Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You can tell the final purchases are being made to get this project near completion.

Jack asked me if I would please run an errand for him today. The kids were up at 7:20, eating and schooling by 8am sharp. By 10am, we were in the car on our way to Flounder Pounder (yes, that is the real name). I had my list, a tape measure and a cell phone with Jack on speed dial.

Here is a tac-om-eter. Don't ask me to spell that correctly. Our other one required a lot of tapping to make sure it wasn't stuck.

My second purchase was to find something to make into an instrumental panel. There were acrylic pieces that might have looked fantastic but probably not as durable. PVC foam board was available but not practical when left in the elements, hence acrylic glue-overs.
This is called starboard. If the blog will let you enlarge, you'd see that one side is smooth-ish and the other side is non-skid textured. Starboard is $2/pound. Each board is 13 lbs and we bought 2. One board is for making into a bait cutting board on the back of the boat.

Then, Mr. UPS came by the house in the afternoon and brought us this!! The rub rail has come in. Yeah.

There are actually 2 parts in the box. The main rubber piece and then the insert that wedges in the big part to cover up all the screws. In the past 20 years, rub rails have changed a bit and so we could only find it in this size (1 and 7/8th" vs 2" old style). You're looking at 62 ft of rub rail. You don't want to know the price of black rubber.
I think one of the last semi-big purchases to make will be the tubes that go from a bilge pump out to the drains leading to the exterior of the boat (ocean).
We're in the midst of a big cold front, but Jack is hopeful to paint this weekend. A lot of parts are near done for painting. Pray for white gunnels!
Happy Fishing,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

2 Steps forward, 1 Step Back

I'm not whining but just suffice it to say that I hate painting this boat. Ok, it's out there...

Remember we had paint that didn't dry after a few days. Then we painted over that paint. It was hardened but it ended up being moveable over the wet paint. It has.......well..... issues in some spots. Jack, eldest son and myself have spent our day removing all that paint from the console and around the inner sides of the boat. It has to come off and get done right. Also, Jack removed all the instruments from the instrument panel so when he paints that over again, it will have a more pleasing appearance than as if it had been taped.

My only sane moments were spent in the garden earlier. I'll make a reports over on the Raising Fishermen blog tonight or tomorrow. 2008/02/garden-report-

We have had rain today but worked through those slight showers.

Happy Fishing,

Friday, February 22, 2008

by Robin

Gunnels are the sides of the boat. This is our new focus this weekend. Jack has done a great job working on some of the teak parts of the boat and he'd like to add them back onto the boat but we can't do that until the gunnels are painted.
First step is to sand all the new area.

Here Jack filled in the old rub-rail holes made by the screws (every other hole). The other holes are the screws that hold the top of the boat down onto the bottom part. Those will be put back on.

Second step is to find your cracks and fill them with Bondo-Glass. You mix a certain amt of bondo with a little bit of the red/white tube on starboard. Work it together and voila', you have workable fiberglass for the next several minutes.

Jack uses a flat tool to smooth it over the spots. Work quickly because it sets up (dries) fast.

Third step is to sand that again until it is nice & smooth. He's doing that right now, so no picture for you. Make sure you wear your dust mask.
(See how nice the grass is? I fertilized it.)
Last, you would clean up the area with acetone & a tacky cloth just prior to painting.

I don't believe we'll get to paint this weekend because of all the off/on again rainstorms, but bondo "sets up" quickly and Jack can work through this process between showers. Next weekend, we should be able to paint, fine sand (1500- 2000 grit) that and then put the teak back on a few spots.

Also, Jack ordered his new rub-rail, which is that rubber bumper area that goes around the entire boat to protect it from dock damage. My opinion is that it isn't 100% effective, especially with our boat. Our sides are rather high and so the dock is more likely to damage the mid-area, but that's just my opinion. Still, we're changing from a faded brown to a new black to match all our other upgrades. It also cosmetically hides the junction where the top half of the boat is screwed to the bottom half. The rub-rail should arrive on Tuesday. Yeah!
On last major thing on our to-buy list are the hoses for the drains & some new wood or starboard (white) for the electronics to set into. We don't lack much if we just got some good days of labor under our (umm, really Jack's) belt.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Fall has come to Central Florida. The big Spanish Oak tree in the neighboring lot has decided it must shed every stinkin' leaf this month.
Jack's goal is to paint the gunnels (side walkways, not pictured) this weekend........ if we can stop the leaves from falling into the paint.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PICTURES from JACK - trip around the peninsula

Mike seeing his boat for the 1st time. Al on the right.

