Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bottom Job Surprises

It's gotta be done.  Every boat owner dreads it.  Our time had come.  The Bottom Job.

Upon arrival in the St. Petersburg area, our first order of business was to have the boat hauled out so that the Max Prop could be removed and replaced with our old fixed prop.

Not the worst we've seen, but ICK!

Removing the Max Prop
The last time we hauled the boat back in February , 2014, we were told that there was some "play" in the blades that would need to be addressed.

We chose Embree Marine on recommendation of a local Facebook friend.  I will say right here that after it was all said and done, the folks at Embree have impressed us with their knowledgeable and professional service from start to finish.... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Only a fellow sailboat owner would call this a treat!
We scheduled a "quick haul" so that Embree could send in our prop for servicing and while we were at it... Bruce got to do a quick scrape of the underside to get the barnacles off.  He was so happy to be given the opportunity instead of paying someone else to do it...

He worked away while the old fixed prop was installed and they splashed the boat again, a little bit lighter now that the bottom is cleaner.

A bit of history here, we bought the boat in 2012 and had a complete bottom job done in October of that year.  We had it painted with Micron Extra, thinking that it would be good for 2-3 years.

In February of 2013 we had the boat hauled out for some maintenance work and re-applied a layer of paint along the top two ft. of waterline, the keel and the rudder.
I would say that it's TIME for a new coat of paint.

Then came Marathon...  The waters in Boot Key are a playground for marine growth.  We did not know this until we had been there for a month and realized that we were seeing unprecedented amounts of shells growing on our bottom.  So much for our bottom paint!  It was literally ruined and the decision to continue on to the Bahamas before we did yet another haul out was a difficult one.  Our deciding factor was that there shouldn't be much growth in the barren waters of the Bahamas... so we put it off.

Now that we're back, it's time.   We scheduled our haul out for the 14th of September giving them plenty of time to get the prop back while we road tripped to California!

Fast forward, here we are again at Embree.  We pulled up to their dock and parked the boat thinking that we were in for about $2,700 for the bottom job and another $1,200 for the prop repair...  As we waved goodbye to our home, packed the cat and our clothes into the car and happily drove away... we had no way of knowing what our future would reveal... Oh and while we're at it... throw in a wash, buff and wax of the upper hull sides too.  What's another $750 since we're out???

Some days later we came to visit the boat and see how things were going.  We had received a call to get authorization to fix a little "bubble" that they found and we told them to go ahead. When we arrived we saw that they had been wrong about the bubble.

They said that while the boat was drying out, they found this spot that was weeping.  Thinking it was just a blister, they began to grind it out... but it just kept going and going until there was THIS!

Our first thought was "West Bay" So we suffered some damage after all...  But in talking to Chad, he assured us that this was an old repair from a (hard) grounding by some prior owner... Our time in West Bay must have just reopened this old wound.  Of course throw this onto the growing pile of things to fix (and pay for).  We are just SO happy to have found it by this method instead of somewhere (insert ominous dun dun dun dunnnn) out there...

Cha ching...
There was also a recurrence of an issue we knew about and had fixed before... The spot where the keel joins the hull has experienced some "flexing" and the epoxy needs to be reapplied.  They assure me this is common and not dire.

Oh and what do we have over here?  I'm still not sure what the deal is here... They told us it was a bit of "dry rot".  Is there such a thing?  They weren't worried at all... the keel is lead.  It's just a bit of water under the paint... They ground that out and repaired it... no sweat.  By this time we've stopped asking "how much".  It's just not worth the stress... and besides, I'm not so good at math!

And then there's this.. Another casualty of our West Bay experience.  I remember the moment this happened very well.  I was at the helm with Bruce on the bow.  I could feel the wheel jerk as the rudder hit a rock beneath us each time the boat dropped into a steep wave trough... That was a bad night.

It looks bad but there was no water inside the rudder... so there's that.

Go ahead and fix that up while we're at it.  Can't head back out to the wild with that down there...

