. . .Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

Next Dance leaving the dock!

Next Dance leaving the dock!

On our way . . . or so we thought

On our way . . . or so we thought

NOTE:  WE WOULD LIKE TO ADD AN UPDATE TO THIS BLOG WHERE WE DESCRIBE IN DETAIL WHAT TOOK PLACE WHEN WE DEVELOPED A “SHORT” IN A WIRE BETWEEN THE ZF CONTROLLER AND THE JOHN DEER ENGINE.  FIRST AND FOREMOST, THERE WAS NEVER A PROBLEM WITH THE JOHN DEERE ENGINE OR THE ZF CONTROLLER.  IT TURNED OUT TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN A SHORT/BROKEN WIRE, WHICH WAS REPAIRED WITHIN 5 MINUTES ONCE THEY FOUND THE PROBLEM.  OUR JOHN DEERE ENGINE HAS ALWAYS WORKED FLAWLESSLY.  ONCE THE SHORT IN THE WIRE WAS REPAIRED WE HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED A PROBLEM AGAIN WITH THE BOAT.  WAS IT A FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE TO GO THROUGH BECAUSE OF BEING STUCK IN MARATHON, AND CHANGE OUR CRUISING PLANS? – YES.  HOWEVER, WE KNEW WHEN WE BUILT OUR BOAT THAT THERE WOULD BE ISSUES THAT WOULD COME UP – JUST AS THERE ARE ISSUES IN BUILDING A NEW HOUSE.  THIS TURNED OUT TO BE A VERY MINOR ISSUE THAT SIMPLY TOOK A LONG TIME TO DIAGNOSE.  ONCE DIAGNOSED, IT WAS REPAIRED AND WE WERE ON OUR WAY AND ENJOYING THE DANCE ONCE AGAIN.  (IF ANYONE HAS FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT TOOK PLACE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DROP US A NOTE.)

On Saturday morning, April 23 we left our slip in Marathon to begin our journey to the Abacos, Bahamas. We were about 2 miles out when Pauline heard sounds from the engine while standing on the aft deck that were definitely not normal. She rushed up to the pilot house to let the Captain know. At the time he happened to be on the radio with our friends Maria and Roberto of Gratitude, who were traveling with us to Rodriguez Key for the evening. They were just a little ahead of us. By that time he, too, had noticed the problem and then an alarm went off, beeping and beeping. There was clearly a problem. When trying to put the boat into either forward or reverse, the engine rpms would fluctuate radically from idle to full without moving the throttle lever! In neutral the engine ran normally. Mark immediately began to try to diagnose the problem. But no matter what he tried to do, the boat would not respond properly and could not get the alarm off.

In the meantime, our friends Lisa and Mark Carruthers, back in Marathon, heard our conversations with Gratitude and Mark took off in his dinghy to come out to see if he could help. During this time we were adrift in water about 9′ deep below our keel being blown toward a nearby key. We decided that we needed to anchor the boat. Gratitude turned around and came back, but we told them to go on. There was nothing they could do to help. Mark Carruthers arrived and for the next few hours the two of them tried everything they could to rectify the situation. They identified that the problem was with the electronic engine throttle and transmission controls. Our boat has 100% electronic controls, not the older style mechanical or hydraulic controls. Numerous times they turned everything off and tried starting the engine and going through the start-up process of what one does every time in readying the boat for departure. No matter what they did, the alarm and error code came back on and the throttle/transmission did not respond. Pauline was able to get Gregg Gandy, the service VP at Kadey Krogen on the phone. Gregg had Mark try numerous things to get the alarm to reset and the controls to work properly. Nothing worked. We ultimately decided that we needed to call US Towboat and get towed back. We contacted the marina and told them of our plight and made arrangements to get back in our old slip. Within 30 minutes the tow boat arrived. We hooked up a “bridle” with a tow line onto Next Dance, and pulled up our anchor. Mark Carruthers took off in his dinghy and Lisa Carruthers, along with the marina, readied troops on the dock to help catch our lines. Again, we could not maneuver the boat to get it back in the slip using forward or reverse. The tow boat got us lined up so that we could drift back into the slip. Luckily the wind was in our favor to do this. The Captain was able to maneuver the boat with our bow and stern thrusters to move it right or left. As soon as we got close enough, Pauline was able to toss a spring line to someone on the dock so that we could get attached to land. The remaining lines were tossed and Next Dance was again secured in the slip. Whew! What an experience. Not one we EVER want to have again.

