69. Titusville to Marineland

Another long segment. Something went wrong with my mapping program and it dropped the final 25% of the route but picked up the destination when I stopped the program upon arrival. I’ve added a red arrow to show the completion. Total distance today was 82 miles and a lot of it was dodging pleasure boaters. Apparently the prevailing philosophy amongst the young is that this is vacation time and packing your runabout with 8 people or 20 people on your pontoon boat qualifies as social distancing cause they’re outdoors, drinking beer and playing loud rap. 🤬😡😠🤯

Stock photo of the marina with ocean in the background. Photo pretty well represents current occupancy status.

As mentioned, picked this Marina because it should be a good quiet (smallish) marina for a long stay. Not much housing nearby so there will be opportunity to walk a bit. A Publix with Instacart only a couple miles away. One block away is the ocean beach so if it’s not banned, walking the beach is a possibility too. This marina is about 150’ off from another county where beach walking has been banned so it is possible that this beach could be crowded by people banned elsewhere.

Got to sleep in Monday morning. What a treat! Moved the boat over one space to a vacant slip this morning so that I’m now close enough to the pump out cart without further moving. Their pump out hose wasn’t quite long enough. With no center piers between slips, it was easy to just loosen line and with the help of a little breeze, use the lines to just pull the boat across.

Spoke with the dockmaster. He attended a telephonic meeting Monday morning and believes the governmental marinas will be closed in FL, as soon as perhaps Tuesday. Reading comments on the various boating forums, it appears that there’s quite a flotilla heading north of boats kicked out of the Keys (government and private marinas closed), of boats leaving the Miami and Ft Lauderdale area and of boats leaving the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos etc. Miami – Dade and Palm Beach County have closed all marinas. Then Tuesday Miami – Dade rescinded or altered its order to allow marinas to handle commercial fishermen and recreational liveaboards. Palm Beach County apparently has its Sheriff Dept on the water preventing, ticketing and stopping boats that are transiting the ICW. Sure would be nice if local pols would think things through before shutting down/ reopening etc. Counties don’t have legal authority to shut down the ICW. That authority belongs solely to the US Coast Guard Commandant in charge of each particular area and has never been ceded to states or their subdivisions.

The dockmaster here knows we picked this as a ‘harbor of refuge’ in case of a long stay and I’m quite sure he’ll be able to make that happen. This morning (Tues) I told him we’d stay at least a week. The next harbor that we’d consider as a good one if needing to hole up for a week or two is three days travel away. So it has relieved some stress to believe that we can stay here if needed or prudent.

This afternoon changed out the big Racor fuel filters on both engines. The old ones, changed only a week ago in Islamorada, were black! Will keep changing them frequently as long as they keep needing it. The new little shut off valves installed at the filter to prevent fuel from draining out of the line worked perfectly. Both engines started right up😁😄😅.

While traveling Saturday, the generator quit right after starting. I was sure that the genny Racor, which hadn’t been changed, had fouled. So troubleshot that this afternoon as well. The genny has a separate fuel line from the tank and it turns out with all the work done in Islamorada, that line was shut off and never turned back on. That filter was also dirty and now has been changed to a clean one and the fuel line opened. Primed the generator (easy to do as it has a 12v pump) and the ginny started right up. Great insurance policy, if marinas are not available, to anchor out and use the genny for power, air conditioning, cooking, etc.

Enjoyed a great homemade spaghetti dinner last night courtesy of the Instant Pot. One pot spaghetti sort of sounds bad to me but it honestly is the best I’ve ever had. The pasta while retaining its integrity is actually infused by the sauce. Have tried a number of different versions and I like the recipe at Salty Marshmallow the best.

Used some time here in Marineland to track down a little leak in the engine room. There was some water accumulation in the bilge area below the port engine. It was water, not coolant. Crew investigated and found a little trace of salt running down one of the new hoses. It was a hose carrying sea water to a cooler. The hose clamp needed tightening. Retightened it as well as all other clamps on both engines. Also pulled the sea water strainers from the air conditioning system, from both engines and from the generator and cleaned the mud, grass, shells and other debris from them and reinstalled. Below decks has never been better!

Also had a leak in the vacuflush bellows for the main stateroom head. It’s part of the middle system that pumps stuff from the head to the holding tank. So I took it apart and installed a new bellows from the onboard store of spare parts. Ordered new O rings for the install as well. A crappy job! No pictures of ..it will be posted🤪. It still leaked so the next day I tore it down again, found a couple of bolts not tightened enough against the O ring and fixed that. The system, as it’s name implies, is vacuum driven and the loosened bolts allowed air to bypass the O ring, enter the system (and let stuff out) and without sufficient vacuum levels, the pump kept running and the stuff kept flowing downhill. Now it is fixed right and working the way it should.

