KEYS VI & Possible Plans

Now to continue the engine maintenance task. All the old hoses have been removed. New hoses are sorted for each engine and installed on one engine. The aftercoolers and heat exchangers have been soaked clean. The pitting on the port ac was ground out and the units pressure tested just fine. Parts have been repainted and reinstallation has started.

Top to bottom: Stbd engine aftercooler, heat exchanger and belt shield. Visible on the aftercooler are the two brass nuts which retain the sacrificial zincs in place. Heat exchanger also has two but only one is visible (barely).


Possible/probable future plans.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about future plans over the past weeks. Crossing to the Bahamas isn’t going to happen. Up in the air is whether to extend here in Marathon for two addl weeks – to the end of March.

When I bought the boat late last February, it filled a desire that I’ve had for 40+ yrs which was to again own a significant boat and then to live aboard it and cruise. I’ve now done that and enjoyed it to the fullest I’m able. I also had hoped to do the America’s Great Loop which I planned to do in one year. Due to circumstances, I only got to do, perhaps, a third of America’s Great Loop. But years ago, as a family, we cruised for several years, most of Lake Michigan’s east coast and I’ve sailed/crewed several trans Lk Mi races and one Chicago-Mac race. With this past year’s cruising I had great fun and a wonderful learning experience doing it. So many fun stops at towns and cities.

However it will not be possible to complete the Loop this year of 2020. The locks in Illinois portion of the Loop will be completely shut down for maintenance the latter part of the summer and early fall leaving 3 alternatives.

One would be to rush, rush rush up the ICW to NY, Canada and the Great Lakes to reach Chicago and the IL River by August. I’ve found boating to be very tiring and I don’t want to compound that by having a schedule that demands a full travel day 5 out of 7 days. How could one smell the roses?

Another would be to run the Loop in reverse and take the IL locks in the Spring/early Summer. To do that, I would need to go north UP the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio Rivers which, at any time and especially in the Spring, is against the current. In the Spring one probably will encounter flood waters, floating trees and other debris, flooded marinas etc. Dodging crab pots is not nearly as dangerous as dodging logs at a closing rate of 10-15mph. Last Resort has powerful enough engines to make speed against a current running 5 knots or greater but why work that hard?

The 3rd possibility and the one many Loopers plan to do is the typical slow northerly run up the ICW to Canada and the Great Lakes but then in the fall have the boat hauled and winterized in Canada, Michigan or WI, fly home for the winter and recommence the trip the following 2021. I have no home to fly to and I don’t want to be in cold climates. Further after a year of cruising, I know I am too old to continue for two more seasons.

Boating, even with the autopilot, is EXTREMELY tiring and often on the ICW or rivers, the autopilot is not that useful. You just can’t set it and relax for a half hour. You are always on watch, always maneuvering around a shoaling area, around another turn or always adjusting speed for No Wake zones, for passing other boats or being passed, checking the charts to see where you are or where you should have been, and checking depths in the narrow, shallow ditch known as the ICW. I found that running 40-50 miles in a day is exhausting to me. Sometimes I need an hour of rest after coming into a marina just to get enough energy to walk down the dock to the dockmaster office to register and pay. Dinner plans are shelved in favor of a 6pm bedtime. So there’s no mistake here, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I enjoy the travel very much but not the effort. To give an idea of what I mean — if I were in Savannah right now and decided that it would be fun to head to Myrtle Beach, by boat/ICW, that would be a 5 day trip for me and I’d probably need one rest day mid-trip and at least one more at the end. By motor vehicle, it would be a 3.5 – 4 hour trip followed by a relatively short nap.

To repeat, I have enjoyed the experience and the boat immensely. I am in so much better shape than when I started and for that I’m grateful. One needs enough agility to jump on and off the boat, strength to haul on the lines, stamina to wash down the boat (it’s a big boat). When I bought it, I was barely able to climb aboard without effort and nervousness afraid I’d fall.

The boat itself has been oh so comfortable! It is built so well – I really like all the beautiful wood joinery. It’s as much a pleasure to live on as any house, condo or RV I’ve owned. It is very stable regardless of weather and a joy as far as handling or docking. It is not something I could handle alone however.

I’ve enjoyed learning all the systems on the boat and there is a lot to learn. Though I have difficulty getting down in the engine room and am grateful for a crew that enjoys it, I have liked learning all the diesel and other systems and maintenance etc. I am only now beginning to evaluate a problem and decide what the most probable cure might be.