After we were settled, Gregg Gandy called with the phone number for the ZF Controls technician. Together they went through the error codes shown on the controls processor, a large computer. All the readings were normal. Mark once again fired up the engine. Guess what – everything worked. No alarm, the throttle/transmission controls worked normally. What on earth?? He tried this a couple of times with the same result – everything worked. As mentioned before, the throttle/transmission controls on our boat are an electronic system. So the problem was not mechanical, it was electronic. So now the technician was stumped. He originally thought that it was probably a bad processor. But now that we could not duplicate the problem, he was not sure. He suggested we should try to leave in the morning and see if it happened again. Really? Mark asked what the next step would be and it would be to have the processor replaced with a new unit, and the existing one sent to the factory so it’s memory codes could be reviewed. After Mark got off the phone with him, we discussed all of our options and made the decision not to attempt crossing the Gulf Stream and potentially having the problem occur out there. If the problem reoccurred at mid crossing, 30 miles offshore, we could not communicate with land, except by using our emergency beacon and the tow back to the US would run into many thousands of dollars and we would be at the mercy of the waves and current for hours while waiting for the towboat. It was a quick decision that we were not going to put ourselves in danger.

Now the sad news. Our Bahamas trip will not happen. We made the decision not to go. If it was just affecting us, that would be one thing. But Mark’s son Scott, and his girlfriend Emily were flying into Marsh Harbour on 4/30. We had to make the phone call to tell them their trip has been rearranged. We are going to have someone come out to replace the processor, try to determine if there is anything else wrong which could have triggered the problem. Scott and Emily will fly into Fort Lauderdale or Key West, rent a car and drive here to Marathon. By the time they arrive, the repairs should be completed. We will spend our time with them exploring the Keys, take the boat down to Key West for a couple of days, and anchoring somewhere. No, it won’t be quite the same as being in the islands, but we can still have a good time. Emily has never been to the Keys, and Scott has only been to Key West with us. We’ll have a lot of fun exploring the Keys and spend a lot of time people watching. There are a lot of unusual characters down here! After they leave, our friend Louise Crowley is also scheduled to fly into Marsh Harbour. We haven’t made that phone call yet. But Louise is always a trooper and she will understand and we will have a great time with her also. After Louise departs, we will begin heading north up the east coast, a little later than we had planned.

So, we invited Mark and Lisa over for dinner, pounded down a few cocktails and finished off three bottles of wine. We drowned our sorrows and had a lot of laughs. Like we said in our last blog, with boating, nothing is written in sand.

In the end, we know we are making the right decision. We will continue our “shakedown” cruising close to the east coast. It is a new boat, and stuff is going to happen.

Until next time, fair winds and calm seas . . . (and no problems)

Pauline and Mark

    CAT TALES

Well furriends, there was a lot of activity this morning. The engine roared and off we went. All was good for awhile. We assumed our usual positions under the chairs in the pilot house. Then all of a sudden there were loud beeping noises and chaos in the pilot house. Mom and dad were clearly distressed about something. This in turn made us very upset. We didn’t know what was happening, but we didn’t like it. Over the next few hours this continued. A strange man came on board and added to all of the chaos. We proceeded to start foaming at the mouth.  While dad and the stranger were going in the engine room, the pilot house and the flybridge, the loud beeping continued. The engine room door was open and that noise was really loud too. We were very distraught. Meow. Mom went on clean up duty and tried to calm us. She even gave Pema some medicine to get her to relax. After some time, we heard mom and dad say that we were getting towed back into shore. Thank God! We were done with that fiasco going on. We are glad to report that we are safe and sound back in the slip and everything is quiet. Wonder when the engine is going to roar again? Until it does, we are going to chill out and savor our time in the sunshine! Meow.
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Respectfully submitted,

Ming and Pema, Boat Cats

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The Cruising Begins!

There is such a weight off of our shoulders now that we have left Stuart. After 4+ months of commissioning and awaiting our boatshow obligations, we just now feel that we have our life back and we can again enjoy cruising and exploring new destinations. And we are!

