May, 2017 browsing by month


Saturday May 27. Jacksonville, Fl.

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

I am waiting for the 3 pm outgoing river tide in Jacksonville. And plan to sail the Atlantic to Beaufort N.C. and then go on the ICW to Portsmouth, Va. I expect to be in Beaufort by Wednesday, Thursday. The forecast is for mild westerlies for the next four days.

“Fleetwood” was relaunched yesterday morning. I caught  the last bridge opening of the Main Street bridge at 8 p.m. and am staying in the same free max. 48 hour municipal marina near the Hart Bridge, where I moored on the way in on the 11th. We had some very heavy thundershowers earlier in the week but now it is back to beautiful warm summer weather. The maintenance at the Green Cove Springs Marina went well and I expect to be good for another two years with the bottom paint. It is a special world here in the yard with a number of real characters that stranded here many years ago and never left. The “Porch” is still occupied with them. “Fleetwood” was parked right in front of the porch and the lies and cigarette smoke drifted up to me while I did my best to reciprocate with sander noise and dust. I made many new friends and reacquainted with several I met in 2008 and 2009. I put in a new order for “SoloMan” books after good demand for them here. Yesterday I heard the sad news that one of the “Porch” longest time members, Vern, passed away on the 17th. This picture, taken in 2008, personifies his usual pose, always a book in hand.  He was here on the porch just before the 17th. May he rest in peace.


A sail on Gary Pione's "Moselle" on the St. John's River with Dan, Ya Ya, Bo and their dad RoBo.

A sail on Gary Pione’s “Moselle” on the St. John’s River with Dan, Ya Ya, Bo and their dad RoBo.

Mother’s day May 14 in Green Cove Springs, Fl.

Sunday, May 14th, 2017


“Fleetwood” is high and dry sitting right at the “porch”. The noise of my sander is drowning out the tales and lies spun here on this porch with the appropriate sign. DSC_0003_edited-1This is still a magic spot with its permanent human fixtures  and an excellent facility if you can live with the long trek up and down the river and to the town on my folding bike.  But the atmosphere is not what it was when I first came here in 2008 and again in 2009, there is lot of unnecessary bitching and discord among the crew.

After washing/scraping off the one year growth on the bottom the underwater hull is in good shape and will only require a light sanding and anti-fouling. The iron keel has a fair amount of rust and I finished sanding down to bare metal the starboard side on the first day. There is a new magic solvent to seal the cast iron keel (details/pictures on next blog). I expect to be done by next weekend and be on my way to the Chesapeake.

Yesterday evening I attended the Spanish mass at the original Sacred Heart Church in town. The new facility can only be reached by automobile or the geriatric shuttle and, frankly, I feel more at home with my Latin American hermanos/hermanas. In 2008 I rode in with Howard and Susan to the new church. In 2009 I discovered the old church and its proximity with my folding bike. On entering the church we were given white roses for our deceased mothers which we later placed near the altar in a large vase. After the mass the children were doing a skid for their mothers which was very well choreographed with audio and projection. The mothers received their red roses. Then there was a superb Latin American buffet, served by the men and a Mariachi singer. I sat with a Venezuelan and Puerto Rico couple and a Mexican family from Vera Cruz. When I heard the first stanzas of “Malagueña” (Que bonitos ojos tienes!”), I could not help myself and rushed up to the microphone. The crowd must have wondered where this blue eyed Gringo is coming from. There was a round of applause. It is the only Spanish song I happen to know the entire text of. I sang it last March in Trinidad, Cuba with “Trio Ensueño”, for a much smaller audience.

Buffet Sacred Heart

Buffet Sacred Heart

May 11. Back in Green Cove Springs, Fl.

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

The promises made by a few potential suppliers for the replacement of the oil cooler on Friday and a third on Monday, never came through. I assume they have bigger fish to fry than my insignificant engine part. So, I decided to head north on Tuesday morning. At first, I tried not to burden the engine too much but the cooling water came through fine. I was able to sail and motor sail most of the way from Titusville to Ponce de Leon Inlet. It was just getting dark when I got into the Atlantic. Now I could get some sleep while the boat made good progress, instead of staying on the ICW. Good thing I did, because the Coast Guard announced, on Wednesday, that the Main Street bridge in Daytona Beach was stuck in the down position.  I had a very fast sail, down wind, in the middle of the night I had to reef the main. In the morning the wind died but by then I was already past Saint Augustine.  At 1.30 pm “Fleetwood” entered the breakwater of the entrance to the St. John’s River to Jacksonville. With the full moon the current on the St. Johns River ran strong against me, but fortunately a strong North Easterly helped the engine, with the full main up. The sun had set and I was worried that I would not remember the location where the free (for the first two days) municipal marina is. But then I remembered it had to be just beyond the Hart Bridge because I took a picture in the marina, with the Hart bridge in the background, of the first paint job on “Fleetwood”, after 29 years of clear finish.