We returned to the boat again later in the week to check on the progress.  Things were moving right along.  The repairs looked good.  Bottom paint was gong nicely and the prop was all back in place with new zincs on the prop and the cutters. (the boat came with a set of spurs or cutters that will cut through a line (think lobster trap) that wraps around our prop shaft.  If we've tested them we don't know it... but we've never had anything wrap around the prop shaft... )

One thing that they did here at Embree that impressed us was to take off the through hull scoops and paint them with Vivid antifouling paint, then re-bed them.  Nice touch!

They also used this on the shaft and prop. Supposedly it lasts better on the metal parts... We shall see.

Extra clean through hull!

No more boo boos!
Lets try THIS stuff...
The next time we visited there was a guy buffing and waxing the hull.  What he had done already looked great!  We've done this job ourselves before and it's not much fun... Looks like things are winding down with only the new through hull for our water maker discharge left on the list of things-to-do.  Only one more day and they'll splash on Tbursday morning.  

We've been living with our daughter these ten days and although we are eternally grateful for her hospitality... we are SO ready to be back in our own home.

Thursday morning we arrived at about 9 am after shuttling our car to the marina.  Dos Libras was already hanging in the slings ready for our final inspection before she goes back where she belongs.

We are thrilled with how the hull looks and glad of the repairs done.  We waited while they moved the boat through the yard and lowered her gently into the water.

They did a leak check and even washed the deck and cockpit for us.  Then we were directed to go up into the office to pay the bill...

After going over it all, we are happy with the charges, if happy is a word that can be applied in this case...

We had a lot more stuff added to our initial base estimate but none of that was the yard's fault.  We feel that the charges are fair and the work was good.  The employees were all very professional and environmentally correct.

We descended the stairs from the office in somewhat of a shell-shocked fog state, but it began to clear as we climbed aboard our beloved home.

What's next?  We have about five weeks left in Gulfport during which we will install our water maker and do a whole list of other boat projects with hopes of being ready to head out again November 1.  The big stuff is almost over... If I make it through this next month without losing my mind, it will be a miracle.

Let's just hope there are no more costly SURPRISES!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mamma Said Marry A Plumber

Working in tight spaces
Well, maybe that's a lie.... but after living on a sailboat for almost three years, I wish I HAD! (and I think Bruce does too)

Our time in the Bahamas was idyllic (well... because it was the BAHAMAS!  But also) in that nothing broke while we were there.  Really.  We met quite a few people who were waiting around for parts, complaining about how much the shipping cost and how long it took to get things in the Bahamas... but we were lucky.  After all of the money and heartache we poured into Dos Libras prior to our escape from the US, we were granted a respite.

But the moment we returned to the US back in June, we were smacked with one thing after another in rapid succession.  For some mysterious reason, most of the problems were plumbing related.

First off let me just let you in on a little secret that nobody tells you.  When you live on your boat and use the head all the time, you will obviously be pumping out regularly.  We could usually go about 2 weeks on our waste tank capacity at the end of which we would either need to find a pump out station (that worked) or take a day trip out past the three mile limit to lawfully pump our waste overboard.

The regularity of these activities kept our deck plate caps and our macerators in good repair.  Well, when you leave the US and there are few (or no) pump out options, waste is pretty much universally dumped overboard with each flush, bypassing the tank and giving the macerator and the deck plate cap a long break.

Preparing to remove the old macerator with a diaper to catch overflow
This is when it happens.  The crud that resides on and in your macerator and deck plate cap will slowly begin to harden until they become impossible to move.  Thus, upon our return to the US and the return of the need to use pump out stations (or macerate the waste out past the three mile line)... we realized our mistake.  We should have cleaned our equipment.  But we did not... and we've learned that lesson the hard way.

This is what the cap looks like
Things have finally settled down enough for us to muster the nerve to tackle this project.  We've been working on trying to unscrew the deck cap for WEEKS, using PB Blaster and many other concoctions to try to penetrate the hardened sludge that is keeping the cap firmly in place.