It’s been 45 yrs +/- since Sharon and I took Power Squadron (class room boating classes). But charting then was paper, pencil, parallel rules, a geometry style compass and a protractor. While I still have paper charts, they are my backup. Today the charts are electronic and plotting is done while sitting on the sofa and Bluetooth(ing) it to the boat chartplotter. Learning to read the charts again, to pick from the many mapping programs and learn how to use them has been fun. I enjoy the radio traffic between the boat and lock or bridge operators and between boaters. I have really enjoyed the challenge of entering a strange marina, finding the assigned slip and backing the boat in. For the most part I got it right the first time and, I think, only once did it take more than two tries (and that time was a total failure with 10 or so attempts🤢). I really liked experiencing the rivers, streams, canals, cut offs, bays, ocean and cruising the East Coast.

I have missed seeing mountains and desert-scapes though.

So what can I do?

One alternative, but one I’ve pretty much discarded, would be to turn Last Resort into a floating condo. Spend the winter in a southern marina, hire a captain to move me and the vessel north before hurricane season and dock it in a marina or two for the summer and fall, reverse and repeat. Not using the boat as a boat is not good for it. When boat shopping last year, I saw some boats that rarely were used and though the owners seemed to be proud that they only put 20 hours on the engines in a year, the engine and systems surveys told a different story – that the systems liked to be worked. Last Resort is ready on a moments notice to run from the Keys to Maine and beyond, either inside or on the open ocean.

So my present thinking is that I enjoyed full time RVing for 14 + years followed by two years of summer travel by motor home and almost one more year of full time RVing and I find that my wanderlust is still there. I probably would buy another motor home, probably a 40 footer, and a toad and once again travel full time by RV.

This is present thinking, subject to change. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile there was dinner to enjoy…

…before the end of another wonderful day

Today, Tuesday, drove to Key West for lunch. It’s about an hour away. Having been there a number of times there was no need to spend hours there. As always, the chickens/roosters are all over.

Tuesday morning – crowds are more to my liking
A couple of cruise ships at the dock. Here the Carnival Victory shoves off the dock on its Miami/Key West/Cozumel cruise. The thrusters far below the water barely create a surface ripple.

I am now 12 (Left) and 5 (Right) days post cataract surgery and have zero regrets. Should have done it 5 or 10 years ago. No pain or irritation. At my followup appointment on Friday, my right eye tested at 20/25 and my left at 20/50. Pre-surgery, the left was 20/250 (20/200 is considered legally blind – I didn’t know that before🥴). I certainly see better with much more color and clarity. I can even read reasonably well now with my left eye!

KEYS V

BOAT ROUTINE MAINTENANCE:

As previously posted, the oil and oil filters have been changed. Nervous about it as a DIY job but it went well. The diesel antifreeze/coolant has now been drained and disposed of. Awaiting delivery of fresh from Cummins. Internet shopping is so nice. The aftercoolers have been taken off and the cores removed.

Each aftercooler is basically 2 parts; a large cast aluminum container and a removable core consisting of many adjacent tubes. An aftercooler removes heat from the compressed air coming from a turbo before it enters an engine’s induction system. The heat runs thru one set of tubes in the core while cooling sea water passes thru adjoining tubes, all under pressure. And after the heat is passed to the water, the now heated water is discharged thru the hull.
Here the impure sea water calcification process has clogged the cooling portion of the core tubes.

No leaks are allowed. The water and hot air must never mix as water introduced into the turbo can be catastrophic. So the parts are soaked in a lot of brake cleaner followed by soapy water and thorough rinsing. The aluminum casting is air pressure tested to be sure it has no leaks of any sort.

The cores of both aftercoolers were pristine as was the starboard alum casting. It was installed new last Feb as part of the boat survey/purchase. The port casting is showing corrosion and pitting with the pitting at the opening being of concern. Can it be ground smooth enough while retaining tolerances to reinsert the core and holding under a pressure test? It is undergoing that shop analysis now.🤞

Also removed from the engines this afternoon were the heat exchangers. They are sent out for cleaning etc much like the aftercoolers. Have not heard a report on those yet.

The heat exchanger is the equivalent of a car radiator. It takes the heat out of the engine coolant and returns the cooled fluid to the engine. In a car, the cooling medium is rushing air, in the boat it is sea water and just like bugs, paper or whatever can make a car radiator inefficient causing the engine to run hot, so too can sea water contaminants, minerals, etc clog the heat exchanger.

