Falling in love with St. Marks, FL

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As if a view from the cockpit like this isn’t enough to cast a spell, the scenery around here is just stunningly beautiful all the time.  It doesn’t hurt that the weather has been absolutely perfect.  Add to that everyone I have met in this cozy little speck on the map beside the St Marks river has been completely friendly, kind and very helpful.  Every meal I have eaten in either the Riverside Cafe or the Cooter Stew Cafe; yes that’s its name,  has been completely delicious.  More later on this unique place.

I was fortunate to meet up Noel and Christy Davis of Furled Sails note (popular podcast some years back).  We had a leisurely lunch on Saturday at Riverside.  We spent a couple of hours catching up on each others lives.  A fun time was had!IMG_1709

Now for Cooter Stew Cafe.  It’s not unusual to see a line of Harleys parked in front on the weekend.  Inside, the waitress is very nice and the jalapeno cheeseburger with fries that I had–well, I just haven’t tasted anything much better, anywhere!

Today I washed my clothes at the marina for $2–honor system.  I took a much need shower–for free.  Just as I paddled into the ramp area the UPS truck rolled in with my order from eMarine in Miami.  Report on my work here will follow this.

As I was waiting for my clothes to dry I decided to wander over to the Riverside Cafe and get some lunch.  As I walked in and took a seat at the rail table my jaw dropped! There sitting at the next table was Cathy Payne!  The Payne’s are long-time Cedar Key Small Boat Meet enthusiast and inveterate wooden boat builders.  Shortly Rex walked out and it was like a family reunion.  The surprise was that they live just north of Tampa and just happened to be passing through on their way to Panama City Beach to meet with some relatives.  What a happy coincidence.

Just to give you an idea of how prolific their boat-building is, Rex said they are starting their fifteenth boat.  Rex offers that Cathy is at least as good as he is if not better.  In any case, I have seen several of their creations and they are simply spectacular in beauty and quality of fit and finish. The new boat is a smaller Melonseed.

Back at the marina where I have come to appreciate Maxine the very sweet clerk at the store, I picked up my delivery which is two flex panel solar panel supports.  They are plastic panels 8 mm thick honey-combed to be very rigid and cut exactly the right size for my panels.  The flex panels were flexing way too much on the soft top of the Bimini so they need support.  Additionally, they were buckled in such a way that the full sun was not hitting them at an appropriate angle.

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Now, as you can see from the picture they are nice and flat and well supported on the soft top of the Bimini.

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Here is a detail of the honeycomb board  with the custom pads Karen made on our new Sailrite sewing maching.

I took on another project today.  I had disabled the swing panels, two 50 panels with old style charger.  Having thought that the smart charger would be confused by the other voltage.  Turns out as long as the smart charge stays in bulk charge mode more amps is a good thing.  So I wired in a pull switch and moved the fuse to the right place–on the battery line not on the PV line and hooked it up. Magic, another 33 percent increase in the charging current.  If it goes into “acceptance: or “float” modes too early, I can turn off the extra panelsIMG_1067It helps to have the right tools along.  I had to visit the marina store for the switch and wire and the fuse holder.  I do have plenty of hardware and fuses.

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IMG_1051Well, I’m happy to say everything is working at least for now.  After carefully inspecting all the plumbing and fluids in the refrigerator I can account for the water in the bilge.  No leaks that I can tell!

IMG_1047Evenings like this and mornings like this make it hard to want to move on.  When I have finished all the maintenance (this is a shakedown cruise) and the wind is favorable, I will move on.IMG_1697

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