This is the type of deck key we've been using
We've tried so hard that we've actually elongated the two small holes that the deck key fits into to unscrew the cap...  They're now shaped like ovals and the deck key repeatedly breaks out of the holes when we try to put the power to it.

The deck plates for both of our heads were frozen when we came back to the US, but we were able to get the cap for the aft head (in our bedroom) loose, we we've been using only that toilet since our return to the US...  We are READY to have our other potty working again.

Unfortunately we've been unable to get lucky with the forward head and it remains frozen solid for now... So we turned our attention to replacing the dead macerator so that we could at least empty the tank offshore when needed.

The new replacement... now we just need some new hose clamps to fit...
My fear (and the reason for putting this off for this long) was that "waste" would pour out of the hoses and into the boat when we removed the old macerator.  I prepared for this by placing a tough trash bag beneath the workspace and lining it with an absorbent pet pee pad.  I also had on hand, a paper towel to stuff into the hose and a baggie and zip tie ready to cover and neutralize the hose.

All of my careful preparations and time spent fretting beforehand were for naught... barely a drop came out of the hoses when we loosened them and it was super easy to just pop the new macerater in place of the old one.  We didn't have the right hose clamps to replace these rusty ones, but that's an easy fix.... throw it on the pile.

Yay!  So now we can run some fresh water into the toilet to "freshen" the hoses in there and would you believe it... the electric pump that flushes the toilet groaned, squealed and then blew a fuse when I pushed the button.  We flipped the breaker back on and I pushed the button again...  This time when silence fell, the pump was dead.  WTF???  I guess the "stuff" that was inside the frozen macerator was also inside the potty pump.  DAMN!!!

From overhead wrangling hoses
I went online to price parts to repair or replace the pump and found them to be very close to the price for a new manual toilet.  Decision made.  I've always hated that electric flush anyway.  It can't "handle the load" (if you get what I mean), it's loud and provides NO privacy for someone trying to be sneaky about going to the potty (guests are like that), and the lights always dim when the motor sucks all the amps in the house!

We bopped over to the West Marine and picked up a new manual flush potty and some new hoses and parts for the vented loop... and went to work.

It wasn't really a tough job, just time consuming as there is not a lot of room in the head so Bruce did the majority of the work himself.  Drilling new mounting holes was the most difficult part of the install as the hoses (which are usually the challenging part) were very short and almost a straight run with no sharp turns.
The old hoses.  We did away with all that stuff on the right and used new hoses

We replaced the cap for the vented loop on the waste hose and installed a new vented loop on the raw water intake... and voila!  I'm happy to say that the new potty is placed perfectly and works great!

Moving right along...  to the aft head.  The shower fixture has become unreliable.  We had this problem once before.  It's an old but well made fixture and shortly after we got the boat, it started to malfunction.  Back then, we took it off the wall and poked around inside looking for obvious problems... finding none, we put it back on and figured we would look for a new one... lo and behold, it started working again.  And worked until now.

It isn't just something we can go and pick up at Home Depot and we can't find anything like it in marine chandleries.  It's got 6 inch centers and has the on/off handle on one side and a mixer (to set water temperature) on the other, with a shower hose coming out of the bottom.  When I found similar fixtures online the prices STARTED at over $900.00!  USD!!!  And that's just not happening!!!

Sometimes you just get lucky... after trying our luck at Lowes and Home Depot (we were there looking for something else), we were pointed to Palmer's Hardware here in St. Petersburg.

Palmer's is an old fashioned "real" hardware store... not just a place to buy hardware, but a place where you can get hard-to-find bits and also...  a place where there are people who can FIX stuff!!!  We brought them our shower fixture and after one trip to fix the internal mechanism, and another trip for him to fabricate new gaskets, we have a working fixture and spent less than $60 instead of the hundreds we were looking at spending before.

