Monday, 31 January 2011
Jan 31 Day 11 Monday, Fort Lauderdale
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This was a beautiful day with the temperature in the 70s and a quiet day for reading books and checking email.  I lined up a visit to Sanibel in mid February and a boat trip on Key Biscayne to Miami on Wednesday. The photo shows the 80 ft boat, "La Vie"  just a few feet away from us. Our rig is behind it in the photo. There are many comings and goings on this boat with a man driving his motorcycle right over our patio and a big white limousine that comes and goes occasionally. There is a crew of several men and they are working on the boat. They took a pair of scooters, a jet ski, and a RIB off the roof so they could work up there.  The other photo shows a RIB like ours floating in the water in spite of the fact that the tubes have been deflated. It's the first time I have seen proof that a RIB will float with near empty tubes. 

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Posted on 01/31/2011 10:34 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 30 January 2011
Jan 30 Day 10 Sunday, Fort Lauderdale
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The most exciting event today was to see an iguana on the dock. Seems like most of the wildlife we have seen so far occurs on the docks. Otherwise we went shopping to Costco. Sunday is the busiest day of the year. The store was mobbed. We will stay here one more night and then head for Key Biscayne

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Posted on 01/30/2011 10:38 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 29 January 2011
Jan 29 Day 9 Saturday, Fort Lauderdale
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My new talk on "Keeping in Touch Alternatives to the Postcard" was very well received with 28 attending.  I spent the rest of the day checking out boats and got a real surprise when the last boat on the dock turned out to be a hybrid electric 42 ft 1986 Grand Banks. It uses 20 AGM batteries to provide 400 volts DC (same standard as electric cars). A diesel generator is used to charge the batteries. The two original engines were removed (through a hole in the cabin roof) and replaced with two very small electric motors and a diesel generator. The batteries will drive the boat at up to 14 knots. At cruising speeds of 6-8  knots it can run for 6 hours on the batteries alone. Fuel consumption is half what it would be with diesel engines driving the propellers at the same speeds. A huge advantage is the ability to power the air conditioning from the batteries at night. The hybrid electric propulsion system takes up far less space than conventional engines meaning boats can have additional living space. More than one manufacturer is looking at adopting the system for new boats.

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Posted on 01/29/2011 10:03 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 28 January 2011
Jan 28 Day 8 Friday, Fort Lauderdale
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This morning I had breakfast with a man who has built a boat electrical business in Stuart, FL. He started when he was 16 working on outboards in Montreal. Today he designs the electrical systems and wires custom built 70 ft deep sea sport fishing boats. My Great Loop talk was a big success with 80 to 100 attending and standing room only. Every person there had not done the loop and was thinking about doing it. I spent most of the afternoon touring a 57ft Marlow Marine Explorer and a couple of Beneteau trawlers. Beneteau is new in the US market for trawlers and has ideal boats for the loop.  Dinner tonight was with a long time Florida boat broker with many, many interesting stories of sales he had made and adventures on the water. He estimates there are really only 80 brokers in the USA that really know what they are doing. He was interested to hear about our broker friend who sold a $600K houseboat to a man that came looking for a pontoon boat to use with the 80ft houseboat she sold him a year before.

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Posted on 01/28/2011 10:18 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 27 January 2011
Jan 27 Day 7 Thursday, Vero Beach to Fort Lauderdale
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We were out at 9:00 and drove 119 miles to Bahia Mar Resort at Fort Lauderdale. There was very little traffic on I-95 until we got to West Palm Beach. The highway is now 5 lanes on there so traffic moves along well. In town it's another story; very slow and stoplights everywhere. I worked at the TrawlerFest trade show for a couple of hours while Mavis cut the cards out of the prints we got yesterday.  We are at the Yacht Haven RV Park and Marina. The boats have to go 6.7 miles from the Intracoastal Waterway or Ocean to tie up here. Most of the boats are 80-100 ft long or so and quite a few are for sale. Lots of Canadian boats and RVs are here.  The highlight of our walk around Yacht Haven was a photogenic yellow-crowned night-heron eating a fresh caught crab. We will use the View to go back and forth the 5.3 miles to TrawlerFest. This way Mavis has a nice place to stay while I tour the boats and visit.

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Posted on 01/27/2011 10:12 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Jan 26 Day 6 Wednesday, Universal Studios to Vero Beach
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We left the dumpy Aloha RV Park around 11 for the drive to Vero Beach. We were due there at 5:30pm and only had about 107 miles to drive. I discovered I had forgotten to bring cards for TrawlerFest. I thought it would be easy to go to Office Depot and get some more made. It turned out to take over two hours just to get them to print on double sided color page sized card stock. I had to buy a paper cutter as they wouldn't cut them out. We stayed with friends, Lee and Victor, we met on the Great Loop 7 years ago. They live on the Indian River where we stayed on our cruise. We all went out to dinner.

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Posted on 01/26/2011 10:06 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Jan 25 Day 5 Tuesday, Flagler Beach, FL to Universal Studios
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Wow! The temperature is now in the 70's here in Orlando. Of course that has brought on a big storm bringing rain and tornadoes. The storm held off until we were just leaving the Universal Studio's Theme Park.  Mavis got her fill of the Harry Potter show. The buildings are colossal. She went on the ride but I stayed out. Just about every ride here is some form of roller coaster. The last one I rode on a few years back did me in. No more roller coasters. There really is very little to do in this place unless you like roller coasters, don't mind getting soaking wet, like to shop, and enjoy $10 hot dogs; all after paying $200 to park and get in the gate for one of the two theme parks. After all that you have the opportunity to upgrade to avoid waiting in line, get all you can eat, etc. 

