The St. Lucie Lock is the first lock out of five you must go through when you cross Lake Okeechobee to get to Florida's western side. The water rises about 8 feet in this lock. To make the water rise the lock master just cracks the lock gates a little bit. The water comes in. Your boat rises. You drive out. Seems pretty simple, huh? The lines are even provided for you. All you have to do is keep pulling in and tightening them up as your boat rises. Well it would be that easy if the beast weighed less than 125,000 pounds! I pulled the stern line as hard as I could and still couldn't keep Valkyrie against the wall with the force of the water and the wind. Seriously my arms felt like I had just spent an hour with a personal trainer at the gym. Finally Don took pity on me and came to the rear and used our thrusters to move the stern in closer so I could tighten up on the line. Now to sign up for a gym membership!!!
...You can take a picture of your anchor and chain while standing on the boat in 10 feet of water. It also helps that the water in the Bahamas is so crystal clear. No I didn't cheat and take these pictures with my underwater camera! They were taking while standing on the boat looking over....
the STERN! Not the usual place to see you anchor!!! The current was swinging the boat around and taking it's nice sweet time. With no wind to push the beast or to even make ripples on the surface of the water, it was easy to spot the anchor at the back of the boat beside the dinghy!
This is a “Lookie Bucket” aka an underwater viewer. Bascially it is a five gallon bucket with the bottom replaced with clear plastic. When placed on top of the water, it acts like a snorkeling mask allowing you to see what is underwater. Sure you could just put on your mask and look, but then your face gets all wet. If I am going to get wet, I want to make it worth my while. I want to see something pretty.
While we were at Conception Island, I swam underwater and took this picture looking up through the bottom of the lookie bucket. Dad was standing in the water looking down through the bucket. Notice his dry hair. :-)
It is especially handy when the water is clear and you want to check your anchor. In the Bahamas the bottom is often sand and grass. While sand provides good holding, grass can have very poor holding because your anchor can’t dig in. Each time you anchor, you need to check to be sure your anchor is dug in and will hold you. No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night to discover they are dragging, esp. in anchorage with other boats around. When Don and my Dad went to check out the anchor in Long Island, they discovered that the anchor was on top of the grass just sitting there looking shiny. NOT conducive for a good night’s sleep. We obviously moved to a better spot with less grass.
Here is what our anchor currently looks like. As you can see the bottom is a mixture of sand and grass. The anchor has dug in and will hold us nicely in place.
The lookie bucket has other sweet uses as well. You can check out the bottom to see if there are rock ledges that lobster might hide under or if there is coral with fish. This is what the water looked like at Lee Stocking Island. Looking without the bucket, you can tell that something is there, but is it grass, coral, rock or something else?.........
Turns out it was two submerged tanks with coral starting to grow and fish swimming all around. There were even a few sea anomies.
Here is one present from Mom and Dad that I can't wait to try out for real! It is an underwater camera and a snorkeling mask. Last year we borrowed a friend's underwater camera to take pictures and loved it. This mask/camera combo means that I will have both hands free while snorkeling or shallow diving. I gave it a try while at my parents house for Christmas.
Obviously I need to figure out how to aim the camera when it is attached to my head. This photo has had NO editing. The camera even does video. My Mom was a great sport pretending to swim underwater for the video! Love you Mom! :)
This is the Gluggle Jug. Who would have ever thought pouring water would be fun! It actually makes a bubbly gurgly sound when you pour and you can feel the bubbles in your hand. My water intake has definitely increased just because I like playing, I mean pouring.
I looked up the Gluggle jug online and found out the have been in the UK for a long time. In fact this one belonged to Lady Di and Prince Charles. I think they look pretty similar. Thanks for the fun Ashley and Aaron!
Creak, thud, groan, swish, squeak....These are the sounds boaters listen to at night when the wind is howling. At first you worry about every little unnatural noise. But after all these years aboard, our ears are trained to drown out the unimportant noises. Okay, maybe we are getting old and our hearing is going. Either way, we have an awesome anchor and sleep well most nights even in the wind. For the last four days it has been blowing hard!. Most of that time it was 30+ knots. There was A LOT of creaking and groaning going on outside. This morning we woke up and walked around the boat checking things out as usual. This is what we saw.
Then we walked to the bow and looked up....way up. Notice what is different???
If you said the antennae on the right is shorter, you win. They are supposed to be the same height. The top half fell/blew off!!! It is supposed to be attached with a locking washer and loctite.
Not sure where the locking washer went. But it definitely wasn't there. You would think that shear gravity would have kept the washer on at least. This antennae is for our single side band radio. We had trouble with it last year in the Bahamas. We were outputting a strong signal, but receiving a weak, garbled one. Don checked the ground and all the other wiring. I read the manual and tried various settings. Nothing seemed to make it any better. Now we wonder if the problem was a loose antennae. Guess we will find out when we get the replacement installed. It has to be ordered and trucked in. Now to the hardware store to buy a super large bottle of loctite!
Ever wonder how the "Where Are We Now" page works? It works with this device called a Spot Messenger.
This Christmas gift from Don's children has been on of the best gifts ever. The Spot enables us to send messages to let people know we are okay. It works off satellites allowing it to work when our cell phones don't. When we are heading offshore and will be unable to contact our family, this lets them know that we are okay and where we are. It sends either a text message or an email message to 10 people. It also posts to our Spot Shared Page, the page we linked to as our "Where Are We Now" page.
To use the Spot, it must be located outside with a clear view of the sky. So we usually place it in the dinghy or by the back railing.
We use the Check-In/Okay button for this. This is the primary button we use.
The footprints button leaves a breadcrumb trail. We would use this features, but it takes a lot of battery juice. We sure would hate for the batteries to go dead when we are 50 miles offshore.
The help button allows you to send a message to just one person. For example, if you were hiking the Appalachian Trail, you could send a message to the person who was coming to pick you up when you arrived at the end of your journey.
The SOS button is just that. It sends a message to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center who notifies the appropriate emergency help agency worldwide. There is a nifty cover protecting the button from accidentally being pushed.
As much as we love our Spot, I think our parents love it more. They worry about us most and love knowing we are okay. To check out our Spot Shared Page and see where we are just click the button below.
When your boat is pulled for a bottom job, there is always a lot of work to be done. You’re gonna be TIRED and sore! Yep, it’s a given. No sense whining about it.
The first thing that happens is pressure washing. Here is Valkyrie before pressure washing:
Here is Valkyrie after pressure washing:
Almost makes you wonder if the bottom needs painting!
While they were moving Valkyrie to a spot further back on the yard for the week, I got this shot of Don’s toys.
Next the main propeller was pulled off so we could take it to Wildcat Props to be repaired.
Notice how close the truck is parked to the boat. It took four guys to carry the prop over to it.
Don worked on rebuilding the wing engine propeller. That means he took it apart, cleaned it, greased it and put it all back together.
He patched the hole in the stabilizer fin.
I scraped off all the barnacles on the keel cooler and the many other places they grow on the boat.
We also prepped and painted all the metal, changed all the zincs, compounded and waxed the blue stripe. We left sanding and painting the bottom to the yard since we didn’t have respirators and disposable body suits.
Here is what the bow thruster looks like. There is another one just like it in the stern.
Here I am looking ultra sexy! Ha Ha!!!
Anyone wanna come help next time???