He also resolved our issues with our OTHER project... and saved us MORE money as next we turn to our galley.  There were actually two issues in the galley... One, we had a leaky water filter that needed to be replaced.  For that, we found a simple and inexpensive under-the-counter filter that will do nicely.  Since we're installing a new water maker, we will likely not have water in our tanks that is extremely impure... I just want something to filter out sediments and such so that we can drink the water out of the tanks.

Foot pump forward and new filtered water fixture behind it.
But the other problem was a rapidly deteriorating mounting structure for our non-pressurized fresh water pump...  It was installed using sub-standard washers that have been rusting and flaking away for months.  It not only looked horrible but left rusty flakes all over the place.  We literally chipped the rusting mount out from under the fixture and wrangled with the old and corroded flange to remove the old fixture.  We purchased a new one from West Marine (we couldn't find anything comparable elsewhere) and took it home to install...  Due to the thickness of our countertop, we couldn't just pop it in.  We needed parts.  So... we took the old and new fixtures to Palmers and an amazing thing happened.

He took our old fixture, which was much better than the cheaply made new one, back into his workroom and returned it to us all shiny and looking almost new in minutes.  He ground off the corrosion and they found us parts to re-install our old fixture so that we could return the crappy new one to West Marine and get our money back.  Palmer didn't even charge us for this!!!

So!  We're feeling pretty good about life now that we've accomplished something AND saved a bit of money.  We turned our sights to our next problem... finding the suspected slow leak in our hoses somewhere after the freshwater pump.  Every now and then, the pump will cycle even if we aren't using water.  We think there might be a leak somewhere.  So we started pulling up boards in search of   a possible culprit.  After about half an hour of contorting and peering into dark and dirty places with no luck... we decided to table this one for another day...  Boat projects never end... and hey, we may meet a nice plumber!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Palace-Hopping Back to Florida

Driving into the rain in Tucson
Leaving California was hard.  Walking out the door of my newly married daughter's apartment and sharing that final extra long hug... It was all I could do not to snatch her, stuff her into the back seat with the cat and screech away leaving her Groom standing there with his jaw dropped...

But finally we let go, knowing that it could possibly be more than three years until we physically meet again.

We drove off and I fought back tears as I tried to shake it off and enjoy the changing landscape.  The temperatures went from the mid 60's to 109° within two hours as we backtracked over the mountains and through the dessert leaving California and my little girl behind.

I had to think of the future.  Hers and mine.  She is starting a life of adventure with her Navy husband, traveling and seeing new sights.  No time to miss her mother.  I... well I will be doing the same.  Returning to our own life of adventure with Caribbean dreams coming closer than ever... thankful that we aren't returning to a house now empty of her presence.

While we were in California I received a message from a couple who have been following our blog since we left Texas.  B & C (to protect the innocent) invited Bruce and I to come and stay with them in Tucson.  After a short phone conversation during which I decided that they were NOT crazy ax murderers luring their next victim to peril... we agreed to stop and stay the night in Tucson.

We arrived just as a summer storm began to blow.  There were quail running around in the cactus garden and a bunny fled the driveway as we pulled in.  B & C came out to welcome us in and we enjoyed getting to know one another a bit as the skies opened up driving rain nearly sideways outside.  The thunder is really LOUD out here!

It was so nice being able to relax and stretch out in the home of new friends after a long drive.  Jezabelle never missed a beat as we let her out to explore the spacious surroundings.  B & C have a soon-to-be-boat-cat as well and we talked a lot about that too as our cats glared at one another.

We went out to dinner and Bruce and I answered all of their questions about cruising and prepping to cruise.  We hope to be following THEIR cruising blog very soon...

In the morning when we began to gather our things to leave, Jezabelle was nowhere to be found.  Suddenly she hides under the bed when she had been totally at home in this Palace.  Evidently she's learning the signs of imminent departure and wants no part of another ride in the car!  She LIKES Palace life...

