Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Still hanging in Catalina

We’re still hanging out in Avalon, Catalina. This last week has been nice, although we can’t believe that it has already been a week. Michael didn’t end up with a cold, he has been plagued with a stomach flu all week which hasn’t made it much fun for him on the boat (he promises it’s not seasickness!), but we’ve been trying to relax as much as possible. We had a wonderful BBQ on the boat with Chad & Renee on Wednesday and on Thanksgiving Day, we went out to dinner with Renee, Chad, & Renee’s family: Robert, Bob, & Jackie. The rest of the weekend has included a lot of the same; resting, reading, chores on the boat, laundry, dinghying back and forth to the dinghy dock twice a day just to let Casey do his ‘business’. We’re surprised how fast time is going on a daily basis.

We’ve read that every boater has one piece of equipment on board that is troublesome from the get-go. Well…..ours is definitely the generator. After having it working for about 5 days, all of a sudden one morning the battery that it uses to start was mostly dead. That’s pretty bizarre, since it’s supposed to charge the batteries! But for some reason it’s not charging it’s ‘own’ battery. We have a jump-start device on board and was able to give it some charge to get it started. However, after charging for only 30 minutes, it just shut down. We ran down to take a look and couldn’t figure out why it shut down, but in playing with it, it seemed to shut itself down entirely, even the fuel pump didn’t work. After about 15 minutes, it seemed that it was OK again so we left it alone, figuring it must have overheated. The next day we started it again and it lasted 10 minutes before shutting down again. Oh great, now what?! We left it alone again for a couple days, both of us reading every piece of literature on the generator. And suddenly, Michael figured it out….since the generator wasn’t charging it’s own battery…..the battery that ran the fuel pump, it wasn’t able to sustain itself while running. A-HA!! It’s all crystal clear now. Of course, this was probably Saturday before we had this realization…..and now it’s Monday and we’re just getting around to developing a temporary workaround. You see we’ve just been SO busy….we haven’t had a chance to make some changes. All seems well with the generator now…..until next time!

Of course we have had other items that have not functioned as well as we had hoped. You see, the purpose of the shakedown cruises, that we haven’t been able to take, is to make as much stuff ‘break’ as possible so you can fix it better for the next cruise. Although we haven’t had many things break, we have been successful in making a pretty good list of items to improve or fix. One item is our dinghy oar pads. The pads hold your dinghy paddles and make it easy to row the dinghy. One night, after leaving our dinghy at the dinghy dock, we came back to find one of our oars inside the dinghy, with the pad missing. Oh great, now we had one oar, and one paddle! O-well….we’ll get it replaced, no problem. Then one evening while we were trying to tie up at the dinghy dock, Michael was leaning on the other oar pad and POP, it popped right off. So now we have two paddles! J We’re also looking at adding a secondary, separate charger to the boat, which will just add to the redundancy and make our charging system more secure. These items have been added to the list I mentioned previously.

We have had a great time with Renee & Chad this week. We’ve had a BBQ, Thanksgiving Dinner, and Saturday we went over to help put up Christmas lights & decorations. Chad slaved away in the kitchen cooking up a fabulous spaghetti dinner, even separating out some sauce to keep the mushrooms & black olives out of my sauce, while Michael & I worked with the lights to make sure they were all lit. Renee was taking the working lights and putting them up along with the Christmas decorations throughout the house. It was great….some holiday music, hot buttered rum, & wonderful friends. That evening we attempted to watch Polar Express, but noticed outside the wind was howling! Michael & I got a bit worried and decided to head down to the boat. Not only was it windy, but a swell has rolled in from the west and inside the bay, the swells were bouncing off all of the walls which made for a very confused sea. Our boat was in between two power boats, which were bobbing like corks. Chad came down and we checked out our gear and it appeared we would be fine for the night so we hunkered down for the night. Since Michael has had a bad stomach this week, he has found that he prefers to sleep in the futon-style berth in the main salon as the motion doesn’t aggravate his stomach as much. So he slept out there, and I slept in the aft stateroom. We were rocking pretty good and the wind would come up and blow us around. The next day we overheard that the wind was a consistent 25 and gusted to above 50 during the night. Since we were in two separate areas of the boat, we each got up every two hours or so to check on everything, but each during different times of the night. Every time I got up to check everything out, Michael was snoozing, and he said the same for me. We didn’t have any problems, but sure heard some new moans and groans from the boat!

Our buddy boat, Dolphin, arrived at the Isthmus on Friday morning and dinghy’d down to Avalon to greet us. They were hanging out there and planned on coming into Avalon later in the day, however, Harbor Patrol told them it was full, so they hung out there until Saturday. They moored but were put at the very edge of the harbor, so they were really knocked around that night, often rolling rail to rail. They didn’t have a very good night – and even worse, they decided to leave their dinghy at the dinghy dock because it would get beat up if they kept it at the boat. During the night, Harbor Patrol moved all of the dinghy docks, dinghys attached, to a mooring until the storm passed. So when they awoke the next morning and looked for their dinghy – not only was the boat missing, but so was the dock! They were relieved to see it later after Harbor Patrol put everything back in place. We had a BBQ aboard their boat last night and headed out shortly after to San Diego last night.

Yesterday, Renee & Chad invited us for a ride to the Airport in the Sky for lunch. We jumped into the Explorer and headed up through the Conservancy to the Airport. We had a great lunch there and then continued exploring the island, driving the dirt roads through the equestrian center, stopping every once in a while for some great pictures. It was so clear we could see the mainland 26 miles away. The sky was a gorgeous blue and the water was crystal. We even saw some buffalo! We made our way to Shark’s Cove and did a little flip-flop hiking over to another cove. We sat and watched the waves as they crashed in and some surfers desperately trying to catch one of them. We could have sat there all day, lost in our own thoughts. We headed back and came to the Eagle Sanctuary. They house & rehabilitate Eagles on the island and release them when they’re ready. Renee estimates there are between 50 and 100 eagles that are living on the island now. At the sanctuary, there was one Eagle, sitting up in clear view for us to see. We tried taking photos, but they may not come out very well. They sure are beautiful birds. We had a wonderful time and are grateful to Renee & Chad for the tour.

Today we’re hanging out on the boat – Michael has fiddled with the generator and we’re running it and charging the batteries today. He’s reading “Islands, Oceans, & Dreams” by a local Channel Islands Harbor author, Michael Salvaneschi, while I’m writing the updates. I’ve been reading Freakonomics, which has been a fun book. I hope this wasn’t too long of an update! We’ll write more later….Rene & Michael


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