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November 2023

Big News is that Dawn and I were able to finally Get Married; we were married the day before Thanksgiving, and headed for our honeymoon the day after!
 
We flew Back from California, land of high gas and taxes!
Work is progressing nicely on Dawn Treader and the diminishment of savings is going also!
By the end of the first week of November the major work was finished.
The mast and most of the rigging was in place and adjusted for tension.
 
We have relocated some of the parts to the farm for convenience.
The Davits will be finished and the boom re rigged so all should be ready to order sails soon.
The last of the issues remains with our Auxiliary engine.
 
The normally reliable 1981 Perkins 4-108 Diesel Engine (Between 1958 and1992 a half million were produced)
Many wound up in sailboats and forklifts!
The problem with ours is that the former owner did not take proper care of the engine or the sailboat for that matter!
 
Before Hurricane Ian hit we had everything except the engine sorted out.
Many parts have been replaced.
These engines are very simple so once it is all sorted out should run well for many years to come.
 
Back at the farm Lavern and Shirley has taken over the supervisor job when I work on the davits parts.
 Lavern, one of the little hens got tangled and injured.
She spent two days recovering in our motor home.
Now she thinks she’s one of the cats!
Both she and Shirley great us every morning.
 
We started Our “Honeymoon Trip” with dinner at La Flauta Mexican Grill in Diamond Head Mississippi, and spent the first night at Hancock County Welcome Center Mississippi, probably the Premiere rest stop in the US. 
 
Our destination is South Padre Island Texas with as stop to visit Ivan and his sailboat.
We had hoped to take both our boats to Saint Thomas but we both have repair issues at this time.
 
We are still waiting on the Coast Guard for our SBA loan to be completed.
More on our “Honeymoon” next month.

October 2023 Edition

Two big news items for this month is that our boat is IN The Water, and my niece, the oldest of my brother’s two daughters, got married.  
 
Access to the boat is much better so we took advantage of that fact to bring the davits to the farm, and start the engine.
It was rough getting the engine started as we had to bleed the fuel system again.
There appears to still be a minor air leak somewhere. 
The second time the engine started fine and ran smoother.
 
With the davits out of the boat it made it easier for the yard to install the mast.
Our mast is keel stepped and therefore will go to the ballast at the bottom. 
They fabricated a new mount for it. 
 
During the month there is a week of “Cruising the Coast” and all sorts of Vintage and Classic cars invade Gulfport and Biloxi MS.
 
Everything on the chicken front is set, however two “Orphans” Buster, and Snow White have a table next to our motor home that they roost at night.
They are more like pets as they will follow us around and Buster will come watch me work.
Jackie’s surviving two continue to grow and now slip in and out of the fence, mostly out!   
We named them Lavern and Shirley.
 
Catch up with m y brother and family was great but very busy until the wedding was over Saturday. (We arrived Thur.19th left Tue. 24th)
The Julianne James Erdmann wedding was fantastic and they headed to Yosemite for a “Mini-Moon.”  
 
The flight to California and back was a nightmare, both ways.
Don’t know if it is typical, but we missed out connection from Dallas to Ontario and almost did not make the last plane out.
 
Coming home we were supposed to have an hour and a half at Dallas and planned to get an early dinner. 
Didn’t happen as our plane was late because of weather, and our connecting flight was switched because another pilot “Took our Airplane!”
Dinner was at Whataburger at 8:30 PM. 
 
On the boat front, the back-stay and the shrouds are installed and sized.
The roller furling and front stay still need fabricating.
Naturally the engine started acting up again; it appears the starter is bad.  
 
As this writing the U.S Coast Guard is now holding up our “Recovery Loan,” Due to a foul-up in submitting papers to the SBA! 
We will close out the month with the boat still in the boatyard!  

September 2023 Edition

Dawn Treader Tale and the Infamous Chickens

Last year Hurricane Ian destroyed our sailboat’s mast and rigging.
 
After nearly 5 years of work Dawn Treader was ready to sail to Mississippi in October 2022 and the plan was to stay here until our friend recovered from his back surgery.
 
Thanks to the generosity of our friend we have been able to stay since the hurricane and hopefully soon have our boat recovered and damage repaired.
We are quite thankful that there was no hull damage and it floats with no leaks!
 
The story of our stay here has become one of chickens.
 
There have been other jobs around the farm but lately the chickens have dominated our attention.
Just a few of the learning opportunities we have experienced have been the operation of a tractor mower, trouble shooting and restoring a chipper to operation, building a chicken enclosure, removing and replacing tarps on chicken coops, removing and or moving fences, and lastly general cleanup. 
It may seem strange to country folks but for us it has been fun. 
 
When we arrived there were three chicken enclosures.
I started calling the enclosures, the outer pen, the dog pen, and a tractor pen.
Since arriving, one was added recently which was a converted pig pen.
 
The chicken story
 
Shortly after we arrived a chicken hatched a dozen baby chicks in the bushes in front of the open barn we are parked in.
Sadly, one by one, they all died.
 
During that time it was like a perpetual Easter Egg Hunt as the chickens were laying eggs all over the farm.  
 
The first step in getting control we (which includes the owner now starting to recover) built an egg recovery device for the outer pen.
Next that fence was moved and repaired.
 
 The tractor pen and fence was mostly left alone as there were only a few chickens there. 
The dog pen got a new roof and the top was overlaid with plastic fencing to keep predators out.
This group would get let out about noon and gathered back around sunset.
Basically they are modified free range chickens.  
 
The outer group was free to roam at will and always returned to the coop at night.
All was working well except eggs were scattered everywhere some not discovered until too late.  
 
Two chickens were hatched in the dog pen and the owners granddaughter, Rose, named them Jackie and Mackie.
They were brother and sister, but the prime rooster never accepted Mackie and he died trying to escape.
Jackie would refuse to enter back into the dog pen afterwards.  
Jackie and another chicken were captured to give as a gift to our guest's friend, but Jackie escaped.
 
Eventually the rooster in the dog pen, which Dawn named Papa Gallo, got into fights with the two other roosters from the two other pens.
The rooster from the outer pen died from the fight, and the other rooster was injured but recovering.
 
One night he simply vanished leaving only a few feathers.
Before he vanished, Jackie hatched 13 chicks.
Every night Jackie and chicks would return to a spot under the work bench in the patio.
 
The outer pen which was now without a rooster was kept closed in to add some control.
 The chickens from the outer pen are let out after 4PM and eggs collected.
Thanks to the egg recovery device they are now all in one place.
  
The tractor pen chickens, which were left alone, were without a rooster now.  
 
At this time (about 2 months old) Jackie abandoned her chicks, a natural act, and we collected them and put them in a cage.
The owner prepared the tractor pen and we removed Jackie’s chicks from the cage and put them into the tractor pen.
There were only 7 chickens left when the middle pen fence came down, now homeless and roamed around the farm.
 
Two died and the rest were eventually transferred to the outer pen. Catching them was a process!   
 
This worked well until Jackie hatched another 9 chicks.
We knew they were going to need a place for them.
 
It was also at this time we discovered that the bunch in the tractor pen had picked on one rooster so bad he was near death when we discovered him.
 
He was taken to the outer pen where he recovered.
The owner named him “Road Runner” because of his rich red color and because he looked like the cartoon character.
Road Runner is doing quite well and the hens are all pleased (snicker).
 
Road Runner and many of those chickens will come and take food from me. One hen waits in the evening until I come to close up because she likes to be carried into the coop!  
 
We could tell that Jackie was getting ready to abandon the chicks so I converted the pig pen using the fencing from the old tractor pen.
 
One night while they were sleeping we captured and trimmed their feathers of the ten and placed them into the converted pig pen. They still gather around and will take food from me as they got used to that in the cage.  
 
Jackie’s second bunch had been collected and caged while the work on the pig pen proceeded.
One little rooster (later named Prince) would come to the front of the cage and let me hold him while I fed him pieces of bread.
 
Eventually, they were all transferred to the tractor pen. Jackie had disappeared again, and we feared she was lost.   
In the meantime, two other chickens hatched out some chicks.
 
One hatched 6 and one little one almost did not make it out of the egg. Dawn saved it, and then later it almost drowned in the dog pen water pool. That one and two others survived, they were named Dusty, because of red speckles in her feathers, Little Pooper, and Little Sister.
 
We had them caged for a while in the dog pen and one “pooped” on me when I was holding it. Caging them in their eventual home helps all to adjust and accept each other. 
 