The back yard.
We found her and set out once again, this time a short hop to Bruce's brother's home in Deming NM.

This was our second visit to Deming and Jezabelle was right at home.  She strolled the halls of this Palace with confidence and settled right into her previously chosen spot.

The short drive from Tucson left us with time on our hands.  We took a drive around to check out this cute little town.  The cost of living is low here.  Goods and services are cheap... but to me, the cost is very high.  You must be willing to live out here in the desert with very little to do.  The views are lovely but unless you can be content entertaining yourself... pass on life in the desert.

We found a tiny Mexican food place down the road and picked up take-out to eat back at the Palace.

After dinner we enjoyed the view from the topmost deck as another small rainstorm crept over the distant hills at sunset.

Evidently this is "monsoon season" here in the desert.  I don't know if I would call rain two days in a row a monsoon... but whatever.  It sure made for a gorgeous view.

Tiny strip of rainbow over the far right mountain

In the morning... refreshed and relaxed we packed up ( again), retrieved Jezabelle from beneath the bed... and hit the road.  We were TEXAS BOUND!

As we passed this sign I could feel Texas.  I wondered if it would always feel like "home" to me... even though our home is now wherever our boat happens to be.  My guess is that it will.

I didn't get pictures of our time in Texas for whatever reason.  I was just living in the moment and enjoying time with old friends.

Our first stop was at the home of our old BYC friends, Bill and Jan.  We hit the ground and were at once whisked down the street for a neighborhood get-together.  Bill and Jan had lived on this street for decades and had a group of long time neighbors who met once or twice a month for dinner.

How Cruisers drink white wine...
They were celebrating the end of summer with a "what I did this summer" game.  We all wrote down what we had done and then shared it with the group.  We felt like we had swooped all the prizes with our story and quickly became the object of many questions...  We kind of felt like some low level celebrity...  But it was fun answering all of the questions and got our heads back in the Cruising game...

After a delicious dinner (main course was King Ranch Cod - YUM) we walked back to Bill and Jan's house where we continued catching up.  Like true friends, we just picked up as if we had never been apart.  We really miss our old BYC friends and have found none like them in our travels.  We are so lucky to have these people in our lives.

One of the long-standing jokes in our Club has been that Bruce and I are light-weights when it comes to closing down the house.  We were usually the first ones to leave any gathering, slinking off to our beds before the real fun began.  But this time, we sat around the kitchen table and talked and laughed until finally it was BILL who said he was ready to call it a night.  Thankfully we followed him upstairs and fell into the soft comfy bed that was waiting for us in their daughter's old bedroom... There were posters on the walls and when we turned out the light we were delighted to see the ceiling covered with glowing stars.

There was no reason to rush away in the morning with only a short drive to College Station, TX ahead of us.  We sat and visited some more until Bill's workday started to encroach upon our chat time...  We packed up and were loading the car when Bill said "I have bad news".

He had noticed a screw in our tire.  Luckily for us (we lead a charmed life-I'm tellin' you) there was a Discount Tire just up the road.  We limped over there with our cat and our car loaded down...  They took one look at the screw and told us they would have to replace the tire.

We had purchased these tires at Discount Tire back in 2011 with the road hazard warranty.  The new tire, rotate and balance cost us $37 and about half an hour.  Suddenly we were on our way again!  Hooray!  Next stop, College Station and the home of our dear friends, Mark and Brenda.

We treasured every moment driving through the country backroads of Texas.  The hills, the green grass, the lush trees...  All so very different from our surroundings of the past two years.  When we pulled into the driveway, Brenda came out and gave us the biggest, fiercest hugs we'd had in a long time. She hustled us into the house and showed us to our room...  Another Palace!  We don't deserve such riches!

Jezabelle had to stay in our room this time.  There is another cat living here... Bizzy.  And she doesn't like visitors of the feline variety.  So Jezzer's time in this palace was not as much fun as ours, but at least we didn't have to look hard to find her when it was time to go...