So all that sea water going in and out of the boat travels through rubber hoses and those also can get fouled. In addition, the rubber tends to get old, get brittle and or deteriorate. Clamps are subjected to the hot and humid engine room conditions as well. While ALL hoses are dual clamped for safety, a failed hose or broken clamp many miles from land is not good. Some clamps are showing wear and there is black speck evidence on the white engine and floor of some hose deterioration. So new pre formed hoses and marine grade stainless steel clamps were ordered and have arrived. Did I say internet shopping is great?

Also have checked all the belts and replaced those needing replacement, the O rings on the sea strainers and moved one of the bilge pumps to better drain an area of the bilge. Stagnant water is not healthy but also increases steam and humidity in the engine room creating rust. Also coming yet via internet order is matching white Cummins engine paint for touch up. I will have to get someone to adjust the new dripless shaft seal that was installed in May. There is a bit of dripping and the adjustment is in millimeters. I also will need to get a Cummins mechanic to do a valve lash adjustment on the engines (adjusting the clearance usually within a 100th or thousandth of an inch between the rocker arm and valve stem. I’m not an expert on that but I do know what happens if not done

Some might remember our last RV pulled by a small International semi tractor. Coasted into this Memphis church parking lot when the truckIn a split second, explosively stopped running. Delayed valve lash adjustment (I didn’t even know it needed to be done) resulted in the destruction of pistons, engine block head and a depletion to my wallet of almost $12,000. Thankfully the truck, unlike the boat, had only one engine
What the top of a piston looks like when it collides with the head
And what fixing everything looks like. Moral of the story: deferred maintenance is not good

gg

Thankfully, I’m post surgery so can’t do much or any real work other than supervising😎. So I can sit and relax while grilling dinner
and watching for passing fish
Life is hard….

KEYS PHOTOS IV

You may have read or heard about the 7.7 magnitude earthquake south of Cuba/north of Jamaica last week. I’ve experienced one once before in N VA when Sharon was in an inpatient physical rehab facility. The building shook and after my mind did a few seconds processing, I knew what was happening.

Not quite so much on a boat. I was sitting in the boat salon that afternoon. Glass like a mirror. All of a sudden the boat starts rocking side to side which is really pretty rare. It rocked three times and stopped. I got up to see what boat in or near the marina was throwing a wake. Not a boat moving in any direction and the water was still or again glassy. It wasn’t until a bit later when I heard about the earthquake via a text from one of this blog’s readers that I realized what had happened and it was confirmed to me, in my mind, when I later heard of buildings rocking and even evacuated in Miami. At least there are no cracks or leaks in the spa and swimming pool here😂.

Last Thursday I went by car to Miami for laser cataract surgery and a simultaneous MIG procedure on my left eye. A week later the same will be done on the right eye. The MIG is a stent implant designed to reduce eye pressure or at a minimum keeping it from going higher. I don’t have a lot of expectation for the left eye due to previous retina problem but we’ll see😆. The procedures themselves took about 10 minutes though with travel etc it blew through 10 hrs. I had a follow up appt Friday with the local referring Doc and she though all looked very good. It is a fact that already I do see better, though not great, with the left eye and the left eye sees more color. I can distinguish a semi truck from a bicycle now😂.

But enough about fixing me. Before heading to the Bahamas mid March there’s a lot of scheduled maintenance to be done and as reported in the last blog we put together a list. Based on the list of what needs doing we put together a list of all the parts needed and I ordered them from Seaboard Marine in California – a major Cummins parts supplier. Some $2,200 in parts should arrive next Weds. Due to surgery and upcoming surgery I will be out of the equation for repairs. As it was I wasn’t strong enough from the bent over position in the engine room to break loose a nut that holds a zinc in the engine block.

I was impressed with the guy who fixed my dryer a week or so ago. 40ish- not old like me, shorter (helpful in the tight engine room), agile and seems to be knowledgeable. He has a boat about the same size, lives on it and does his own work. So I had him come over to review the scope of the work and he and my crew will get it done🙂. I just got a message from another boater that I met in Baltimore who is in another marina in Marathon stating that they heard I was going to use this guy (how did they hear?) and that they use him and that I will be pleased. 🤞

One of the things I’d like to do is replace the 9 white LED lights in the flybridge hardtop with blue one. So I’ve replaced one of the nine today to see how it will look. I think nine of the wattage I’ve tried will be a little much but if I get lower wattage bulbs, it should make for a soft glow?

