September 27, 2010

Solar lights & campfire drip coffeemaker

Hira ( http://shatooshandpashmina.blogspot.com/ ) asked if I had any pictures when I mentioned the solar light for below and the one we use as an anchor light. We only use it when we are in an area where there is little or no traffic. If we are concerned then we use the regular anchor light. In that case, we are able to delay putting the main anchor light on until we are ready for bed and all the other lights are tuned off. Sometimes even a few hours can make a difference on batteries.

Jim used a solar spot light and a plastic glass with a diamond cut pattern.  A  piece of reflective tape was put in the bottom of the glass so the light would not be lost in the sky but directed back into the sides to increase the brightness.….he then glued it onto the spot light.  Both lights were mounted to a flat piece of board.  I sit them on the top of the boat during the day and check every so often to be sure they are aimed at the sun.

I think we’ve been using these for a couple of years.  They were about $20 at Lowes. 

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The light for below is aimed at the white ceiling and no other lights are needed below for trips to the head or fridge or for heating water to warm up the birds “radiator”…during the winter. 

As I said before….we don’t use them in an area that other boats would be traveling in.  Most of the places we anchor are Manatee areas and idle speed is the norm there.  If it’s raining or foggy we use the main anchor light. Either way…it spends the night on the top of the boat.

We used this Coleman drip coffeemaker the last trip out. It’s designed for a camp stove. It makes more coffee and much faster ( means less fuel)  than the stainless percolator. It’s large size is the only thing I can find fault with. I keep it in the original box so the glass coffeepot wont break.

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It sits much steadier on the alcohol stove.

I used to start the percolator with the butane stove and then move it to the alcohol stove……..the small base on it made it a little  unsteady  on either one.

September 21, 2010

Alternator update

It wasn’t the alternator….Jim found a bad wire…had another new alternator installed and cranked it up….it worked!!

The original alternator had a lifetime warranty. It came from NAPA..they didn’t have a tester.  The one he walked up and bought in Palatka, Fl came from Discount Auto. He took both to a local Discount Auto  a few days ago and had them tested…both tested bad.

When he took them back …one for a refund and one for replacement with the warranty (both stores next to each other)….he had them tested again….they both tested good.  Evidently the original tester didn’t know how to work the machine.  Oh well…we now have a new alternator…a new wire…and everything is running good again.

When Jim ran a jumper to the battery he must have been on the wrong side of the broken wire. He would have figured it out while we were on the water….but it was just too hot to mess with it, and we were low on gas for the generator. The Honda 1000 did a great job and was definitely due for an oil change when we got home.

Since we’ve been home the weather has cooled considerably…it should be nice for our next run.

September 13, 2010

Emanuel Bend to Lake Monroe Park and haul out

Remember me telling you there were some folks swimming in the spot we wanted to anchor? Well…I wish they could have seen the size of the gator that patrolled that same area just before daylight this morning. It was too dark for a photo….
Most of the boats out here are traveling at a high rate of speed and probably never see the number of gators that we do…guess that’s why we only swim at Silver Glen Springs.  Even when we just want to get a wet cool down, we never get off the swim ladder.
Beautiful morning…not too warm yet. 
We took the time to enjoy our coffee….the river is beautiful in the morning.026cs
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I had the screens down and all loose objects stowed by the time we got to the launch ramp. We were able to tie up in the shade. That helped a lot. Once the dingy was deflated and lugged up to the truck…we hauled her out. Jim did a good job getting it centered and in the right position on the trailer. He takes care of that part while I pull it up the ramp. Team work. We were on our way home before the hot part of the day.
We have a couple of car shows coming up in a few weeks. Maybe when they are done the weather will be cooler and the alternator problem solved. Jim took both of them to Discount Auto and had them tested..Even the new one tested bad. How’s that for luck?!! 
So…hope someone is getting their boat ready for a great time on the water….I’ll have to be content reading the blogs and then climb my 15’ stepladder to enjoy Slow Motion. Even at home I use it…..makes a great bird watching tower!!

