A Chilly Florida

Whoda thunkit. Here we sit in Apalachicola, Florida, waking up to temps in the 30s and overnight freeze warnings. The winds have been howling out on the Gulf of Mexico and the seas have been way up, keeping us sitting at the dock for over a week. It only seems like a few days since we left Demopolis, Alabama and retraced our steps back to the Gulf Coast. The reality is that it has been 18 days and we have only covered 465 miles. Under normal circumstances, we could easily do twice that many miles in the same amount of time. To get where we are today required us to transit two locks, visit nine anchorages and free town docks, spend three nights at a marina in Alabama, one night at a friend's dock in Panama City, three nights waiting for weather at the docks at White City and spending a week here in Apalachicola. And it looks like we may be here for another week.

Aqualarm Flow Alarm Failure And More Problems With Moeller Marine Products

In preparation for our current cruise, one piece of safety equipment we installed was a raw water flow alarm made by Aqualarm. The alarm is attached to the intake for the raw water to the engine and, in theory, will sound an alarm when the flow stops to the raw water pump. We wanted this installed to give us a heads up that there is a restriction in the water line or some other problem BEFORE the engine overheats, causing possible severe issues and major expense should there be an overheating problem. In a little more than 12 months we noticed that the alarm was no longer working. It generally sounds when turning on the ignition key at start up. The sensitivity is adjusted by sliding a sensor back and forth along a plastic tube plumbed into the water intake. There are no moving parts involved. After trying to do some adjusting, it was apparent the sensor had failed. We contacted Aqualarm and noticed first of all that they have totally redesigned the flow alarm and it now has a paddle wheel instead of a sensor. Their response to me was that they redesigned the unit because of problems like the one we are now having. But the rest of the response was pretty much, "that's too bad, buy another one." I doubt seriously that I will buy another piece of equipment from a company that made an inferior product and when it fails, tells customers that it's tough luck, we're not going to help. So we'll be looking for a replacement from another manufacturer that builds a better quality product and is more responsive to customer problems.

In a previous post we did a review of some products we had purchased made by Moeller Marine Products. That review can be found here, http://trawler-beach-house.blogspot.com/2011/11/moeller-marine-products-review.html . Unfortunately we had to buy a couple of 5 gallon gas tanks so that we could carry additional gasoline for the dinghy and these were all that was available at the time. In a matter of months, both of these gas tanks developed a serious split in the plastic near the top of the tank. This wasn't near any seams, so it was a surprise to us. The spit allowed gas to leak out of the tank onto our deck. Had we not been around the boat, this could have been disastrous. After our experience and that of other boaters we have talked to, we urge everyone to avoid Moeller Marine Products, especially those that carry fuel. Consider the consequences. These products are carried at almost every marine supply store, including large chains like West Marine. It's our hope that these reviews will help others avoid the problems we have encountered.

Part 2 - Anchoring in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL

Taken from The Great Book Of Anchorages, Cape Sable, Fl to Mobile, Al, including the Okeechobee Waterway..

The Big Bend–Crystal River to Carrabelle (Mile 46 to Mile 164)
Many boats, especially those with deeper drafts, use Anclote Key as their jump off or arrival point from the Carrabelle area. Even we used to be under the impression that the Big Bend region was only for shoal-draft boats, but it really isn’t. The main thing you have to contend with is the distances in from deeper water to the river entrances, usually about 10 miles. Then add another 10 miles or so to the anchorages.

Part 1 - Anchoring in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL

Taken from The Great Book Of Anchorages, Cape Sable, Fl to Mobile, Al, including the Okeechobee Waterway...

A very different kind of cruising awaits the boater traveling on the Gulf Coast. For starters, there is no one system for keeping track of the mileage for the various legs of the journey. Each section, the Southwest Florida Coast, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), the Big Bend and the GIWW East of Harvey Lock (EHL–the distance east of Harvey Lock in New Orleans), has their own method–the Statute Mile is given in two of the sections and the other two use distances between waypoints/markers, leaving you to calculate the miles (which we have done for you). The biggest difference for us on the Gulf Coast is the beaches. With a few exceptions, you are generally traveling right along the coast, either just inside barrier islands or hopping from one island or river entrance to the next. And what could be more wonderful than always being close to the beach?

