Saturday June 24. A new chapter.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 24th, 2017

I am sad, embarrassed, but grateful that I am alive and excited as to what God’s plan is for the new chapter.

Another shipwreck. “Fleetwood” grounded near Mink Island on the Virginia Eastern Seaboard at around 4 a.m. yesterday. A coast guard helicopter from Elizabeth City, Va. lifted me off the life raft at daybreak. This is the scenario that led up to this. I had planned to leave before noon on the low tide to be able to clear the bridge near the marina in Portsmouth, Va. When I tried to start the engine the ignition switch was loose, after several attempts to fasten it, I ended up having to replace it. I left the dock at 16.30 hours and then sailed against the incoming tide arriving in the Atlantic and out of the  Chesapeake shipping lanes at sunset. At 2.30 am I had cleared the lower Eastern Seaboard peninsula sailing  N.E. and felt safe to set the alarm and take a one hour nap. But I had not realized how tired I was and I most likely slept through the alarm, in the mean time the wind must have changed from a westerly to a south westerly and with the wind-vane changed direction towards shore. The “should haves”: Prudence would have been to leave the next morning to get out to open water earlier without the lack of sleep. I had paid the moorage and the adrenaline was pumping.

The boat was moving at over 5 knots with full main and the 140% genoa.  I awoke by the grounding and dropped the sails, started the engine and reversed.  It was pitch black and difficult to determine which direction the deeper water was without going down in the cabin to check my position. It was hard sand bottom and with every new wave I was getting harder aground. The boat was bouncing like a wild bronco. I called a May-Day on channel 16. At first there was no response. Then I pushed the alarm on my Garmin In Reach tracker. They received the signal at 4.30. I put the two laptops, billfold, two back up hard drives, ship’s log and my Nikon and Go-Pro camera in the new ditch bag I had bought since losing my laptop in the Cabo San Lucas surf. Water started to come in from the bilge on the cabin floor. I was constantly talking to the Coast Guard dispatch. When the water was coming in heavier I pulled the life raft from the cabin floor into the cockpit. This turned out to be a near impossible task. Never stow a heavy valise like this below deck, in ideal conditions this might work but not when the boat is bouncing and you are under stress and getting exhausted. The boat started listing but when water came up to my knees on the cabin floor it straightened out. I managed to step/dive straight into the open canopy of the life raft. I took my portable VHF and the Garmin Tracker with me in the raft they turned out to be the only survivors out of the ditch back. The bag turned out to be useless for keeping equipment dry. I dried the log book pages and my wallet’s content.

The coast guard rescue swimmer pulled me through the water on my back with my inflatable PFD and put me in a steel wire basket and then swam back to the life raft to bring the ditch bag through the water. The crew chief then winched him up by his harness. I was told at first that we were flying to Elizabeth City, their base, but they were directed to search for a boater* in the water at the mouth of the Neuse River, just north of Beaufort, N.C. My shin had a deep gash and was bleeding the rescue swimmer put a bandage on it. All that I wore was a t-shirt, wool sweater and my under shorts and boat shoes. The copter had to refuel at Cherry Point US -Marine air station. Here I went without pants, still dripping wet into the air conditioned lounge, shivering. We got a hold of my daughter Jeannine to come and get me, a three hour drive. She brought her husband’s sweat pants, a t-shirt and underwear. She insisted to take me to the ER of the hospital across the street here in Norfolk to check my shin wound, get antibiotics and a tetanus shot. I have mentioned that I injured my back in a nasty fall in the cabin in a storm off Cabo Malo the day I reached the Panama Canal. I have had a constant back ache, since. I walk with a stoop and cannot straighten my back. She and her two sisters insisted that I have this checked out as well. We spent from 10.30 until 18.30 in the ER ward of the Sentara hospital. The X-Rays showed an 80% compressed vertebrae, next the MRI showed more problems higher up at the neck but no nerve damage. According to the neurosurgeon I have two options to relieve the pain, besides rest which has not been easy while sailing and maintaining the boat, a corset or surgery injecting a plastic (Kyphoplasty) to raise the compressed vertebrae.  Since I am no longer a free man and can sail and go where I please, that decision shall be made by my keepers, my children.

I have to cancel my presentation at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport, the books I had hoped to sell are now flotsam. I had roughly a thousand dollar sales value of my books aboard. They are replaceable. I loved this boat. The last I saw of her with just her name visible at the waterline. Two Fleetwoods lost. May they rest in peace. I am very grateful for the excellent and professional response of the US Coast Guard, the help, love and friendship from my family and friends.

