Key West Intermezzo

An intermezzo is, according to Webster’s, “a short part of a musical work that connects major sections of the work.” Key West has been an intermezzo of sorts in my life.

It marked the change from the first 22 years of my life (mostly living at home, no college degree, not married) to the next major section (married, college degree, real jobs, eventually kids), as Terri and I honeymooned there in 1981, just weeks after we graduated from Indiana University, and just before moving to South Bend, Indiana where I would start my first real job.

Continue reading “Key West Intermezzo”

Irma vs. Smartini

A brief update on Fran, Brian, May, and Smartini, in light of the #$%&@ hurricane that’s heading our way.

Just to let everyone know, Smartini is in Key West, pretty much dead center of the predicted path for Hurricane Irma, 4 – 5 days from now. We’ve considered all of our options, and “running” doesn’t seem like a good one. Where would we run that wouldn’t have at least a decent chance of being the actual location of Irma’s landfall? The Florida Keys aren’t an ideal cruising ground for Smartini – with our 6′ draft (how deep under the water we are), there aren’t many places that we can get into. Marathon and Key West are about it, and although we could make it back to Marathon before the storm hits, then we’d be on a mooring ball, surrounded by an awful lot of boats that aren’t in such good shape, and whose owners are either completely absent, or at the very least not too concerned about their vessels. In other words, we’d be very likely to get slammed by one or more loose boats. Here in Key West, we’re in a nice marina, protected on three sides, with what seem to be solid pilings to tie up to.

It’s now Tuesday night. Tomorrow morning, we’ll finish the boat preparations (bringing everything inside that we can, and putting every line and every fender we own between the boat and the dock), and tomorrow evening, we’ll drive north to our old stomping grounds – Satellite Beach / Indian Harbour Beach / Melbourne. There, we’ll visit friends, get some wings at Long Doggers, drink lots of great beer at Intracoastal Brewing, and watch Irma from a safe distance. When it’s safe, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says we can, we’ll drive back to Key West and hopefully find a fully intact Smartini, ready to continue the Big Adventure. And if not… well, that’s why we have insurance.

 

Wesmar Stabilizer Cylinder Removal and Replacement

Step-by-step instructions for removal and reinstallation of hydraulic cylinders on a Wesmar stabilizer system.

(To the regular readers of Smartini Life – skip this one! I’m starting to build a library of straight-up “how to” articles for other boaters, and this is the first one. I can’t imagine you’ll find it interesting!)

This is a step-by-step article on how to remove and replace the hydraulic cylinders on a Wesmar stabilizer system (one on each side). In my case, I did this because the seal on one cylinder started to leak. Hopefully, in your case, you’re doing it as preventive maintenance.

Continue reading “Wesmar Stabilizer Cylinder Removal and Replacement”

First Official Visitors – Dee and Heather

Two days after Smartini finally made it to Marathon in the Florida Keys, our first real guests showed up for four days. (Sorry UCB, Curt, Sondra, Robin, Cathy, and anyone else who’s spent the night on Smartini – until we made it to the Keys, it hasn’t felt “official”. Very much enjoyed, but not official.)

DedeAnn is Fran’s best friend since middle school in Southern California. Heather is one of my absolute favorite humans on the planet for reasons too numerous to list. They live in Fort Collins, CO, coincidentally where Fran’s sister Ingrid lives, so we get to see them whenever we visit there, but it’s not often – once or twice a year at most. We’ve been eagerly looking forward to their visit, especially since neither of them had ever been to the Keys before.

Continue reading “First Official Visitors – Dee and Heather”

Unexpected Fort Pierce

Our six month stay in Fort Pierce is over. A lot of unexpected things happened while we were there!

A week ago, Fran, May, and I steered Smartini out the Fort Pierce Inlet, turned south, and if things go according to plans (which they almost never do!), we won’t see Fort Pierce from the deck of Smartini ever again. Not that we didn’t like Fort Pierce – we actually liked it quite a lot. We just hope to spend the rest of our time on Smartini farther south.