Now here is another one for my next book: “Small World encounters”. When I backed into that same slip, I used in 2009, a friendly cruiser with his stern to my slip helped to take my dock lines. It was by now half dark and I hear him say: “I know you, we met in Palau”. This was in January 2006. Gary Pione then made a big impression on me. I was sitting on the dock of the marina bar when this beautiful traditional long and narrow 8-Meter boat sailed in. Without an engine, under sail, the skipper skilfully in one swoop picked up the pennant on the mooring ball. When he rowed in with his attractive Japanese lady friend, I  introduced myself. For the rest of the story you need to look in your “SoloMan” on the Palau chapter. He had sailed this engine less beauty, (48 feet on deck and 8 1/2 beam, with a waterline shorter than my 30 footer, no lifelines/stanchions) from Hawaii via Guam to Palau.  He sold “Anthea” recently and is now cruising the Atlantic Coast on a 30 foot NonSuch.  It has an engine and more importantly, at this particular moment, a cooler for a cold beer with the memories and people we know passing the revue. I will see Gary here in Green Cove Springs tomorrow. I left early for the 06.45 Main Street (yes, Jacksonville has one besides Daytona Beach, it scared me when the Coast Guard made the announcement and I did not catch the Daytona part) Bridge opening. Back in 2008 I almost did not make that opening and would have had to wait till the morning rush hour was done. This near miss became the opening of a story I wrote for “Zeilen” about the ICW . This almost became the fate of a Frenchman in “Ma Belle”, he pulled out at the same moment but he had not counted on the strong current and was not going to make the bridge opening. The bridge tender was getting a bit nervous since from 07.00 onward he has to have the bridge shut. I thought he had a weak engine and I told him to get out of the center and hug the river bank, which I had done. This helped and me interpreting for his limited English managed to get both of us through before 7. Once through the bridge he disappeared over the horizon, it obviously was his unfamiliarity with river currents. I guess after the Rhone, Danube, Rhine etc., I picked up a few useful tricks.

Gary drew my attention to the spectacular full moon rise over the Hart Bridge and I add a picture of Tuesday night’s moon-rise on the Atlantic.

Moonrise Tuesday on Atlantic Ocean

Moonrise Tuesday on Atlantic Ocean

Hart Bridge, Jacksonville, Fl.

Hart Bridge, Jacksonville, Fl.



Sunday, May 7. The Waiting Game.

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

My hopes are concentrated on one potential supplier of a replacement for my oil cooler. And I had expected to have the part on its way on Friday. I made several phone calls and sent  and re-sent e-mails with the picture of the oil cooler, but for some strange reason may e-mails and attachment were not coming through to them. A little late, I realized that the specs and picture were posted on my Thursday blog. Hopefully I will have better luck on Monday. But it is doubtful that I will be able to replace the cooler without having new fittings made up for the water and/or oil hose attachments.

I removed the exhaust manifold, which had been replaced once since the boat was launched, it is sound. I also opened the oil cooler. Two years ago I inspected the oil cooler and removed the rusted out baffles that distribute/swirl the water through the cylinder where the copper oil tubes are mounted. It did not appear to make much difference but I suspect that this might be the origin of the water flow obstruction. There was some rust inside but it looked fine otherwise. But I had planned to replace it ever since I opened it up two years ago.

But I am still not totally convinced that a new oil cooler will solve the obstruction and overheating. When the first overheating took place on the way north from Ft. Lauderdale I was afraid that it could have affected the rings and piston. But the water does not cool the engine block, just the oil and it cools off the exhaust heat on the way out.

Meanwhile, I am busy with some of the chores that I had planned to do while hauled out. My back up laptop, the $110 Mexican Wall Mart one malfunctioned. Fortunately the navigation program on my old Toshiba still works, but no back-up. The brand new Lenovo laptop was unable to connect with the wi-fi on my navigation/chart software. I fixed that yesterday, after many trials and errors.

My daily moorage in the marina is $51.36. I need to move north. For a solo-sailor there is little social interaction here in the marina in sharp contrast to Vero Beach. The town has little to offer. A long narrow strip along hi-way #1. I bicycled to St. Teresa of Avilla church for the 9.30 mass. The Polish pastor was difficult to follow when he switched from his written text to improvisation. I liked the architecture with the laminated arches and the layout. They have an excellent small choir, the texts of the bible readings, liturgy and the songs are all projected on two screens.


Summer plans: I have abandoned the idea of sailing up the St. Lawrence from the Atlantic. A cruising couple from New Hampshire going North last Wednesday with me, told me that the current would be too strong. He told me about the Chambly canal/river out of Lake Champlain that connects with the St. Lawrence, east of Montreal. I have a number of friends I like to look up in Quebec. I have been downloading bunches of charts on both laptops and a sailing friend gave me the link to the New York inland waterway website, which appears very detailed:

I need to collect more details, but otherwise I would take the Mohawk River from Albany N.Y. to Lake Ontario. Anybody reading this with some “inside” scoop, let me know. I draw 6 ft beam 10′ length 30′, my mast is (keelstepped) 43 ft and from the water 40 ft.