Today (Monday 2/3) was a very very low humidIty day. Not sure if it’s the low humidity or my 1./2 completed cataract surgery, but the horizon appeared particularly sharp today. Very 😎 relaxing.

My new friends on Knot Ready left this morning (as did a number of other boats. Knot Ready is heading to my old stomping grounds, Everglades City, for a birthday airboat ride before heading towards Ft Myers/Tampa area where the boat will be berthed or put on the hard while the owners head back home to Los Angeles for awhile. Their slip didn’t stay empty long before a sailboat arrived

This pic is taken for my relatives. When out on the foredeck this afternoon, I noticed this new arrival across the basin. I couldn’t believe it so I had to walk over. The hailing port is ‘“PELLA, IOWA” which is basically the stomping grounds of my mother and her whole side of the family. The folks aboard said that although not Dutch, they do add a “Van” in front of their last name at Tulip Time.

Coincidentally, this morning a shared a memory on Facebook of a picture I took of Sharon in 2004 while RVing through Pella

She loved our 14 yrs of full time RV traveling and I’m sure she would have also loved living and cruising on the boat.

KEYS PHOTOS III

I am a member of a number of internet groups featuring boating: several America’s Great Loop groups, trawler groups, Bahamas travel groups, owners groups for a couple of manufacturers, and even a marine HVAC group. Lots of good and perhaps some not so good info is available. Some groups are very technical while others have formal social components like educational seminars. A few have informal get togethers with internet postings along the lines of

Boat Name X” has arrived at “name of harbor/marina” and if anyone else is here please join us Thurs (or whatever) at 4pm at Slip # X or at “Y” restaurant. Bring snacks.

Being as social as I am, I’ve never participated. I don’t enjoy the small talk dance involved in meeting new people and certainly embarrassed to not remember someone’s name 60 seconds after introduction. There are lots of Loopers in Marathon at this time of year and the new friends from the vessel Knot Ready (that recently arrived in the marina and whom I’ve written about in the last blog post and earlier Miami post) told me of such a gathering happening in a marina a couple of miles down the road and invited the Last Resort captain and first mate to join them.

We went. The marina had a large tiki hut with a bar and small ‘order at the window‘ restaurant in the hut (as opposed to the nice restaurant also on the premises). Apparently the Keys are a place where musicians who are between gigs congregate in the winter and get together with other like minded folks to jam. This marina is known as such a place.

There were a couple of local regular musicians playing with three transient musicians that night and most of the music they played and sang was 60s type Country. Most all of it was slightly different arrangements than the popularized ones of Johnny Cash, George Jones etc. And they just kept playing – like 60 min sets. Not once did I hear a mistake or anything off key. The Looper group fluctuated but generally was 12-15 people. Enjoyed meeting some of them, talking boats, eating a burger, drinking a couple of diet Cokes and listening to some really great music. Haven’t enjoyed that much live music of my youth since attending a Six Pak gig two and three years ago. Maybe I should get out more?

Listening to an arrangement of an ALABAMA popularized tune


During a recent FL cold spell, the news carried stories of iguanas falling from the trees. Temps in the 40’s apparently shut down their systems and the iguanas become comatose, lose their hold on branches and are known to fall out of the trees and remain like dead where they land until rewarmed by the sun. Apparently this fellow, seen on the marina sea wall, has warmed up in the FL sunshine and decided to hang around the nearest grill area in case some food might appear.

Probably about 3’ long

Scattered along the docks on both basins are areas with propane grills, tables and of course the ubiquitous seating areas oriented to the sunset views. Sunset watching is an official Keys pastime.

Getting ready to grill a couple steaks
Place to gather for meals if you choose not to eat on the boat
And one of many places around the marina to enjoy the sunsets. Last Resort is the 2nd boat on the left side
Tonight’s dinner.
Lightly charred, rare and juicy. Really tasty!

Yesterday I had a pre surgery physical (my first eye is being done together with a MIGS [shunts] procedure to reduce eye pressure on Thurs followed by the other eye the following week). I went to a licensed nurse practitioner and liked it. Far more thorough – far more – than any Dr I’ve been to in years, probably decades. I had to have an EKG and I reported ahead of time that there would show a bundle block and how over the years, the doctors get all excited and send me for stress tests, chemical stress tests and even heart catheterizations. I provided the clean reports from those procedures. They did the EKG and the NP told me that she knew the Drs in Miami and that the ‘anesthesiologist will have a cow’ when he sees my EKG. So I gave her the physicians’ names that have done EKGs on me over the past 10 yrs (good to keep your health records in the cloud) and she obtained the EKGs since 2015, saw zero change and cleared me for surgery. Phew!

