Tag Archives: Ed Robinson

Coastal Breeze Now Available!


Book One in the Bluewater Breeze Series is ready for you to read today. No pre-order, no waiting.


Breeze is made an offer he can’t refuse. A three million dollar yacht is his for the taking, but there are strings attached. He’s sent to Panama to repossess the vessel from its current captain, who becomes an unlikely ally during a mission to Colombia.
He desperately wants to get home to Florida, but the return trip is fraught with problems and complicated by the uneasy relationship with his passenger. Any attempt to come to terms with the loss of his lover must wait for the completion of the journey.
A new life awaits if he can stay alive long enough to realize it.

Coastal Breeze 001


Blue Ridge Breeze is Live at Amazon

This is the last day to get it for $2.99.

There is a fugitive loose on McGuire Mountain. Local law enforcement asks Breeze to help track the man down. The mission goes horribly wrong. In the process of trying to make it right, Breeze uncovers corruption by the Chief of Police. Though he’s committed no crime, he once again finds himself on the wrong side of the law.
He thinks the problem is resolved, but someone is stalking his cabin. Breeze and Brody become prisoners in their own home. The situation forces Breeze to utilize his mountain skills like never before.













DIY Bottom Paint

Our vessel was in dire need of new bottom paint. The choice was to pay someone to do it, or do it ourselves. After getting a few estimates and comparing them to the cost of doing it ourselves, we decided to take on the challenge. Estimated savings; $1000

There are two boatyards in the area that will allow you to do-it-yourself. Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage couldn’t take us until November. Safe Cove (formerly All-American) could take us right away.


We paid an extra $100 for pressure washing and it was well worth it. 95% of all barnacles were gone before I touched the hull. I had to scrap and poke at the nooks and crannies of the running gear. I chose Trilux 33 for the metal parts. Here’s a before and after of the prop, shaft and rudder.



Sanding the bottom was a horrendous job. It was hot, dusty and downright miserable. I started Friday afternoon and worked until dark. On Saturday I started work again early and finally finished at noon.


I wore some old tattered clothes that I should have thrown away a long time ago. When I finished sanding they went into the dumpster. It took about 8 hours of total labor to sand the hull. I was exhausted but thrilled to be done with that part of the job.


We washed it all down and took a break to let it dry. The 95 degree heat shortened the drying process. I chose Micron 66 for anti-fouling. Practical Sailor constantly tests and studies the performance of bottom paints, and Micron 66 is always the clear winner. It’s also the most expensive. Retail is $299.99 per gallon. I bought 3 gallons.


The heat made paint application difficult. It dried up so fast I couldn’t spread it out. It took two full gallons to finish the first coat. I was going to need another gallon. This is when I discovered “Brush Ease” from Interlux. It’s a thinner for Interlux bottom paints. You can dilute by 10% and it makes rolling much easier. I wish I had known before-hand. I used up all my West Marine ten-dollar coupons and got another gallon for $200. This cut our overall savings on the job down to $800. Still alot of money.

The second coat went on much smoother. A third coat was applied to the water line. I had the yard move the jackstands and those spots got two coats. We’d have a full 24 hours drying time before relaunch.


We hauled out on Friday at 1:00 p.m. and took the tape off on Monday at 5:00 p.m. It was non-stop manual labor in the Florida heat, and I’m glad it’s over. We launch today at 2:00 p.m.

If you ever wondered why it costs so much to have your bottom paint redone, I can tell you. Because it’s a nasty job. It’s pretty much the most miserable work I’ve ever done. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty, but I’m seriously considering paying someone to do it next time.

Water Tanks, Water Tanks, and More Water Tanks

 The most important issue for us while living on the hook is to conserve water. We’ve learned to be extremely frugal when it comes to water usage. We rarely, if ever take a “real” shower. We wash dishes in salt water and then rinse them in fresh, using a pump-up spray bottle. Every day is an exercise in using as little water as possible. 

  Taking on water to refill our tanks means loading jerry jugs in the dinghy and filling them at a dock someplace. We then haul them back and dump them in our tanks. This can mean many trips back and forth until all our tanks are full, including the jugs themselves. It might be a full days work. 

  When we purchased Leap of Faith, it came with two below deck, poly water tanks. They are small for a trawler. Each holds only 30 gallons. We soon learned that 60 gallons didn’t last very long. Being super stingy meant a daily water usage of three gallons per day, which lasted us about three weeks, with 20 gallons in reserve in the jugs. We wanted to stay out longer than that so we improvised. over time we’ve acquired more than double the water holding capacity through the use of additional tankage and jugs. 

  One of the things we are blessed with in our trawler is lots of space. We’ve got plenty of room and storage capacity. Our first big addition to take advantage of all that space was a 65 gallon poly storage tank which I installed on the flybridge.


  That effectively doubled our capacity. We attach a hose to it and run it down to the lower deck for freshwater showers. It sits in the sun all day and it’s nice and warm when we return from the beach. The hose has a shutoff valve and a sprinkler nozzle. 

  Up on the bow are our jerry jugs, two six gallon and two five-gallon, for twenty-two more gallons of water. 