After a two day trip across Florida via Lake Okeechobee, we arrived in Fort Myers on Monday 3/21, staying at Legacy Harbour Marina right in the historic downtown area. Many restaurants and shops are within walking distance, as well as a grocery store. We had our car available during our stay. Afterwards, our good friends Scott and Jean Hickey, who have a new home in Naples are letting us keep the car in their garage while we are cruising this year. We enjoyed our time in Ft. Myers visiting them, along with our other local friends Kirby and Susan Shoaf and Alan May and Linda Thompson. It was also fun catching up with other friends at the marina, who we met during our stay there during the winter of ’15/’16. They had us on a different dock than we had last year, but that just meant new faces at the nightly “cocktail” gatherings.

We had the most bizarre thing happen while there. Mark went up to the flybridge to get something and immediately came down and said I just had to see something. I got up there and saw a swarm of bees suspended from a railing! Thousands of them! This sudden appearance of a swarm is apparently fairly common at this time of the year. The marina had seen this happen on another boat the previous week. When a hive get too crowded, the queen bee leaves her hive and brings with her about half of her workers, scouts and drones. When she gets tired, she lands and so do her subjects. She unfortunately picked our boat to land on. The remaining half of her original hive “elects” a new queen and starts replacing their departed brethren. The dock master gave us the name of a beekeeper to call in case they didn’t leave in a day or two. Of course this occurred on Easter Sunday. The local beekeepers charge $200 to remove the bees even though they’ll keep them to form a new hive for the honey. So we decided to wait a couple days before handing over any cash and sure enough two days later the queen bee took off along with her subjects. Pauline happened to see them leaving. It was really quite interesting to see all these bees swirling through the air like a mini tornado and moving across the river. Hope they found a nice new home! There was a group of about 50 or so who were still there the next morning. These apparently are scouts who were out looking for a new home and when they came back the queen was gone, but they could still smell her scent so they stayed. We again waited for two days and they weren’t leaving. They were probably going to die anyway, so we decided it was time for them to go. We sprayed them with soapy water and that was that. No more bees!

Honey bee swarm!

Honey bee swarm!


Mark celebrated his 73rd birthday in Fort Myers! Our friends Kirby and Susan from Naples joined us for dinner out. We came back to the boat to enjoy a cake that Kirby made – carrot cake, Mark’s favorite. Our friends Chris and Gail Wilkinson, fellow Krogen owners, on Tortuga, joined us. Pauline surprised Mark with the gift of a ukulele! It has been on his bucket list for a long time and he really wants to learn how to play. Hopefully he’ll be strumming some tunes in no time! Learning new things keeps the brain active, right?
Happy Birthday Mark!

Happy Birthday Mark!

On April 4th we left Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers for Fort Myers Beach. No, they are not the same place. Fort Myers Beach is about 14 miles further downriver at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee. We spent one night there. The next morning we departed Fort Myers Beach to begin run to Marathon Key. We tried to get into our marina there a few days ahead of our reservation date, but were not able to do so. The weather as been very usual this year, with consistent strong north winds, instead of the more gentle SE winds. As a results, the “snowbird” boats were slow in departing for their annual run up the east coast to home waters. So we were forced to anchored in Little Shark River for three nights. This was our first time anchoring Next Dance for an evening. We travelled approximately 10 hours from Fort Myers Beach to Little Shark River on the Gulf of Mexico. We had a great trip coming down. Some occasional four foot waves from behind us, but otherwise two to three footers. No problem for a KK, Next Dance operated flawlessly.

Next Dance leaving Fort Myers

Next Dance leaving Fort Myers

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach

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Pink Shell Marina in Fort Myers Beach

Pink Shell Marina in Fort Myers Beach

Dolphins on the bow!
Dolphins on the bow!

Little Shark River is major drainage river of the Everglades, with no human habitation for 25+ miles. But plenty of alligators, no swimming there! Also, when the sun goes down, we were mobbed by man-eating mosquitos and VERY annoying biting no-seeums. Pauline was covered with welts from bites. Mark was left pretty much untouched. She attributes this to being very sweet (not!). This would have been a great place to explore by dinghy, but we decided not to try to launch it. The current is quite strong here and reverses 4 times a day. Besides we probably would have gotten eaten alive. On Tuesday night we had the anchorage completely to ourselves. It’s too bad that we couldn’t enjoy sitting outside because of the darned bugs. After our peaceful, pristine anchorage we headed due south over the Florida Bay for 43 miles to Marathon, which lies about halfway down the chain. Pleasant trip, but very shallow water. Most of the way we had only 3 to 5 feet under our keel.
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Special note: we have activated a new device on board that provides us with continuous satellite communications anywhere on the globe. One of the features of this device is a track of our route while we are underway. It records our location every 10 minutes and send that position via satellite to the monitoring company. That live track is available on line for anyone to see. To view it go to https://share.delorme.com/NextDance. The arrowhead icon is our current position. On the left it shows the date and time of our last position it recorded. Try it out. All we have to do here is to remember to turn it on when we get underway.