My crew has put together a list, rather long, of maintenance that needs to be done (hoses, belts, clamps that are due to be replaced, impellers checked, aftercoolers, heat exchangers, turbos etc servicing etc.). One does not want something to fail while on the ocean traveling to the Bahamas. I already have heard I’m not to have a lot of strenuous exertion post op so I’m trying to find some knowledgeable labor source.

Keys Photos II

Board of Directors Meeting at the marina. This is a pic of the ICW/Florida Bay entry to the marina basin. All of these ‘directors’ are Cormorants which are deep divers for fish. There is no oil on their feathers which helps them dive since the feathers, not shedding water, become heavy. Heavy feathers hinder flight though so these birds spend a lot of time sunning to dry their feathers So they can fly. This group’s feathers must be already dried because when wet, the wings are outstretched to dry.

The Board’s Pelican sub committee on fishing is not visible today.
Today, Friday the 23rd, is a welcome day. Have had 3 full days of cold cold weather, highs in the low 60s, and heavy northerly winds. Winds actually have been in the mid to upper 20s for 3 days and nights. 3’-4’ waves in the ICW. Waves reported off the Palm Beaches were 20’.

This basin has an opening to the north so the waves rolled into the marina making for a real gentle ‘water bed’ accompanied by a relatively soft drumbeat of waves slapping the hull. Last Resort has a really thick hull dampening the sound a lot. Glad I’m not in a Sea Ray! It would be really loud and as a light boat, very rocky/rolly.
In the wind and waves yesterday, this vessel stood off the rip rap for awhile. Because it was holding crosswise in the wind and waves, I thought sure it had grounded and couldn’t move.. It certainly was not in a comfortable position and closer to the rip rap than it appears in this pic. Turned out they were just setting lines prior to entering the marina basin. Sure would have been easier and calmer to do that in the basin.
The marina has been filling up over the past week or so. Guessing it’s now half full. There are currently 10 America’s Great Loop Cruiser Association vessels at the marina – a greater concentration showing on the NEBO app than in any other Keys location. The Resort also just opened their new boaters lounge which is really deluxe. It’s an area set aside for just boaters to gather, play cards, watch TV or sit and relax or read. We also have full run of all the yacht club facilities, pictured in a prior blog post, which are available to yacht club social members and resort tenants as well.

Above another boat arrives today in calmer waters. The morning rain has ended and the balance of the day promises to be sunny and warm.

So yesterday and today (Sat) has been interesting and very different for me. I am not mechanical. Don’t remember ever having changed a tire even on my cars (actually I now remember having changed a flat in my condo drive a few years ago and a neighbor who runs a car dealership in Iowa felt sorry for me, walked over and finished it for me). Certainly never ventured under the hood. As I recall, and recollections are getting dim, the last time I owned a power lawn mower was probably around 1985 and my idea even back then of performing maintenance like an oil change etc. was to trash the old mower and buy a new one.

Time to get my hands dirty.

Three months ago, in Savannah, it was time for the oil, filters, engine zincs etc. to be changed. I had Cummins come to the marina there to change the oil in the 2 engines, 2 transmissions and generator. The charge was well over $2,000 of which $1,600+ was labor. From what I’ve read, that’s on the lower end of labor charge for oil change and fuel filter change. To be fair, that charge also included changing the generator oil. Included in that figure for ‘professional’ labor was their certified Cummins mechanic tightening a hand tight spin-on secondary fuel filter on the port engine, not with his hands, not with the strap type wrap around filter wrench but rather with a huge wide jaw pliers. It scored and creased the outer ‘skin’ of the filter which subsequently split a week or two later near Camp LeJune. You may remember my writing in this blog of the horrible job of mopping up and carting off 40 gallons of diesel fuel out of my bilge resulting from this split open filter – not to mention ridding the boat of diesel fumes.

As you’ve also learned reading this blog, I’ve met with little (read ‘zero’) success dealing with marinas and their vision of ‘service’. Enough is enough! It’s now time to change the oil again. Time for a DIY! I was VERY STRESSED about a DIY but my crew attempted to quiet my fears.