I already had a new vacuum generator in the “cart” on the internet so not having to order it saved $1250.00 plus install time. The forward head vacuum generator bellows also leaked a few months back in Marathon and I had it fixed be a repairman from a local boatyard. Total bill for that fix, including new $80 bellows/rings was $950.00 and there was still a small vacuum leak he couldn’t find (it has subsequently disappeared). $1,250 parts for a new system plus something close to $900. in labor meant fixing it myself was a worthwhile savings.

The first time I had the Racors changed, northbound in Savannah, the total for that, including parts and oil change, from a Cummins authorized svc center, was $1950.00. And for that, their svc rep used a wrench to tighten a ‘hand tighten’ spin on secondary filter which then 10 hours of use later split along the crease created by the wrench and dumped 40 gal of diesel in the bilge. That necessitated a tow which ended up in a heavy grounding with the towing boat. Results of that ‘professional‘ authorized svc center job? Pumping out and dumping 40 gal of diesel from the bilge, gallons of detergent and hours of cleaning the bilge, a mechanic to troubleshoot and fix the filter problem, and two props being pulled and fixed. In all, about $2,800. Having Mr. ‘no name’ mobile boat mechanic two weeks ago install the new shutoff valves at the Racors cost maybe $150.00 including marine grade parts which now enable us, without priming the engines, to change the filters ourselves. Figuring how and then ‘doing it yourself’ is worthwhile both in money and getting it done right.

Have done two Instacart shopping trips since arriving here. All the talk of Amazon and Instacart strikes, NC, MD and now SC and much of GA being off limits and marina closings reports pouring in everyday are a little spooky. Pretty much have 2-3 week food supply on board but time to augment with another couple of weeks. Even now, somethings are hard to get. Soups, canned vegetables, canned meats, noodles, ground beef (the stuff that has a long shelf life and that you can easily throw together into a casserole without thinking) are limited or not available. So I thought it might be interesting to tell you how we manage it.

Ordering online, I find, is more difficult and time consuming than in person. I’m a visual person and can visualize my pantry, zoom down every aisle and “see’ what I need. Rarely do I forget something. Online, I don’t find the organization to be intuitive or even if it is, I don’t trust it. So I’ve learned to write my handwriting list as I go and hand it over to my crew to be done online. The boat is basically, for food purposes, divided into 3 areas.

First is the galley and fridge/freezer space. It is for food to be used in the near foreseeable future and for refrigerated items. Included in the first area is the port side of the outside cockpit for cases of water and soda. Second is the lower bunk in the third stateroom. It is the storage area for foodstuff that can be immediately ready for moving to the first space or for use. Food in this area is “clean”, that is it has been there long enough that any virus present on packaging will have died, i.e., it’s been on the boat for at least 72 hours before moving to immediate use status. The third area is the upper bunk in the third stateroom and the starboard side of the cockpit. That third area is the quarantine area where newly purchased food, water and soda, will sit for 72 hours for any virus present will die.

Any food purchased that is needed immediately or has to be refrigerated/frozen is taken out of the plastic bags on the dock and each can, package of bacon or whatever is wiped down on all sides before coming aboard and being put away. The empty plastic grocery bags from those items are segregated from the boat’s bag supply for 72 hrs. The dock cart used to bring the groceries from the shoppers vehicle to the boat is also wiped with soapy water before use and hands are gloved. Both myself and crew would be considered ‘high risk’ and see no reason to have these items which have been handled who knows how many times in a store and in a shoppers care come on the boat without some cleaning or thought.

You also have to deal with shortages. The last shop there was no ground beef available, a staple for so much. So a quick flip to buying prepackaged hamburger patties is a good substitute. Patties for burgers or combine a few to make 1.5# of ground beef for spaghetti or tacos. No canned chicken breast on the shelves. So had the shopper buy 5# of fresh chicken breasts which, after seasoning, went into the InstaPot to make some bags of chicken for casseroles or for making sandwiches.

The last few days have been very very quiet. Maybe see a person every 3-4 hours. Cones with yellow tape guard access to the dock. Access not denied but it’s an ever present reminder of “do you really need to get off your boat” etc. Glad to watch the market begin to bounce back (it’s nice to have satellite TV). Thinking of staying through mid week, like maybe to April 1st or so. More marinas ahead (north) have been reported as closed or closing. Working on getting a slip at another safe marina for a month a little further north. Should know 3/30/20.

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