December 2012 - Florida to Cuba

1 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
We woke up in a “real bed” – Glenys didn’t sleep very well because the bed was too narrow, too short and too soft – you can’t please everyone…

We called in at a Saturday market at Fort Pierce and then asked Mike to take us to a supermarket  to take advantage of his car, where we stocked up ready to go to Cuba in a few weeks – tins of essentials like tomatoes, big bags of rice, pasta, beer etc. 

Back on the boat, I replaced 10 bulbs in the saloon with LED lamps that I’d had delivered to Mikes’ house – they cost me $200, but will substantially reduce our power drain with the lights on.  I also fitted a new VHF radio handset in the cockpit to replace the one that stopped working in Charleston.

We had a quiet night in.

Vero Beach Mooring Field, Florida

2 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
I did a few more jobs.  The outboard is still playing up, so I checked the fuel filter – there was water in it, so I cleaned it out but it’s still stalling at low revs.  I’m running out of ideas now.  I finally fitted some plastic tubes over the shrouds to protect the genoa and stay sail sheets that are being torn up when we winch the sails in tight.

I tried out the new finger picks that I bought a couple of days ago and didn’t like them at all.  We had a good internet connection again, so I did some more research on finger nails.  A lot of professional players, such as James Taylor, add false acrylic nails to their right hand, which is supposed to be very strong, but “looks a bit weird” – I don’t fancy the hassle of that.  Then I read about some really good guitar players who play with just their finger tips on steel stringed guitars.  This sound like the way to go, so cut off my finger nails and wiped off the strengthening nail varnish.

“San Miguel” rafted up with us yesterday, so we stepped across to have a beer with Joe and Lizbeth on - we last saw them in Deltaville a month or so ago.

3 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
My lower back has been aching for months, so we caught the free bus into town this morning and I went to a chiropractor.  He readjusted my spine and gave me some electro-treatment.  My lower back feels a little bit less restricted, and I’m going to go back in a couple of days’ time for a bit more work.  I’m a little annoyed that I had to pay for the treatment – we have quite expensive medical insurance, but it doesn’t cover chiropractic costs, but at least it was only $50 for the session. 

We met Ron & Judy from “Pioneer” on the bus, who gave us some more information about Cuba.  It sounds like there’s a bit of hassle at the Marina Hemmingway in Havana – the locals have got used to demanding tips for everything.  Judy suggested that Varadero is a better place to clear in and to use as a base to go touring the island – they spent three months there last year.  They also think that Marathon is a better place than Key West to wait for good weather to cross to Cuba.  We may change our plans (again.)

New Intimidator batteries installed

Back on the boat, we pottered around for the rest of the afternoon doing a few small jobs, then went to have a beer with Thierry and Claudia on “Vanupeids”.

4 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
We had our six new AGM batteries delivered this morning.  The delivery man left them on the fuel dock and we rushed back to Alba to come alongside.  It only took me thirty minutes to swap the batteries over, but it was hard graft hauling the very heavy batteries up and down the companionway steps – my chiropractor would have been horrified. The batteries are called “Intimidators”, obviously some salesman on drugs thought that one up.

While we were on the fuel dock we filled up with water, diesel and bought some more gasoline.  The marina has special Ethanol-free gasoline which is not available to road users.  I’m hoping that this will sort out the problems that I’ve had with the outboard, although I’ve got a few more days of suffering because I still have a few gallons of crap fuel in the dinghy fuel tank.

Back on the mooring, I spent the rest of the morning tidying up the wiring in the battery compartment.  Over the years, the previous owner had added pieces of equipment and there was a rats-nest of wires, all connected with screw “choc-blocks” which I removed and replaced with crimp connectors.

I spent the afternoon chilling out.  Glenys has been working hard at looking at the various anchorages that we can visit on the way down towards Key West.  It would appear that there aren’t a huge number of places that we can stop because we’re very constrained by our 6’ 8” draft.   

5 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
Our batteries were still at 12.5 volts this morning which means that they are still 75% charged which is fantastic considering that we gave them a good thrashing last night by watching a movie and then using the computer until late.  Our old batteries would have been down below 12 volts.

We went into town in the morning to go to the chiropractor.  He readjusted my spine again, which moved (clicked) much more than on Monday, so I think that the vertebrae are now back in their proper places.  

In the afternoon, we lounged around and then went out for a meal with Thierry and Claudia from “Vanupieds” – it was Thierry’s 50th birthday, so I gave him a packet of Q-Tips to remind him of his age.  We ended up back on “Vanupieds” opening a bottle of champagne which went down well after the two bottles of wine that we consumed over dinner.

Mike and Rona

6 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
We both felt a bit dull this morning and it was raining, so we lurked around surfing the internet.

I’ve sort of lost my way with playing the guitar – I’m  not sure what kind of music I want to play and I’m just dabbling in anything that takes my fancy.  My practicing is not very focussed, so I spent most of the day looking at guitar websites and trying to decide what kind of music I really want to play and working out a better practise schedule. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like finger style and blues, so I’ve set myself a target to be able to perform ten technical finger style songs without music by next Christmas.  In addition, I’m going to learn ten strumming songs which I can play when there’s a group of people.  I just need to choose what the songs are and then practice, practice and practice.

We had a quiet night in.

7 December 2012   Vero Beach, Florida
Another day of jobs – I fitted a new sea water wash-down pump, then stripped down the old one, which took up five hours of my day.

Glenys has suddenly been motivated to pull out her concertina, which has been lurking in a locker for the past fifteen months.  She spent most of the afternoon playing around and searching the internet for music that she might want to play

We met Mike and Rona at five o’clock and went to a bar to watch a very dull marine Christmas parade before going back to their house for a Chinese and more reminiscing and drinking.