Aboard Pandora and it’s a new year

It’s Saturday evening and we are finally, sort of, settled aboard Pandora.  The holidays were great fun although I’ll admit that it’s a bit tough for me and Brenda to keep up with Rob, Chris and the rest of the 30 something crowd.   Can you say “want a beer dad?”.   I really need to dry out but being with other cruisers isn’t the greatest way to do that, we have found.   Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Besides, it’s almost “opening time”.  Oops, that will have to wait just a bit longer.

Anyway, on Monday we flew down to Florida from Baltimore and enjoyed a day of waiting, waiting and waiting a bit longer for flight to leave, no make that for the pilot to arrive.  What was that all about?  Did he forget to set his alarm? Somehow we dragged ourselves out of bed at 03:15 to rush off to our flight only to find that we were delayed for nearly 4 1/2 hours.   Ugg…

It was so late by the time we arrived in Ft Pierce where Pandora was stored there wasn’t time to launch her and move aboard till Tuesday, so we booked a hotel and crashed for the evening.  After a long day of sitting, and sitting some more, we weren’t quite up to going out to dinner so we assembled a lovely “in room” dinner.  Not exactly a balanced diet.  However, if you are hungry, and tired enough, everything tastes great.   The highlight of dinner was that we used th knife that our son Rob made for me (lower left) and the wine opener that he added lovely walnut inserts (on top of the wind bottle) to.   Pretty neat. The delay in launching worked out better as the extra time allowed me to spend time on Tuesday morning to clean her up (Pandora, not Brenda) and wipe down the hull to get 6 weeks of grime off of her.    The yard, Riverside Marina in Ft Pierce is a bit rough around the edges but they do a nice job and have an excellent travel lift with clean, non scratching slings (important when you have a dark green hull).  Here’s Pandora heading to the water for our first extended season aboard.   That’s the lift operator walking behind with his remote control as he steers her forward. I moved Pandora to Vero, AKA “Velcro Beach” (so named because cruisers can’t leave once they arrive) while Brenda did some grocery shopping.  It’s a nice place to spend time and there is a wonderful shuttle bus program that’s free.  Can’t beat that and with moorings costing about $19/day, it’s quite reasonable.

You may recall from some particularly whiny past posts, that I was having trouble with the engine, which was not working well, and was only able to get up to 1,700 RPM, well below engine specs, so I had AJ at the yard look into it and see what he could find.  I was certain that the problem was an overpitched prop, because that’s what the last owner told me.   And, a number of “boat dollars” later, we had the answer.

“So Bob, what did AJ find?”   Well, let me tell you.   Surprise, the prop is fine!  The problem, and there was more than one, is that the engine was WAY out of tune and AJ was surprised that I was even able to get the engine started, much less run.   The timing was retarded by 4 degrees, and I am told that’s a lot. The valve setting were all wrong which he felt contributed to the low compression readings and best of all, the injectors were really a mess with one in particular looking like it had been serviced with a hand held electric drill.   Setting aside the issue of messed up injectors, he speculates that the specs for the timing and valves were pulled for the wrong series of the engine.   It seems that just about everything a mechanic could do to improperly tune an engine had been done.

So, when I headed out of the marina and ran the boat up to speed, the engine spooled up to nearly 3,100 RPM.  No more lugging along at 1,700 rpm any more for Pandora.  And, Brenda’s happy as we now have extra power to get off of those pesky sandbanks that seem to jump up to grab us from time to time and to battle adverse currents.  Yahoo…

As far as engine life is concerned, all of this suggests that there’s plenty of life left in the old girl and that’s really, really good news.   So much for the yearly tuneups from the “old mechanic”.  I guess that makes AJ my new most favorite mechanic.  What a relief.

I also had the yard install intake scoops to help the fridge and watermaker get adequate water pressure when going at speed and that seems to have worked well also.  Check and check.  Two more to-dos off of the list.

Unfortunately, the programming for the fridge control computer is a bit out of wack and while I tried to adjust the “computer”, well, let’s say that I got it mostly right.  I ask you, who decided to put computers in refrigerators anyway?   Well, at least I can call the service guy at the manufacturer on Monday and get some help in setting things the last bit right.  So much for a “do it myselfer, doing it myself”. To say that there are many steps for setting up the computer with set-points, differentials and other settings and that doesn’t begin to tell the story.  Anyway, when it works, it works. Not so much right now.  But, it does keep the ice frozen really, really well.

Vero Beach City Marina has a large mooring field but it’s not nearly large enough to accommodate all of the boats that “stick” here for months at a time so rafting up to three boats per mooring is the norm.  That’s good as there is just about always “room for one more”.    A nice view from Pandora.
The walk to the ocean is very pretty with quiet streets lined with huge live oaks.  For you Northerners, “live” is a type of oak tree, not a state of being.   Very beautiful draped with Spanish Moss.These magnificent trees are host to a species of epiphytic fern, the “resurrection fern”, so named because the dry up and wither when there is no rain and come back to full health in a matter of hours with the next rain.   They spread with abandon on every branch of these trees.  Interestingly, they don’t seem to grow on any other species.  How do they know?  Smart ferns.
With the 2015 holiday season just a memory, there’s  still plenty of “holiday evidence” around town which, to us Northerners, looks very much out of place. What’s with the bows on palms?  Can’t the folks in south come up with “fitting” decorations that make sense in 80 degrees and humid?
With global warming and all, perhaps that’s something we will all have to think about.  Santa and his eight tiny reindeer on roller skates?   Something to look forward to.   I hope not.

All and all, I love the holidays but after that I long for spring to arrive.  In the old days (when I was getting paid) I would always remind myself that “it will get better in May” when the snow was swirling around.  Now, I can  just look out of the cockpit and enjoy a “summer” sunrise in “winter” like the one that greeted me yesterday.  No snow here.   Happy me…Well, that’s about it for now.  In a few days we will begin our run south to Ft Lauderdale and plan to cross to the Bahamas.   For now, all I can think about is brunch at the Vero Beach Yacht Club.  I am told that it’s the best value in town and it is based on last year’s visit.

Editor:  If the truth was told, I didn’t finish the post till Sunday morning as it was indeed “opening time” and I decided to set this post aside till morning.   Oh well, such is self control.   With apologies to a famous vintner, “we will publish no post till it’s time”.


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