Monday, January 30, 2017

The Ernie T Gets an Upgrade

New outboard with Doel Fin wings installed.

We upgraded the Ernie T with a bigger outboard and then hydrofoil fins to help it get up on plane. Originally we had installed a new 4 hp four stroke Tohatsu for coastal cruising. We knew this was about the biggest motor we could leave on the dinghy when we raised it on the davits. The little 4 hp has served us wonderfully, but we will soon want a full speed dinghy. Since we replaced the dinghy davits with a beefier set from Martek we figured we could now install a larger outboard which should get the dinghy up on plane.

New Martek davits
150 watt solar panel.
We modified the solar mount to allow it to pivot.
Added stern rail supports to help with the weight.

After installing the new 9.8 hp four stroke Tohatsu on the Ernie T we were a bit disappointed that it wasn't able to get us on plane. Mike added a set of Doel Fin hydrofoil wings to the outboard and we are happy to say that the Ernie T is now getting up on plane. This will make it so much nicer to go dinghy exploring in the future. It will open up lots of new areas for us to zip around. Mike has a little re-routing to do on the solar cables now that everything is in place.

Brenda also did some modifying on the chaps, but she'll post about that later.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Day of Fishin'

Our friends Roger and Peggy aboard Never Say Never invited us to go out fishing for the day on their boat. Mike is a beginner fisherman and is eager to learn. Brenda has never even had a license. We biked over to K-Mart to renew Mike's license and purchase Brenda's first ever fishing license. After meeting Roger ashore to pick up some shrimp for bait we all boarded Never Say Never and headed out onto the Atlantic.

Roger's plan was to skip the trolling this trip and go to a "snapper hole" for some fun. We had a lovely ride out toward Vaca Cut on really smooth seas. After anchoring right over a submerged wreck all four of us baited our hooks and tossed the lines in the water. It was a little slow going at first, but the action soon picked up. We caught puffers, grunts, pinfish, yellowtail snapper, Lane snapper and Brenda even brought in one grouper. It was really fun seeing Brenda catch her first fish as she danced and yelled during the battle. Roger was having so much fun watching us rookies catching fish that he rarely dipped his hook in the water. Thanks for being such a good teacher Roger.

Brenda with her grouper.

After we exhausted our supply of shrimp we hoisted the anchor and started motoring toward the setting sun enjoying the beautiful view. It is so much fun to spend time with Roger and Peggy.

Once we were back aboard Wrinkles Mike cleaned two Lane Snappers for our dinner. Brenda added butter and lemon pepper on the fish and then wrapped them up in aluminum foil for the outdoor grill. After making up some coleslaw, carrots and fresh drinks we sat down to a wonderful snapper dinner. Pretty cool way to end a great day.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Just Having Fun

Kelley, Tina, Dee at Sunset Grille

Now that our family and friends have gone back home we are settling back into life on Wrinkles. We had become spoiled going out to eat at least once or twice every day. Our budget and waistlines are grateful that we have gone back to only occasionally going out to eat. Our daily entertainment includes boat projects like cleaning the dinghy bottom or wiping down all the interior teak with vinegar. There is always some maintenance project to be done when you live aboard a boat.

The Ernie T getting cleaned off.

We go dinghy cruising with other couples, bike riding, play Bocce ball on Wednesdays and watch amazing sunsets from our cockpit. Yesterday we joined four other couples on a progressive happy hour aboard each of our five boats. We all dinghied over to the first boat (a beautiful Leopard catamaran) for drinks, appetizers and socializing. Then each half hour we would all board the dinghies and head off to the next boat. All of the boats were beautiful and huge compared to little ol' Wrinkles. We wondered how we were going to host 10 people aboard our sailboat when the caravan headed that way. All was well though, as this fun group simply found spots on Wrinkles big enough to stand or sit as we continued the party.

Progressive happy hour
Touring one of the beautiful boats.

Elusive was the last host boat where we laughed and dined on some more great appetizers for the rest of the evening. Thanks to the crews of Raven, Allora, Scout and Elusive for a very fun night.

Our cruise to the Bahamas is rapidly approaching, so we are busy studying the chartbooks and cruising guides. It is a lot of fun to read and dream about all the sandy beaches and crystalline waters we will soon be exploring.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Great Florida Keys Family Visit

Some of the party in Key West

Brenda and I were so excited when the kids started planning a joint trip to visit us in the Keys. They coordinated flights, rental cars, motels and a condo to make the visit happen. We ended up with John, Matt, Tina, Brittnie, Kelley, Karen, Katie and Mom all joining us along with "Aunt" Joni and "Uncle" Jim.

The Greene's at Greene and Duval
Mallory Square festivities

We started the visit off at Havana Jack's where the kids marveled at the view and warm weather. From there we started a whirlwind few days which included exploring Key West for a day, numerous lunches and happy hours at tiki bars, dice games, swimming, paddle boarding, beach time and so much more. By the time everyone left for their homes we were exhausted.

Sombrero Beach day


The boys playing Frisbee

Jim motivated me to end my three year hiatus from playing basketball as we shot around and eventually began playing some one-on-one and a fun pick up game against some locals. Later we faced off against John and Matt in what we knew was going to be an uphill battle. We gave them a good first game, but after that their talent, conditioning and youth showed us we might just be past our prime basketball days. Later Tina and Kelley came skipping onto the court to join in the fun. It was hilarious to watch their antics guarding each other. I didn't know that yelling "Bubble bubble bubble butt!" at the opponent was a good defensive strategy. They did show off some pretty good basketball skills though.