Next I need to research the Missouri/Mississippi details to New Orleans.

smoke blowing east from forest fires, Titusville, Fl.

smoke blowing east from forest fires, Titusville, Fl.

May 4th. Stuck in Titusville, Fl.

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

I got an early start from Vero Beach. A Southeasterly picked up and I motor sailed most of the way. My plan was to head into the Atlantic at Cape Canaveral. So that I could sail 24 hour instead of stopping for the night on the ICW. But I became totally confused on the charts I have. The printed chart book is outdated. I missed the entry into the Banana River to the Canaveral entrance into the Atlantic. And when I double checked the Indian River ICW route it showed that I would be stopped at a fixed bridge, the one just South of the Canaveral Barge Canal, lower than my mast height. This turned out to be the mainland side of the bridge and the center section is the usual 65 ft height limit. By now it was getting dark. I anchored off the ICW but when I reversed the engine to set the anchor I saw a long stream of chocolate colored crud flowing from the bow. And when I got back to the cockpit, the exhaust was steaming/overheating. The overheating, I thought, was resolved with the longer fan belt. Until the anchor was set I never had any overheating issues. Though when I ran the engine there was a very slight sheen of, I think un-burnt diesel sheen coming from the exhaust. I called Todd Dhabolt, who built this particular NAJA, and knows everything about this boat and the engine.  His verdict was that I have salt water in the oil and advised to change the oil and run some diesel fuel through to absorb the salt water and repair/replace the oil cooler and check/replace the exhaust manifold.

The engine is a obsolete late seventies one cylinder 10 1/2 hp diesel made/marinized by VM-Motori of Torino, Italy. They were used mainly as agricultural water pump motors.  When I bought the boat,  I expected it to be the first item to replace but I love this little engine. It is air cooled and the oil is cooled through a heat-exchanger/oil cooler. I believe that the oil cooler needs replacement. But I am not convinced that saltwater got into the oil. I did an oil change this morning. I can have the old oil analyzed. I did not see any evidence.

But what else could the chocolate colored flakes on the water be? The temporary overheating, from the exhaust manifold, the muffler?

I only ran the engine today at low speed as a back up going through the bridges. I got stuck in the mud at the Marina here in Titusville and ran the engine high to back off and smelled the overheating for a split second.

If anyone reading this has some recommendations, I will appreciate it very much. My e-mail

the oil cooler

the oil cooler




The horizontal cylinder is the oil cooler. Specifications: length 6 inch diam 3 inch. Hoses: Oil a 23/24 mm nut. Water hose: o.s diam. 1″ (25.4 mm) i.s. diam. 3/4″ (19 mm).

I covered the 26 nautical miles today at an average of 5 plus nautical miles per hour. I had to put a reef in the main because the sail overpowered the mechanical auto pilot. I was very lucky to have this 20 knot plus SE easterly. The next opportunity to go into the Atlantic is at Ponce de Leon, but with the southerly wind I’m better off on the ICW , shorter and flat water. But it looks like I’ll miss the Green Cove Springs, Mug Race BBQ.

sunset May 3rd

sunset May 3rd

Tuesday May 2nd. A good day to make up for Sunday’s obstacle course.

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Waking up to the sunrise, warm air with the smells of the earth and vegetation after last nights thunder showers. Doing my coffee routine in my familiar one cup espresso pot after the more than three weeks trip to the Northwest.

While doing my laundry I met several cruisers. Among them: John and Mary from Seattle on the 34 foot Pacific Seacraft “Slappey II”, from Seattle.                       ( ) John got in on the ground floor of the personal computer, in the seventies. He worked for Microsoft when they were still in Bellevue with a workforce of 200…..  In the short conversation I received a clear picture of the history and the future of computer science. Vero Beach is spread out from the Atlantic sea shore inland over 10 miles but a free shuttle service stops every hour at the marina and got me to Harbor Freight to replace the cordless drill Blanco the Black Cuban mechanic talked me out of for his $20 and to get supplies for the maintenance job in Green Cove Springs. The stores are a long distance from the marina in Green Cove Springs. I found the correct lengths and dimension for the fan belt that I had replaced with a belt that was too tight and this seems to have fixed the problem I had with overheating. The real test will come tomorrow when I head up to cape Canaveral on the ICW and then into the Atlantic for Green Cove Springs via Jacksonville. I bought groceries to last me for this three/four day trip.

Yesterday evening I met my friends Linda and Ron who moved here shortly after I had met them in Green Cove Springs in the spring of 2008. They married as high school sweethearts in Flint, Michigan where Ron had a life long career with Chevrolet and took early retirement. A number of their friends have followed their move to Vero Beach. The nickname Velcro Beach is appropriate. I could easily get stuck on this part of Florida. Please, keep this a secret.

Linda and Ron the rolling Flint stones and Moss in the Live Oak tree

Linda and Ron the rolling Flint stones and Moss in the Live Oak tree