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This past week Cindy celebrated her birthday aboard Cream Puff. We spent an entire week away from land. We started by anchoring in the Manatee River. Yes, they do have manatees in the Manatee River. This was followed by a fantastic sail offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. All week we had dolphins visit and play. But, of course the camera was nowhere to be found at the opportune moments. Oh well, memories.
We ate like a king and queen this week. Cindy did a remarkable job of planning the meals. We enjoyed everything from bar-b-qued rib eye steaks and baked potatoes to chalupas. Planning the meals is not the only challenge. Storing the food aboard is an art form. We have a refrigerator in the kitchen and two refrigerator/freezers under the seats in our main salon. We use the kitchen refrigerator for goodies we want to access throughout the day like juice and snacks. We use the under-seat units for meals.
Since all of these run of the ships battery bank, we try to keep them closed as much as possible to save our amps an minimize the need to charge the batteries by running the generator. Cindy writes out a menu for each day and then stores the perishable food by meal so we can reach in and grab all we need very quickly.
Our trip up the Manatee River gave us a chance to practice our anchoring techniques. Because of the tides, the current will reverse and at times become quite swift. The means the boat will swing around on the anchor and point into the tide or wind (whichever force is stronger). We need to ensure the anchor is set hard to prevent us from floating away.
We used an anchor watch app on Cindy’s phone to make sure we are not moving. It uses the phone GPS to keep track of us. We set up a perimeter in the app to allow for the amount of chain we had out and our swing radius. This was the first time we have used this app. We tested it on land by setting an area and walking the phone to a different location. A very loud alarm sounds when the perimeter is violated. On our first night out, we set the app and went to sleep. We knew we would swing at night because a tide change was due. At about 5am we were awakened by the app alarm. Everything bad on a boat happens between 3am and 5am. I raced to the bow to check the anchor. Cindy said she had never seen me move that fast. All was okay. Cindy checked the app. Her phone was losing its charge and had gone into a power saving mode. The phone shut off the GPS the app required to locate us. This was not a nice way to start our day. So, we went back to bed. But, this time we slept with the phone plugged into a charger.
This brings me to the title of this post; squeaks. We developed a squeak aboard Cream Puff. The nature of this squeak is subtle yet annoying. It is a metal on metal sound, soft but yet like fingers on a chalkboard. There is neither rhyme nor reason when the squeak occurs. We hear it when bobbing at anchor (but not at the marina slip) and when light wind sailing. It does not seem to be affected by wind or boat motion. When I try hunting it out, it stops. It’s almost like it knows I’m looking for it. The elusiveness is driving me crazy. I think I have narrowed it down to somewhere near the mizzen mast base. But, when I put my ear to the mast or boom, the noise appears to come from somewhere else. For five days, I hunted for the culprit. No luck. I feel like a cat chasing a laser dot about a room. Every time I think I am close, it seems to come from somewhere else. We’ve had squeaks before and I have tracked them down and given them a quick blast of T9. Ha! Got ya! But no, not this one. Cindy’s suggestion (because my craziness is driving her crazy), blast the whole boat with T9. Perhaps we could have a crane lift us out of the water and dip us in a huge vat of WD40. Since that solution might be a little cost prohibitive, the hunt will continue.
Our return in St. Pete was once again celebrated with fireworks. This time it was Cindy’s birthday fireworks. We feel so honored this year the city has had fireworks for both of our birthdays. Once again, there was some little shindig going on downtown but we know those fireworks were specially meant for Cindy. How they knew to wait until we arrived back at our slip is magical.
Most of the time on the boat, I go barefoot or wear flip-flops. When I put my sneakers on for the ride home, my shoes seemed gigantic. They felt like Mickey Mouse shoes.