We begin coverage of Gulf Coast anchorages in Cape Sable, FL mainly because the major guide books and chart kits do this as well and you will be using them together. Although some of you will be Loopers using the book, you’ll simply need to work your way from back to front.

Checked Your Boat Zincs Lately? By Mike Dickens

For the first time, we present a guest blogger here at Trawler Beach House. Mike and Mary Dickens are our guest bloggers for today’s post. Mike and Mary are the owners of Paradise Yachts in Florida where they assist boaters in selling and buying of luxury trawlers, motor yachts and sailboats. They are also trawler owners and full-time liveaboards. You can visit their website at http://www.paradiseyachtsales.net

We all hear talk about the docks regarding boat zincs at haul out, but what do they really do?

Another Boating Equipment Update

We like to take some time at the end of a cruise or during a pause in a cruise to report on the equipment we have installed in preparation for traveling the waterways. If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know we post each installation, upgrade and repair we do to Beach House in hopes that other boaters will find the information useful. These Project Posts are the most read and most popular on the Blog, so it only makes sense to let you know how things are holding up, what works and what was an absolute failure. Finding quality equipment and parts for a boat is getting more and more difficult as manufacturers look for ways to cut costs, and as a result, the quality declines. It's also the trend to add more and more bells and whistles to everything, and to use the latest and greatest in technology to justify the increasingly higher costs for equipment. This makes many of our electronics more difficult to understand and also adds to the possibility of failure as new features are added. We're still of the KISS mind set (keep it simple, stupid), but we also appreciate advancements that actually serve a purpose and make our boating experience safer and more enjoyable. So let's do an update of our equipment.

If Your Mate Has a Stroke Can You Help?

I know that's a scary question and not a subject you usually find here on our blog. One of the big "What if" questions that often goes through our mind when cruising revolves around what we would do if a medical emergency arises. First and foremost, would we recognize the signs, and then, would we know what to do. As our fellow boaters, us included, approach our golden years, the potential issues change in our minds. Early on, our concern was getting injured, but in these later years, it turns more to potential serious health problems. The real possibility was brought to mind by a recent article written by Keith Murray and published online at http://the-triton.com . It is with their permission that we re-post the article here for your thoughts and consideration. We hope you find it as informative as we did...

I have written about this topic before, but it’s all I can think about today. When I conduct onboard CPR, AED and first aid classes, we always review the signs and symptoms of a stroke. It’s important to recognize those signs so you can help someone having a stroke.

My father just had a stroke last weekend. Fortunately, it looks like he is going to make a full recovery.

When reading this column today, please ask yourself if you would know what to do if someone you loved were having a stroke, heart attack or other medical emergency. Could you help them? Could you recognize the signs of a stroke? Do you know how to treat a stroke victim? What would you do if a crew mate began to slur his words, appeared confused or not walking well?

A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that can cause paralysis, coma and death. It is the brain's version of a heart attack. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain (ischemic stroke) or an artery bursts and blood leaks into brain tissue (hemorrhagic stroke).

Think of a stroke as a plumbing problem at home or onboard. Either your pipes are blocked with rust (plaque) or the pipe is leaking.

When either of these occurs, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Where the damage to the brain occurs and how much of the brain is damaged will determine which symptoms the person will display.

Here are some typical symptoms that you may observe:
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

It should be noted that women may experience symptoms that are different from men. Those may include sudden face and limb pain, sudden hiccups, sudden nausea, sudden general weakness, sudden chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, and sudden palpitations.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this simple test:

F -- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A -- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S -- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T -- Time: If you observe any of these signs, get medical attention immediately.

Though it is not part of the test, note the time when the symptoms first began. There is only about a three-hour window for a clot-busting medication to be given at the hospital. It is very important that the stroke victim get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is called a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke". This type of stroke produces stroke-like symptoms but generally has no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs may reduce the risk of a major stroke. Often TIA symptoms are the same as those of a stroke, only temporary. The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.

The best way to help someone having a stroke is to recognize that they are indeed having a medical emergency and getting them to a hospital as quickly as possible. Stay with the victim, place them in a position of comfort, and monitor their breathing and consciousness.

