Saturday, March 26, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 85, no rain for weeks

One of the problems with having a flatter bottom boat is it sat so straight and flat on the cradle lift that water in the cockpit fails to drain out the scuppers (self bailing drains at the transom).  When you have standing water, it's a little hard to get dirt and salt out of the boat.  I had hoped if I was able to make adjustments to the boat lift, by raising the bow slightly higher than the stern, the problem might be solved.

The boat lift has 2 lateral cradle beams, one front and and aft, 4 braided steel cables, 2 each on port and starboard sides.  There are two motors to control the lift cables.  One motor raises the port side and the other, starboard.  I needed to raise both front cables, independent of the rear.

I put the word out on a few Internet fishing sites I belong to.  One guy came up with the idea that worked.  I used a 2" wide ratcheting load strap to suspend the forward, port, cradle beam.  I then had to remove the shackle holding the end of the steel cable and remove the lower pulley.  I then manually looped the steel cable twice around the cable shaft to shorten it.  Now the cable was too short to reach the shackle but a flip of the motor switch unwound enough cable to re-attach it to the shackle.  Some of the steel cable loosened up and had to be re-wrapped but it was a piece of cake, with me holding the cable and my wife running the motor switch.  I followed the same procedure for the canal side, using the boat as a work platform.  The end result is pictured above.  Notice how the front cradle beam sits noticeably higher than the rear. 

The water now drains perfectly and the boat is nice and clean!  Just another day of Messing About.

Monday, March 14, 2011


On the road; Hampton Inn Boston
Low 28, high 41

Last weekend I had to prepare for a big fishing trip with friends.  I had to get the trolling motor installed and repair a bait well motor.  The trolling motor I bought on Craigslist classified ended up needing a new motor that cost me an extra $460.  The good news is the seller agreed to give me back $200.  That's pretty decent of him, considering I paid him 700 for what costs new at 1600.

While installing it I had under hull access through the anchor locker but I just couldn't reach one of four bolts that needed a washer and nut.  I was literally a half inch from it.  My index and middle finger could touch it but my thumb, which I needed to hold the washer in place, just wouldn't reach.  I decided to try a little bit of freshly chewed gum as a tool.  I pulled out a trace of gum and wrapped the washer around the wing nut.  Then, using my two fingers, I found it's spot under the bolt.  With my left hand I turned a screwdriver from the top and by golly it worked!  Now that's what I call, Messing About.

I determined one of the bait well motors was bad and bought a replacement for 40 bucks.  It took all I had to unscrew the old one out of the seacock threads but I did it.  I used heat shrink wrapping to secure the 12v wires from the potential water in the bilge compartment and now it works too.  Later, I will likely replace the release well motor, as it's the same age and doesn't give quite the pressure it should.

Sunday, I took 3 of my daughter's friends fishing.  After leaving my canal home in Port Charlotte, FL, we trolled a few miles off shore, from Boca Grande Pass south to Captiva Pass, in search of King Mackerel but only found Spanish Mackerel.

We returned Boca Grande Pass and caught 2 Bonnethead Sharks; caught and released catfish, undersize grouper and perch.

My new friend Dave, also new to fishing, battled a nice shark on just 10 pound test. It took him about 15 minutes but he expertly worked the drag and got the big boy landed.

Jason outfished everyone, catching more fish than we could count. He landed a nice shark of his own, bled it out, gutted it and took it home to grill.

Catch of the day came minutes before we were ready to head for home as Ben's line went off like none before. We used the boat to pursue the beast as it continued taking hundreds of feet of 30lb mono line. After about 10 minutes of expertly working the drag, Ben suddenly felt his reel slipping from the rod. While distracted and trying to tighten up the tension screw, the line went slack enough for the big fish to bite the line and escape. We lost what would have likely been the best shark of the day.
Nonetheless, it was a great trip. We ran 80 miles on the day. The 196BR handles 2-3' seas brilliantly. ; Although the ride home was quite rough and we did catch some salt spray, I am continuously amazed how dry this hull runs

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Leaving at 4AM for Fort Pierce

I launched the boat for a couple of hours today in very windy weather.  I had poured bilge cleaner into the bilge and needed to run the boat in order to slosh it around and make it effective.  I definately got sloshed around in the 20 MPH winds.  There were white caps all around but the boat handled it with high confidence.The coolest thing about today was that I didn't have to rush myself out even though the tide was high.  I passed under the short bridge at 1.4 feet about mean zero tide with no problem.  My old boat would have had the hard top ripped off at that height. 

I zipped out the mouth of the Myakka River and trolled a 10' deep diving lure.  I had two nice ripping off 100' of line in an instant.  I wasn't able to land either fish but it was still fun.  When I came in the bilge cleaner was found to have cleaned about half the gunk from the bilge.  I'll continued this process until I get it all cleaned up.

Saturday was spent doing projects.  I mowed, fertilized and watered the lawn.  I installed the 3 battery bank charger on the boat and got one of the two live wells working.  Friday I tried to call the repair guy who has my trolling motor but he didn't return my call.  I decided to drive over there to check on it and found my unit sitting in the middle of his lobby floor, where it's been for 5 days.  They haven't even looked at it yet.  (Grrrrr).  He said they've been busy.  Maybe me showing up will light a fire under them to get it going.

Monday morning I will awaken at 3:30AM to make the 3 hour drive to Ft. Pierce.  My week will also take me to Stuart, West Palm Beach and Delray Beach.  I'll be home late Thursday night.  I have a fishing trip planned with some guys next Sunday.  Hopefully we'll have good weather.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Hilton Garden Inn, Calibasas, CA

I've been awake since 2:30AM local time.  My wakeup call is in an hour.  I have such a hard time sleeping on Pacific time.  I came out here on Monday for a couple of days of work meetings.  It's now Thursday and I'll spend the entire day flying to get home.  Once colleague left last night on an all night red eye flight.  I think that would be worse than what I'm going through.  At least I got 5 hours of sleep.

The trolling motor I bought on craigslist didn't work all together right.  It powered up and the wireless remote communicated with it enough to turn it left and right but when I actuated the propellor, nothing happened.  I called the seller and asked if there was some secret to making it work and he said no, that it should work.  I took the lower unit apart and found quite a bit of corrosion and a little rust.  The prop was very hard to turn by hand, so that had to be the culprit.  I put it all back together and sent it in for repair.  After I get the bill, I'm going to call the seller and try to get him to pay some of it.  I hope to get the unit back tomorrow.

I spoke with my youngest grandson on the telephone last night.  He'll be 2 next month.  This was the first time I heard him clearly say, "Hi Pappy" and "I love you".  It warmed my heart.  I wish I could see my kids and grandkids more often but the distance and the economy really limit that.  I hope one day I have great-grandchildren who read this and all of my blog chapters and know who I am or was.  I hope they all know I wished I could be closer.