31 May, 2015

Hola Mi Amigos,

Ortega Landing Marina in Jacksonville is a great home away from home.  After our stay last Christmas, we were determined to come back.  The facility is secure, run by a retired Navy Chief, and meticulously maintained by a former Navy (then USAIR) pilot.  Pool, hot tub, free laundry, lightning fast internet-you get the picture.  It’s kinda like Christmas when we arrive, as we arranged to have our mail and a few other goodies (Amazon Prime rules!) delivered here in anticipation of our stay. By the time we get all our stuff out of the storeroom, it’s nearly empty.  Bruce is glad we finally got here, and thinks that he should get a bottle of wine out of the case that he’s been holding for us.  We’ve been saving some shore chores for here, so we: drop off the cushions from the bow seat for placement of some snaps, drop off the backup nav computer to get a new power supply, leave the bedspread and some clothes at the dry cleaners, leave the bikes at the shop for a week of rehab (remember that they went for a swim in Naples-lotsa rust and about 3 out of 18 gears actually working), and hit West Marine to pick up stuff they’d been holding for us.  That was the first day.  The air conditioner in our room hadn’t been making cold for a while, and I couldn’t get it doped out, so after 3 calls and messages, Clay Hansen Marine (recommended by Bruce, the Harbormaster) finally called back and arranged for their tech, Chris to come out in 2 days’ time.  Meanwhile, we rented a car and hit Home Depot, Sam’s, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and all the usual suspects to restock.  I had planned to hit Sailor’s Exchange, kind of a marine second hand store, to grab some parts for the ongoing projects, but found that they had closed the Jacksonville store the month before-Bummer!  The store in St. Augustine was still open, though, so we also took a field trip BACK to St. A.  On the way home, we saw about 20 emergency vehicles at a construction site along the highway.  Ten miles further, we passed a school bus stopped on a surface street sporting yellow police tape around it with several police cars and a television news crew in attendance.  That night on the news, we found out that a man had been killed in an accident at the construction site, and some idiot had shot up the school bus, hitting 2 little girls (both expected to recover).  Day 3, and Suzanne’s working on the replacement nav computer (we’ll keep the one being repaired as a backup to the backup), and I’m wiring in a new alarm system while waiting for Chris, the AC tech, to arrive.  I’m putting in exhaust high temp alarms on the propulsion and generator engines, and high water alarms in the bilges.  Placing the sensors was the easy part; running wires up to the pilothouse took a little more time.  Chris shows, and gives a dire diagnosis.  The compressor is dead.  Good news is that the replacement fits the same footprint, and he should be able to get one in 7-10 days.  Bad news-$4.5K.  Ouch!  We leave a boat key with Bruce, and fly back to Michigan for our biannual dirt chores.  Physicals in Ann Arbor, dental appointments, eye exams, meet with CPA, get Mom-of-the Bride dress altered, haircut for the Admiral, visit my old office, and stay with Suz’s BF Linda in East Lansing, then off the next day to meet with our friend (and broker), Mark, in Grand Rapids.  From there, we drove up to Charlevoix to check on the house, and get things ready for our buds, Dick and Jan, who will use it as a cottage this summer.  After recommissioning the hot tub, I discover that there’s water leaking from somewhere that I can’t get to-@#$%&*!  Call Charlie, the hot tub dude.  He’ll be out in a week-$Ka-Ching.  During the course of the week, we get to visit with our Up north buds, and even had a fire in the fireplace, as its 36 degrees one night.

Back in Jacksonville, the air conditioner is not fixed.  More calls, more dancin’ around, they say that the unit is backordered from the distributor.  Got a bad feeling about this (see “bad experience in Marathon.”)  I call the distributor, yeah; he has ONE in stock-What the heck?  Okay, I ring up a dealer in JAX, and he can’t really recommend a good repair guy in town.  Hmmm.  Time to let my fingers do the dialing.  There’s a commercial refrigeration repair guy right down the road so I give them a ring.  Couldn’t be nicer on the phone-Can I wait ‘till this afternoon?  Sure, only problem is we’re leaving on Sunday.  Well……….  Mike arrives at 1130, and by 1145 he has found a burned out overheat sensor on the compressor.  He doesn’t have one on the truck, and doesn’t have time to get one from the distributor, as we’re leaving in 2 days, so he takes a picture with his cellphone, sends it to the office, and tells me that they’ll check around town with their suppliers to see what they can do.  As he headed out, he told me that he might be a while, ‘cause it was almost lunchtime, but I could be assured that he’d return, as he was leaving his tools on the boat.  Long story short, while I was running some errands, Mike returned and the unit was blowin’ cold when I returned-$230 pesos.  Thank-You, Ladies and Gentlemen.  2 for 3 on predatory repair guys in Florida.  I may lose my faith-so glad we have Scottie on our 6 most of the time.  Meanwhile, I installed the new fan/heat exchanger for the diesel heat in our room.  The old one had been drip, drip, dripping for the last couple of months, but we weren’t in one spot long enough to have one shipped from Vancouver, and we haven’t exactly needed heat.  While at Ortega, we made some nice new friends, Gary and Debra, our next door neighbors who live in Jacksonville and use their 42’ SeaRay as a getaway.  After having a farewell breakfast with them on Sunday, the 31st, we fired up the Girl and headed out.  A couple miles down the river, I noticed that we were burning 3.5 gal/hr (as opposed to 1.9), and the engine workload was around 50% (as opposed to 30%).  Usually when this happens, there’s something, like rope or a crab trap hanging on the prop or the bottom of the boat.  Running the boat in reverse for a couple hundred yards generally ditches whatever’s hanging on.  No dice.  Call Scottie real quick.  “Dude, you’ve been in a marina for what-3 weeks?  You probably have sh&%t growin’ all over your bottom and prop.  Dive that bee-och!”.  Anchor down, SCUBA on, putty knives and scrapers in hand.  Diving in the tannin colored St Johns River not my cup of tea. (Pun intended)  Lord!  What a crop of barnacles and growth.  An hour and a half later, we’re on our way again, runnin’ cool after an inauspicious start.  Like I said.  Good thing Scottie’s got our back.  We still had the ebbing tide sucking us out to the ocean, so it was a nice 3 hour trip to the inlet and on to sea, where we’d spend the next 45 hours enroute to Bald Head Island, NC (Newfoundland is 1400 miles away, and Lauren and Bill are waiting for us-Giddyup).

-Hasta Luego 

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