To learn more about stroke warning signs and other medical emergencies, take a CPR, AED and first aid class. Ideally, everyone should take a refresher class at least every two years. Often classes can be conducted at your location, on your boat, or at your business.

Shipboard classes are helpful because they allow the crew to develop plans, review first aid supplies, and talk about medical emergencies as they relate to their surroundings, crew, passengers and the various ports of call.

The American Heart Association has a good 60-second video that everyone reading this should watch. And send the link to a friend. It may help someone save a life. Visit http://strokeassociation.org, click on the FAST box on the right side, then scroll down to the FAST Body Language PSA box.

Keith Murray, a former firefighter EMT, owns The CPR School, a first-aid training company. He provides onboard training for yacht captains and crew and sells and services AEDs. Contact him at 877-6-AED-CPR, 877-623-3277 or www.TheCPRSchool.com. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

Is Facebook Really for Boaters?

We think so. There are several very active boating groups on Facebook with a lot of knowledgeable people who can provide answers, insights and even some humor when answering many boat related questions. There's something for everyone, from the novice to the old salts. If you haven't visited our Facebook page lately, or not at all, we've posted lots of great information, news and, we think, wonderful photos to enjoy. Just some of what you will find there...
  • Our Gulf Coast Photos for the Florida west coast and Panhandle (more coming)
  • The latest on the Florida anchoring issue
  • News and reports from the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Navigation reports
  • Articles of interest to boaters
  • Wildlife on the waterways
  • Current boating news
  • Lots More
  • Links to our videos
If you do Facebook, come and visit our page here and if you like what you see, click the Like Button. If you don't have a Facebook page, start one, they're fun. We already have hundreds of followers, so come and join our group. Here are a few photos from our page.

Give us your thoughts on Facebook. Post in Comments.

The Next Great Anchorage Book

Susan and I are very happy to give you the news everyone has been waiting for. The Great Book Of Anchorages, The Gulf Coast, Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL, including the Okeechobee Waterway is now available on our website for advance orders. The book is at the printer and we expect to begin shipping on or about September 4th. If you haven't ordered our other guides, take advantage of our multi-book discounts. In addition to getting a great anchorage book you will be helping a good cause. We pledge to donate $2.00 of every order placed between now and the end of September to the Wounded Warrior Project.

This guide starts in Cape Sable along the Southwest Florida Coast, works its way north along the coast in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, in and out of the beautiful rivers of the Big Bend and then continues on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – East of Harvey Lock section until its conclusion in Mobile Bay. The book also includes the Okeechobee Waterway. It is the must-have anchorage guide for anyone cruising the Gulf Coast! 

Where the River Flows

The next morning started overcast but quite warm. A 50% chance of rain meant we also had a 50% chance it wouldn't rain. Yeah, right. Our anchorage for the night was not yet decided, but a few options were available. The plan was to transit about 50 miles of the river before we stopped and 50 miles is not a long day for us. That's probably why we got a later start than usual; Beach House didn't get off the dock until almost 9 a.m. One of our neighbors from the night before, a sailboat, had already gotten underway, but we knew we would catch up later. The owner was singlehanding and also heading for Demopolis to leave his boat. Later in the day we would get quite an education in anchoring on a wide and deep river system.

The River Is Waiting

First I would like to apologize for our blog postings not being as timely as they have been in the past. There is a very good reason for that and I will do a post explaining why sometime in the future. Beach House still needed to get farther north to be sure we met our insurance requirements and to also give the crew peace of mind during this next hurricane season. The stay at Dog River Marina was nice and the chores and repairs we wanted to make were done early. The only delay was waiting for the chart chip for the plotter that covers the inland river systems. We came to the realization that our plotter only covered a small part of Mobile Bay and did not cover any of the inland rivers. So a new C-Map chip was ordered and, of course, the two-day shipping arrived in four days. Since it was delivered at about 10 a.m., the docklines were cast off and the trip up Mobile Bay and into downtown Mobile was made a little later than we liked, but still early enough to reach our first day's anchorage with time to spare.

