Category: DIY

Week Five and just a little Crabby!

Week five brings us to Key West and our month long stay at Stock Island Marina Village.  The cruise from Faro Blanco in Marathon to Key West was a wonderful day on the water. We had following seas of three to four-foot waves that gave us a boost

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

from our usual 8 miles per hour to 9 ½ miles per hour.  Our trip was pleasant, and we were able to share memories of the different keys and places we had previously visited.  While reminiscing, we were constantly changing course to miss the innumerable crab-pots strewn along the way.  Crabbing in Florida and the other seafood offerings as well as an economic mainstay for the state. In 2014 Florida ranked seventh among U.S. states for fresh seafood production with 99.2 million pounds harvested with a dockside value of $257.7 million.  Florida however, ranked first by value with grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel.  Florida fishermen caught 92% of the above species.  When we speak with other cruisers about the number of crab-traps, we have to avoid I now see why.  In 2015 Stone

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Photo by Jean Coleman

Crabs and Blue Crabs brought in $36,498,363 million and $12,106,862 million respectively.  In pounds, the Blue Crabs outpaced the Stone Crabs 6.6 million pounds to 2.8 million pounds respectively. I thought we had a lot of crab-traps in Pinellas but was amazed at the number here in the Keys.  While Pinellas County caught 8.1 million pounds of combined crabs with a value of $23.6 million, Monroe County hauled in 12.6 million pounds with a value of $71.2 million dollars.  I have a love-hate relationship with crap-traps; I hate having to constantly course correct to miss the crab-traps but love the dinners they can provide in the evening.


Jean and I are enjoying our month-long visit in Key West very much. We go exploring every day. The Key West Botanical Gardens was a great visit for example, where we learned about the local area environment and its ecological history.   Hurricane Irma made a complete mess of part of the site, but the staff has made many repairs and improvements.

Before we departed on the loop, Jean and I bought two compact and foldable bikes. I highly recommend to those considering the loop or any lengthy travel (RVer’s included) to bring bikes along.  The bikes increase our range over walking by a factor of four as well as the time you can spend at various locations.

Jean and I noticed an odor in the aft stateroom that we could not locate, so we begin to take apart the bunks and closets and found a persistent leak under Jean’s bunk that brought a few gallons of standing water in every six hours or so.  We decided to haul out and have the repairs done at Three D Boatyard a quarter mile from our

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

berth in Stock Island Marina Village.  I thought that I could repair the leak once the transom dried out but found that the port trim tab bolts had rusted out and burrowed a hole in four places.  Upon that discovery I had them remove all the trim tabs and glass over all the holes.  We have never used the tabs nor do we cruise at a speed that the tabs assist us.  When we took off the starboard tabs, we could push four of the attaching bolts through by hand.  It was only a matter of time before I had the identical leaking problem on the starboard side as I had on the port side. We found a marine contractor that knew what he was doing and set about making the repairs.  I have learned that fixing one problem will lead to many others that need correction also.  As we sat on the hard (mariner speak for “out of the water” and on blocks and stabilizers), we saw that Makin Memories bottom was in desperate need of a paint job.  The price quote was extremely reasonable, and we have at least 5000 miles to go yet, and we knew that at some point the bottom would need to be addressed but had delayed for the time being.  Makin Memories now has a beautiful blue bottom.


Our marine contractor said they would be done today and we should splash (mariner speak for “dropped back in the water”) tomorrow at 10:30. I am looking forward to being back at the dock and then can begin the clean-up.  Any time your boat is in the boatyard, she will become dirty, dusty, and just plain grimy.  We have friends coming to visit this weekend and would like to have Makin Memories ship shape.

