Thursday, October 25, 2007

Still "On The Hard" in Demopolis

Yes, we are still in the dry dock lot, still working on the boat. As of our last post on Friday, October 12th, we were in the process of patching the sonar hole. That project was basically finished by Sunday, October 14th, thanks to Dale, and we were able to begin working on the bottom job Monday morning. The weekend was not without issues, though.

While Todd went fishing early Saturday morning, I gave the shower a good scrubbing; when Todd returned he discovered a problem with the sump and a bilge full of shower water! Todd worked on the sump/bilge issue all the next morning, took a break to go visit Fred's dad while Fred was out of town, and then worked on it again until late Sunday afternoon. I taped the boat off Monday while Todd applied a coat of PrimeWash to the running gear and then a barrier coat to the running gear, sonar patch area and keel before going fishing that afternoon. When he returned we treated ourselves to dinner at the Mexican restaurant with Rick & Peggy.

The Captain applies a barrier coat to the running gear.

Todd applied more barrier coat Tuesday morning and then spent several hours switching out the thru-hull fittings for the macerater and wash down pump while I made another run to Wal-Mart. We had a fish fry at the Boater's Lounge Tuesday evening as a farewell to George & Mary ("Love Knot") who were leaving the next morning. We had crappie, bass and catfish accompanied by cole slaw, french fries and hush puppies. And if that wasn't enough, Mary brought a pineapple upside-down cake for dessert! We all ate too much but it was a great meal and George & Mary were very appreciative.

Todd and Rick went fishing early Wednesday morning and then Todd applied two more barrier coats to the running gear, sonar patch area and keel when he returned. A short time after he applied the second barrier coat, I followed up with the first coat of bottom paint. We then got cleaned up and relaxed on the sundeck as a late afternoon storm moved through.

"Life's2Short" in the dry dock lot - a.k.a the tree house!

On Thursday we went to Meridian, MS with Rick & Peggy to get the sonar unit packaged for shipping, courtesy of Rick, did some shopping and then went to Outback for an early dinner where, thanks to Rick, I was serenaded by the staff for my birthday. We then returned to the marina and joined Dale & Joy, Carl & Sally and Bobbi & Keith at The Wall to say farewell to Bobbi & Keith who were leaving the next morning to live and work in Kissimmee, FL.

On Friday we wiped down the bottom of the boat with paint thinner to prepare it for painting and then I applied a second coat of paint to the running gear while Todd rolled the first coat of paint on the bottom of the boat. It's amazing how much bigger a 40-foot boat seems when you're working on it! After we got the paint cleaned off us, we walked over to B dock to welcome back Pete ("Woodja") and Wayne who had arrived that afternoon and then went to the marina restaurant for a quick bite to eat.

Fred had an extra ticket to the Alabama vs. Tennessee game in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, so I left Todd with the bottom painting and went to the game with Fred. It was a beautiful, sunny day, Alabama stomped Tennessee 41-17 and we had a great time! Poor Todd, on the other hand, worked his butt off applying the second coat of bottom paint to the boat and was wiped out when Fred and I returned that evening.

The Alabama Crimson Tide. Go BAMA - Roll Tide Roll!!!

Fred stopped by Sunday morning as Todd was getting ready to start buffing the boat and invited us to have lunch with him and his dad. Todd worked on the boat until time to go to Fred's where we had a wonderful meal of grilled pork chops, fried okra, pink-eyed purple-hulled peas and cornbread; then Todd came back and worked on the boat again until late afternoon while I got caught up on the laundry.

The Captain buffing the side of the boat. Look at her shine!

Rain began moving through early Monday and continued off and on through Thursday morning with much cooler temperatures, so we have been at something of a standstill on the bottom painting and buffing/waxing. In the meantime, the Captain has been doing some fishing and working on various other boat projects, including fixing the bow thruster that stopped working this past spring when we were in St. Petersburg, and I have been doing some cooking and working on the blog.

The Admiral working on the blog on a damp, chilly morning.

We plan to leave for Missouri Friday morning, October 26, for about a week and will finish the bottom painting and buffing/waxing when we return. Even though the work has been physically demanding, being "on the hard" hasn't been too much of an inconvenience; nonetheless, it will be nice to get "Life's2Short" back in the water and rejoin our friends on B dock.