The other chicken had hid out in a box and hatched three under the porch of the upstairs room.
Shortly after, we discovered Jackie on a shelf in the breezeway with three chicks and 9 un-hatched eggs! Soon, Jackie was back under the shelf but only for three days. Luckily, we were able to capture her and the three little ones, and put into a sub-pen in the converted pig pen.
 
So far, two chickens were lost to predators at night so none can be left in the open.
 
As of this writing our boat is still in the Boatyard getting the mast installed.   

 
Prince, Snow White, and Cinderella

  
Three chickens in the outer pen died probably of old age.
Snow White was removed one night and placed in the outer pen.
The next day she was cowering in the laying box. So I brought her back and while we had the lid open to the tractor pen little Prince jumped into my arms. We took out Cinderella to be with the other two and they were happy and roosted together after dark.
Prince, Snow White and Cinderella were visibly Brother and Sisters.
They were all Jackie’s hatched siblings but for some reason the others rejected those three.
 
The three were ever together and Prince would follow Dawn up the stairs for a snack. We kind of pampered those three and bought special chicken snacks (dehydrated meal worms) for them. 
 
They would roost at night on top of the tractor pen near the others and we would go out and hold and pet them before bed.
 
One day, Prince did not show up which was unusual as he always came to Dawn begging for a snack, the other two were hiding in the trees and did not come out all day.
 
The two would not go back to the roost on the tractor pen but on the back of a chair under the porch. We surmised something awful happened and poor Prince was probably taken by an owl or hawk. We started getting the other two and putting them in a cage overnight.
 
Snow White and Cinderella were introduced to the Dog Pen Flock by the cage method (meaning they needed to stay in a cage for a certain amount of time so the other chickens would become familiar with them). They seem to have been mourning and Cinderella stands at the front of the cage and I think still calls for Prince.
 
We are saddened very deeply by this loss.
However, Snow White and Cinderella now run freely with the other chickens in the dog pen.
 
Three of Jackie’s roosters in the pig pen got into a big fight and one did not survive. I guess that is the way of roosters.
The aggressive one has been isolated and the tractor pen is now a “bachelor pad.” The three hens were removed and transferred to the outer pen. 
 
As of this writing all has settled over the three chicken pens.
 
Egg production is up and so far everyone is in peace.
 
Dusty likes to jump up on a trash can where the food is kept in and she squawks at us for a snack! You might say we sort of pamper them but then they do return so much to us. 
 
Soon, we will return to the sea but this has all produced some fond memories for us. 


August 2023 Edition

August finds us still parked and the sailboat still in the boatyard.
Part of the issue is the typical August weather in the area, heat with high humidity.
We are still waiting for the second half of the “Disaster Recovery Loan” and currently it is the US Coast Guard that is the holdup.
They must process the papers and return them to SBA before the money can be released! 

It is our hope that we get the boat finished in time to take advantage of the sailing season.
Once the boat is in the marina the sails can be ordered and a few other things finished.
The Davits and Solar Panels still need to be repaired from the hurricane.   

The following upgrades are planned.
1  New Low Voltage RADAR and GPS/Chart Plotter with Depth Finder.
2. Replace non operative Stove with Force One Gimbaled Stove with Auto Ignite.
3. New Flotation Ring for Walker Bay Dinghy.
4. Repair or Replace Outboard Engine for dinghy.
5. Replace all lifelines.

Around the farm there are a bunch of chicken hatchlings.
I converted the unused pig pen to house the first batch of Jackie’s bunch as there are grown.
They turned out to be a very colorful bunch.

Jackie’s Second bunch is now in the “Tractor Pen” which gets moved every three days. 
The three survivors from the Egg Bunch are now mingled with the flock.
Little Dusty was our favorite from that group.
Twice Dawn and I had to save its life.

The last hen from the egg bunch has three and she follows me around for snacks of bread.
We are not sure where they will go when she abandons them.

One of the hens in Outer Pen Now Waits for me to “Carry her” to the Roost in the Coop! 

Dawn still helps out sorting chickens.
Jeff bought a motorcycle and I got new tires on mine.
We had to take the Air Conditioner apart to clean out the Evaporator and Drains as the water was draining into the galley! 
That pretty well sums up our August 

August has been a slow month for us but the weather is starting to break and it looks like there will not be any more 100+ days.
So far the only hurricane has completely bypassed us and our friends in Englewood Florida. 
People there are still recovering from the one that devastated our boat as well. 

******************************Late Breaking News ****************************
Today we just discovered Jackie the prolific Chicken is hatching another brood!


July 2023 Edition

The big news for July is that the Dawn Treader will soon undergo major surgery and will receive a mast transplant.   
Dawn Treader has been moved from Florida to a new boatyard, here in Gulfport Mississippi.
 
Work will progress at a much faster pace, so we should have Dawn Treader back in the ocean much sooner that had we stayed in Florida, also a lot less expensive.
 
Kennedy Boatworks is performing the major work replacing the mast and while they are not a DIY boat yard we are allowed to do other work while they are installing the mast.
 
 We removed the mast head cover and new Anchor Lights have been installed.
Both are now LED and one is Solar Powered.
The Solar one automatically turns on and off.
The Halyards and other lines have also been added in preparation for raising the mast.
The 90+ temperatures and high humidity limits our time working under the decks. 
 
We had only liability insurance so we qualified for a Disaster Recovery Loan from the Small Business Administration, However the process took from October 2022 to June 2023 (9 months filing 120+ Documents) involved two Senators and a Congressman!  
All of this was necessary because we had to “Prove” that our sailboat is also our home. 
After 9 months SBA gave birth to a loan! 
 
Our normal travels to the north parts of the country have been postponed due the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Essentially the sailboat was finished and ready to put to sea back in April of 2022 and our plan was to bring it to Mississippi in October of 2022 but the hurricane hit in September! 
 
Some of the things will need to be re-done because of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
1. Mast Rigging and Sails.
2. Repair to the Davits. 
3. Replace Solar Panels.
4. Replace Transmission control cable.
5. Replace Deck Lights on the Spreaders.
6. Much of the internal wiring associated with mast and deck lights.
 
Originally we came to Mississippi to help a friend after back surgery however all the employees at his laundry quit so now they do not have time for the farm. 
Because we are waiting for the boat work, we are trying our best to help out where we can. 
 
At the farm one of the chickens that Rose (Jeff’s Granddaughter) named Jackie has now hatched two sets of chicks.
The first set contained 13 however only 10 survived, but they have really grown.
Her second bunch is 9 and so far all are doing well. 
The other hen hatched 6 but only 3 of them have survived, and one almost drowned in the watering pool. 
 
Jackie’s first group now resides in a rather interesting pen that gets moved every three days to give them fresh ground. (Tractor Pen)   
He is considering getting some cows.

June 2023 Edition

The trip to recover our sailboat was highly UNSUCCESSFUL!
The flight to Florida went off without a hitch except for the horrid starting time, like 5 AM and I am not even alive at that time.
The rental car that was arranged when we landed was not there, and they did not have our information either.
 
We wound up with a “Mini-van” instead of a compact car however it was only an extra $20 for the 3 days; However, we wound up extending it because of very bad weather.  It turned out to be a blessing as we had to transport a ladder and other stuff! 
 
Dawn Treader served as our Motel Room for the first few days when we arrived and the night at the marina.
Normally, we would be in the V-Berth, but it was full of things stored for the trip.  
Felt good to be home. 
 
Things went relatively smoothly at the boatyard and by the end of the week we were ready to leave on Tuesday June 6.
A Stabilizing Sail and mast was assembled from the Whisker poll and an old blown out sail.
On Wednesday, June 7, J&R’s Truck Driver, Randy, transported the boat three miles down the road to Gasparilla Marina so we could launch from there on Thursday. 
This saved a 5-8 hour trip out to the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) because the bay is too shallow in many places.    
 
We spent the night at the dock in Gasparilla Marina.
The next morning all went well and everything was working great as we left.
About two miles out the shift linkage froze up.
At first we thought the transmission, which had just been rebuilt, went out, either way continuing was impossible. 
 
After returning the boat back to J&R Marine Services we decided to make arrangements to truck it to Mississippi after 5 attempts to leave Florida!
The new mast, Shift Cable, and a bad Ball Valve will be replaced here in Gulfport, MS!  
 
We made arrangements to take a Greyhound Bus back to Gulfport, BIG MISTAKE!
We probably could have Hitch-Hiked home faster with less trouble. 
 
