58. 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!

8 thoughts on “58. KEYS VI & Possible Plans”

  1. Thanks so much for letting us share in your experience. I am very impressed by your skill at boating as well as communication. It’s a joy to read your posts.

    Like

  2. What a wonderful experience you’ve enjoyed the past year. I’ve enjoyed it with you via your blog. God Bless… Happy Birthday and Happy Valentines Day!

    Like

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