This is Al waiting to go. Al's specialty is reading all the electrical "stuff" like radar, chart plotters, auto-pilot, bottom machines, fish finders, etc.

Jack is driving them out of the inlet in St. Petersburg, out into the Tampa Bay and eventually out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Jack's main purpose this whole trip was to park and unpark the boat and teach Mike how to do it. This Luhrs has twin diesel props for those dying to know.

Saying good-bye to the port and hello to the flat Gulf of Mexico. Look at the gorgeous weather that they started off with.

Jack's view for the next few hours.

The Gulf of Mexico is pretty shallow near-shore so they couldn't always go top speed. This is why the trip took 2 days heading down the west coast and 1 day going up the east coast.

As soon as the boat was put on auto-pilot, Mike and Al were quick to play with all the equipment seeing what they could learn.

Does anybody ever get tired of seeing blue-green water? I don't.

At this point, the sun was setting and the purple hues started coming out the clouds. It was gorgeous Jack said.

This was sunset, just outside of Marco Island. They anchored approx 5 mi offshore and took a little time out to do some night fishing with produced mainly sand perch and baby sharks.

Here Mike is with one of them.

Being that they all got up around 4am to start the journey, they did end up going to sleep relatively early.

Jack caught these 2 gorgeously marked crabs. (Ahhh, the grass is always green on the other side of the state.)
DAY 2 - leaving Marco Island
This the view after leaving the fueling dock. Still another beautiful day in paradise. Can you hear Jimmy Buffet music in the background?

I don't know if this will ever show up on the blog but in the original, I can see land. Jack knew that I would love seeing the tip of mainland Florida. Not the Keys, but the southernmost point of the peninsula. He also said that passing Ten Thousands Islands was a cool view and it was appropriately named.
Here is the first bridge they passed under that took them from the Gulf of Mexico (actually Florida Bay) into the Atlantic Ocean. So very cool!! They are somewhere north of Islamorada at this point but he wasn't certain of the exact location.

The spent a long time looking for their slip (parking space for boats) at Smuggler's Cove in Islamorada. Unfortunately, Jack never did get a picture of that area.

Again, water was shallow and made traveling slow-going. You may need to click & enlarge to see what I'm talking about. There are a bunch of loons sitting on white pvc pipes that somebody stuck in a sandbar to warn fellow boaters. Jack said there were often times that markers seemed like they were in the right place and you'd think you were in a deep-water channel, but you weren't.

Very beautiful & slow-going. However, the weather began to change on the night of Day 2. A front had come in and what normally is flat shallows for the Keys are now becoming very choppy waves.

This is one of the many mansions they passed looking for Smuggler's Cove.

Here is the fuel dock down in Islamorada. And this concludes day 2.

Day 3 - Atlantic Ocean. I missed downsizing the morning picture of Mike in the water. Jack says that when they started off, they could hear a thumping in the propellers. So, the guys dove under the boat and found rope entangled around the engines. They lost time cutting those out.
Here they were trying to do a little trolling while they were in open water. As you can see, the seas are unhappy and the clouds are building. They did encounter some 5-6 ft waves which thankfully, this boat can handle easily.

Here is Jack on break. He did a superb job of manuervering the 32' Luhrs in & out of small slips, tight corners and never once bumped the boat into something. That's why you are my Captain!! This is somewhere around Biscayne Bay (near Miami).
I had to lighten up the photo a little because it was so cloudy outside that you couldn't see Jack's face. I guess nobody thought to put on the flash. Ugh.

I have many less photos of the east coast because they were up on plane (fast) and what photos Jack took were bumpy, cloudy or unacceptable to my photo standards. LOL This is West Palm Beach. They did stop in here for refueling and a quick lunch.

I'm trying to remember if it was here that the Sailfish Marina makes it's home. Jack said there were million dollar yachts everywhere and all the landscaping is pristine. He wanted to go back there one day when a thunder storm wasn't chasing him down.
Jack loves to look at boats like some guys like to look at cars.

At the end of day 3, Jack did take a couple sunset pictures but they were blurred. This is Mike & his new boat, arriving safely at Port Canaveral docks at midnight. Again, another fine parking job for Jack. Mike slept on the boat until his wife & kids came to pick him up. He is keeping his boat in dry storage (out of the water) at this marina.
Jack and Al were able to hitch a ride back to their respective homes with a friend who was curious in seeing the new boat. I'm so thankful for curious people because I did not want to drag myself & the kids out of the house at midnight or so. Who says God doesn't answer even the simplest prayers?
So, I hope you enjoyed the pictures and short bits of info. It looks like we may be fishing on Saturday with Mike & his family. Oh and partly, we have to cruise around so Jack can teach Mike the finer points of working the levers. I don't suppose I care as long as we're on the water with the family & the weather is nice.