The boat is equipped with a “Reverso” system which is an electric pump mounted on the forward wall of the engine room. It has 5 permanent hoses attached to it. One hose to each engine, one to each transmission and one to the generator. Use the selector switch to pick a hose, flip the switch to “out”, push the button to turn the pump on and the old oil is sucked out of the selected engine or tranny and pumped through an outlet hose into a 5 gal bucket. Bring in a 5 gal bucket (the engines take 5 gal plus 3 qts in the oil filter) of fresh oil, insert the outlet hose now being used as an intake hose, reverse the pump and the bucket of fresh oil is pumped into the engine. All that then remains to complete the engine oil change is to spin off the oil filter, fill the new one and reinstall. Repeat for the other engine, trannys, and generator if it’s being serviced. Being a monkey helps.

While on the hard in Ft Pierce, I found Rotella oil at a good price at Advance Auto so I stocked up with the buckets of oil I need for the engines and trannys for $270. I haven’t put that many hours on the genny so as to require an oil change for it. While here at Marathon ordered all the needed filters for engines, trans. and generator, from Amazon. Also got a fresh anode for the 20 gal water heater – all for $210. So I have all the needed materials for less than $500. I have all the replacement pencil zincs on hand already and I think all the right sized impellers are already in the spare parts locker on the boat.

So first up was draining and refilling the transmission oil. These transmissions don’t require transmission fluid but rather single viscosity motor oil. Just short of 5 quarts in each transmission. The filters are actually magnets to accumulate metal particles. Pulled those and they were clean. One transmission is only 2 yrs old and the other was replaced new by the seller as a condition of sale 11 months ago. The transmissions were easily accessible and the fluid change took maybe 1/2 hr total.

Next up was draining the port engine of oil. EZ PEAZY. Selected the port engine because it would be the most difficult. It’s massive oil filter is located on the hull side of the engine rather than down the roomier center walkway. On the hull side, what floor there is is severely slanted by the shape of the hull. To get back in there, one has to slide past the generator, the very large battery box (@ 2’x3’ by 2.5’ high) and past the fire suppression system. Once past, your feet fight for space on the angled hull and around numerous hoses, water heater, seawater water pump and more while having enough head room to be in a stooped position. I am not able to get in there. Then from that awkward cramped position, one has to remove a large, heavy, dirty oil filled filter pretty much by feel and the reinstall a new large, heavy, clean oil filled filter again by feel. Thankfully, my crew was able to get back there and accomplish the task

I had a brand new flexible oil filter wrench but the filter would not budge even by using a rubber mallet as an “inducer”. So it was off to NAPA to dispose of to solve the stubborn filter issue. NAPA was a big help taking the filter measurements and then getting me a filter wrench of the right size used by semis. Attached to it they provided an 18” steel 1/2” ratchet handle to turn the filter wrench and provide leverage. $60. Correct tools then made the disassembly job easy. Reattaching the heavy, oil slippery filter from a cramped position was quite difficult. Then pump 5 gallons of fresh oil into the engine block. Probably spent over an hour just removing and replacing the port oil filter.

Following that, it was a quick matter to do the starboard engine. Drain the block, take off the old filter and put on a new filter and refill the engine block. Probably a bit less than an hour for all of it. The filter is on the center aisle side of the engine, the aisle is nearly 3’wide with a flat floor and one can sit on a stool while performing all the work.

A view down in the engine room. Left, out of the light and kind of brown looking – it’s actually white) is the aftercooler on the port engine with the air filter (which gets washed and dried) visible.

The shiny silver wall in the background is the fuel tank insulating firewall. The vertical clear tube with handwritten numbers is a fuel sight tube. The tube is a sort of yard stick through which you can see the height of the diesel fuel in the tank. The valve handle is at the top of the fuel tank behind. The tank top is curved and when the fuel level has dropped to the mark between ‘57’ and ‘100’, you have used 57 gal of fuel. The next marker would be an additional 100 gal burned for a total of 157 gal used etc. The total capacity is 850 gallons. My stateroom is on the other side of that silver wall and fuel tank. The sight tube is a more accurate reading than the “full”, “half” etc electronic gauge at the helm. Each travel morning routine is to check the engine and transmission oil levels, general hose and belt conditions (the floor is white on purpose so that little black particles from hoses or belts wearing can be readily observed) and to check and write down the observation of fuel level.

The purpose of the pic though is to show the box to the left of the sight tube. It is the Reverso oil pump. You can easily see 4 of the 5 permanent hoses that are routed to the engines, trannys and generator. The beige colored hose that disappears behind the air filter is the hose that discharges the old oil into a disposal container or, when reversed, sucks new oil from a container and sends it to the engine etc. There are selector switches to pick which hose is active etc.

