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Back at Burnt Store – But things are not the same.

December 9, 2020

Today is Wednesday and we have been docked at Burnt Store since Saturday afternoon. We got to Florida on Sunday early in the am after a grueling 20 hour drive. We left Cleveland at about 5:00 am on Saturday and things went very smoothly with a 1:00 am ETA until we hit South Carolina. We had minimal traffic and absolutely no construction until we hit the South Carolina border and the three lanes in each direction went down to two. I don’t know if it was the Thanksgiving traffic with people heading home after the holiday or some other reason but traffic came to a halt. As soon as we hit the Georgia Border and the road went back to 3 lanes the backup disappeared, The delay added an hour to the drive at a time when we were the most tired. Once we got into Florida, with another five hours ahead of us, we decided to stop at a rest area and try to get some sleep. We pulled into David and Rhonda’s driveway at Burnt Store at 3:00 am. Boy was I glad that was over!

Bob out on the edge getting the solar panel in place.

We were anxious to get to the boat and check out how Her Diamond had faired over the winter but needed sleep so we didn’t get to the boat yard (Safe Cove) until the early afternoon. There she was peacefully sitting in the afternoon sun with the sun shade still safely in place. Others had told us that the summer had been exceptionally hot with temperatures in the 100s so even though Keyan had checked on her every two weeks, we didn’t know exactly what we would find.

All ready to go in the water

The recommissioning went fairly well. We didn’t find the hundreds of baby frogs we had encountered in years past. We competed all the out of the water necessary jobs (remove the sunshade and support the boom, unpack the running rigging, wash the entire boat and wax the topsides (blue hull), paint the propeller with a marine growth retardant, uncover and clean the dinghy, rehang the solar panel and hang the dinghy) in three days. The fastest we have ever done it. Even the cooler temperatures were on our side. The boat went in the water on Thursday am and the engine started right up. I always hold my breath until I hear the engine roar to life.

First sunset at Safe Cove

After motoring around from the travel lift well to the dock, Bob determined that we needed an engine alignment which we had done early Friday morning. While aligning the engine, Joe (a very nice mechanic that works out of Safe Cove) realized that the belt on the water pump had a split so we had to replace it. No problem (or so we thought). Bob had extra belts and decided as long as he was messing with the pump he would replace the impeller at the same time. Unfortunately, when he opened the water pump the gasket was not reusable and we didn’t have a spare. So here we were on a Friday afternoon with no gasket and engine part dealers closed for the weekend. If it weren’t for the no-seeums (small bighting gnats) that had absolutely destroyed my legs from the calf down, we could have stayed on the wall at Safe Cove until Monday and purchased a new gasket with no complaints from me. Joe suggested that he had some gasket paper and that if we were very careful we could create our own gasket. Well that is what I did. My first attempt was not so good but we deemed the second try to be worthy of a shot – and it worked!! I am developing new skills! So, Saturday morning we were able to make the four hour motor over to Burnt Store.

The trip through the canal

The fish refection

The trip through the canal that brings us to Charlotte Harbor provided scenery that was out of a picture book. There was no wind and the trees, shrubs and homes along the canal were mirrored in the water perfectly. Not even a ripple changed the reflection as if the water was one continuous mirror. Absolutely beautiful. Towards the end we got a short sprinkle, and since we had not yet put up the bimini or dodger we did get a bit wet, but nothing to complain about.

Sheila as we go through the lock and into Charlotte Harbor.

We pulled in to Burnt Store Marina about noon and docked easily in E24. It felt good to be back on the water and pulling into Burt Store felt like returning home. We walked up to David’s, got his car and drove back to Safe Cove to retrieve our car. The cabin was a mess but if felt good to be back on the boat. We always question whether the work it takes to commission and decommission each year is worth it for the six month season. We try not to address it while the work is in process – that is something I’ll write about in the months to come.

Our biggest decision now was whether or not to move to “R” dock or stay on ‘E”. There is lots of construction going on at BSM from improving the seawall to adding additional dry storage space. The construction means that the short walk we had from E to the pool is now twice as long. But over by R dock there isn’t any close-in parking because the dry storage boats that had to be moved during the construction are taking up space in the parking lots. On E dock between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm the local birds use the boats for target practice leaving a trail of poop on the decks of the boats, daily. The boards on E dock are new and the ones on R look like they won’t survive another storm. R dock has a pump out for the holding tanks that comes to the boats twice a week if needed but the pilings on E dock are much better suited for our size boat. There was no perfect choice this year. In the end we opted for the better docks, figuring we would have the boat out at least once a week so the pump out is not as big a factor.

Bob installed a new showerhead for us. See him in the mirror???

So now it is Thursday the first night of Hanukkah. We are scheduled to Zoom candle lighting with the girls tonight. We just got the 95# main sail on (we put the furling gennaker on before leaving Safe Cove) and are planning on going out for our first short day sail in an hour or so. It takes some getting used to this life at a slower pace. The Virus has changed everything both here and in Cleveland. Last year we started out the season with Bill and Michael and this year we are on our own. I feel anxious to get to somewhat of a routine – but perhaps this year there won’t be a regular routine - traveling if and when the weather permits. We will take it one day at a time. Please stay safe, wear a mask and social distance. More to come….

Sheila finishing up the blog in the cockpit.



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