Monday, February 18, 2008


My best digital interpretation of a watercolor painting of Mike seeing his new boat for the first time.Here are the guys at the beginning of the trip. It too is in a watercolor, but the detail is lost on the large cropping (unless you click on it). That is Jack giving Al the thumbs up seal of approval.

Here is Jack, somewhere around Islamorada, half-way through the trip. That fresh, happy face looks more like a tired pirate at this point. He really missed us but I know the clouds & wind also detracted from the equation of this being the perfect fantasy come true.
It's been a long day, but tomorrow brings routine again.......
More pics later, my constant theme.


.... yep, he made it in about midnight to Port Canaveral and 2am to the house. I thought I might have to drag the kids out of the house to go pick him up but one of the other guys' ride brought Jack here.

We're happy, tired and enjoying the pictures and stories at the moment. I will have to downsize a bunch before putting them up on the blog.

They were chased up the eastern coast by a large thunderstorm so they made quick progress all day to stay a step ahead of it. Only 1 stop in West Palm Beach for fuel and lunch.

Thanks for your prayers. Pictures to come later in the day.

Safely Home,
Robin & Jack

Sunday, February 17, 2008


They left this morning later than they wanted. To me, anything earlier than 7am is like splitting hairs. Since having kids & having Jack on 3rd shift, I don't do "early" like I used to. They were crossing Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami, about noon. Jack sounded so enthusiastic to be "up on plane" and headed home.

3PM update: They are about 30 miles south of WPB. Once they reach their destination, they will pull in for gas and lunch. They are flying, ha ha, at 21 knots up the coast. They're doing all they can do to get here at a decent time Monday so everyone can get their cars & rest before going to work on Tuesday.
WPB Trivia: This is 2nd home to Donald Trump & Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, the late Adrian Rodgers (preacher), Stephanie Abrams (Weather Channel), Jimmy Buffet & many others singers, actors, & athletes.
It is also home to Sunfest, many Fine art exhibits and the National Horse Show (America's oldest show).
The city was founded by Henry Flagler, who began buying up property. The city went through a lull until Donald Trump & others revived it with his Trump Plaza & resurgent downtown nightlife. Cool, huh?
I'll update again tonight. Edited to add: The winds and seas have been building all day. It is really important that they make good time, stay close to the shore and get back to home port, Port Canaveral. The seas are building 4 ft to 6 ft tonight. Tomorrow, offshore, they will go 7 to 9 feet. Looks to me like the made the decision to not hang longer in the Keys.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

They left out of Marco Island at 9am and made the cruise down to Islamorada. At 3pm, Jack called saying he could see a bridge that they would go under and it would take them from Florida Bay over to the Atlantic Ocean. He mentioned hopes of doing a little trolling but when he called at 6pm, they had just arrived at the slip. They had to fuel up, get cleaned up and were starving for a good dinner and solid night's sleep.

I am so thankful that they had a spot w/ electricity and place of refuge to rest. They acted like they were going to be home by Sunday night, but my guess is they will only make it half way up and possibly having to stay in Ft. Pierce or somewhere like that. As long as they duck in somewhere to anchor, they will have a quiet rest for Sunday night.

The weather has picked up a bit and so the choppy waves made their trip to Islamorada longer than expected. Jack commented that Florida Bay was 3 ft deep inside the channel cut out for bigger boats. Oh my!! That isn't deep at all for a 32 ft boat. Jack sure is sharpening his driving skills on this trip. Big boat. Tight spaces. He's doing a wonderful job.

While we were on the phone, the most exciting thing to hear him say was an interruption. Yep, a big tarpon rolled right by the boat as we were talking. For an interesting side note, Islamorada means Purple Isle in Spanish. Because the water is so shallow, it has become a hotspot for bonefish fishing. Flyfishermen love this location.

I'll update again tomorrow after church.

Friday, February 15, 2008

7:30 pm UPDATE: Marco Island

So far, at this point, they have had a smooth ride and the boat is running well. He called me just after night fell and said they had missed the opportunity to get fuel before employees had left for the night, so they were going to have to stay at Marco Island for the night. Actually, they're not staying on the island. They're staying approx 5 miles offshore, looking for bottom structure to anchor nearby and then fish a bit.

