenance and no warranty on parts or labor. As much as Rick hates hospitals, the intestinal plumbing schematic is now back to where it should be.  (And Rick is thoroughly convinced by now that the engineering behind our intestines is deeply flawed.) Anyway, let the healing begin....we've got the remainder of the summer reserved mostly for just that.

Boat Business Updates
The boat is an easy 12 mile drive from the condo, so outside of the surgical / recuperation window we’ve been making occasional trips to check on Ghost Rider and to tend to the routine (Wheelhouse-prompted) maintenance tasks.  But Rick has also enjoyed our leisurely dirt-dwelling days to tend to some long lingering, albeit minor, boat projects that have been on our “later list” for a long time.  For example:

➤ One of the requirements for joining the hurricane club at the River Forest Yachting Center (RFYC) was to have the boat’s optimum (safe) sling locations labeled, so that their travel lift operators don’t have to guess where to position the boat in the lifting straps.  Rick ordered and applied the 4 decals on the hull.  All boat projects should be this easy.
Two "Sling" Labels on Each Side of the Hull to Mark Where the Travel Lift Straps Go
➤ Another simple (but time consuming) job was placing “clamp jackets” on the exposed ends of the stainless steel worm gear hose clamps (what the Brits call “Jubilee Clips”).  There are a stunning number of them even on a fifty foot boat, and, speaking from painful experience, each tag end of those clamps is like a knife waiting to lacerate someone.  Just the engine room and lazarette so far have consumed fifty of these little rubber-tipped jackets.  Rick calls them clamp condoms.  
A Double Clamped Hose with a Jacket on One & Not the Other
➤ We had also been carrying a fairly hefty bench vise around with us since we purchased the boat, figuring some day we would find a good place to permanently mount that thing.  We never did.  So Rick thru-bolted it to a slab of plywood and attached non-skid rubber feet to the bottom of the base, making it sturdy yet portable.  Check off another one.
Making the Bench Vise Portable & More Usable
  A piece of kit that we found extremely useful on the previous boat is what we call an anchor shank wedge.  It’s a simple piece of black starboard cut to fit snugly between the stainless anchor chain guides on the bow pulpit, with a slot in the center that securely straddles the shank of the anchor.  Sometimes called a “doghouse” due to its frontal appearance, it allows us to keep a little slack on the chain between the windlass’s capstan and the anchor (reducing stress on the windlass) yet keeps the anchor from wobbling around on the bow roller in rough seas.  Rick also discovered sawing through starboard can be quite messy (especially when you use the wrong saw blade) but that bench vise sure came in handy.
The Simple but Effective Anchor Shank Wedge, AKA the Dog House
➤ A few months ago we noticed the two recliners in the salon were starting to show severe wear and chafing at the fabric seams; and long before that we had noticed they weren’t all that comfortable to begin with.  So while we were visiting friends Ron and Mercedes on N47 Moonrise in Fort Lauderdale a while back, we took a side trip to Pompano Beach to visit Glastop (LINK), on outfit that specializes in boat & RV furniture.  There we ordered up a pair of their “Island Lounger” recliners, along with a small table to fit between them.  Luckily our son, Nick, was in town when the shipment arrived and helped with the furniture moving….they’re heavier than they look.  
The New Recliners in the Salon.....Very Comfy & Durable UltraLeather
Another View of the Salon and Our Comfy New Lounge Chairs
Finally, we did have to add one rather significant problem to the boat’s “to-do” list.  When Rick went to clean out the strainer baskets for the main engine’s thru-hull strainers that filter the cooling seawater, we unfortunately discovered the thru-hull ball valves were not closing; one was only partially closing, the other not at all.  The manner in which one discovers this is unsettling to say the least – when the strainer basket screw top is removed you end up with one helluva gushing geyser of seawater….in the engine room.  Putting that lid back on with that kind of upward water pressure sounds a lot easier than it is in actual practice.  Rick got soaked and the bilge pump got a workout.

To make it more frustrating, those two thru-hull units were just replaced two years ago. Grrrr. Regardless, we’ll need to have the boat hauled out to effect removal and replacement, something we hope to schedule once Rick’s surgical recovery is complete.  It might make for a good test run up to our hurricane hole at the River Forest Yachting Center (RFYC).  In the meantime, should one of those thru-hulls experience a separation failure, the boat won’t sink far….we have at best only 2 feet under the keel at our marina slip.  Sometimes you have to look hard to find it, but there’s always a bright side.

What's Next
Once we’re done with summer projects and our administrative distractions we’re hoping to sortie the boat back over to the Bahamas for some fall/winter cruising, and we’re also not ruling out a stopover in the Dry Tortugas. But the specific timing will depend largely on how the tropical storm season plays out following Rick's surgical recovery.

As for the next boat project -- other than getting those two damned thru-hulls replaced -- Rick is intent on finding a decent remote monitoring solution for the vessel.  We've already got a geo-fencing solution in place, but the goal now is to also trigger email and/or SMS text notifications when battery voltage drops below a certain level, or when shore power is interrupted, or when the bilge water level rises to certain levels.  Those are health metrics that are sorely needed when we're away from the boat for extended periods. We would likely add a few other sensor devices and alert triggers once those basics are reliably satisfied.  Stay tuned for progress on that front in our next blog posting.


  1. Your thoughts on the "engineering" of the intestinal tract is well taken. It reminds us of a joke whose question is: "Was the human body designed by an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer, or a civil engineer?" The answer is not for wide publication.

  2. Had to be the civil engineer....who else would use so much piping....and route it where it ended up?

  3. Good day! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok.

    I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  4. I am still amazed at the amount of time and effort, not to mention the cost, of all the things you have to do to keep the beast ready to go. Real glad your surgery went well and am sure you are more than ready to cast a line and get going. Love your blog. LOL

  5. Labor of love :-). Discharged today….yay.