I have no idea what my next destination will be. The Great Loop trip has taken a great leap out of my reach. My reputation as a navigator may be somewhat dubious but I am a good multi language boat hand and cook and excel as a house, pet and chicken sitter. Keep that in mind  Something good will come out of the loss and disappointment.

  • The search ended by finding the lifeless body on the Neuse river shore. A sad ending to his boating mishap. I count my blessings to get an other chance.

 

 

Thursday June 22nd 1st Day of an exciting Summer

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 22nd, 2017

This is going to be short, my ride to the boat is waiting. I’m off to the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport. I’ll probably be off the internet until Wednesday of next week, unless I make a stop along the way.

You know where to track me on my Garmin.

Here is a picture of “Fleetwood” with her new coat of paint on the house, deck and cockpit. This is at the Nautical Boat Marina on the James River in Portsmouth, Va. I’m in the terminal ward, note the second boat over, remains sticking up. And the abandoned sailboat next to me. I’ll post a video next week with the rest of the dying plastic boats. I have not been able to figure out why this marina and many others are reluctant to accommodate wooden boats. They sure are a lot less mess to get rid off. Snapshot 1 (6-22-2017 8-07 AM)DSC_5862

 

June 3rd Pentecost Sunday. The Spirit is a movin.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 5th, 2017

“Fleetwood” moored in the Nautical Boat Marina in Portsmouth, Va. on the James River, yesterday afternoon. It was an uneventful sail from Jacksonville, Fl. to Beaufort, N.C. A fast ride from Jacksonville on the ebb tide. The 350 nautical miles on the Atlantic took a little over 3 1/2 days, constantly changing wind strength and direction but always a run or a broad reach. Then the about 210 statute miles through the ICW took another three days.

About three o’clock on Sunday (5/28) morning, I heard this loud banging on the deck above my bunk. It turned out to be an unusual large, about eight inch, flying fish. He or she ended up in the frying pan for breakfast, just before I ran out of propane. The rest of the six days it was raw cauliflower, celery, onions into a tasty salad and canned tuna. On Tuesday I caught a nice small tuna that made great sashimi. I could get used to raw fish and vegetables but I missed my morning ritual of espresso and soft boiled egg. The dishes are stacked up high in the sink waiting for the propane to be refilled.

The blue fin tuna

The blue fin tuna

This is the fourth time going up/down the ICW between Norfolk, Va. and Fort Lauderdale, Fl. with some portions done outside on the Atlantic Ocean.  This was the first time that I saw the landscape in early summer, lush and green. The times before were mostly in the midst of winter and the reed fields were in hibernation and a desert storm sand color, now they are bright lush green. The bald cypress are also a pretty green instead of bare or rust colored needles. I will never get tired of this ICW landscape. Unfortunately, I discovered in Jacksonville that my CSM card for the Nikon D-50 camera had locked up and I had left my spare cards in the North West. Since I am the last of the passive resistors to the smart phone I was left with just the use of my Go-Pro, which does not make good still pictures. The other difference with my previous ICW experiences is that I was able to sail and motor sail a very good portion of the ICW, beginning from Fort Lauderdale and I had some great sailing on the Albemarle Sound, yesterday and earlier on the Pamlico Sound. But I had to be constantly watch my depth, many times I had as little as little as a couple inches under the keel and I did get stuck a few times. This is particularly problematic when you have the mainsail up and sailing downwind. The other annoyance is the bad apples among the power boaters who should be required to mount rear view mirrors and stern cams and be forced to watch the havoc they cause to the slower boats they pass in these narrow channels.

Today, Pentecost Sunday, our youngest daughter, Jeannine was confirmed in the Sacred Heart Church in Ghent-Norfolk, Va. It was a beautiful service and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be with her and for her to have chosen her dad as her sponsor. Her two older sisters had been confirmed in 8th grade in their St. Patrick parochial school in Tacoma, Wa.

For a short video of the occasion go to: Jeannine’s confirmation  Family

I have made up two more videos: Green Cove Springs Marina and  The ICW from Florida to Virginia. Voor de Nederlandse lezers raad ik aan om het artikel in “Zeilen” te lezen dat ik schreef over de winter tocht op de ICW in 2008: www.cometosea.us/albums/Intra%20Coastal%20Waterway.pdf

 

 

Saturday May 27. Jacksonville, Fl.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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.

DSC_0031_edited-1

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.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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.