The departure station was in a parking lot at McDonalds in Venice, FL, except nobody knew for sure; the next stop (Opposite direction) was Orlando.
The station was generally un-kept with homeless people sleeping there.
To top it off our Connecting Bus was two hours late.   
 
Finally. the bus to Atlanta, Georgia arrived and on the way it broke down.
We were on the side of the road for almost an hour and arrived in Atlanta at about 8 AM, but our connection to Biloxi left at 6 AM! 
 
The next bus to Biloxi was leaving at 7:45 PM so we had an 11 hour wait in a terminal where they have an “Armed” Guard escort people to their busses!   
AND On top of all that the company attempted to make us PAY for an extra ticket to Biloxi.
 
After talking to two supervisors and some discussion about our legal rights, we were given a replacement ticket and a Meal Voucher for the restaurant in the terminal.
The wait was horrible, but the food was surprisingly good.
I went out to take some photos and the Policeman that evidently is stationed there warned me not to stay outside too long!  
 
The last two drivers were rather rude and threw the bus around like a race car.  
It has been a long time since I took a bus but I do not remember it being this bad. 
 
While we were in Florida, waiting for weather to clear, and the boat to get moved, I helped Steve put the lights in their new garage.
There was plenty of time to look around the boatyard and note the hurricane damage.
 
There are a number of boats that were just abandoned and it will take a minimum of 90 days to clear them out, at the boatyard's expense.
 One such boat was awaiting transport to the crusher and was in front of ours.   
It filled completely with water and sat abandoned for the 9 months since Hurricane Ian.
Everything inside was rot including an almost new Yanmar Engine. 
 
Dawn Treader arrived at Kennedy Boatyard, Gulfport, Mississippi on the 23rd and hopefully the goal of returning to the water and getting a slip in Biloxi will happen before the end of July. 
Work should progress faster as we are only 16 miles away not 600! 
 
Meanwhile back at the farm there are two new batches of baby chicks. 
The grass is also growing fast with all the rain, so it’s back to the mower again.
Jeff mentioned we might bring the dingy to sail in his lake!  


May 2023 Edition

As I start this month’s newsletter it is May 10th and after filing paperwork “Ad Nauseam” we are still currently waiting to see if we get SBA Disaster Relief, so we can bring the boat to Mississippi and replace the mast and rigging. 
 
The once baby chicks are getting big now, and we must try to get them used to going to roost at night with the others.
It started with “Capturing them and placing them in a cage as the mother more or less abandoned them.
They were kept in the cage for about a week then transferred to a larger pen. 
They seem happy there and still come to the front whenever I come to “visit.”
 
We are moving ahead with the boat repairs and finding a mast here in Mississippi for only $1,000 will go a long way to bringing Dawn Treader back to operational status. 
 
We leave for Florida on the 30st and hope the weather holds (No Hurricane!)
Our engine is untried since we replaced the High Pressure Fuel Injection Pump; the trip to Mississippi last October was to be the sea trial!
Hurricane Ian hit in September. 
Considering everything that happened the boat is in great shape just missing mast and sails. 
 
The trip from Florida will be along the ICW (Inland Waterway) about 600 miles and take 5 to 7 days
We estimate about 600 to 700 gallons of fuel.
Our Auxiliary Diesel Engine will use about a gallon an hour and we will travel about 6 Knots. (7 MPH)
 
We will only travel during the day and hope to reach a Marina each night.
Not exactly light speed travel but should be rather enjoyable.
 
May 15th is the 5 year anniversary of owning our Gulfstream 23 Foot Class C Motor Home.
For those five years we have traveled most of the Western Half of the country, made lots of friends, and visited wonderful places. 
One of our adventures was going along the old Route 66 stopping at the iconic Big Texan Restaurant, and ending by “Standin’ on a Corner in Winslow Arizona,” just before visiting the Grand Canyon. 
Some photos are from that time in the motor home. 
 
Thankfully our “Vacation Home” kept us safe and comfy after the hurricane made the sailboat unlivable, Special Thanks to Jeff and Rita Buck! 
However we are looking forward to reclaiming our Primary Home.


April 2023 Edition

The month of April finds us finishing working on the sailboat in Florida.
The goal is to prepare to take it to Mississippi using the engine, then finding and replacing the mast and sails. 
 
One big concern is the reliability of the vintage Perkins Diesel that was installed in 1981 when the boat was built. 
We have no idea of the history as the two previous owners would not talk to us.
Evidently there was a great disagreement over selling the boat and they also never talked to each other after selling either.  
 
Before losing the mast and sails we were not terribly concerned however now we must get the boat moved about 650 miles to Biloxi by power only.
One entire day was spent doing checks and running the engine to make sure the overheating and fuel supply problems were cured. 
 
During that week the Davits were re-assembled while waiting for some special parts for the fuel system and a spare water pump.
The Davits were temporarily bolted back on the rear deck and with fingers crossed the final test starting of the engine was accomplished with little fuss. 
Inside the Motor Home the Temperature was kept manageable with the large fan from the boat.   
 
Easter Sunday was celebrated quietly and the next Monday was spent mostly at the tire shop to return the original spare tire to the spare rim. 
Refueled in Ocala had dinner at Cracker Barrel and left for Southern Cross Chandlery and Salvage in Pensacola the next morning.
 
There was nothing at Southern Cross.
When we returned one of the hatchlings from last year had grown up and hatched a Bakers Dozen of baby Chicks.
We also found a mast here in Gulfport and bought it for $1,000. 
 
While back in Gulfport we visited the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum which also maintains a potential Marina where we will dock.
The museum has boats and many things related to the fishing industry.
 
One notable sailboat “Nydia” which is the only known boat left that was built by William N. Johnson who had a reputation for building fast sailboats.
Built in 1898 and entered in many regattas Ralph Wood acquired the boat, and sailed it many years until his death in 1956. 
 
Our current plans are to bring the Dawn Treader here to Gulfport to replace the mast and then dock in Biloxi.
I will spend the rest of May bringing Dawn Treader back to “Bristol Fashion” while we continue to help out our host. 
 
We have made much personal progress and the set back from Hurricane Ian has instilled both of us with more confidence.
In spite of the damage our boat remains sea worthy and quite sound, after the mast is replaced we look forward to exploring the gulf Barrier Islands and sailing with our friends.  


March 2023 Edition

Arriving at the sailboat, the first order of the day was to clear the mast from the deck.
On our last trip we cleared the broken furling and torn Genoa and cleaned as best we could. 
We bought special blades for both the Saws. All that Jeff loaned us and the Skill Saw that Doug loaned us. 
 
It took two days to cut the mast in manageable pieces.
The procedure was to use the Skill Saw with a Diablo Aluminum Cutting blade to go through the top part and then finish up with the Saws-All through the thin bottom part. 
The following Monday Doug gave me a ride to the “Recycle” and we received $60 for the scrap! (240 lbs of aluminum @ $.25)
 
After the bottom paint, (Anti Fouling) general cleanup and preparations for launching began.
The two house batteries had to be replaced.
While we were doing everything we started a video story and hope the launch and trip to Mississippi will go well.  
 
Meanwhile back at the Ranch, Doug’s Mango Trees are recovering from Hurricane Ian, and he has planted Squash and Potatoes.
He has several Blueberry Plants as well. 
We managed to get stuck going up the hill to park in their yard. 
 
Steve and Sue had their relatives and the garage was being rebuilt from Hurricane Ian.
It looked like an RV convention when we visited to make arrangements to move the boat. 
 
On the way from the boat, we stopped at the Northport Mall for breakfast.
What would a Florida Mall be without a Giant Flamingo!
 
I did a final check and arranged to drop the boat in the water.
So, Tuesday the 21st I spent the night on the boat and Steve showed up Wednesday morning to move the boat.
Even with all the preparations we only got about two hours out before the boat started overheating. 
I checked everything we could while Steve kept us out of the bushes, I managed to get a few not nice burns in the process.
 
Finally, after much frustrating attempts and several burns and blisters we turned around and limped back to the boatyard.
Dawn called ahead and the crew was waiting to take the boat back to J&R Marine Services.
All in all, it was a tremendously disappointing day.
 
Our sailing dinghy was used for a photo-op at the Englewood Sailing Association’s 20th anniversary, before we arrived.
We have been members since arriving in Florida and it was sad to miss it.  
 
I saved the broken parts from the davit bases, it will be easy to repair them and re-install the davits before we re-launch.
The solar panels, however, are long gone. 
The new panels will arrive before we leave and will be set in the cockpit temporarily.
 