Friday, October 12, 2007

South on the Tenn-Tom to Demopolis

We left our anchorage above Fulton Lock on Friday, September 28th, about 8:30 a.m. with "MOTU" and went through three locks before arriving at Blue Bluff around 4:00 that afternoon. It was very windy at the second lock (Wilkins) and we had to wait for a barge at both Wilkins and Amory, so we dropped anchor just outside the channel in both cases, which worked well. After we got situated at Blue Bluff and relaxed for a bit, I made spinach lasagna for the three of us. It was still breezy on Saturday and we all had a nice quiet day at scenic Blue Bluff. That evening Mo fixed her signature dinner of grilled chicken and grilled potatoes with onion and garlic, which we all enjoyed tremendously!

This is the spillway at Fulton Lock & Dam. We were inside the lock waiting to go down when this photo was taken.

Mo with her beloved Honey enjoying the river view at Blue Bluff.

Vintage Mo with her happy hour Scotch and soda!

Mo swims almost every day and, of course, Honey goes with her. After a while Mo will turn over on her back and say "Honey, save me," at which point Honey swims over to Mo, turns around so Mo can grab her tail and tows Mo back to the boat. It's really amazing how incredibly smart Honey is!

The breeze continued on Sunday when we left Blue Bluff, went through Aberdeen lock and on to Columbus where we anchored in front of the restaurant at Columbus Marina, just off the marina entrance channel. Todd had called Greg & Sandy aboard "Latitude Dancer" at Columbus Marina and we met Sandy for a drink at the restaurant. They had been at the marina for a couple of months and planned to head south the next morning. Greg was still working in the engine room and was going to join us when he finished up.

After we visited with Sandy for a while, we decided to go in to town for Mexican rather than eat at the marina restaurant so Todd and I dinghied over to "Latitude Dancer" a short time later where Greg was just finishing getting cleaned up and rode with them into Columbus where we had a good meal, even though we were disappointed to learn that they don't serve margaritas on Sunday.

On Monday we left Columbus and went through Stennis and Bevil locks to arrive at Windham Landing (MM 286) about 3:00 p.m. We had been in touch with "Latitude Dancer" along the way and also with Carl & Sally aboard "Loafer" and they both decided to join us at Windham Landing for the evening.  "Loafer" was on its way back from Chattanooga and was headed for its winter home at the Demopolis Yacht Basin. Greg & Sandy rafted to "Life's2Short" around 4:30 and Carl & Sally anchored nearby when they arrived less than an hour later and then dinghied over to visit for a while. "Loafer" left for Demopolis early Tuesday morning and "Latitude Dancer" left about 8:30 with plans to anchor out at Rattlesnake Bend that evening and go in to the Demopolis Yacht Basin Wednesday morning.

"Loafer" leaves in the fog early Tuesday morning.

We decided to head out about 9:30 and travel the remaining sixteen miles to Sumter Landing for the evening. While Todd was out fishing Tuesday afternoon, a very large boat named "Bali Motu" with two couples aboard came in to the anchorage to spend the night. Todd stopped by to chat with them on his way back to the boat and decided we would leave with them at 8:00 the next morning so we could lock through Heflin Lock together.

We arrived in Demopolis around 2:15 Wednesday afternoon, October 3rd, and were met at the dock by Rick & Peggy, Carl & Sally and Dale & Joy. "Latitude Dancer" arrived earlier in the day and was on the dock behind us and "Bali Motu" was tied up at the fuel dock. Todd ended up going over to "Bali Motu" later that afternoon to talk to one of the guys about the Bahamas; then we met up with Greg & Sandy Wednesday evening and went into town to have Mexican again, this time with margaritas!

The "Bali Motu" crew waves to a passing barge.

"Life's2Short" was hauled out and put in the dry dock lot early Thursday morning. I began sanding the bottom while Todd did other "Mr. Fix-It" projects from his list. By mid-afternoon I was worn out and covered in black paint dust, so I called it a day. Todd hosed part of the grime off of me and then I took a shower and vegged out until we went to dinner at the marina restaurant. I finished sanding the bottom on Friday while Todd sanded the running gear (shafts, props and rudders) and then he washed the bottom off to remove the loose paint dust. Fred invited us to have dinner at his house but we were both too worn out to go anywhere and ended up going over to the restaurant to have a birthday drink with a local friend, Keith, whose wife Becky works at the restaurant before returning to the boat for an early evening.

The Admiral sanding the bottom - a nasty and difficult job!

Saturday morning Todd was doing some sanding on the front part of the keel when he discovered a hole in the bottom of the boat where the Sonar housing is located. At first he thought it was just a blister in the fiberglass, but when he poked at it with a screwdriver, the screwdriver went all the way through the fiberglass! Obviously, this will have to be dealt with before we begin painting the bottom. We made a restocking run to Wal-Mart Saturday afternoon and then I made some spinach cheese swirls to take to the happy hour gathering at The Wall with our B dock friends.