Sorry for over explaining. It’s just that I’m ignorant.

Felt good to save $1,600+ —— at rates here in the Keys, probably closer to $2,000 in labor cost. All it cost in labor was pizza for the crew whose help and confidence was invaluable. Total time spent including 1 hour trip to NAPA was about 6 hours. Having done it once now, think I can cut at least 2 hours from that time.

Still to do is replacing the pencil zincs (the zincs are sacrificial to prevent corrosion due to the dissimilar metals on a boat (like iron and bronze etc), salt water and electrical currents. The zincs are kind of pencil shaped, maybe 3/8” in diameter and 3-4” long which are insertedinto a brass nut and then bolted into the engine block, after coolers, heat exchangers, generator and transmissions.

Also known as sacrificial anodes, pencil anodes, or engine anodes, these zinc rods are consumed by any electrolytic action that would otherwise attack and corrode your valuable equipment.

Sacrificial zincs are also used outside the hull. There is a very large and thick rectangular one bolted thru the transom, round space ship looking ones bolted thru each rudder, large donut shaped ones bolted around each of the prop shafts and little small one attached to the bow thruster. All of these, in and out, have been replaced already once during the trip.

When, on the Loop for example, moving from primarily salt water cruising to fresh water/Great Lakes/inland rivers you must switch the anodes from zinc to aluminum or magnesium for electrolysis protection. This can be done without hauling the boat by having a diver go below and swap out the anodes.

Also still to be done in the next month or so is to inspect and replace, if needed, all the impellers. Impellers are used in water line type of equipment – like engine water cooling, air conditioning water pump etc. The impeller looks like a rubber water wheel on an old fashioned mill. The vanes help propel the cooling water thru the system and if the rubber vanes deteriorate, cooling efficiency diminishes and if the vanes become brittle and start breaking, the rubber particles will start clogging further down the system equaling expensive repairs.


A few weeks ago I wrote of my docking experience at Bill Bird Marina in Miami and the absence of dockhands on a very windy day. A fellow boater tried to help with my aborted attempt and after finally tying up, my crew and his crew visited on the dock for a half hour or so. They are from the Los Angeles area and are nearly completed with their Loop. Their boat, “Knot Ready”, left Miami heading to the Keys a week or more before I did and communicated the crab pot situation en route via the NEBO messaging system. When I arrived in Marathon we got together at a restaurant near their marina and got acquainted.

Since then, they left Marathon for a stay in a Key West marina for a week or ten days and then headed back to Marathon. Late Friday afternoon we got together again and yesterday, Saturday, they moved Knot Ready to the marina I am at. I took a short video of their arrival (with the northerly winds for the past few days, the marina has accumulated quite a covering of ICW grass) since you don’t often get pics of your own boat underway. They are slipped directly across from me and sent me a pic of Last Resort taken from their foredeck at sunset.

Most all of the grass has washed out of the marina by this morning.
it gets really boring to watch the sunset every evening😎😄

Keys Photos I

Keys Fishery. Commercial fishing marina. Retail fish/shrimp/crab etc sales. Also a second floor Tiki bar/restaurant with a stone crab claw bar. $3. /claw. Great water views. Complimentary sunset toast. Mmmm!
And a beautiful walk back on the docks after dinner.

Water heater stopped working. Went down below and photo’d make & model and googled the manual. Followed the troubleshooting protocol and fixed it. The electric water heater is assisted, if the port engine is running, by a heat exchanger running hot engine water thru the water heater coils. That part of the system is closed and, I think, was low on antifreeze fluid when I headed here from Key Largo resulting in an internal tripped circuit breaker. Ten minute fix and all is well.

Not a 10 minute fix however is the clothes dryer which stopped working Monday. I think the belt on the drum broke. The dryer is a tight fit inside a cabinet above the washer. I won’t have the strength etc to remove it either to fix or replace so I have a repair person coming. Since the cabinet is furniture quality, I did the disassembly of all the face trim and of the disappearing accordion sliding doors. Not being mechanical etc., I was amazed at the design and build intricacies of the cabinetry. A jigsaw puzzle made to be taken apart. It needs removal for access and I don’t want some appliance repair person using a screwdriver and hammer to pry things apart. The repairman, unfortunately, ruptured his appendix and was EMS’d to Miami. Hopefully it’ll be fixed early next week and even more hopefully, I’ll remember how it all thet trim goes back together😄.