All that 4am, 8am and afternoon gusto sounded more like exhaustion by the last call. Al was making hotdogs for dinner. They will refuel in the morning at a local marina and cruise through the 1000 islands and Florida bay in daylight, which actually sounds like a better idea to me. There is almost nothing but swamp & estuary from Marco Island until you see the Keys. Dark-thirty is not a good time to take a big through the shallows and markers. (Marco Island live cam from the Tide Restaurant & Bar)

Here's a little Marco Island trivia:
It is also home to Alan Jackson, John Travolta and Shania Twain. It has a population of almost 15,000 in only 10 square miles!! That's 1400 people per mile. Yikes! Almost everybody is caucasian, almost everybody is married or widowed and there are 7 registered sex offenders on the island. There hasn't been a murder on the island from 2000 to present but plenty of burglaries and thefts.

As of 2006, there was 31 officers. Everybody woke up to 90% humidity in the morning year-round. Almost every afternoon, it goes down to 60%. Median home price is $500K.

More news tomorrow. They have a slip (boat dock) waiting for them in Islamorada.
FLORIDA BAY - are you sick of me posting today or what? For those that don't know where Florida bay is..... got this fantastic map off of an educational website. The bottom right side are the line-up of Keys. FL Bay is a beautiful sub-tropical estuary, approx 850 sq mi, home to many species. "At least 22 commercially and/or recreationally important aquatic species are known to use Florida Bay as a nursery ground."

"Until recently, this subtropical estuary was noted for its clear, warm waters, lush seagrass beds and outstanding fishing. However, starting in the late 1980s, dramatic changes in the ecology of Florida Bay became evident. These changes included the widespread death of seagrass beds, turbid water associated with this die-off, large and sustained blooms of algae and population reductions in pink shrimp, sponges, lobster, recreational game fish and wading birds.

Recognizing Florida Bay's ecological changes, the State of Florida and the federal government made a commitment to improve environmental management in order to restore the bay toward a more natural state. A collaborative interagency research program was initiated in 1994 in order to document the history of the bay, monitor status and trends, understand human impacts on the bay and provide a scientific basis for restoration. With partners from other state and federal agencies and the academic community, the District has initiated a comprehensive investigation of the bay and its upstream watershed to better understand the ecological consequences of alternative water management actions."

Satellite imagery of Florida Bay.

He just called from the Gulf of Mexico during lunch. He sounds like a kid in a candy shop. He was priviledge with duty of pulling the boat out of port and taking it out of the bay. The boat was on auto-pilot and driving itself down the ocean. He was at the wheel checking out all the instruments and such.

The new owner of the boat (Mike) and Al were on the fly-bridge which is that 2nd story spot where you can drive, spot fish and just hang out.They are going to spend tomorrow in Islamorada, but it is unclear if they are fishing, diving or touring the restaurants.

Tonight, they will be sleeping in the boat somewhere along Florida bay.

Jack's friend, Mike, bought a gorgeous boat. It's a Luhrs 320 open helm. Jack just arrived in St. Petersburg and is loading up the boat with supplies & gear at 9am.

I happened to find some pics on the internet of a *similar* boat to help you get a visual. This boat also come in a tournament style that is enclosed with glass all around the helm (where the Captain drives).

This is the interior view. Nice little v-bed, bathroom, kitchen and frig.
They should be setting off to open waters soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trip around Florida on the Luhrs

Jack's big trip to help his buddy, Mike, pick up the 32' Luhrs sportsfisher boat is tomorrow. His friend got a sweet deal on this boat. It has AC/Heat, 2nd story for looking for fish, twin diesel engines, the works. I'll see if I can find a picture tomorrow. (pic on right: checking the EPIRB)
I think he is all ready for the trip. They drive over to St. Petersburg to finish the sale, take the keys and then cruise down to the Keys for the night. They will stay somewhere in Key Largo or Islamorada or Florida Bay. I'm not 100% sure but I think they're going to do a little fishing at night, do a little free diving (no air tanks) for lobsters during the next day and then head around to Miami. From Miami and up, I don't think they're going to stop until they hit home unless there is a problem with weather. They did say that they might troll a bit for mahi mahi or wahoo or whatever they can find. I'm so excited.

I cleared off the entire 1GB of memory and told him to take as many pics as possible. I can't wait to hear and see how the trip went. Of course, I also activated the church's prayer chain because I know there are risks involved with a big boat, shallow waters, faulty instruments or engines, new captain and of course, weather changing on a dime.

They are hoping to be back at Port Canaveral on Sunday or Monday am at the latest. Keep him in your prayers for safe journey.
(pic right: spear gun)
Happy Fishing,