The halyard winches were removed by drilling out the frozen screws.
They were disassembled, cleaned, and lubricated.
They will be saved to install on the new mast. 
 
Back at the boatyard, the impeller was replaced and the engine ran up again.
The overheating will need some minor adjustments in the expansion tank.
Once again we are running out of month.
 
The boat got cleaned and the dinghy brought back, and the replacement solar panel set up. 
The parts for the fuel system and replacement impeller were ordered. 
We managed to test the small new generator we bought by powering the motor home while parked at the boatyard. 
Hopefully, everything will arrive before we must leave again.
We are still waiting on the SBA Decision!


February 2023 Edition

Another year has started and our plan was to leave for Saint Thomas and explore in the Virgin Islands, however Hurricane Ian messed up those plans.  
We have a special message about it all on our web-page http://ourdawntreader.com .
Our current plan is to look for a used mast at the various salvage yards and then bring it to Mississippi to complete the rigging.
 
We are still learning a lot about chickens and the laundry business. 
The running joke between Dawn and I is from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, about the blankets and towels for the shipyard. 
“Ya box them, and ship them, then more come in, and you box them and ship them!
Each box holds just over 100 blankets that are bagged and packed.
The Sheets and Towels are wrapped 10 per Pack, 1000 sheets on each pallet, just over 5,000 Sheets and 800 Towels.
 
There are three groups of chickens on the farm.
Two are primary for egg production, great for now as we have not bought eggs for over 8 months now. 
The funny round thing is a chicken plucker, which is for the other group. 
 
We tried another local favorite, Rebel Dip with a local “Sculpture” next to the-parking lot.
The Restaurant always has cars lined up for a drive through, and only outdoor seating.
It was good but we did not think it was anything special.  
We had the same experience in Nebraska with Runza which everybody raved about.
 
We bought a small 6 foot trailer that is just right for carrying the motorcycle.
Both the motorcycle and trailer are now licensed in Mississippi but we will maybe transfer them to Florida later.  
 
We prepared the Buell for Travel with saddle bags and a UPS Charger.
It is going to be our “Toad” when we travel again, hopefully this summer. 
The Kayaks will fit on the trailer with the motorcycle. 
 
We also bought a small 1000 Watt generator for the boat.
It will serve as a backup until the solar panels are replaced.
 
We are heading to the boat on this last day of February and the goals are to get the mast removed, the boat out of the boatyard, and stop at Southern Cross Salvage on the way back to Mississippi.


January 2023 Edition

It has been five months since Hurricane Ian and we are still in Mississippi and fighting the battle with both FEMA and SBA.
The issue is one of residency for some reason they just do not want to accept we do not live in a normal house! 
 
We are formulating a plan to recover the sailboat and most likely move it to Mississippi as it will be more convenient to rig the mast and such here. 
The salvage yard where the mast will come from is only 100 miles in Pensacola and there is a boat yard nearby in Mobile. 
Like the kid in “Home Alone 2” another year in the trenches.
 
Life on the farm is interesting as always, and the one surviving chicken that hatched last year was named Jackie by Jeff’s granddaughter.
That chicken has taken to laying an egg daily in a box on the work bench. 
 
One day we heard a loud “Pop” outside and upon investigation found the valve stem popped out of the wheel and the tire went flat.
Our rear has duel wheels and there was no way to get any jack we had under it.
The emergency tow service lost a bolt from the axel hub. 
Naturally it was a special bolt that had to be ordered from Ford. 
 
The tire shop informed us that the wheel for our spare is different than the others which was the wheel that had the valve stem fail.
Last year’s tire debacle was when the spare was used so we spent half a day getting them switched and proper heavy duty valve stems installed.  
 
We thought is best to get a spare key for the motorcycle and the locksmith had a great antique safe in front of the store. 
 
One day while I was working with Verizon Tech Service on a phone problem and not even touching my computer the display turned sideways!
After research Dawn discovered that the fix was to hold the Ctrl+Alt and Up Arrow keys and press the UP Arrow!  
Something new for both of us.
 
Things have been rather routine and we have been dealing with FEMA AND SBA since October 9 in an attempt to get both agencies to accept that our sailboat is our primary home.
This must be proven in order to qualify for a low interest disaster loan to repair our boat. 
So far we have filed over 120 documents and involved my senator and governor.   
 
As January comes to a close we are still in the planning stages to go to Florida and start to recover the boat.
One consideration is to obtain a small trailer to carry the Motorcycle so I have transportation without using the motor home. 
 
Hopefully next month will have more news about the boat. 
So far we are safe and warm and are keeping busy. 


December 2022 Edition

We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 
 
It took three days to prepare to leave Mississippi after 5 months of “Residence!”
It is said things come in threes and it was true, my teacher friend lost her husband, another friend passed, and our boat was severely damaged in the Florida Hurricane. 
Last December was no stellar time either
I was laid up with a back injury and Dawn’s mother passed just before Christmas. 
 
Just like Kevin in Home Alone 2 “Another Year in the Trenches!”
We arrived to view the sailboat for the first time since Hurricane Ian.
Things were a jumbled mess inside and out.
The boatyard cut the mast and laid it across the deck.
 
First order of the day was to get things out of the way and somewhat orderly.
Surprisingly the main hull and deck was not damaged, and we had the top part of the Walker Bay mast returned, it must have blown across the yard into the fence.
 
The davits will be repairable and I will need to edit my book as the base was the part that failed.  
 
Trip back to Mississippi was uneventful and there were no side trips
While in Florida we had 3 meetings with the powers that be but nothing yet.
Picked up the motorcycle and rode for the first time since 2024, and parked it at the laundry until it is licensed, and have taken short trips to reacquaint myself with Defensive Motorcycle Riding. 
 
So far FEMA has totally fouled up our paperwork and one representative said not to expect much until after the holidays.
Hopefully I will return alone to get things prepared to remove the boat from the boatyard. 
There is also a question about our boat being our primary residence with SBA disaster assistance. 
Bottom line we may simply wind up with nothing!
Meanwhile things drone on! 


November 2022 Edition

November finds the SunChaser still in Mississippi with more questions than answers.
 
Not much is happening other than continuing to help out whenever we can at both places -the laundry and the farm.
The Ironing Machine got some repair work.
We are experiencing winter for the first time in a long time.
 
I found a Buell Blast 500 Motorcycle here for $1000. It is basically half a Harley Sportster. 
We have thought about getting a small motorcycle to run around with while camping. 
 
So far I have heard nothing from a friend to sell the boat as a fixer upper!
Over the years we spent a little over $11,000 on stuff and not including hours of work, it is going to be a hard decision.
 
A very sad note: we learned while preparing to travel to Florida that a long time RV friend passed last month.
We had hoped to meet at our mutual favorite Sea Food Restaurant in Alabama 
 
Last year, in Tucson, Arizona, Thanksgiving was a downer as I could hardly move.
We did not get out of Arizona until January.
This year we attended a huge Party and Dinner at a church that Jeff’s friend bought.
The meal was provided by Ian and his Father-in-law. 
It was attended by the Tree Crew, Jeff and Family and a host of others.
 
The last project I had before leaving was to adjust and reassemble a power chair for Rita.
They both use them to get around the laundry as the building is HUGE and they move faster than one could walk. (I have to jog to keep up).
 
Just to keep things simple we are leaving our Kayaks and rack at the farm in Mississippi.
There will be no time for play in Florida. 
We will make our next report in December and will have more information about the sailboat.
We are leaving for Florida this weekend and will return as soon as we know what to do next. 


October 2022 Edition

Special Thanks to Chris Thompson (Big Help from a Friend in Arizona), Jeff and Rita Buck (our camp host),

Steve and Sue Rosen (for their offer of a place to stay in Florida), and Doug and Prudy Albrecht (for supplying us with more photos.)

FEMA Adventure

After 3 calls and couple of hours we got an agent. The 20 minutes of confusing questions ensued!
We now have a registration number and get to wait and see.

Last month’s hurricane cut a swath of destruction through the central gulf coast of Florida.
All three boat yards and the Marinas suffered considerable damage.
Our friends Steve and Sue, and Doug and Prudence had damage but no water flooding.

Not much is happening this month. Steve gave me a report on the latest boat condition.
There was not serious hull damage and other than everything being a mess below there appeared no water leaked inside.

The mast broke about a foot from the bottom and bent near the spreaders.
The davits broke off cleanly with no deck damage and the solar panels are probably in the next county.
The lifelines may also need replacing.
Considering the winds were clocked at over 200 MPH the boat survived well.