The Fantastic Journey Continues

The run from Apalachicola to the docks at White City is a short one. There were a couple of potential anchorage spots we wanted to check out, including one that was a regular for us on our sailboat, Sea Trek. The White City docks are located in a basin surrounded by a park with a boat ramp. There has never been a lot of activity here whenever we have visited. The dock next to the pavilion was under repair and closed off with caution tape. There are 20 amp outlets at the pavilion that can be used for limited power. A new floating dock has also been added on the canal front. The floating dock is better for deeper draft boats since depths along the fixed docks are 6 feet or less. There is a 24-hour limit at the docks, but if bad weather is in the area, a longer stay would not be a problem. A short walk down the road to the east brings you to a gas station and convenience store with basic staples. This is a favorite stop for us and most other boaters that pass this way. But we did find a problem on board that needed our immediate attention.

Revisiting The Florida Panhandle

It would seem that the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of the Steinhatchee River has it's own weather system. For a week we watched as the reports from almost every other location showed light winds and quiet conditions. Yet all of the forecasts and buoy reports for the area we needed to transit to get to St. Marks had winds and seas more uncomfortable than we prefer to travel. A long time ago we came to the conclusion that the shallow waters of the Gulf can develop some nasty waves without a lot of wind. The constant forecasts of 15 to 20 and buoy reports confirming winds kept us in the Steinhatchee much longer that we would have liked. Even on the day of our departure, the morning brought winds of 15 knots directly from the direction we had to go. We patiently waited and checked the buoys every hour until they showed wind had dropped to 10 knots. Beach House and crew was underway. The conditions were not ideal; there was still a very sloppy sea for us to plow into for a few hours. As the day progressed and we moved away from the Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach, things began to settle down and eventually the seas flattened and the winds dropped below 5 knots. Finally we were experiencing the Gulf at its best.

Crystal River and the Withlacoochee River Videos

Beach House and crew would like to share a couple of short videos taken as we cruised some of the rivers in the Big Bend section of the Florida Gulf coast.

This one is from the Gulf of Mexico, up the Crystal River to Kings Bay.

The Withlacooche River from the GOM approach Channel to Yankeetown.

Exploring Florida's Gulf Coast

For a couple of days, thunderstorms have rumbled all around us, keeping us from our next destination some 50 miles to the north. This isn't like the protected waterway; this time we need to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Steinhatchee to St. Marks. "How did you get to Steinhatchee, you were just in Fort Myers," you might ask? That's a good question and one we ask ourselves. The time seems to be flying by and we are covering a lot of ground, err, water. Up until a week ago, the weather was cooperating, the boat was running just fine after the repairs and all was right with the world. After Fort Myers, there were days when we only traveled 10 to 15 miles along the waterway. But that was by design.

The Passing of Claiborne Young

Claiborne during a recent visit to Beach House
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we report the passing of our good friend Claiborne Young. Claiborne dies as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Saturday June 14th. The boating community has suffered a major loss. Very few boaters have not benefited from the contributions Claiborne has made over many years in the form of his excellent cruising guides covering the ICW from Virginia to Alabama and most recently from his website, Salty Southeast Cruiser's Net. His wife Karen died in October 2013 of what Claiborne called “never smoker’s lung cancer” and Claiborne seemed to recently start getting his life back on track. Just a few weeks ago he purchased a trawler and in an email to us a few days ago, wrote of how excited he was to get back on the water and explore the waters he knew so well. He was a true gentleman and someone that never had a harsh word to say about anyone or anything. He will be missed by so many. The following was taken from cruisersnet.net ...

Claiborne Sellars Young [1951-2014] passed away on Saturday evening, June 14, 2014 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill following a serious motorcycle accident. He passed into the arms of the Lord at 7:00 p.m. surrounded by family and friends.

Born and raised in Burlington, Claiborne lived there all of his life. He was a well loved, well respected man in all aspects of his life. He was a devoted husband, well-known boating author, speaker, and web publisher. He was also a generous, kind and loyal fellow to the many people who called him Friend. Claiborne will be mourned and missed by family, friends, associates, and fellow cruisers.

Claiborne was a graduate of Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington and NC State University in Raleigh. Following the closing of the Sellars family business in the early 80s, he turned to his next loves – water and boating – eventually authoring a series of books for the cruising community from North Carolina to Florida. His first book, the “Cruising Guide to North Carolina” was published in 1983. He also worked with UNC-TV [PBS] to produce a series of travel videos on the waters and small towns of North Carolina’s coast. More recently, Claiborne went on share his love and knowledge of all things water related and published a successful website dedicated to the boating community and boating legislation. Claiborne was loved by many friends within that community, and always had a place to stay and chat while traveling on his speaking engagements. Those who knew him, found that Claiborne was never at a loss for words!