September 12, 2010

Axle Creek to Emanuel Bend

Another night of thunder and lightening and no rain…but the breeze was welcome.
We now have a Coleman coffeemaker. Just like a drip coffeemaker but for camping stoves. Works great on the alcohol stove. Only problem is it’s size for storing..but we’ll work around that.
While we were enjoying a hot cup of coffee,  I spotted a very large gator cruising the area. I wasn’t able to get a picture of him. He cruised over to the weed bed, along shore, and started to growl.
Next time out we will anchor here and perhaps spend a day so we can get some shots of him. I guess by now you all realize how much I like watching them. I like to watch all wildlife…even spiders..which really give me the willies.  The only dead ones are the ones that come in the house. I have a big garden spider right outside the screen room window where I have my coffee every morning…..as long as he’s outside..he’s safe. I am very careful of it’s web when raising and lowering the blinds in the afternoon. (they are outside).
A few minutes later this smaller one came by.
The batteries were getting low so Jim started the generator while I hauled up the anchor….
We headed “up river”……there were a lot of boats on the water. We were only a few miles from High Banks where there is a launch ramp. We noticed  a boat with the cover off the outboard…and we  stopped to see if they needed a tow.  They were slowly moving with a trolling motor and we convinced them it wouldn’t be an inconvenience to tow them…..we don’t travel fast anyways.
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Very nice couple…they tried to give us money for gas..but I managed to slip it back to them with a boating card….tossed them their line and moved on. We’d only towed them a couple of miles…..but we appreciated the thought. Thanks anyways guys!!
As usual…it was HOT again today.  We are always surprised to see how many people swim in the river…020cs
This is a shallow spot on one of the bends….they have lawn chairs and unbrellas set up. I guess the gators are smart enough to avoid a group of boats and people.
As we approached our anchorage at Emanuel Bend, there was a deck boat with 3 people in the water cooling off. They climbed aboard and left. The timing was great…that was the spot we wanted…near some tall trees and hopefully….a bit of early shade.
I noticed a dark cloud just over the tree tops and then it started to thunder and lightening….but no rain…
The view from the bow looking forward…
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and to the rear were completely different. And they were taken seconds apart. Just long enough for me to turn and aim the camera.
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The cool breeze the storm brought with it was just what we needed to finish the day.

September 11, 2010

Palatka, FL to Axle Creek (S of Lake George) 9.11.10

When we finally got to bed last night…we decided we’d sleep in. There go those plans again….at 5:30 am something bumped us…it woke me up so I raised up and looked out the port….we were surrounded by bass boats!!!! Bass tournament today!!! 
This is the first time we’ve seen one start. I asked one of the contestants what time they started…he said “safe light”…They call each boats entry number ..starting with one and send them out one at a time…one right after the other…here are the sights and sounds…..

Watch the wakes caused by the boats as they leave. I wanted to get more of them but my little digital ran out of memory after the first few. It looked like a wild ride after 20 or 30 had stirred up the water.

As soon as all the boats were gone…the Herons flew in to see if they could find any fish or shrimp on the docks.003cs
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Jim installed the new alternator…it didn’t work!!!  Did we get a bad one?  He ran a jumper to the battery to rule out a bad wire or fuse…still didn’t work.  So…I guess we are heading back S and home.
HOT  again today…HOT and sticky…as it has been since we got out here.
Lake George was flat when we started across…a third of the way and the wind picked up…we had lightning to the East and to the West…about that time Jim asked  “what do you think is the tallest object out here?”  Nice thought!!  But we got across safely.
Look at this beautiful sky. The white swirl at the top of the photo was unique.
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Here the sun is setting under the storm clouds. Silver Glen Springs is over there under the rain.
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It was strange watching such a pretty sunset….and lightening at the same time.
We are anchoring in Axle Creek tonight. It is just S of Lake George. We don’t anchor here often since it is such a short distance from Silver Glen Springs, but we bypassed the Springs on our way home. I really like this anchorage. We are off the river far enough to be protected from the big boat wakes…but close enough to watch them go by. I photographed Ospreys nesting the last time we were here.

September 10, 2010

Welaka to Palatka, FL

As we were entering the Old Ocklawaha River, yesterday afternoon, Jim realized the alternator had quit working….no broken belt or loose bolts…guess we need a new one. We can either head back to the boat ramp on Lake George…haul out and fix it at home….or we can go to Palatka…Jim can walk to the auto parts store and pick up a new one and install it at the Palatka City dock….where we could plug into electric. He opted for the trip to Palatka…so we started up the generator and headed to the restaurant in Welaka for biscuits and gravy.
The trip to Palatka was pleasant…but still HOT….we see a lot of fishing boats…but most are throwing cast nets….the shrimp must be running.
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Jim thought it might be a shorter walk if we tied to a launch ramp before getting to Corkey Bell’s dock.  He walked to the auto part store from there….It turned out to be longer but someone picked him up on his way back and gave him a ride to the boat…
We headed to Corkey Bell’s for lunch…they have a pretty good menu and not too pricey…we had baby back ribs and shrimp for about $10 each.
We planned to tie up to the Palatka City dock…plug into the electric and charge the batteries…let the engine cool overnight and install the alternator in the morning.  You know how those best laid plans go…no power at the dock..so we have to run the generator…
By late afternoon the dock started filling up…with shrimpers and their cast nets, blankets, chairs, coolers, generators and spot lights.
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Evidently there were so many plugged in the night before that the main fuse had blown..that’s why there was no power when we got there. We were the only boat at the dock. We heard later, the locals that tie up here were asked not to so the shrimpers could use the dock.
Here is what it was like after dark….
I walked down to the hotdog stand and back up the dock….
At the tail end of the video there is a spot light shining the water…the main fuse blew again so we had them plug into our generator…what a nice family they were….very small children and all seemed to be enjoying the evening.
A second person asked if he could plug in also…our 1000 watt Honda was maxed out…around 2:30 am the bulb in the spot light blew and they packed up and left….We could hear a sigh of relief when we shut it down.
We had a great time. Everyone had their own style of casting and it was fun watching them. I will have a net for next year!

