It has been a while since I last posted so here is some of what has happened.
Portholes - With the close of summer came cooler weather and we could finally live without air conditioning long enough to mount the portholes in the stern. Julio, our favorite intrepid boat worker, came through for us again. Of course nothing is ever simple on a boat and in this case the problem was the compound curve of the transom. Julio made a template then overnight made perfectly curved teak mounting shim plates that gave the portholes flat mounting surfaces but followed the curve of the transom for the sealing faces. All 6 portholes in the rear half of the boat have now been replaced. All that is left are a measly 10 ones forward.
Hatch - We sold the too-heavy-for-us RBI dinghy that came with the Morgan and replaced it with the Avon R3.1 slatted-floor roll-up model from our old Horizon. The newly exposed foredeck was nice but the first rain storm we found the old dinghy had been covering a badly warped and leaky plastic hatch in the main salon. I was lucky and found a perfectly sized Bomar cast aluminum hatch at Don's Marine Salvage for a surprisingly good price. Bedding the new hatch in place stopped all leaks from the cabin top.
Rose goes swimming - One evening in October we were sitting in the cockpit, sipping sangria and listening to a Martina McBride concert in the marina park when our black cat Rose decided to join us. Rose has been out a few times but always before with harness and tether. This time she slipped out of the cabin under the screen, then her feral switch must have tripped because she decided to make a break for freedom. She ran down the side deck, realized the deck stopped before reaching the dock, then launched herself towards the boat next door. She flew about half way across before landing kerplop in the cold water. There was about a second of stunned silence followed by a cacophony of splashing and caterwauling. She splashed her way under the swim platform of our neighbor's boat where she wedged herself on a support strut half in and half out of the water. I got a net under her but couldn't reach far enough back to unhook her from her perch. By this time our dock mates had mobilized and within minutes Chuck had peeled her loose and pulled her out, and we got her wrapped in a towel.
Windlass - Horizon came with a Quick electric windlass sized for combo 5/16 rope/chain anchor rode, good for little more than a lunch hook. For cruising I wanted the security of all chain rode and after lots of research settled on the Lighthouse 1501 electric windlass for its size, power, and manual backup options. It arrived three weeks after ordering it and my hunt for chain turned up 200' of 3/8" Acco HT (G4) chain locally at Standard Marine Supply in Tampa. We expect to have the system installed by the New Year.
Ham/Marine SSB Communications - At this month's St. Pete Boat Show the first booth we visited was Sea-Tech. They have a really complete communications/weather fax/email package with an Icom 802 HF radio, antenna tuner, Pactor modem, and all the incidentals to install the rig. That package has been on the "to buy" list for a while so we went ahead and ordered it. All the parts arrived within a week so it is now on the "to install" list.
Slot head screws [Rant] - In trying to replace a broken stanchion bolt then trying to mount the thru-hull fitting for the new radio antenna lead, I found my usual sources of stainless steel pan slotted head bolts now only carried Phillips head. When asked, I was told that they stopped making slotted head because everyone wanted Phillips. For deck hardware there is no substitute for slotted heads. Salt water has to be able to flow out of a fastener head and not pool since salt water rusts even stainless steel. I finally found and ordered an assortment of bolts from what may be the last supply of SS slotted head bolts at Jamestown Distributors.
Marriage - Our big event was October 29th on the beach in Key West. Of course we did it for the children; Rose and Ollie cat-nap more soundly knowing they are legitimate. Our family is now unofficially known as the McHop clan.
Bon Voyage Horizon - Our old Horizon was sold again and is now sailing her way toward the eastern Caribbean and new adventures.
Attack of the crab traps - Our first time out in quite a while ended almost immediately. We had just cleared the breakwater and were raising sail when suddenly there arose such a clatter (see my holiday spirit?) from the stern. The entry to the marina is densely filled with lines of crab trap floats. We managed to hit one exactly right so the prop caught the line and started winding it around and around and around... Being the right pirate, I gripped my trusty butter knife between my teeth and started down the swim ladder, but the moment my solar plexus hit the 64 degree water I knew it was just not going to work. We had no damage except the prop shaft collar zinc, but we did have to get a tow then overnight at the pumpout dock until a diver could cut the whole mess loose the next morning. Sadly we forgot to check the trap for a crab feast but a 12v hookah and full wet suit have now moved to the top our "to buy" list.