  Kept inside the boat and out of the sun are these babies:


Four jugs at three-gallons each and a little two-gallon container. That’s fourteen more gallons. We use this water to make ice and coffee mostly. Sometimes I mix up some powdered Gatorade with it. If we run out, there’s always the rum! 

In addition to all that water kept in tanks and jugs, when we can we totally stock up on bottled water. We’ve got several cases stored under the settee, and several more in the Vee Berth.


  Right now we have ten cases on board. We drink it, make ice and coffee with it when the small jugs run out. It really is a luxury to have so much space. Water conservation is still a constant concern, but now we can go two months before we need to start worrying about refilling. Of course, anytime we get somewhere that water is available, we top off everything while the getting is good. 

  I realize all of my sailboat friends don’t have the kind of space necessary to store all these extra jugs, tanks and cases, but what creative ways have you found to increase your water capacity? 


*As always, find all three of my books at Amazon. Help keep Leap of Faith afloat by purchasing one or all three today.*


Marinas Will Suck You In

  Once upon a time Kim and I were diehard, “on the hook” cruisers. We took pride in our ability to live and prosper without the need to ever tie up to land. We survived almost three years solely on the hook. Then one day late last summer we found out that Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda was beginning to allow liveaboards. Our generator was dead, cash reserves were getting low, so we decided to come on in and take a slip. 

  Oh how our lives changed. We had unlimited electricity! We had unlimited water! We had HOT showers that we could stand in forever. We had a place to dispose of our trash. We had ready access to Publix, West Marine, the liquor store, and a whole host of bars/restaurants. We quickly became spoiled. 


  Laishley Park is a beautiful, clean marina that is very well run by friendly staff. Our stay here has been wonderful. I even took a part-time job with the marina to help pay the slip rent. ($11.00 per foot for annual stay, but we paid 11.75 per foot because we did not want to sign a one-year lease.) We made lots of new friends, as one tends to do in a marina. Overall a great place that I highly recommend. 

  Then things started to change for us. We started noticing all the noise. Lawn mowers, pressure washers, bridge traffic, sirens, garbage trucks going BEEP BEEP BEEP at 4:00 a.m. We started having visitors almost every night. Folks stop by constantly to share a drink or sit and chat. These are good people mind you, people we like. But the constant flow of traffic to our boat was starting to wear thin. People know what your business is worse than in a small town. I mean they know when you poop for crying out loud. 

  We never had these problems on the hook. We lost our tolerance for everyday noise and stimulus somewhere along the way. It started to drive us crazy. In my second book, Poop, Booze, and Bikinis, I wrote a chapter called Marinas versus Anchorages. I listed the pros and cons of living in a marina as compared to living at anchor. Well I’m here to tell you that I’m more in favoring of anchoring out than ever before. Sitting on the boat off the island of Cayo Costa didn’t have any drama, except maybe the weather. Now we have dock drama on a daily basis. 


  Sharing a deserted beach with only the lovely Miss Kim is much preferrable to sharing a dock with forty of your closest friends, who were all strangers a few short months ago. Giving up the marina will mean a return to running jerry jugs to shore for water and gasoline. It will mean lugging groceries in the dinghy, as well as laundry and trash. Going back to living at anchor will also mean no more quick trips to the store for bread and milk, no more last second runs to pick up a missing ingredient for dinner. It means conserving water like your life depended on it. It means conserving electricity more than any green environmentalist. It means paying attention to your boat and it’s systems with strict regularity. While at the dock I’ve let these duties fall by the wayside for long stretches of time. Shame on me. 

  For the past month I’ve tried harder to give Leap of Faith the attention she deserves. While planning our departure, it has taken lots of work to get ready to go. Before we lived in a marina, we were always ready to go within a few minutes. I miss the peace and quiet of Pelican Bay. I miss happy hour on the sand spit. I won’t miss all the noise in Punta Gorda, nor the dock drama. As nice as this place is, I can’t wait to get out of here. Kim and I each have a few more days at our jobs here in the marina, and we’ll be pulling out on Wedneday of next week, weather permitting. 

  We may miss this place and the people, but it’s time to move on.


Home base will again be Pelican Bay, with provisioning in Fort Myers Beach. We may also head north to Long Boat Key again. We might even do some exploring in the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Who knows? One of the best things about cruising is just doing whatever you want on any particular day. No schedules, no hassles. Look us up if you make it to southwest Florida in your boat. 







Autopilot Installation Not for the Faint of Heart

  Seriously, don’t try this yourself unless you’re a glutton for punishment. Hire someone who has done it many times and knows what they’re doing. It’s a complicated and frustrating undertaking.

  However, Kim and I decided we really wanted an autopilot. Our vessel has very little “extras”, and over time we’ve learned that the one thing we really wish we had is an autopilot. Slow boats tend to require constant vigilance at the helm in order to run a straight line. It takes thousands of small adjustments to compensate for sea state, wind and tide. Long passages become quite tedious. Overnighters are almost impossible. 

  After some research I decided on the Sitex SP110 unit. Why? Because it’s the least expensive unit available with a proven track record of reliability. Sitex has been making autopilots since 1975 and has a great reputation among those who know. I discovered it via a cruisers forum and read several testimonials from those who own one. 