At home, Claiborne was a loving and devoted husband for 40 years, a motorcycle enthusiast, and animal lover. During the years of their marriage, he and Karen were ardent supporters of the Alamance County Humane Society and the American Humane Society, and surrounded themselves with many four-legged friends. Claiborne was also a self-taught chef who was often found in the kitchen producing the most aromatic and tasty dishes. When Claiborne put on a spread, everyone was happy, full, and sated!

Claiborne was preceded in death by his wife Karen Williams Young who passed away October 2013, and his parents Claibourne Clark Young and Dorothy Sellars Young Brawley. He is survived by family from his Sellars and Young relations, as well as his Williams in-laws.

A service of remembrance will be held at Rich and Thompson Chapel in Burlington on Wednesday, June 18, at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Genie Martin officiating.

Visitation will be Tuesday evening June 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rich & Thompson in Burlington and other times at the Young’s home [814 Colonial Drive, Burlington].

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Hospice of Alamance/Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Condolences may be offered at www.richandthompson.com.

If It's A Boat, It Will Break

If there is one thing that I am certain of after a half century of boating, it's that on a boat, something will break. A pesky oil leak in the front of the engine began as a minor thing and an annoyance. By the time we were halfway across the Okeechobee Waterway, the leak increased and since it was the front main oil seal, the belt pulley was starting to fling the oil as it spun. That meant oil was not only dripping under the engine, but slinging up on the engine room walls and everything else around it. Not a pleasant thought and definitely time to make repairs. Replacing the main seal is not a major repair, but it requires equipment most boaters don't carry on board. We knew a good mechanic from our time living in Port of the Islands near Marco Island, so a call to him arranged the repair when we arrived in Fort Myers. The parts were ordered from American Diesel and would arrive at about the same time as Beach House. All seemed to be set for a short stop and a quick fix. Ah, but this is a boat after all.

Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina

We recently visited the St. Lucie Park and had written about what a pleasant and unexpected gem it was. Imagine, then, our surprise at what we found at the WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park. It is the westernmost lock in the Okeechobee Waterway out of the 5 locks in the OWW. Initially we had thought we might go ahead through the lock and continue on to LaBelle. However, as we approached the lock, the wind began to gust and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had glanced over and realized that the docks were on the east side of the lock and not the west as I had originally thought. Also, they are tucked up in a protected basin and not right next to the river as the docks are at St. Lucie. We spun the boat around and headed for the docks.

The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited

It's been three years since our last cruise on the Okeechobee Waterway and this time we planned to do it a little differently. On our last crossing of the Lake, we took the direct route across or what is also known as Route 1. This time we planned to take Route 2, or the rim route as we traveled east to west. This trip was also work, since it was the beginning of our research for our fourth book in The Great Book Of Anchorage series and will cover the Okeechobee Waterway and the Gulf Coast from Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL. Most folks avoid the rim route because of the reputation for shallow water, but we know a little secret that will allow even deeper draft boats to use the rim route in all but extreme low water levels. Prior to any Lake crossing there are three things a boaters wants to know before starting at either the east or west end of the OWW. There is one place to find two pieces of the info you need and that is on the Corps of Engineers website - the lake level and lock restrictions. The third is weather information - the National Weather Service website for Lake Okeechobee can be found here.

St Lucie Lock and Dam Marina and Campground

The St. Lucie Lock and Dam is located a little more than 15 miles upriver from the “crossroads” at the St. Lucie Inlet, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Lucie River. Approximately 10,000 vessels transit this lock every year and the majority of them are recreational vessels. The Locks are operated from 7 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week. It takes about 20 minutes on average for boats to lock through completely. Signs indicate the arrival point on both sides and the Lockmaster is contacted on VHF Channel 13. He will give instructions to wait for the green light before entering and the Captain can choose the side of the lock on which to tie. Lines are dropped from the lock walls to secure the boat at the bow and stern as the water levels are raised or lowered. The Lockmaster announces when it’s safe to proceed after the lock gates are opened.