Key West or nuthin’

April 11, 2020

We left Burnt Store Marina at 8:09 this morning with winds at 3mph and clear skies. Image below is the Boca Pass with Boca Grande on the right, Cayo Costa on the left. Just before arrival there we joined the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) on a southerly heading to our anchorage tonight.

The autopilot is performing flawlessly as expected

Great being able to set a “waypoint” on the chartplotter, press a button and the AP will take over steering the boat regardless of current or wind direction and bring the boat to that point. Turns can also be programmed in to the route so one could set waypoints for the entire day, sit back and relax. The AP is such a wonderful tool but it is critical to maintain situational awareness at all times.


At the beginning of this blog I explained the AIS. This system broadcasts the name, dimmensions and speed of the boat and all other boats with this system do the same. This system is very important when traveling the rivers as the AIS actually “sees” around bends and alerts other boats and barges of your location. There is a story I heard back home of a fellow who had a make of boat called a Nordic Tug. The word “tug’ was actually in the name of the boat and his AIS signature reflected this. So one day this captain is cruising on the Ohio river with waypoints programmed into his autopilot. He proceeds to delegate complete control (read no situational awareness) to his AP and sits out on the bow of the boat with his wife. A towboat with a number of barges in his array “sees” the boat around a bend in the river. The captain of the tug notices the word “tug’ in the AIS vessel info and thinks he is approaching an array of barges. Tries repeatedly to raise the captain of the Nordic Tug but the captain is not near his radio and not responding. The captain of the real tug with barges grounds his leading barge into the bank to avoid a collision. When the Nordic Tug comes around the bend in the river with the captain sitting on the bow of his boat and is actually seen by the tow captain I am told a serious “what fer” ensued. These high tech navigation aids are just that, aids. Devices to help the captain make decisions.

After we turned on the ICW we saw this helicopter land on Cayo Costa Island.

Photo below is of the famous Cabbage Key, really cool little restaurant that is reputed to be the origin of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” We passed the island at 10 in the morning so no patrons yet. Only way to get to this place is by boat. I am sure by 11 all of the docks will be filled.

Coming up on Fort Myers Beach…

Causeway to Sanibel.

On a boat there is always maintenance to be performed. This is an image of the engine on the right side of the boat. Fuel Tank on the left of the photo. Accessability is limited.

See that great big oil filter on the left side of the photo. That thing is close to a foot long, 5 inches across and when filled with oil weighs about 8 pounds. I would have to wedge myself between the fuel tank and the engine to get that thing screwed on. Could only get one arm and hand back there. It was an absolute bear to replace that filter. Found out Cummins Diesel made a relocation device that moved it to the other side, right in the middle of the engine room. The filter for the other engine can be seen across the aisle behind a smaller coolant filter.

Same issue here. On the port engine the oil dipstick was between the engine and the fuel tank on the other side of the boat. Best $100 I ever spent. Had a guy put in a second dipstick on that engine on the other side. Cake walk! It was a royal pain to lay on top of a hot engine to check the oil.

We were having a great day underway today. My friend Dave sez, probably a good time to do an engine room check. I grudginly agree as it is bloody hot down there and loud as hell. Every thing checks out as I KNEW IT WOULD. There are these aluminum panels set into the floor that you can see on the right of the above image. There are 1 inch hole in each panel so the captain can check if there is water in the bilge (inside bottom of the boat) Don’t see no water. What I do see is quite alarming. I see red fluid. Uhhhh, diesel fuel is red. I start looking for a fuel leak. If you go back and look at the photo of the oil filter you will see a large white bucket and something called a Racor fuel filter above it. There is a plastic plug that screws into the bottom of it for draining. The piece on the right was barely hanging on. Fuel was spilling out. What new hell is this? We shut down that engine and turn the fuel off to that filter and limp into a Marina in St. James City owned by a friend of my GREAT FRIEND and mentor Dave Shaw of Kentuckiana Yacht Service. Guy walks on board with a replacement plastic fitting. I put that filter back together and away we go. Had to vacuum 7 gallons of fuel out of the bilge. The fellows at York Road Marine fixed us up. Only charged me for 1 hour of labor at $125 an hour. AND I DID ALL THE DAMN WORK!!! No sweat, worth every penny to have that part right then.

This is what it looks like when it’s not broke in half. Hate to think how much fuel I would have lost had Dave not badgered me to do an engine room check. Thanks Capn. Dave!

The bottle on the left in the photo below contains the remnants of the most fabulous bottle of bourbon I have ever tasted. Back in my Party Mart days I had 3 great customers/friends who were published authors and true bourbon afficianados. Carla Carlton, Susan Reigler and Mike Veach had the best bourbon palates I have ever come across. We called ’em Party Mart’s “Bourbon Board of DIrectors”. We gave them complete autonomy in picking these barrels. Debbie and I entrusted these fine folks to go to various distilleries and select barrels of bourbon for the Party Mart stores. On one occasion they called and said we had to buy 2 barrels as they were so smitten by them. This particular barrel was my favorite. As you can see there is only a smidgen left in the bottle. I was reminded of the Spanish “Solera” system whereby a number of barrels of sherry were stacked on top of one another, first barrel being the youngest and the last barrel the oldest. Hence when bottling there was always some of the oldest sherry in every bottle. Same here. Deb and I made a batch of Manhattans in this bottle so it will now live forever as we refill just prior to becoming empty.

Finished product. Night all…

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