A lot of unexpected things happened while we were in Fort Pierce, starting with the main reason we were there in the first place – the need to completely re-do the “down to bare metal” paint job on the bottom of Smartini. As I’m sure I’ve written before, we had a total bottom job done right after we took possession of the boat in January 2016. With routine cleanings, and a new coat of anti-fouling paint every year or so, it should have lasted 8 – 10 years. Instead, it didn’t last 8 months. In short, it was done badly, and by the time we hauled the boat out of the water for another reason in mid-December 2016, there were already good sized patches of bare metal showing, and hundreds (thousands?) of little water-filled paint bubbles all over the bottom. Unexpected Thing #1 – we’d have to haul out again and completely re-do the bottom job – and this time, we’d do it ourselves, to make sure it was done right.

Continue reading “Unexpected Fort Pierce”

Back in the Water Again!

What started as a planned two-week haulout to re-do a poorly done bottom job finally ended last Saturday, after 5 months, 1 week, and 3 days, when we got Smartini in the water again!

What started as a planned two-week haulout to re-do a poorly done bottom job finally ended last Saturday, after 5 months, 1 week, and 3 days, when we got Smartini in the water again!

I’ll do a more thorough article on a lot of the things that were done, but here’s a partial list (in case you think we’ve just been goofing off!). Also, we were away from the boat for various reasons (some good, some not so good) for a total of 56 nights during that stretch – almost two months!

Continue reading “Back in the Water Again!”

Putting Things Back Together

Just a quickie update. We’re FINALLY wrapping up all the projects on Smartini at the Cracker Boy Boat Works boat yard, in Fort Pierce, FL. The final painting of all the small repaired areas is almost finished. Most of the hand rails that came off for refinishing the caprail are back on. The rudder is back on and filled with propylene glycol (don’t ask). Eleventy-seven other projects, big and small, have already been completed.

In these two pictures, you see how we put 14 gallons of anti-freeze back in the engine yesterday, in no time flat! The fill hole is about eye level, and too close to the ceiling of the engine room to just pour it in. So we used a handy little pump that’s turned by a drill. Well under a minute to pump each gallon.

We expect to be ready to be back in the water before a short visit to Fort Collins, CO and Houston, TX, coming up on the 25th. When we return on June 5, we should be no more than a day or two away from splashing!

Smartini Barber Shop

Can you believe she would let me cut her hair? We’ve talked about it for a long time, anticipating being away from any known, or even professional, stylist for weeks, even months, at a time. I even got a lesson from Tanya Reed, Fran’s long-time stylist in Satellite Beach – but that was many moons ago.

Fran’s either actually happy with it, or is just putting on a brave face until she can sneak back up to see Tanya for an emergency fix. But either way, I don’t seem to be in trouble.

Maddie (Madeline Henderson Smith)

Most subscribers to Smartini Life know this, but from some of the contacts I’ve received lately, I know not everyone does, so here goes. My daughter, Maddie, died at the end of January. That’s why there haven’t been any new posts here on the blog – our lives have been rather upside down since then.

Most subscribers to Smartini Life know this, but from some of the contacts I’ve received lately, I know not everyone does, so here goes. My daughter, Maddie, died at the end of January. That’s why there haven’t been any new posts here on the blog – our lives have been rather upside down since then.

One of these days, when the feelings aren’t so raw, I may write more about Maddie, but for now, I’m going to post a modified version of what I read at the private service we held for her. That’s about all I can handle right now.

Continue reading “Maddie (Madeline Henderson Smith)”

Picture Gallery from Christmas in the Bahamas

An assortment of pictures from the trip, that didn’t make it into the post about the trip. Some are just too good not to share!

You can scroll through them with the tiny arrows under the picture. You click on any one to make it bigger and start a slideshow. Hit the ESC key at any time to back up.

« of 53 »

Christmas in the Bahamas

(If you just want to see all the pictures from the trip, click here.)

Like all ocean crossings (I know – it’s only 54 miles from FL to the Bahamas, but it’s still an ocean crossing!), we spent a good bit of time planning this one. Weather and sea condition forecasts, fuel planning, provisions, and the hundred other details that must be considered for an eleven day trip. But this one was actually in the planning stages for over five years! Because this trip was going to be the first time that all three of the original dreamers got to go somewhere on a big boat together. It was at least five years ago, in the warm comfort of our living room in Indianapolis, drinking good homebrew, that Fran, me, and our dear friend and neighbor Steve Powers started dreaming about traveling the sea on a trawler.