We have been hearing from other Krogen’s, who had planned to go to the Bahamas, and had to change their plans due to weather – very windy and very rough seas. So many of them are heading north a little earlier than planned. We are still hopeful that the weather patterns will settle down over the next two weeks and give us a window to cross. Mark’s son Scott and his significant other, Emily, are scheduled to join us in the Abacos in the Bahamas for a 8 day cruise. It’s a five day cruise from current location to Marsh Harbour, where they land on the 30th. We have given ourselves a 8 day window to make the journey. We would be quite sad not to be able to get there. This would really change plans for Scott and Emily to join us. Worst case, we’d have them get off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, rent a car and join us here in the Keys. Not so bad.

It’s now April 20 and we will be leaving Marathon Key on Saturday. Right now the weather forecasts look promising! We have enjoyed our time here. Two other Kadey Orogens, a Gratitude, a 48′ like ours with Maria and Roberto Rosa, and a 58′, Tapestry, with Lisa and Mark Caruthers, are also here. We’ve enjoyed getting to know them better. We’ve gone exploring the area in our dinghy and have had our fair share of the world class french fries at Burdine’s, a local tiki bar. Some Colorado friends, Zoe Ann and Stuart Smith, happened to be visiting friends in Marathon, so we were able to spend a day with them. Stuart is ready to start living the lifestyle we are, but Zoe Ann is definitely not there yet. It was great catching up with them.

Friends from Gratitude and Tapestry enjoying a spectacular sunset!

Friends from Gratitude and Tapestry enjoying a spectacular sunset!


Colorado friends enjoying a Marathon Key sunset!

Colorado friends enjoying a Marathon Key sunset!


Marathon has long been a winter gathering place for Krogenite’s – those who still have boats and those that do not. One of the couples we’ve met here had high ranking State Department appointments during the Clinton administration. It has been interesting to hear their thoughts on the current state of affairs with the upcoming election. They have a home in Annapolis, MD, but have been coming down here for 10+ years and are now buying a condo. John is a accomplished musician and plays his banjo with a local blues group every Friday night! Quite a lifestyle change from his years in Washington. On Wednesday mornings, the local Kadey Krogen group gathers at a local restaurant for breakfast. Most of this group no longer own a boat, but they loved Marathon so much, that when boating was no longer possible, they settled here or winter here.
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Enjoying the tunes at Burdines in Marathon

Enjoying the tunes at Burdines in Marathon


One afternoon we took a dinghy ride with Maria and Roberto of Gratitude. They showed us one of the areas they discovered. It is an island that is no longer accessible by car. There are people who still live there and some sunken boats too.
Someone actually lives here . . . scary!

Someone actually lives here . . . scary!

Leftovers from a hurricane?

Leftovers from a hurricane?

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"We all live in a Yellow Submarine"

“We all live in a Yellow Submarine”

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We have explored the area and even took the local bus down to Key West for a day. Well, actually two days. A week ago we spent a day there being total tourists. Then late last week Pauline asked about clearing customs when we return from the Bahamas. We totally forgot to obtain the necessary documentation to re-enter the US on a pleasure vessel. So this entailed us another trip to Key West yesterday to be interviewed by a representative from Customs and Border Patrol. So we hopped on the bus again, along with all of our necessary documentation for our interview. We were in and out in 15 minutes! So we did more sightseeing.

Eyeee Carumba!

Eyeee Carumba!

Famous Sloppy Joes in Key West

Famous Sloppy Joes in Key West

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Ceviche!  Yum!

Ceviche! Yum!