However we did get a $1,300 bill for “Removing the mast: and “Resetting the boat on the stands.”
We received no prior notification and I would not have approved the way it was just cut off.

Dawn will remain in Mississippi while I meet with the adjuster.

Jeff and Rita are still overloaded at the laundry and we have been filling in as best as we can.

The most memorable thing is that Jeff celebrated his birthday with a dinner and dance.

They introduced us to a great little restaurant, Dixie Diner.

There is just not much to report as we have not traveled or surveyed the sailboat.

The Chickens still follow us around and squawk for a handout,

The grass is not growing as fast so I do not mow as often but there is other machine maintenance to do.

Sometimes it is pleasant to sit at the pond and watch the geese.

At the laundry Dawn sorts and folds as well as wraps orders.

I’m fixing all the carts that need the wheel bearings greased.

During the week Jeff and Rita stay in their motor home parked at the laundry.

Many of the jobs I have are things that really need to be done but there is no time for Jeff to do them.


September 2022 Edition

September started with needing new seat covers for the motor home dinette, and Jeff getting new gravel for the driveway. 

I will have my last Eye appointment on the 20th.

 

The Cantaloupe has some ready to pick.

Much of what we planted is being harvested; Fresh Basil, Cucumbers, Asparagus Beans (very long string beans), and now the Cantaloupe.  

It just has not seemed like that long ago that we arrived.

 

The Free Range Chickens have become pets more or less.

They gather at the steps of the motor home whenever we go out.

They get put in the pen at night and Dawn lets them out after gathering the eggs.

One particular chicken we call the “Buddy Chicken" prefers to be carried back to the pen at night!

Sometimes she will wait for us on the seat of the golf cart on the patio.

 

 The Tractor Mower serves as a tow vehicle when not mowing.

The trailer is used to clean up and transport things.

The trees that were cut down will be cut into fire wood and stored.

 

The pig pen also had very tall weeds some over 5 feet.

Jeff used the Bobcat with a mowing attachment.

That cut the brush in a very short time.

He also took out the hill in front us as well.

 

Jeff stayed in their Motor Home at the laundry for three days.

He and Rita had a special order and the Ironer had to be worked on.

The drive belts are quite expensive.

The roller does the finish dry and folding.

 

 While they we at the laundry I decided to clean up the shore of the pond. (Small Lake)

It all had to be done with the hand mower.

The Weed Whacker Mower turned cantankerous for some reason but it has started working again.

 

The shore and lake looks so much better and Jeff’s fishing spot is clear now.

The before photos got deleted in the camera for some reason.

There were so many tall weeds and stuff that a great deal was hidden.

 

The view out our window is the adjacent field and the goats next door.

We are facing almost due west so we do not get sun heat during the day.

We are in a covered barn.

 

The Fish Pond has been cleared and looks much better now.

Jeff is planning to build a dock.

He has moved a platform and Gazebo near the pond.

 

He is also going to give two of the laying hens to his neighbor.

We get to trap them.

The first one was not too hard but took two attempts.

The first attempt failed she hid in the rafters and escaped.

The next day we trapped her in the chicken enclosure because there is food there.

The second one we got that evening as it roosted in the pen.

 

Jackie the chicken was named by Rose, Jeff’s granddaughter, shortly after hatching.

Jackie is the only one of the survivors.

 

I changed the oil in the tractor mower before getting back to work on projects.

Next is new canvas for the outer chicken pen.

Finished up around the pond before starting general mowing again.

We have had a lot of rain.

 

We managed to capture the two chickens Jeff’s friend wanted but Jackie escaped before he came to pick them up; she is still “at large.”

Jeff finished up leveling the driveway.

 

Canada Geese are arriving for the winter and they hang out at the pond.

As we prepare to head back to our sailboat the general cleanup and preparations for winter continue.

One project is to build reefs for the fish from discarded PVC Pipes and I have collected the large chunks of gravel from the driveway to build a small jetty using the mower to pull a small trailer.

 

The pond which could really qualify as a small lake has been cleared and soon we will be using the canoe to place the artificial reefs.

Jeff is planning to get some more fish from the local hatchery  

 

In the midst of it all the one Weed Mower broke down and needs some repair.

The laundry has also been short handed since some people quit!

 

It is the end of the month and time to wrap things up

The coop for the meat chickens needed to be recovered and the fence moved for the last time.

They are a breed that gains weight quickly.

 

So we took a few days from farm work to go to the city and help at the laundry.

Dawn worked on the Ironing and folding Machine with Jeff and I did some needed repair on the Class A Motor Home that Jeff and Rita have there.

All of the Laundry workers have quit!


August 2022 Edition

The month started with two of the motor home’s faucets developing a leak.
The galley sink has a repair kit, but the sink in the head had a new one installed three years ago.  
Both of these are a standard household fixture which is to say modern “JUNK!” 
The sink is one of those wand types with a single bar and the head has a “Washerles Delta” type that defies replacing the rubber seal.
After five attempts a complete new faucet was installed.      
None of the “Home Improvement” stores had any other choice, all were the same. 
 
So Dawn the Plumber replaced the internals of the sink faucet.
I would prefer to have two separate faucets but that would require complicated re-plumbing. It seems that this will be the process every three years, as that is about how long they last in the motor home. 
 
Meanwhile Dawn was able to gather some things from the garden that grew last season.
Some of the new plants are growing but will not produce until later.
I sharpened the blades for the mower and it cuts much better. 
 
Down by the pond we discovered two Crayfish holes.
They make these pockets to reproduce. The tops can be removed and one can harvest them for a southern Crawfish Étouffée!
We didn’t. 
Two big events happened during this month’s stay, general cleanup and preparing the chipper for auction. 
 
The chipper needed a simple start solenoid replacement, new battery, and cleaned electric contacts. 
The cleanup day consisted of the crew from the tree guys that rents the space at Jeff's Laundry. 
About a dozen guys showed up and cut down dead trees, and removed them.
Now there are big piles waiting for a time to burn them. 
 
The garden is starting to produce some of the things we planted. 
We had a home grown cucumber in our salad. 
Our friend, Doug, back in Florida grew some Squash also.
 
There is an interesting mushroom growing on one of the trees.
Dawn is wondering if it is safe to eat.
It is going to stay where it is! 
 
Jeff’s tenant left the Bobcat.
Jeff is using it to move two of the Gazebos.
One is going to down by the pond and will be a boon for fishing. 
The other is going to be brought closer to the house. 
 
Basically, there are two groups of chickens one group which will eventually become fried chicken.
The other group is the laying hens and even though there are eggs collected from both the pens the laying hens are free range. 
However, at night they are returned to their pen to roost. 
 
Each day Dawn lets them out and collects them again at night.   
They have almost become pets and come running whenever they see us.
I call it Dawn’s Herd. 
 
Most of what I am doing is just general cleanup and repair of equipment.
Mowing continues especially since we had rain for a solid week!
Jeff is getting stronger and soon our usefulness will be at an end. 
 
Soon it will be time to head back and this time get the boat underway in the OCEAN! 
We are going to miss our friends and the fun we have had. 
We should have all the “chores” finished in a couple weeks. 
It looks like I will have my last of the three eye shots before we leave.
We really did not miss the travel this year although there were a few friends we have made that we would have liked to visit, but in all it has been one of our best summers yet! 
 
https://youtu.be/OuN72n9dHDw


July 2022 Edition

July finds the Crew still in Mississippi helping out at Jeff’s Farm.
This year the Fourth of July came and went without much fanfare.
Jeff had a family BBQ and because of rain the planned bonfire did not take place. 
I spent the holiday recovering from a UTI.
 
We have been here a bit longer than originally planned however it is quite rewarding.
Like many people in our country travel has been severely curtailed, and it is no secret that the Left Administration has declared war on the rest of us through energy or rather the lack of it. 
Also like many fellow countrymen our normal life has ended! 
 
The farm work continues with more mowing as the rains make the grass grow quite quickly.
The major task is tearing down a fence and removing the fence poles from the area.
They are buried about three feet and require a heavy jack to pull them out of the ground. 
The fence was part of a play yard for Jeff’s granddaughters. 
 
Some of the tub garden is sprouting and the screen grids are to keep the chickens from getting the new sprouts.
A third of the chickens are free range laying hens and have no fear of people.
 