September 9, 2010

Silver Glen Springs to Old Ocklawaha River

We awoke to a beautiful sky and cooler temperatures005cs …..Jim figured this morning would be a great time to scrub down the boat. The heavy condensation sitting on it overnight should soften up the worst of it. It was so dirty he ended up scrubbing it with an old piece of scotch bright. I thought I’d add this picture for all you who are unable to spend time on your boats right now….just wanted you to remember all the fun you are missing.
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Once the boat was clean and coffee finished….we headed towards the Old Ocklawaha River. We’ll anchor there tonight and be a short run to Welaka for biscuits and gravy at Shrimp R Us, tomorrow morning.
Lake George was flat…it looked like liquid silver…019
As we neared the upper end of the lake….the blind mosquitoes swarmed us…the boat was black with them. I thought there were a lot on the screens but the walk way was covered…so much for a clean boat. Sure glad they don’t bite.
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The fish were very active..must have been feeding on them.. video
By the time we got to the Old Ocklawaha River they were either dead or gone. Several buckets of water rinsed most of them away.
Very HOT today…but the clouds gave us some shade every now and then.
Once the sun went down it cooled a bit and we enjoyed our evening at anchor.

September 8, 2010

North to Silver Glen Springs

We were treated to a beautiful sky last night.007cs
Once the sun was down the frogs started with their chorus. They would all get going at once….then suddenly stop…..it wouldn’t be long before they’d be singing again. I love the nights out here on the water.
When we got started this morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky….we knew it was going to be a hot one…..and it was.
The ice maker kept up with us…every 11 minutes it had 9 little cubes ready. It may not sound like much to you…but to those who are used to drinking warm water….it was a treat.  Even had a couple of bags to put in the freezer for this evening.
We only saw 3 gators today….one small one and 2 swimming. This one was crossing in front of us.023cs
This Osprey must have been drying it’s wings. They were spread out catching the sun.020cs
The river is low and it’s easy to spot all the Cyprus Knees. They are so beautiful.010cs
By mid morning the clouds started to roll in and we had a bit of shade as we traveled. I though this pattern at the entrance to Silver Glen Springs was pretty.032cs
We anchored just inside the springs but not up in the anchorage where most of the boaters go. We are hoping to see the Manatee again.
We took the dingy and Raisin into the anchorage …gave her a trip to shore while we did some swimming.
It’s amazing how cold that 72 degree water feels when it’s in the 90’s. Boy is it refreshing!  After a nice cool down, we went back to the boat for supper….afternoon showers cooled things down a bit….but once they let up the breeze died…and it got quite sticky.
It’s 1 am….I am sitting here enjoying the cool air …a cool glass of wine and the frog songs.  They aren't as vocal here as those near Drigger Island…but pleasant just the same. A couple of Barred Owls were calling to each other a few minutes ago.  I love the night sounds.

September 7, 2010

Sept 2010 finally!!! back on the water

I spent the last few days putting all the stuff back into the boat.

We were up early …nice breezy morning…slight ..drizzle…just enough to cool us off. We finished loading the freezer food…moved the bird to her travel cage and headed for the lake.

As we were backing down the ramp….Jim realized he’d left the trailer guides home…he takes them off while traveling…the trailer is over the 10’ limit with them….

We launched and while I readied the boat…inflated the dingy and stowed it on the swim platform…Jim headed back to the house to get the guides…..no problem launching without them…but will need them when we haul out.

We saw very little wildlife the first part of the trip….later in the afternoon…I spotted this big gator. He is huge.053cw

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It was hot today….but lots of big puffy clouds gave us some shade and the breeze picked up….not a bad day for traveling.

A short time later…just as Jim laid down for a quick nap….I spotted another big one….073cs

I snapped this one just as it headed into the water. Looks a bit pissed…don’t you think?075cs

It made a big splash to show it’s disapproval of our butting into it’s territory…..then glared at us from the water.

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or perhaps…..just saying “come on in…the water is fine”?

I have seen Blue Herons sunning like this during the cool weather…maybe it had just bathed and needed to dry out.

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We anchored about 4pm….near Drigger Island. Still have a nice breeze but the clouds have cleared up some and when the sun hits the boat it is very warm….supposed to be in the mid 70’s tonight…should be good sleeping.

We can hear a gator growling every now and then.