The bus ride takes about 1-1/2 hours to get there and about 2 hours to come back. 140 miles round trip with a number of stops. The ride is beautiful and only costs $1.50 each way (senior fare). What a bargain! Not worth renting a car and trying to park down there. We saw a lot of unusual characters on the bus. The lifestyle is very laid back down here to say the least. We had visited Key West back in 2002 when we had put our sailboat on the market in Tampa Bay and Mark’s son joined us for a long weekend there. It’s a fun place, but not someplace you want to spend a lot of time in. The historic downtown area has many beautiful “Key West” style houses that now sell in the millions. It was probably a wise decision to purchase something there years ago and renovate it. There is a lot of interesting history there, along with the flora and fauna.
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On Saturday, we will leave Marathon and will anchor off of Rodriguez Key for the night. Then head up to Key Biscayne and anchor there for the next night. On Monday morning we plan to cross from Key Biscayne to West End in the Bahamas. We will be in the Gulf Stream for most of this crossing. This great river of the Atlantic flows north at 2.5 mph and when added to our 8.5 mph normal cruising speed, it will enable us to cross in about 10 hours. Right now the weather looks good and the seas should be relatively calm. Just the way you want to do it! Pauline is looking forward to getting her fishing rod set up in hopes of catching some fish along the way!

Hopefully the next update of this blog will be filled with all of our adventures in the Bahamas. But when boating, all plans are written in sand. We are so looking forward to those beautiful turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches, conch fritters, fresh fish and lobster! We also plan on getting good use out of the water maker we just had installed. Fresh water is very hard and expensive to obtain there. No wells and little rainfall, so all drinking water is made by reverse osmosis (which is how our water maker works) and costs about 25 to 50 cents/gallon. We have a 400 gallon water tank on board, but we use about 50 gallons a day per person, drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, toilet flushing and spraying the salt off the boat, so it adds up fast. It will be interesting for us to see how the area in the Abacos has changed since we were there many years ago cruising on a chartered sailboat. We can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Here’s a picture of all the Kadey Krogen’s currently enjoying the Bahamas! This is an app called Krogen Finder, otherwise known as “Krogen Stalker”. To see who they are, you just have to click on the pin and the boat name pops up. Pretty cool! We are sure to run into some of them while we are there.

All of those green pins are Krogens!

All of those green pins are Krogens!

Until then, fair winds and calm seas . . .

CAT TALES

    Greetings furriends! After months of peace and quiet on the boat, the engine has begun to roar again. We have to admit we are not particularly fond of this development. When the engine roars, it means that the boat will move. We haven’t moved in some time, so it’s going to take some getting used to again. When we are underway, we assume our positions under the chairs in the salon. This is where we feel safe. Mom has decided to give us some medication which makes us very sleepy. This also ensures that we don’t throw up! After about four hours it wears off and by then we are used to the motion and start walking around. It’s been pretty calm so far, so it’s not too bad.

    The good thing about this moving of the boat is that we are getting to see some new sights! That’s always interesting. When we got to Fort Myers there were a lot of people who wanted to see us again. Last year we would sit on the anchor pulpit and look down on people walking by. This year we backed into the slip, so we could only watch people walking on the dock from our cat tree on the back pouch. The people all say nice things to us as they walk by.

    Helping dad open his birthday present

    Helping dad open his birthday present


    My favorite spot!

    My favorite spot!

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    It’s been really purrty quiet for us lately. No big excitement. We’ve been just hanging out, sleeping, playing and being pampered. We’ve both been behaving too. I don’t think we’ve gotten into any trouble at all since our last writing. We’ve occasionally hidden ourselves purrty well so that mom and dad can’t find us. The engine room has a lot of great hiding places, but can be very noisy at times! Pema did take the opportunity to jump onto the dock, but she got caught right away and jumped back on the boat quickly. Meow.

    Here in Marathon we’ve really enjoy sitting on our cat tree and watching pelicans diving in the water. We also have seen these big, fat, slow moving creatures in the water around the boat. We don’t think they are fish. I think I heard mom calling them manatees, or something like that. I also think that she posted a photograph of one in this blog somewhere. (By the way, she takes way too many pictures of us.) We’ve become pretty accomplished at catching big dragon flies too! The weather has been so nice here and we’ve been spending a lot of time outside.
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    Bird watching!

    Bird watching!

    My new favorite hiding spot!

    My new favorite hiding spot!

    Hello Mr. Manatee!

    Hello Mr. Manatee!


    There has been a lot of talk again about moving. Meow. This time they’ve been talking about someplace called the “Bahamas”. Mom keeps telling us how blue the water is there, just like our eyes. She also has told us we will then be in another country! Well, that’s purity exciting. We can now say we are international traveling cats.

    Well that’s it for now. Next time we’ll tell you all about our adventures in the Bahamas.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Ming & Pema, boat cats