Ridin' in the PO-Laris
But before that, we enjoyed every bit of our visit with Mark and Brenda.  Again as it is with old friends, we fell right back into step.  We caught up on all the family news while we took a ride around the neighborhood on the PO-Laris...

We dined like royalty (Brenda is a fabulous cook) and visited with our friends until (again) THEIR bedtime.

Brenda took us on a tour of College Station and the A&M campus the next day and then in the evening we got to play with little Hess...

Hess is their grand baby.  Daughter Sally, and her husband Matt arrived in the evening and Hess became the entertainment.  He is the smartest little kid I've ever seen and looks just like an angel.

Light at the end of the tunnel...almost there!
We considered staying another day, but there was a storm brewing that was threatening the Florida West Coast.  Tropical Storm Erika was moving towards our boat.  We had been watching it for some time and it looked like we would be spared, but possibly a lot of rain would fall... again.  We decided to move on to our next (and final) stop before Florida so that we could be ready to spring if need-be.  In the morning, we said our goodbyes... next stop, Fairhope, AL.

Once again we were welcomed into the home (another Palace) of our friends.  This time, Cruiser friends we had met way back in our first few months of cruising.  We are anxiously awaiting Jerry and Sally's return to Cruising life after some extensive upgrades to their boat and hope to do some Buddy-Boating with them in the near future...  but for now, they're On-The-Hard.

Shrimper on a placid Mobile Bay
While Jerry slaved away on boat projects, Sally whisked us off to Mobile Bay and the Fairhope Yacht Club.  Ever lucky... we happened to time our visit to coincide with a Ladies-at-the-helm race and Sally's friend Jack needed more lady sailors!  

We motored out to the start line where we floated, glad of the bimini, and watched the dolphin roll and play while waiting for the other boats to arrive.

You can see the wind beginning to ruffle the water's surface
The wind was light-to-non-existant and we wondered if the race would be postponed.  Back in Corpus Christi, most of our races began in the late morning... this race started in the mid afternoon.

The folks at FYC know this bay and expected the afternoon sea breezes to pick up... and so they did.  Very. Slowly.

We started the race with just enough wind to move the boat.  I think our start was actually pretty well timed.  It was difficult for me to tell as there is only one mark at the start which boats must take to starboard within 200 yards. (?)  Whatever... it must work for them.

Bruce is very good at sailing on other people's boats.  As soon as he boarded, he took note of where everything was and how it was run to the cockpit.  He made himself invaluable as trimmer and never stopped tweaking sails throughout the race.

It was Ladies Only at the helm for this race and resident C.Y. was there first.  Sally did an impressive job of gently and softly talking her through the start and got her on course to the next mark.  You could tell that C.Y. was nervous but Sally was right there at her side guiding her all the way.

First time racing with Sally!  
There were three marks and then the finish and the winds continued to slowly increase through the final leg.  My turn at the helm came last so I had the best winds.  We ended up a tiny tad short of the last mark and had to do a short tack... to the invisible mark (to me) but finished the race in 5th place as we later learned.

Photo courtesy of FYC
After the race, we all gathered at the Club for munchies and introductions to many of Sally's friends.  The Club is very nice and was newly built after complete destruction of the previous clubhouse by hurricane Katrina.

We stood proudly with Sally, Jack and C.Y.  to receive our very nice FYC coasters as our prize for the day... and then rushed back home to get cleaned up for dinner.

We arrived back at the Palace just in time to greet guests Mary and David (avid Blog Followers :) ) for a delicious steak dinner and much talk of cruising.  Mary and David are planning some short term cruising this fall and we hope to see them out and about.

The following morning we made a quick trip out to see Encore and take a look at what has been keeping Jerry so busy for the past three months.

He has single handedly re-painted the hull and put a new bottom job on the boat (and many other things).  In the heat. Working tirelessly.  Every. Day.  I don't know how he's doing it frankly.  Thankfully he is almost done and the boat looks great.