Today, Friday 1/10/20, I had lunch with a couple of boaters who started cruising at about the same time I did. I first met them 4-5 weeks ago at the Bill Bird Marina in Miami. That’s the marina about which I wrote unfavorably – nice facility but horrid or maybe I should say non existent management. When I tried to dock there in very high winds there were no dockhands. I didn’t pay that much attention at the time, being busy to not be blown into the neighboring boat and trying to avoid fouling my props with marina lines floating in the water, but there was a fellow boater on the dock trying to catch our lines to no avail. Later in that day or the next, the female side stopped at the boat and visited a while. Turned out they were heading to the Keys as well.

They headed out of Miami somewhat weeks before I did but messaged me a few times via NEBO about their route and progress. NEBO is the tracking program I use to keep visual track of my journey, it’s individual legs and statistics. It’s the program that provides the maps that I use for most of my posts. NEBO also shows the current locations and status of boats that are subscribed to it and it has a feature wherein you can message back and forth between boats – a handy feature to ask a fellow boater who is a day or so ahead how they got through a shallow area or what an upcoming Marina is like.

So anyway they also ended up in Marathon for two weeks in a marina about a mile or so away and today we got together for lunch. For someone like me, not too social, I enjoyed it and had a little opportunity to practice my social skills. Turns out that prior to buying their boat a year ago, they also spent a lot of time RVing. They do live in the Southern CA area. They had been planning to leave today for Key West for a couple of weeks but the high winds we’ve been having caused them to extend a day or two. They’ve been enjoying Marathon so much that when they’re done in KW, they are heading back to Marathon and have booked a week or maybe two at the same marina I’m at.

It has been very windy and that is predicted to be the case for the next week. Steady winds of 20-25 mph out of the east and constant small craft warnings. I’ve started the process of taking care of my eyes/cataracts and hope I can have both done while I’m here. Also will see a doctor next week. My prescriptions have run out and the prescribing doctor, hundreds and hundreds of miles away, won’t renew unless he has another billing opportunity/sees me. So the concierge here at the resort is getting me a appt next week and I can get a full set of new prescriptions.

Finally got up to the second floor of the clubhouse. This is the sauna room
and steam room
and treadmills, climbing machines and exercise bike
And other exercise equipment which looks like it could hurt you..
My exercise though consisted of climbing the three story circular staircase for this view of the outer marina basin. Won’t do that again. Think it took me 20 minutes to get back down. With age comes an inordinate fear of falling and breaking a hip. Last Resort is next to the blue hulled cruiser.
To celebrate getting back down without injury, it was dinner at Porkies, an open air type restaurant complete with Jimmy Buffett type live music. Nice!
But before everything looks like fun, there’s always grocery shopping, losing it onto a dock cart and walking it out to the boat etc.
Visitor at the pool

Today 3 more boats arrived at the marina one of which is another looper boat. There are now 8 Americas Great Loop boats in the marina, far more than I’ve seen in one marina at once so far. Temp is back up to 80+ and wind today was below 12 mph – a marked improvement.

Marina Pictures

Here are some pics I took of the marina where I’m staying. There are also a couple of stock photos

Photo of the Resort taken from 2nd story balcony of the clubhouse. Inner marina basin is just visible at the far end of the pool. Phone call to the concierge brings golf cart transportation to or from the slip to the pool or clubhouse though it really is a pleasant walk. Building at the far end right of the pool is the tiki bar. Ringing the pool are 3 story, 3 and 4 bedroom single family elevator residences which are rented out. It’s a resort hotel but with villas rather than a single building with suites. 2 large grill area with seating and tables available at each marina basin.
Marina is only about half full right now. Am told by mid month and on, it is full. Mix is some monthly, weekly and daily. It is only since December that they were allowed by FL to accept ‘liveaboards’ for more than 10 days out of 30. They are now allowed to have liveaboards for up to 90 days. Suspect that most of the resort homes in the resort are daily and weekly rentals.
Looking thru the tiki bar towards the pool
Pool patio next to tiki area looking towards the marina basin. One of the rental villas visible on the left.
Hot tub and pool with clubhouse in the background
Clubhouse seating area
Clubhouse second floor. Also located on the 2nd floor is their fitness center, sauna and steam room.
Breakfast bar and skee ball
Another first floor seating area
Outside seating area at clubhouse