Tomas was partied out.
Kelley and Tina in Key West

The kids loved the weather remarking once that back home it was -12 F and here it was 80 F. We had great breezes and lots of sunshine to warm their frozen bodies.

The end of Hwy 1

We gathered at the condo to watch the Green Bay Packer vs. Giants playoff game. We were joined by Bret and Theresa (Elusive) to make it a party of 14. The Packers rewarded us with an exciting win which we celebrated with a wonderful dinner prepared by Karen and Katie.

Matt and Kelley

As our time began to run out we started figuring out the logistics of getting everyone back to either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami for their various flights home. This process was later complicated by a flight cancellation for Matt, Kelley and Mom due to ice issues in Chicago. Even after a final, final, final plan was decided upon we ended up modifying it enroute to Miami. In the end everything worked out and all our our family except Tina were on their way home. Tina had one more day left before her flight so we planned to make the most of it.

The Conch Train tour

Tina slept aboard Wrinkles for the first time and she loved being rocked to sleep. As soon as all three of us were awake we dinghied ashore heading for The Stuffed Pig for breakfast. We ate outside under their tiki hut with the girls enjoying a fresh Mimosa along with our wonderful food.

Key West sunset

After breakfast we took Tina for a nice long dinghy putt-putt out Sister's Creek to the Atlantic and then through the scenic canals. We had called Jim and Joni to arrange a lunch date at Burdines, so we putt-putted our way to the restaurant. After a really good meal watching the channel boat traffic we walked over to Castaway's Restaurant for a final cocktail. Finally we dinghied Tina back to Wrinkles to relax in the cockpit and enjoy the view. The dreaded time came that we had to say goodbye to our final visitor, so we dinghied Tina ashore and sadly said our goodbyes. It was so fun to share our cruising lifestyle with Tina and see her enjoying the things we enjoy so much. Maybe now Tina won't think that we are out in stormy seas all the time.

Bret and Theresa

Now it is just us and our good friends Jim and Joni spending a couple more days visiting before they head up to Ft. Myers for the next portion of their snowbird vacation. We rewarded Jim with the "opportunity" to help install a solar collector on Wrinkles. Always the good sport he spent one of his last vacation days in the Keys working on Wrinkles. Brenda and Joni walked to the Turtle Hospital for a tour. Once they were done touring and we were done working on Wrinkles we went ashore for a game or two of Bocce with the other cruisers. From there we dinghied along with Bret and Theresa to Lazy Days for their awesome happy hour. Afterward we all assembled aboard Elusive for sundowners and a gorgeous sunset.

Jim, Joni and Brenda aboard Elusive

It will seem so quiet here when it goes back to being just Brenda and I. But, we will be left with so many great memories of our time here in the Keys with so many of the people we love.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Key West

Brenda and Joni at Mallory Square

Yesterday we rode in Jim and Joni's freshly washed black Lexus to Key West for a day of wandering. After parking between the Conch Republic restaurant and Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe we began a day of walking and sightseeing in bright sunshine and a cool 73 degree temperature. I guess we have been down south for a while now as 73 degrees should not feel cool to people from Wisconsin. As we said in a previous post, "Instant weather wusses."

Despite the fact two cruise ships were in port the shops and restaurants really weren't too busy. We checked out Mallory Square and plan to bring Mom, Karen, John, Brittnie, Tina, Matt and Kelley here for a sunset celebration when they visit later this week.

We ate lunch at Caroline's Restaurant enjoying the people watching from our outside table. The food was quite good, reasonably priced and the portions were huge. We wandered the streets and shops enjoying our time with our good friends. We went on the hunt for the building Jim and Joni stayed at a long time ago. Jim's usual great sense of direction and memory made our hunt a success. The building is now a private property, so we didn't get to see the inside though. We did get to see some beautiful houses and colorful trees like the one in the following picture.

After lunch the bars started featuring live music, so we walked along to find a good spot for a cool drink and some good tunes. Sloppy Joe's was the winner. This venerable old bar has been around a long time. The walls are covered in Hemingway photos and articles including the very appropriate article above Jim's head in the following photo.

We found two business names that seemed to fit our little group.

As usual Tomas was along for a good time. Here he is enjoying a refreshing little cocktail at Sloppy Joe's.

Another fun and relaxing day spent with good friends.

When we returned to Jim's freshly washed car he saw that the Key West birds had done a fine job of leaving souvenirs on it. Joni has been on a search for the green parrots that are supposed to be plentiful in the Keys, so she was sure the souvenirs were from them.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Having Fun With Jim and Joni

Jim and Joni arrived in Marathon on New Years Eve and we’ve been having a ball spending time with them. The New Years Eve celebration aboard Wrinkles was a perfect start to their visit. Since then we have checked out several happy hours, explored Bahia Honda State Park, gone fishing, played basketball, eaten ice cream, listened to live music, watched sunsets, dinghy cruised, watched Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer games and eaten appetizers at several local restaurant or as Jim calls it, "Appedining". There may have even been a Drambuie or two shared. Not bad for the first week of their three week visit.

Fishing at Bahia Honda State Park
Sunset from Burdines Restaurant
Having dinner and drinks at Keys Fisheries with Roger, Peggy, Bret and Theresa

This afternoon we are going to their rental condo to watch the Green Bay Packer playoff game. Of course we will have to switch back and forth to the Wisconsin Badger basketball game that is on at the same time.

What else is on the to do list? Jim will be helping us install our new dinghy davits and remounting the solar panel on top of them next week. Mike and Jim are also going to help Roger remove his diesel generator from his boat and hopefully do some repairs to it. When the weather permits Roger and Peggy have offered to take us out for some deep water fishing. Maybe a day trip to Key West. There goes week two!