Next we had lunch at Wintzell's Oyster House with old BYC friends, Lynn and Susan.  They live nearby and we visit them every chance we get.  Lynn has done some cruising in the past but now has gone over to the dark side... he sold his sailboat and bought a sport fisher.  But... we will forgive him because he practically INSISTED that we all come out fishing with him the next day.

Bruce and I had planned to leave for home in morning... but when opportunity knocks... we would be silly to say no.  With the end of Encore's time in the yard looming, Jerry was unable to take off to play... but Sally, Bruce and I got up early and met Lynn at the boat near Orange Beach, AL. and set off for some time on the water.

Riding on one of these boats is very different from what we're used to on our sailboat.  We could see forever from up on the top deck.  The breeze in our faces and the gorgeous views around us reminded us of why we live on the water.

I didn't know how much I had missed this until we got out there.  I'm just happier on the water than anywhere else and my grin just would not stop as we motored out onto the smooth waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Once out to the reef, the helm somehow came to me.  Lynn was busy on the back deck with fishing stuff and Sally was content to take pictures.

It was fun driving the boat.  Lynn told me to follow the previous tracks and go from one point to another on his GPS... easy peasy.

It was a glorious day.  The water was blue and the waves were small.  We followed the reef and did a loop around the offshore weather buoy, then out some more.  I think we went about 16 miles offshore in total, then turned around and retraced our path.

We caught five Bonito.  Not what we were looking for, but hey, at least we caught SOMEthing!  But to me, it wouldn't have mattered.  We were out on the water and it was a grand day.  Just after noon, we turned towards shore.  Lynn took over the helm and we all drowsed as we made our way back.

The wind was dying, the water was flat calm as we breezed along up high like on a magic carpet.

Back at the marina, it was HOT!  Really hot.  And almost airless.  The oppressive Florida humidity and lack of wind almost did us in.

Being boaters ourselves, we tried hard to get Lynn to allow us to help him put the boat away... but he said "I've got my system" and that was the end of that.

What a gracious host he is.  This day was another of those in which we consider ourselves the luckiest people on earth.  For having such friends, and for opportunities falling into our laps when we least expect it... we are rich.

All good things must come to an end... After more than a month of road-tripping, and visiting with friends and family.... it was time to return home.

One last time we loaded all of our stuff into the car and hit the road.  I think Jerry was ready to see us go... as he watched our loading process from a safe distance.

(these photos taken by Sally)

Where to NOW???
I don't know how we made it across the entire US and back with all of this stuff... and a cat.  I think the cat has more gear that WE do!!!

It has been a good trip.  If we hadn't been traveling with cats, we would most likely have flown.  Sadly, we left Jetsam back in Texas, now past the point of no return... I will admit that it is easier traveling with only one cat.

Jetsam seems to be adjusting and settling into life back at our townhouse with my Mom (another palace).  Jezabelle is a fabulous traveler and just makes herself right at home wherever we happen to stop...

If we hadn't traveled by car, we would not have had the opportunity to impose upon visit with so many of our old (and new) friends along the way.  We would have had horrible jet lag instead of stopping in every time zone to allow our bodies to adjust slowly and naturally.  We would not have seen our beautiful country and the vastly different landscapes.

Upon arrival back at the boat, Jezabelle rushed to the companionway and zipped down the stairs.  She found our solar panels taking up her spot on the bed, so she settled right down on her settee next to it.  

Our pre-trip preparations were well worth it.  The boat had no new smells and no mildew.  Everything was clean and ready for our return.  The air conditioners had kept the air dry and both of them were still working.  The fridge and freezer started right back up and started cooling again.  Relief.  I had half expected to return to disaster.

We re-installed the solar panels and Jezabelle reclaimed her customary place on the bed... without Jetsam.  (Now is when we will REALLY miss her.)  She was home.  We are home.  Back safely to our own Tiny Palace on the water for good and ready to resume our Caribbean Dream.