Continue reading “Christmas in the Bahamas”

Up in the Air

Here’s a little something for you to ponder while I put the finishing touches on the “Christmas in the Bahamas” post. In the above picture, Smartini is:

a) finally being converted to the hovercraft we always dreamed of.

b) being fumigated, after a rat infestation was found in the bilge.

c) being sandblasted below the waterline, in preparation for the second “10 year bottom job” in the last 11 months.

If you have another guess, post it in the Comments.

At Anchor, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

A quick photographic update. We (Smartini and Turtle E. Awesome) arrived at Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, yesterday afternoon and are anchored just outside of New Plymouth.

(I tried to post this yesterday, so the description is a day behind.)

At anchor, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, Dec 21, 2016.

Rust Never Sleeps

A long, not-too-interesting account of dealing with the only scary maintenance issue on Smartini – rust!

Warning: this post won’t be interesting to very many of you, as it’s very “nuts and bolts”, and not about interesting people, beautiful places, or awesome food. Read on if you like, but don’t feel bad if you lose interest after a paragraph or two and stop. I didn’t enjoy writing it – you don’t have to enjoy reading it!

M/V Smartini is a steel boat – from the bottom of the keel all the way up to and including the upper deck, she’s made of steel. The vast majority of pleasure boats are made of fiberglass – it’s way easier to make a boat out of fiberglass, because you make a mold and just keep making the same parts over and over again. Neither process is better, although a steel boat is stronger than a fiberglass boat – if one of each type were to smash together, there’s no question which one would suffer the greater damage.

Continue reading “Rust Never Sleeps”

How To Sign Up for Smartini Life

How to Subscribe to, and Register for, Smartini Life. You need to read this only once, and do it only once.

I wish I didn’t have to write this, and you didn’t have to read this – sorry. I’ll make it brief. (At the end, I explain why this is necessary, in case you’re interested.)

In order to receive an email whenever we post something new, you need to “Subscribe”, like this:

  1. subscribe-formPut your name and email into the “Subscribe to Smartini Life!” form that’s on the right side of every page, and click the [Subscribe] button.
  2. Check your email – you should have one from Smartini Life with the Subject “Confirm your subscription to Smartini Life”. It instructs you to click a link to confirm that you want to subscribe. Click on it. (If you DON’T see this email in your inbox, check you spam folder.)
  3. Now you’re a “Subscriber” – which means ONLY that you’ll get an email whenever we post something new. It does NOT give you the ability to write Comments – but if you don’t want to write Comments, then you can stop here – no need to “Register”. If you want to write Comments, keep reading.

In order to be able to write a Comment on something we post, you have to “Register”, like this:

  1. registerClick on the “Register” link that appears on the right side of every page, in the “Other Stuff” section.
  2. Enter a User Name and your email, and click the [Register] button.
  3. Check your email – you should have one from WordPress with the subject “[Smartini Life] Your username and password info”. It instructs you to click a link (the first one – the one that’s very long) to set your password. Click on it. (If you DON’T see this email in your inbox, check you spam folder.)
  4. You’ll see a page with a crazy password, like ^*4$8Ohk9rIySkKu. You don’t want to use that, so change it to whatever you like, and click the [Reset Password] button. Don’t worry if it’s “Weak” or even “Very weak” – you’re not going to be doing anything important here! (But write it down somewhere, so you don’t forget it.)
  5. Now you’re “Registered”. You don’t have to sign in to read things, but you will have to sign in if you want to write a comment.

Sorry this is necessary. We’re using WordPress for the site, which is free, and quite capable – but incredibly, it has no built-in feature for notifying people when something new is posted. So you have to get a “plug in” – a little program that works with WordPress to add that capability. Only, it doesn’t truly integrate with WordPress – it creates its own list of “Subscribers”, separate from WordPress’s list of “Users” – and no, they don’t synchronize. That’s why you have to sign up twice, and why I had to just spend 30 minutes documenting the process. Grrrr… But, as I frequently tell people who complain about Gmail, or iTunes, or any other free software, “Shut up – it’s free!”.