Since this was not a busy day the lines were all short with little waiting. Most of the visitors were foreign tourists which is a good thing. People waited in long lines to get into the stores at Harry Potter, to buy the same stuff available in the sourvenir store near the gate with no line at all.  The biggest bargain in the park was the AMC Cineplex where this afternoon movies were $5.00 for seniors. Tonight we are in a real dumpy RV Park called Aloha.

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Posted on 01/25/2011 10:51 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 24 January 2011
Jan 24 Day 4 Monday, Fernandina Beach, Fl to Flagler Beach, FL
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We toured Fort Clinch this morning. It is a large brick fort built to protect the St Mary's River inlet that runs between Amelia Island and Cumberland Island thereby securing the deepwater port of Fernandina. Construction of the fort started in 1847 but was unfinished when the Civil War began. The Union Army captured it from the Confederates without a fight and finished most of it using bricks imported from New York which didn't match the southern bricks. 

Unused for many years it was bought by the State of Florida and is still being worked on.  Park Rangers dressed in Union uniforms give an excellent tour with lots of humor. Women are greeted with a job offer washing the soldiers' clothes for $26 per month, the going rate in 1862. The laundry is on the tour.

Next we visited one of the towns we enjoyed on the Great Loop cruise, Fernandina. The docks have been enlarged and the harbor dredged. We had an excellent lunch at Brett's Waterway Café on the dock. We drove 114 miles to Flagler Beach and checked into the Gamble Rogers State Park. Here we are just a few feet from the water, actually on top of the dunes.  The shelling was not nearly as good as last night.

Tomorrow we head for Orlando, and Universal Studios to see the new Harry Potter theme park. 

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Posted on 01/24/2011 10:50 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 23 January 2011
Jan 23 Day 3 Sunday, Macon to Fernandina Beach, Fl
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Last night was cold at 28. Beside the cold we had to contend with a nearby rooster that started crowing about 4:00AM and was still going strong at 8:15 when we left at a rate of 2 crows per minute. The rooster lived in a nearby cottage so we couldn't blame the park. From Macon we took the Golden Isle Highway, US 23, all the way to Florida. The route was 4 lanes almost all the way with little traffic. Passing through small towns it was sad to see the GM and Chrysler car dealers' empty lots. The biggest industry in Cochrane looked like the CCA prison. Larger towns like Waycross appear to be suffering.  After Waycross US 23 becomes the Okefenokee Trail which passes beside the huge Okefenokee Swamp. This is the home of the possum comic character, Pogo, and his friends.

 

Fort Clinch State Park is a beautiful peninsula on Amelia Island, the most northerly point in Florida on the Atlantic Ocean. We have a site at the sand dunes and had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Mavis went shelling and I walked to the fishing pier and watched a pro sheller with boots, grabber, large collecting bag and off camera a whole cart full of hoes, rakes, and other stuff. 

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Posted on 01/23/2011 10:11 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 22 January 2011
Jan 22 Day 2 Saturday, Chattanooga to Macon
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We had a great breakfast with Bob & Gail and set out for Macon through downtown Atlanta. Traffic was light going via downtown as all the trucks take the bypass. I had decided I needed a mobile printer (after Bob showed me his) to be able to print packing slips and postage labels when orders are received for our books and CDs.  We stopped south of Atlanta at Morrow and found an Office Depot store. They had a demo but no stock. Further investigation showed that Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy all carry the mobile printers but none of the stores keep them in stock. You have to order via the websites and then pick up the product at the store several days later. Not too convenient for travelers like us. 

Tonight we are at the Lake Tobesofkee County Park. It seems there are three Tobesofkee parks in three different locations on both sides of the lake. The GPS guided us to the wrong park. You have to enter the street address to get to the right park and not use the park name. We have a $25 deluxe site right beside the lake. It cost $3 more than one farther back from the water. The temperature is now in the 40s. Tomorrow we expect to arrive in Florida at Fort Clinch State Park.

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Posted on 01/22/2011 10:51 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 21 January 2011
Jan 21 Day 1 Friday, Nashville to Chattanooga
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I brought the View down from Murray on Wednesday. Fresh and clean  from its stay in the storage building, as soon as it hit the backyard it became covered with bird s..t filled with berry juice from the hackberry trees. Then on Thursday night it snowed and the temperature dropped to 18 degrees. It was a good chance to test the low temperature limits of the View. By this morning the cold water was frozen but the hot water still worked. The roads and driveway were covered with ice. I spread some cat litter on the hill beside the house and the View got up the hill without difficulty. We finally got away at 1:30 PM CST and made it to our friends Bob & Gail in Chattanooga at 5:30PM EST. Bob is in the boat business, owns several antique & classic boats, and has a motorhome much like ours so we had lots to talk about. We are both planning to do Alaska this summer. Tomorrow we head for Macon.

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Posted on 01/21/2011 10:39 PM by Bob Duthie
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