Last Month when we returned from the COSTCO in Mobile Alabama (60 miles) we splurged for dinner at Cajun's Fabulous Fried Chicken.
They are truly fabulous and include a real “Southern” Buffett with the dinner.
The choice included Catfish, Fried Chicken with both Cajun Spicy, and regular with all the favorite southern sides such as collard greens, red beans and rice, and of course okra which we pass up! 
We discovered this place accidently 2 years ago on our way home and it truly is a great Louisiana Feast! 
 
We are literally in the heart bead of the historical south gulf coast.
From Mobile to New Orleans is less than 200 miles and right down the road is the last home of Jefferson Davis which we visited last year.  
Two of our favorite restaurants are along this drive. 
 
The best seafood in three states is at Felix’s Fish Camp which is just down from Battleship Park where the Battleship Alabama is preserved. 
There is a fine display of World War 2 Aircraft and a large submarine as well as the Battleship.
It is so massive that it will take more than one trip. 
 
Dawn and Jeff caught a few fish down at the pond. 
The Catch consisted of some Bass, Catfish, and Bream, which Jeff boils and feeds to the chickens.
His goal is to be self sufficient, last year he butchered a pig.  
 
Jeff smoked chicken for the Fourth of July and we cleaned and organized the patio.
The bonfire never came about.
We celebrated last Fourth of July at Ottawa Fishing Lake in Minneapolis Kansas (Yes Kansas!) 
We grilled “Leg of Lamb” and it was hot enough for Air Conditioning to cool down for sleeping. 
 
Our scenery here is not the same as in Ottawa but we are comfortable under the barn roof and can keep windows open even in the rain. 
We use our Air Conditioning sparingly however being shaded keeps us about 10 degrees cooler. 
 
There is plenty of room here and things are quite pleasant especially in the cooler part of the year.
Jeff has a number of Gazebos located around the farm. 
It is a very busy life running the Commercial Laundry and farming even in this limited capacity. 
His recovery is progressing and we are glad to be of help.
 
One Friday they were behind at the laundry so we went and helped out.
Most of the work was washing and pressing napkins for one of the restaurants.
I’ll bet there were about a 1,000 of them.
It was not hard work just repetitious. 
Dawn and I did some shopping on the way back. 
 
As the month draws to an end most of the jobs now consist of sorting and cleaning tools.
A room is being prepared to insulate for more storage and d soon there will be a few less chickens. 
There was one last mower repair for the cooling fan.
 
When I was finishing the mowing down by the pond there was a gaggle of geese that landed in the pond.
I wish I would have had my camera as there was a magnificent sight. 
So far this has been one our best and most fun vacations.  
We are not going to tell Jeff and Rita or they will start charging! 

 


June 2022 Edition

We spent a quiet memorial day and grilled mostly to keep the motor home cool.

Jeff has us parked in his “Barn” which is an open air shelter, This is keeping us reasonable cool as the breeze blows through and we do not shut windows for rain.

Over at the Laundry I replaced the Start/Run Capacitor for his “Class A” Motor Coach so Rita can have a cool break while working.

It was not a hard job but Jeff is still on the mend and restricted from bending and lifting. 

I was able to change the tire and run the Big John Deer Mower. It works just like the one that I used to mow at our boat dock up in Turkey Creek, only bigger.

Jeff and Rita think it is work so I am not telling them its fun for me.

After mowing a lot of grass (maybe 2 Acres) we started moving the Chicken enclosure, as it needs to cover new ground for fertilizer purposes. Jeff usually moves it every three months or so.

In the middle of all this I had to replace my phone. That wasted two days for setup and troubleshooting; the industry needs to do better in this regard. It is ridiculous the amount of set up and learning curve for these devices!

The other fun thing is they just MUST change things and it’s not for the better either.

One day the Tractor Mower quit, the fuel shut off solenoid shorted out. We had to wait about two weeks the get a part for the Tractor Mower. The Start \ Run Solenoid shorted out and it is the shut off for the engine. It took only a couple of hours and it was running again.

While waiting for the part to arrive we recovered the hen house for the laying hens. One of the chickens (Sex Link - a chicken breed) and Dawn became friends and she gave her an egg every day!

Jeff’s Doctor told him he could drive so he started mowing.

While doing some brush noggin it was discovered that a Chicken was brooding and one day the mother hen and 12 baby checks emerged from the brush. They have been wandering around and are not particularly shy of being around people.

Dawn made a video of the mom and chicks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR2nbpdqNtx_w-5KvYJiyk4zcU2-doe28TEJDUmVjnzJAYRNec444x_eFQA&v=yY31sG-vTYg&feature=youtu.be

The pond in the lower part of the farm has Bass, Catfish, and Blue Gill. They are fairly large and Dawn keeps saying she is going to fish.

Many are large enough to make a good meal for two!

Next door are goats and they come to the fence expecting a treat just like dogs. There is a herd of cows as well and sometimes we can hear them.

In the evening we watch fish in the pond and listen to the goats.

We had a severe Thunder Storm which knocked out the power. It was a bit of a surprise when the local power company truck showed up. The power lines run next to the farm. About three minutes later power was back on.

During the summer, here in Mississippi, it is similar to Florida, there seems to be a thunderstorm every other week.

The grass grows quite fast here and mowing is a three day affair.

The end of June will be capped off by a trip to Mobile, Alabama for our monthly trip to COSTCO.

Gas is still marginally less here in Mississippi.

The COSTCO is 60 miles away and we will go Tuesday, June 26, the same day as my Retina Appointment.

This month of farming has been great as it has given our travels purpose as well as enjoyment.

Dawn has been rejuvenating the “Tub Garden” and there will be some great vegetables.

Most importantly Jeff continues to recover from his surgery.


May 2022 Edition

We were facing a summer of no Air Conditioning and being stuck in the boatyard 
back in May of 2018 when we decided to buy our motor home and go North!

It is now 2022 and May and we are still stuck in the boatyard, however, we do not need to buy anything... just leave!
Last month we had the boat in the water twice and the first time discovered a serious leak in a seacock, and the second time while starting the engine the alternator died.

So, the start of May finds us still in need of some work and it is best at this time to keep it safe and strapped down for yet another hurricane season! 

Last month we started on plumbing modifications to bring our 1981 boat up to 2022 Sanitary Code.
Thankfully, this will only need to be done one time because it is a royal pain in the tushie!

After the last month, looking for the reason the engine would not keep running, it appears the problem may be a missing washer. This was discovered after using clear line to see what the fuel was doing.
The top of the fuel filter was leaking.
This did not show up before because the manual pump stops when the engine stops. 

One Stinkin’ Washer--- I don't gots to show you no stinkin’ washer!
The story behind all this is simple, in 2018 in order to replace the lift pump the filter housing had to be removed, and both washers were left on top of the gland nut!
I simply forgot. 

The fuel leak stopped and blind inserts for the bolts were installed in the head.
We knocked off at 4:30 on Tuesday as it was just too hot in the boat.
It was closed from Sunday night to Tuesday afternoon at about 2; 30 PM. (May 3)

After a two day rest we returned the weekend of May 6 and only got a little preliminary work done.
Saturday morning I did the primary hook up on the engine fuel lines and Dawn and I tackled the plumbing for our new toilet.

Coast Guard Regulations required us to run four lines of thick (1/8th inch) heavy, inch and a half diameter sewer hose.
It does not like to bend sharply; actually it doesn’t like to bend much at all!
Of the four lines, two split off from the toilet discharge through a “Y” Valve and one will go to the “Holding Tank” and the other for discharge 9 or more miles out to sea (Florida Coast).
The Dark hose runs from the “Holding Tank” to the Deck Pump Out for emptying.
The last (Not visible) is a discharge hose that uses a macerator to empty the “Holding Tank” again more than 9 miles out. 

A thunderstorm started while I was finishing up and I had to work in a closed boat, hot, humid, and I was dripping by the time I finished.
The storm lasted late into the night and ended the planned engine work. 

Sunday (May 8) is now our “Independence Day”
Because after a grueling two hours of work mostly attempting to replace a Compression Fitting with a formed tube, we got the engine started.
After three months of chasing down an air leak, and discovering a missing sealing washer, the engine started and ran smoothly.
The boat will now be ready to leave in September when we return~! 

We figure two more visits will get everything prepared to leave Florida and the weekend of the 15th we spent Friday to Sunday fine tuning and sorting through most of the stuff on the boat.
There are still some minor things but in large it is ready to go.

We are saying our farewells to Steve and Sue who were installing new “Hurricane Windows”, and Doug and Prudy, before tidying up the boat and leaving, it had been a hard 3 months but this time the sailboat will be ready and willing when we return.  

