Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An Aborted Christmas Cruise ...

As fate would have it, our days and weeks got overloaded from August through early November with planning for, executing and mopping up after the War on the Peace Dragon Boat Festival -- James was the festival director and Penelope the assistant festival director and volunteer coordinator.  And, James's band All That Jazz continues to play Sundays in Venice as well as occasional other gigs.

So, we didn't get any sailing in.  But we promised ourselves that we would go out for Christmas week and let the wind take us wherever, so we spent a couple of weeks readying Alizee for the voyage, prepared provisions for the week and, on Monday Dec 21st, set off for Pelican Bay for our first overnight anchorage.  We had a beautiful sail under an east wind of 10-15 knots, sailing up Charlotte Harbor (northward from Burnt Store Marina) for about two hours, thence sailing south to a spot a mile east of BSM, where we turned west and had a nice downwind sail to the entrance of Pelican Bay.  We were anchored in eight to nine feet of water by 16:30, and settled in for a little reading, cocktails and finally a spaghetti and meatball dinner prepared by Penelope.

We had a great evening kibitzing and finishing off a bottle of wine, followed by a really nice night's sleep.  Next morning I arose to make our morning coffee, and (damn/spit!) discovered mouse droppings on the galley counters.  Then when we climbed into the cockpit I found even more.  Oh no! Shades of our rat infestation a couple of years back.  Well, we decided to put out a trap that night, but couldn't do much more at the moment.

We agreed we should sail all the way up Charlotte Harbor to a favorite anchorage of ours on the Myakka River.  We hoisted the mainsail, weighed anchor and motor-sailed our of Pelican Bay.  The batteries had gone from full charge to 3/4 charge over night, so following normal routine, I checked to see that the engine alternator was charging them.  Oh, oh!  No charge.  In fact the electronics we were using and the refrigerator were still drawing 4-5 amps from them.  Obviously, we had a problem.  I telephoned our mechanic, Smitty, and low and behold, he agreed to meet us at BSM around noon, so we cut our cruise short.  At least the sail from Pelican Bay to BSM was a gorgeous sail close hauled under 10-15 knots of southeast wind.

The rest of the story is one of maintenance, although we did stay on the boat one more night hoping a new alternator would be available for installation the next morning.  Alas, that didn't happen.  But, the mouse chewed his we off the boat (we think), exiting through the screened hatch covers we use to keep out mosquitoes and no-seeums.  So, we looking forward to trying again in January, particularly since we have a new alternator!


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