The Saga of a Swim Platform, a Ladder, and a Dinghy

Christmas came early this year by a day and a half. With the help of my friend Tom, we were able to complete the final phase of the swim platform, aft deck ladder, and dinghy saga. It has indeed been an epic journey from start to finish. Over a year ago, we discovered that our swim platform would not support the weight of a dinghy due to the rotting away of the wood beneath the fiberglass. Thus a plan was developed to replace the swim platform during haul-out at Pitman’sIMG_3027 in 2017 in preparation for the The Great Loop trip beginning January 2018. One of the first lesson’s learned was that when you make a repair, replacement, or upgrade, a host of other item’s must be repaired, replaced, or upgraded.
I knew where I was going to have the swim platform constructed; I did not know precisely how the process would unfold, and, I was still searching for a davit system for the dinghy. One impacted the design of the other. Once I decided on the DinghyRamp system for the dinghy, we could move forward on the swim platform. Once the dinghy ramp system and the swim platform configuration was agreed upon, the next modification was the “aft deck ladder to the swim platform.” The challenge on the ladder design was IMG_3026that the dinghy took up most the available space on the swim platform and did not leave much room for the downtubes of the ladder. We were able to reverse the pitch of the current ladder and with a few “tweaks” and reverse engineering, attach the ladder securely to the swim platform and aft deck. A new ladder was out of the question at this stage of the process. The result, after a year of some sleepless nights, helpful friends, and a lot of patience was a system where the swim platform, dinghy, and ladder now fit as “snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug”!!

Swim Platform is home

SwimPlatformAttachedMakin Memories is back in her slip at Turtle Cove after a week of maintenance and cleaning. The swim platform turned out as planned and the engines received new water pumps each. Attaching the ladder from the aft deck and bringing the dinghy onboard have yet to be done (hopefully this weekend) as well as adding additional batteries for the house electrical load and a valve cover gasket for the starboard engine. I will change the oil in the diesel engines the first of December as well as change all the oil and fuel filters (jeez, sounds like a lot to do yet!).

We will begin moving the items we need to live aboard for a year in the coming weeks as well as finish arranging administrative items here so that we can manage them remotely.  We feel fortunate that we have a young couple living in the house while we are away knowing they will care for the home till we return.


DinghyRamps Installed

SwimplatformDinghyrampsWe installed the DinghyRamps yesterday afternoon as well as the telescopic swim ladder and cleats. The blow-out panels, stainless steel supports under the swim platform, d-rings, and ladder from the aft deck to the swim platform are the only items left to do on the stern. We will install two new water pumps on the diesels and a valve cover gasket on the starboard engine, as well as add two additional house batteries (they provide power for lights, etc. when at anchor). I will finish buffing today (supposed to rain this weekend, of course) and a few fiberglass repairs here and there and that should be it. Hope to splash her on Monday or Tuesday of next week!

Learning to Fiberglass

SUP BeforeFiberglass work always alluded me in the past. Now that I own a few watercraft, fiberglass and it’s repairing demands that I learn how to or go broke having others do it for me. It began on a Saturday after several hours on stand up paddle boards when I was hoisting them back up in the garage to where they hang above the cars from the garage ceiling. As I was hoisting, the line broke, and they both came crashing down, damaging the rearward end of both of thSUP afterem (likewise dinging my wife’s car in the process). Off to the marine store in town to purchase epoxy and fiberglass cloth. Then I did what many of us now do when faced with a project never attempted before, I watched a few YouTube videos and sallied forth mixing my first concoction of epoxy and kick (an experienced “fiberglassers” word for accelerant). With a little more sanding, they will be ready for the water.

Black Box Phobia

In the past, before forming a relationship with Makin Memories, my nature was to only tinker with electronics, at best. Plug it in and hope for the best. Check the fuses, explore whether or not there was current, that sort of thing. But to open the case and explore the insides of the black box- that was a foreign land best left to an expert. Since all relationships take work, compromise, and commitment, I decided to extend my horizons and invest myself fully in the experience of learning new systems, come what may. img_2461
My Furuno 1830 radar started to work intermittently on our cruise to Key West from Tarpon Springs this summer. My wife and I found that the radar is truly a very helpful friend in navigating the GICW during the many rain storms we encountered. But the failing radar was not only unsafe but downright dangerous. In the past, I would have gone out and bought a new one – a smaller foot print, color, dependable. I knew deep down though that I had to try and repair the unit myself, hence opening the box up and delving into the mysteries of the black box. img_2463-1
I began with the basics. Stay in familiar territory and don’t touch anything that could break easily, such as, capacitors, resistors, wires drop soldered. God forbid I confuse the colored wires and where they plug in. I felt paralyzed because nothing was familiar. But, with persistence, I carefully sanded connections, reconnected loose wires, and cleaned up the insides. To my amazement, the unit turned on and continued to operate without shutting down. Of course, there was no rain in sight, and we were not in danger of running aground, but the radar did function consistently for the test period.

Moral of the story, give DIY a try, the worst that can happen is that you go out and purchase a new whatever. The best that can happen is that you gain a new found confidence in yourself and you save a few bucks.

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