As we again hit the road, two things loom in our travels, the over 100% increase in gas and the rapidly increasing prices of everything.
Sam’s Club and COSTCO stop their pumps at $100 and it takes twice to fill up our 55 Gallon motor home tank.

Our already strained budget is now cut in half.
I seldom get political in our newsletter but one would have to be brain dead to not see that something is terribly wrong in America! 

We stopped at one of our Florida favorites which is going to be one of those things eliminated in the near future.
From Hungry Howie’s we stopped at the Hillsborough County Rest area which was almost empty in the RV area. 

The only stops we made until arriving at Gulfport, Mississippi was at overnight rest areas and gas $4.17 per gallon with our Flying J Discount Card.
We Camped at Long Beach after dinner at Cajun’s Fabulous Fried Chicken, (and it is Fabulous at $11.69 buffet!) 

This trip we are going to visit Jeff at his farm because he is recovering from back surgery.
Then the SunChaser will head north at the end of the month.
Our friend Sue informed us that back in Florida it is now 94 and HUMID!
Steve and other members of the sailing club are sailing to the Dry Tortugas on a rented Dufour 47 foot sailboat.       

Jeff owns the commercial laundry we stayed at during the “Shelter in Place” time in March 2020 and he had started his “Tub Farm” then.
He also has chickens and Lots of eggs!
Currently, while he is recovering, Rita is running the laundry and keeps their Class A there, so we have the space they keep their Motor Home at his farm.
Mississippi provided a severe thunderstorm our first night.
Our main reason for stopping was to help Jeff with various chores while he recovers.

We have had some fun jobs while stopped.
Assembled a chicken feeder and small laying house that protects the eggs.
Dawn got to have an “egg hunt” as the free range chickens lay their eggs in places all around the farm house.
We’re not telling Jeff but it is loads of fun for us!

This time of year starts the rain on the Gulf Coast and we had almost steady rain since leaving Florida.
This has been a great fun way to finish off a month of disappointment with our boat.


April 2022 Edition

April finds the Dawn Treader back in square one! 
We had the boat in the water twice and we lost Steve’s window to get it OUT because of mostly mechanical problems. 
It would have been nice if the owners of the boatyard would have suggested going back to J&R in the first place since both yards are owned by the same people. 
It would have been about $600 less that way.
Another “I should have asked,” moment as I thought they both charged the same. 
We are paid up until May! 
 This was a bit unkind and when we first came to the boatyard it was not that way, they transferred us from Charlotte Harbor Boatyard over to J&R Boat Storage and services when we finished our bottom paint in January 2018! 
At any rate it emptied our savings, which had we got to the mooring it would have been only $45 for the last two months! 
 We have never started any “Go Fund Me,” or asked for donations but what we would appreciate is if our readers would look over our book lists and even recommend them to frien1ds as we feel that people will get value out of our publications and it will help us tremendously! 
 The book list includes “Road to Freedom,” a complete guide for anyone considering buying an RV.
It starts with selection, financing, and includes all aspects of preparing for life on the road.
 “Camping in Comfort,” Is about traditional camping with tents, and give a light hearted review for new people. 
 “Now for the Davits,” is a construction book for anyone wishing to build Davits from Composites.  
Our other books are entertaining and informative for anyone wanting to live a mobile lifestyle. 
A complete list and web-page information is at the end of the newsletter. 
 Dawn and I just had to step back and do some thinking so we booked into Kowechobe Campground (Dinner Island Ranch) for a few days. 
The campground was near our old home in Turkey Creek and Labelle Florida. 
The campground is in the middle (or maybe the edge) of nowhere and totally primitive. 
The engine parts will arrive before we get back to Englewood.
 After arriving back at the boatyard the job of dismantling the Exhaust Manifold and resetting the Throttle Cable took up nearly all day. 
During the teardown it was discovered the cooling system is also going to need to be flushed mostly because of the previous oil leak.  
To keep the motor home cool we set up the camp stove and cooked outside. 
 Returning to the boat the next week the entire cooling system was dismantled and flushed out.
When the old oil cooler leaked oil it made “gunk” which could cause the heat exchanger to clog.
 The new toilet will be properly installed and will surpass Coast Guard Regulations. 
In between all this we had our various doctor’s appointments. 
 Most of our time at the boatyard is from Friday afternoon to Sunday Evening, as during the week our motor home would be in the way to move boats.
 
 Returning the cooling system was re-assembled and preliminary planning to install the new toilet.
In the process the new Alternator and wiring was also installed. 
 We celebrated Easter Sunday at the boatyard as well. 
 Things are progressing however it is looking like the best plan is to wait out the Hurricane Season and return in September.   
Dawn especially is concerned about possible damage because of where the mooring is located. 
We  will leave the boat in storage at J&R.
Our goal is to have everything ready to launch in September when we return.
 Most of our work is minor.
While working in the head, a water leak developed where the previous owners had spliced in the line for the toilet.  
Hard to believe they used their fresh water to flush!
The original brass compression fittings were still in place with adapters for a hose.
It took some finesse and a tubing bender to get the copper line straight again and reconnect properly. 
 
The absolute fun part is getting the thick almost unbendable sewer hose in place and connected to the new “Y-Valve.”
The laws were different in1981 when the boat was built and there is precious little room to work.
A section of the floor had to be removed and an access hatch created for this purpose. 
 During this process the boat is in worse condition than a house remodel.
There is just no place to store things.
Things that are normally under the deck contain necessary tools and materials so everything is spread everywhere.
Sometimes it takes longer to find a tool than to use it!
 Our last visit for this month was to feed the new sewer hose into the area under the V-Berth where the waste holding tank is located. 
There is a small space to work with and the hole is the same size as the hose on both sites.
Naturally neither place can be reached so something must be used to guide the hose and it also must flex!
It took about 3 hours and thankfully it only must be done once!
All this is to bring the 1981 plumbing up to the 2022 Coast Guard and State standards. 
 The requirements for all sanitary systems (potty) is that any outlet to the ocean must be locked and while locked it is directed into a holding tank.
The holding tank may be emptied by an onshore pump out station much like our motor home. 
 We had been parking Sunday nights at Lemmon Bay as it is cool and picturesque.
The Sea Breeze made comfortable sleeping and a respite from work in the hot boat.
Sadly this last week end the Sheriff informed us that the park was no longer allowing any parking after 10 PM!  
 Steve and Sue extended the hospitality of their driveway so we can finish the boat.
This past Christmas Steve bought a beautiful metal bird in the walkway. 


March 2022 Edition

The First of March found us still in the Boatyard.
Dawn Treader was scheduled to be taken to the Traveling crane in Charlotte Harbor Boatyard and then to the dock on Wednesday the Second of March. 
 
The month of February has disappeared and most of the month was devoted to repairing the sailboat engine.
Steve and Sue Rosen have been incremental to the process of restoring Dawn Treader from the beginning. 
 
Way back in 2012 due to a very lucky chance meeting, Steve has been prominent in not just helping us but almost single handedly maintains the fleet at the Englewood Sailing Club.
This trip Steve and Sue’s help and support have made the stay in Florida productive and pleasant.
 
February has not been our usual travels.
One of our favorite campsites has yet to open for camping and the boat work has taken almost all our time and energy.   
 
For the non mechanics reading, here is what we were up against!
A diesel engine is rather simple yet it is really fussy when it comes to the fuel supply.
IF there is any AIR that creeps into the fuel line the engine speeds up and stops.
It will not start again without bleeding the air from the lines, which we did over 8 times during three days!
The culprit was an obscure fuel fitting down on the fuel tank which we missed for three days while checking everything else!
 
The problem was discovered on February 27,
Just three days before the scheduled departure.
At this time I just must mention some people that have provided invaluable help.
Melody and Michael in Arizona provided us with a place to stay while my back healed.
Steve and Sue Rosen provided technical aide and parking for the off days we were not at the boatyard.
And a big thanks to Jon “Diesel” Stridom, who nursed us through the problem since last year.
Jon also does great charter trips and can be contacted through sailthekeys@hotmail.com. 
During one trip he and the guests witnessed a “Green Flash,” and dolphins so anyone touring Florida, it is a great deal.  
 
Steve was going to help move the boat, however, after the second window passed and more troubles showed up it is now off tell ????
 
Last year Doug and Prudy, hosted our stay and shared much of our frustration as many delays were caused by incompetence, and COVID induced holdups. 
They were great, but sadly it was far too long and far too much frustration, as well as a huge financial drain. 
We were forced by financial and weather constraints to leave Florida last June! 
 