The Wall is the area just outside the boater's lounge where several B dock residents gather nearly every afternoon for happy hour. Sally decided we should add food to the gathering once in a while so everyone brought a dish and we all enjoyed a very nice evening with great food. Todd decided to wash the black paint dust off the rest of the boat Sunday morning and I went to do laundry and then we both had a fairly quiet afternoon and evening.

Since we were at something of a standstill on the bottom painting, Todd got out his new dinghy and aired it up Monday morning. He then decided to remove the entire Sonar unit from "Life's2Short" and began pulling out the monitor and control panel from the flybridge and Rick came over and helped him pull the wiring. Next, he began unbolting the sonar tube that runs from the engine room down through the housing along side the keel. Matt and several of the guys from the shop came over that afternoon with the travel lift and lifted the boat up so the sonar tube could be removed from the bottom of the boat. It was an all-day undertaking and Todd was understandably worn out by late afternoon.

Tuesday morning was cool and rainy so I did some cleaning inside the boat while the Captain relaxed. The rain ended by early afternoon and Todd messed around some more with his new dinghy while I went to the store and fixed dinner to take over to Fred's that evening. We had a nice evening visiting with Fred and also watched a good movie about the 1970 plane crash that killed the entire Marshall University football team.

Todd tackled the sonar housing around the keel Wednesday morning and spent several hours cutting and grinding before taking a short break. Some of the housing was relatively easy to remove but the part closest to the keel was very thick so Todd borrowed a heavy duty grinder from the shop Wednesday afternoon and continued to grind away.

The Captain grinding the sonar housing off the keel - also a nasty and difficult job!

By late afternoon, Todd had done as much as he could and called it a day. After cleaning up, we walked over to B dock to say hi to everyone and found that George & Mary aboard "Love Knot" had arrived and were visiting with Rick & Peggy and Dale & Joy. Todd had also ran in to Warren & Robin aboard "Pepi" earlier in the day and they were tied up at the end of C dock. We originally saw "Pepi" at Prizer Point this past summer and again in Clarksville on the Cumberland River.

After hanging out with the B dock crowd for a bit, we walked over to say hello to Warren & Robin. They were just getting ready to go have dinner at the marina restaurant and invited us to join them. We all walked back over to B dock together, introduced Warren & Robin and asked if anyone else wanted to join us at the restaurant. Rick & Peggy decided they would, so we now had a party of six for dinner and everyone had a good time chatting and sharing stories.

Thursday morning the Captain tackled the sonar housing tube inside the engine compartment while I went to Wal-Mart with Rick & Peggy to pick up some things for the shrimp boil planned for that evening. By the time I returned Todd had the tube cut out and everything put back together - a nice surprise! He spent most of the rest of the day making a lifting harness for his new dinghy while I did more cleaning around the boat, although he did have to do a little more grinding around the hole where the sonar was located. Todd and Dale are working together on the fiberglass since Dale has experience with it and Todd doesn't. It should be a valuable learning experience for the Captain.

The Captain observes as Dale repairs the sonar hole.

Robin & Warren stopped by to say hello Thursday afternoon while they were out taking a walk. They have purchased a new 40-foot x 17-foot catamaran that is being built in China and is supposed to be delivered in May 2008. In the meantime, however, they are continuing their trip to Florida aboard "Pepi" and will leave Demopolis in the morning.

Around 3:00 p.m. "MOTU" arrived at the Yacht Basin to take on some fuel and pick up a few grocery items Mo had requested. She stopped by the boat about an hour later and visited for a while before continuing on to Foscue Creek to anchor for the evening. Bob from "Marabob" (who was with us at Bay Springs for a few days) also stopped by and, along with the Captain, accompanied Mo back to her boat at the fuel dock.

After the Captain returned we headed over to The Wall to help with preparations for the shrimp boil, but Rick & Peggy had everything under control with some assistance from Joy and Bobbi. We ended up having fifteen for dinner and everyone had plenty to eat, although there wasn't much left! It was a fun evening with lots of laughter and a good time was had by all. A BIG thanks to Rick & Peggy and Dale & Joy for providing the shrimp!!!

Early arrivals at The Wall.

Rick, our world-class shrimp boil cook hard at work!

What a lovely presentation!

The cook gets the first bite, courtesy of his wife Peggy.

The gang feasting on a wonderful meal. What a great group of people!

The weather has really started cooling down in the evenings (into the upper 40's and 50's) and the daytime temperatures have been very pleasant. Todd is hoping to have the sonar hole patched by the time the weekend is over, so hopefully we can begin and finish the bottom painting and get back in the water by this time next week, barring any further unforeseen difficulties, of course!