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Sunday, May 7. The Waiting Game.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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.

DSC_5675

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. http://www.offshoreblue.com/cruising/richelieu.php 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: http://www.canals.ny.gov/boating/index.html

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.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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 jack@cometosea.us

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.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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.                       ( www.svslappey.wordpress.com ) 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

 

 

Sunday April 30 Back in Florida

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 30th, 2017

This was one of the longest days and I am beat. Probably one of my worst travelling days. I wrote about the fan belt problem I had on Sunday afternoon, four weeks ago. Just north of Ft. Lauderdale I pulled off to the side of the ICW and anchored there until Tuesday morning. The owner of a nearby anchored power boat came to my rescue and ordered a new belt but it would not have arrived until between April 4 and 10. Greg Clark managed to deliver two belts to a close by address on Monday, but it barely fit and I wanted to replace it with the slightly longer belt my new friend, Herly, has received by now. I was on standby with a buddy pass to arrive this late afternoon at the FLL (Ft. Lauderdale) airport. Herly graciously offered for me to stay with his family overnight and then I would be on my way to the boat on Monday, tomorrow. But when I checked the space available for the Sunday morning departure I decided to take the Saturday red eye flight. I managed to get a premium seat with decent legroom and manage to sleep a few hours of the 5 1/2 hour flight. I had reserved a $35 one way rental car at the FLL airport because public transportation is very sketchy. I went up to the Enterprise Rental desk at 7.30 a.m. and inquired if I could leave my backpack there. No, and I was told there is no short time storage facility at the airport.  What to do? Herly would not come back from a weekend in Miami until the evening. I wanted to attend the 8.30 am mass at Saint Sebastian, where I had such a warm reception on April 2nd. I swung the heavy pack, filled with books, back on my back. I did not want the car any earlier than the late afternoon to avoid paying an extra day. At the airport information desk I learned that there was indeed a storage possibility, but it did not open until 9 am. That done I took a local bus and attended the 11 am service at St. Sebastian church. It was their confirmation service. I counted twelve confirmandi, mostly young adults. It was such a treat to see these young men and women become full members. The bishop officiated and I would have liked to show you a few pictures of the ceremony and the bishop’s miter. But my battery went dead after this test picture. DSC_5631

This coming June 4th, on Pentecost Sunday, my youngest daughter, Jeannine, will be one of the confirmandi in her parish, Sacred Heart, in Norfolk, Va. and I am super proud and blessed that she chose me as her sponsor. This date fits right in with my schedule for my planned summer trip up the Atlantic Coast. Her older sisters were confirmed in 8th grade when they attended St. Patrick school in Tacoma, Wa.

Just before the service I received a text from Herly that something had come up that retains him in Miami until Monday evening. So, we arranged that I would swing by his home and pick up the belt on my way directly to the boat in Vero Beach. But when I cam back to Enterprise car rental I had an unpleasant surprise. I needed to have them swipe my credit card. My credit card is in my wallet which I forgot to bring with me when I flew to the NW on April 8th. I had cashed extra cash to use in Cuba and I had my checkbook and any online purchases did not necessitate a card in those three weeks in the NW. I had given my credit card details when I reserved the car. Another search on the internet did not come up with a way to get to Vero Beach to day by public transport. I spent $25 on a taxi ride from the airport to the Tri-Line rail station. The rail ticket was only $5 to West Palm Beach. This got me a lot closer to Vero Beach and I was hoping that there would be an airporter or local public transportation to get me closer to my boat. I was told by the train and local bus drivers, no but when I asked one more uniformed man, he pointed across the tracks to a Greyhound bus. I yelled to the driver if he was going north which he confirmed. I yelled back: “I am coming”. Swung the heavy pack on my shoulders again and rushed up over the overhead bridge to the other side. When I got to the ticket counter I was told that they had closed the computer. This bus would have brought me to within an affordable taxi ride from either Fort Pierce or Melbourne. Now I had to take a $25 taxi to a $79 motel to get with another $25 taxi ride on a $30 Greyhound to Vero Beach to morrow morning. I am not yet in the mood to use my cliché: “God must have not wanted me to rent that car”.   But the lesson learned is: Get a second or third answer to questions like the existence of the baggage storage and the available bus services.

Now on a much better day this last week: I spent a very enjoyable evening giving a presentation at the Seattle Yacht Club on Thursday. The turnout was very good and I managed to sell a good number of both “SoloMan” and “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”. It was done on short notice but very well organized and promoted.