Keeping the boat in the storage yard was just over $4,000 of unnecessary expense. 
 
The beginning of March our sailboat is in water at last.
We had one minor problem, the prop shaft packing was leaking.
It took about an hour to free up the bolts and adjust the packing nut. 
The last of preparations were made for departure, WRONG!
 
The second bilge pump was pumping and at first we thought it was the fresh water tank.
It turned out to be the toilet was filling up and dumping water in the shower drain.’
Further investigation revealed that the valve and sea cock for the toilet discharge was leaking.
This valve would not shut off. So the boat had to be taken back out so the valve can be replaced (it is on the bottom of the boat) 
 
To save time we hired Norm's Props to do the work which was completed for just under $1,200 so it is back to check out and move the boat. 
The new toilet and plumbing will be done later?
 
The boat was returned to the dock and we were all ready to go the next morning when once again the engine gremlin struck.  
Somewhere air is still getting into the fuel lines, and while we were trying to trace it down the alternator started squealing and then smoking.
 
The new alternator was only $120 but the added boatyard charges was near$1,000
Had we left it in the storage it would only be $300 a month at this point the attempt to save has cost us an extra $1,700.
The only good part is we would not have known about the seacock until the boat sunk while we were gone! 
 
While we were working to get the boat ready I learned my long time friend, Jim from way back in High School, passed away from a stroke.
Jim was in a band that had a minor hit record and was one of the bands that appeared with the Rolling Stones back when they toured in San Bernardino in 1964! (The Year I graduated from High School)
 
We will be at a campground for the rest of the month and will stay and work on the boat until it gets unbearable. 
The first is Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management at Babcock Lake for 2 days. 


February 2022 Edition

Back in the saddle again ♫♪♪♫
Conestoga Charlie and Company (Admiral Dawn) are back in Florida.
Last year a severe cold front chased us home once again.
The lows all along the Gulf Coast and down into central Florida was 28 degrees much of the end of January. 
 
This also marks the third year of attempting to get our sailboat back into the ocean.
Last year between COVID induced incompetence and utter stupidity we were delayed for 6 ½ months with no progress and a loss of about $5,500 not to mention two charters worth $1,000 each! 
There were also major hassles at the Boatyard itself!
 
To state we are not looking forward to our time in Florida is a gross understatement.
As we journeyed south to Port Charlotte and the Dawn Treader, one quick stop at our now number 2 favorite Pizza Buffet, Hungry Howie’s.
Also one last rest stop before arriving at our friends, Steve and Sue to pick up the second ladder we bought to access our boat. (Our ladder disappeared three times!)
 
Steve and Sue invited us to stay for dinner because she discovered a new clam chowder recipe from their trip to Saint Augustine. 
It was great! 
 
The next morning we arrived at J&R Boatyard and found Dawn Treader just where we left it.
Everything was good as there were some very high winds just before we arrived.
The batteries were well maintained by the solar
Panels we installed last year.
 
The dismantling process was started.
 I had to work in short spurts as I still hurt and Dawn helped move things out of the lazerette
Because it is so deep and it is also the back engine compartment access.   
 
The oil cooler was removed and tested with no positive results, so it was replaced with the oil lines bypassed.  
 
The entire weekend was spent working on the engine and after several attempts to start all day Saturday, finally Sunday the engine started. 
After running for a considerable period of time no oil leaked into the cooling system. 
 
The next project is to replace the oil cooler and finally leave the boatyard after three years of trying. 
During this entire month we made only one trip away from the boat yard while waiting for the New Oil Cooler.
We spent a week in the Sebring area and made what will probably be the last visit to an old favorite Restaurant there.
The ravages of COVID have diminished many businesses and this was one of them. 
 
While waiting for the oil cooler to arrive we attended the Englewood Sailing Association Annual Meeting.
We have been members and supported the club since our arrival in Florida.
The ESA mission is to teach sailing to young people and recently expanded to include adult and racing classes. 
 
This will be our last weekend “Homeless,” as the boat is scheduled to be transported to the dock at Charlotte Harbor Boatyard on Wednesday March 2nd.
Friday the 25th of February we will finish all the connection start and do the final testing and clean up by Sunday night.


January 2022 Edition

With the passing of another year again we will attempt to get Dawn Treader back in her home in the ocean.

The last of 2021 was turbulent and December was spent recovering from being careless.

It was a sad month for Dawn as her mother passed away on December 17 at age 91 and I and we look forward to travel across Texas to meet with friends we have not seen for a while.

There is no way to repay Michael and Melody for the hospitality while I recovered and, the new computers for both Dawn and myself.

 

As we left Arizona we made one last visit to our favorite Taco Shop and headed out across New Mexico.

Due to time and weather only one stop was made before Texas. The Petro Truck Stop for dinner and a rather noisy night.

 

The rest areas in Texas are generally a cut above most other states. Many have free Dump Stations as well as ample parking.

We were trying to time it for dinner at a long time favorite in Junction, Texas however it was not working out so it was lunch instead. Isaack’s in Junction is a bit off the 10 but very well worth the detour. The food is still first rate and homemade. Prices are still quite reasonable. It was a must stop since 2004, when I had the boat in Texas and California. 

 

From there we took a leisurely path to Kemah, Texas down below the Houston Ship Chanel and spent two days. Ivan gave us a tour of the harbor in his new (for him) 91 Beneteau 361. The marina was beautiful and we had dinner at the Sun Dance Grill which was overpriced but excellent food. 

 

The next visits were in Louisiana and Mississippi at Wynne’s house and Jeff’s laundry. We had a great breakfast at Abita Springs Café. It was a great place for the food and sadly raining so photos.

In Gulfport we parked at the beach for two days and did BBQ with Jeff and Rita. 

 Last trip we did not have time to visit Beauvoir.  Beauvoir is a historic landmark that has endured more than 165 years of history along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Beauvoir is one of the few original antebellum homes left on the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

 Beauvoir was also Jefferson Davis’ last Residence in Biloxi. Before the Civil War he was a Senator and Franklin Pierce appointed him Secretary of War.  An interesting side note is that 18-year-old Jefferson Davis was placed under house arrest while at West Point for his role in the 1826 Eggnog Riot, which started after cadets were caught smuggling whiskey into their barracks.

In April 2, 1865, Davis and the rest of the CSA government fled Richmond as the Union Army advanced. Union soldiers captured Davis in Georgia,  He was imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe in Virginia. 1876, he returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, He would live there for the rest of his life. In December 1889, Davis died in New Orleans. Some 200,000 people lined that city’s streets for the funeral.  

After the visit we checked out a marina and visited Samuel who lives on his boat in the marina in Biloxi.

Parking back at Jeff’s laundry after a great dinner at “Cajun’s Fabulous Fried Chicken” also in Gulfport, MS, It lived up to its name for $10.99!

Again the rain prevented any photos.

Finally, leaving Gulfport during an ice front with a low of 28 degrees we headed east again.

Winter weather chased us all the way home last year as well.

Our first two stops in Florida were also 28 Degrees low so we stopped in Lake City and used our Choice Bonus points to get a room at the Quality inn!

This also allowed “Catch up” work on the new computer, iTunes, and iPod.

As of the 22nd the newsletter was still being composed.

Solar Power has been in short supply in “The Sunshine State” and it has been heavy overcast for the week now!

We literally have been “Rest Stop Hopping” since Mississippi.

Lake Panasoffkee Campground will be our home until Thursday, January 27th when we will reclaim our ladder and start to work on the boat.

There will not be any more sightseeing until the boat condition is remedied.

Dawn is still working on editing our latest book.

This is our current list of books.

So You Want to Live on a Sailboat

https://www.amazon.com/You-Want-Live-Sailboat-misadventures-ebook/dp/B07ZMJTJPB/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=so+you+want+to+live+on+a+sailbot&qid=1572215115&sr=8-1-spell

Davit Construction

https://smile.amazon.com/Now-Davits-Build-Your-Composite-ebook/dp/B07QVB4ZXS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Now+for+the+davits&qid=1555910415&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spell

 

Camping in Comfort

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B07MB3GVP6&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_I4qkCbFXHVJEK

 

Road to Freedom (RV Handbook Book)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841R6D9Q

 

Misadventures of a Sailing Poet

https://www.amazon.com/Misadventures-Sailing-Poet-Charles-Smith-ebook/dp/B098XW7MS2/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=misadventures&qid=1625846418&s=digital-text&sr=1-14

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