  I opted to attempt the install myself for one reason only. I’m a cheap bastard. I also have the time and am a fairly handy guy. I was not prepared for how difficult it was going to be. Turns out you need to be a rocket scientist to hook these things up. I’ll start with the easy part. The electronic compass needs to be centered somewhere in the boat, away from anything magnetic. It has a limited length of cable that needs to run to the helm and attach on the rear of the control head. It should not be high in the boat, to reduce pitch and roll. Well there just wasn’t a good spot for it on our boat. It ended up on the floor of the companionway at the base of the steps leading to the Vee berth.


I put a sign at eye level at the top of the steps; DON’T STEP ON THE COMPASS! 


  Next we move on to the Octopus reversible pump (for hydraulic steering). The autopilot itself did not come with hoses or fittings to tie the pump into the boats hydraulic system. I ordered what I thought I needed online and waited. When it arrived it turned out to be the wrong stuff. I sent it back and reordered another kit. When it came I closely inspected everything only to find that the tee fittings would not work with my system. The hydraulic hose have different end fittings than what came in the kit. Off to Ace Hardware to buy some fittings. I had to walk as we don’t have a car. I found 3 tees and 3 nipples that would make the hookup work. They rang me up and it came to $28.80. I said WHAT? 6 brass fittings for 28 bucks? I only had 26 bucks on me. Walk back to the  boat, grab some more cash, walk back to Ace and get my stuff. 

  I got to install the tees on the back of the steering pump and the lower one won’t tighten because it’s hitting part of the pump. Back to Ace again, on foot for the third time, to get a longer nipple. This time it worked. By the way, it was 96 degrees that day. The temperature under the helm console was something like 157 degrees. Access is limited and there is no light. I sweated gallons. 

Here’s the pump:


And here’s the tee connections:


I was so glad when this part was finished! Between ordering the wrong stuff and walking three times to Ace, it only took two weeks to complete. 


  Now for the real puzzler. The rudder indicator has to be installed in the lazarette. Mounting required drilling thru hardened steal and bronze. I broke a drill bit on the steel, went back to Ace again for a titanium bit and got the indicator mounted.


The tricky part was attaching that arm you see running horizontally to the rudder post. My first attempt failed miserably.  I didn’t take into account that the indicator rose up on either side of the rudders full movement. I scratched my head and muttered under my breath for a few days, ruminating over the issue. The ideas that came to me were all jury rigs and unnacceptable risks. I was stumped. Fortunately I recently made acquaintence with a very nice fellow who happens to have an engineering degree from MIT. He’s not a rocket scientist, but close enough. 

  He came and looked it over, took some measurements and drew some diagrams. He took this information home to his shop and promised to manufacture something that would work. A few days later he returned with some aluminum with holes drilled in it. He mounted it up and had me turn the wheel. No Go! Holy crap an MIT engineer couldn’t rig this thing up so it would work. He frowned and shook his head, then scratched his head and muttered under his breath. (Heck I can do that)

  He said hold on a minute. Let me think this through. He then went off to Ace Hardware to wander the aisles until something caught his eye and sparked an idea. Back at the boat he managed to turn some weird household items into a gimballed mount. We drilled a hole in the brass arm using WD 40 as a lubricant to keep from breaking the bit. After about four hours we had it put together, and it worked! 



When he failed on the first try I felt a little less stupid. But then he comes up with this contraption and I felt dumb all over again. Good thing I met him huh? He’s a heckuva a nice guy. Without him I’d still be scratching and muttering. God bless Ace Hardware as well. 


  Finally I needed to finish up the wiring. (I skipped the part about running all the cables, drilling holes, etc.) I connect the cable from the compass, the cable from the rudder indicator, the wires to the pump and the power to the unit. I turned it on. It lit up. Good start. I pressed auto and hit the arrow key to move the rudder. POP. Blown fuse. Crawl back under the console to find I had hooked into a 5 amp fuse, while the unit called for a 15 amp fuse. Replace fuse and wire direct to incoming 12 volt supply with a 15 amp fuse inline. Turn back on. It lit up. Press auto and hit arrow key. I hear the motor running but no movement from the rudder. 

  Mutter a little more then decide I hadn’t bled the hyrdraulic system thoroughly enough. Here’s my rig for that:


Spin the wheel back and forth a few thousand times and watch the bubbles rise up the tube and into the inverted jug. I left it this way overnight just in case any stray bubbles wanted to work their way through the system and escape. 

After bleeding very thoroughly, I tried moving the rudder again. It worked! Oh my god I wanted to jump up and down and shout Hallelujah. The damn thing works. 

  I still will need to do some calibrations and see if it will “talk” to my chartplotter, but I need to be underway for that. At the very least, I know it will hold a heading. Two weaks and many hours later I’m done with this project. Couldn’t be happier that it’s over. 

  Our plan now is to leave Punta Gorda next week on July 2 or 3. We will be in Pelican Bay / Cayo Costa for the Fourth.


As always, you can read more of Kim and Ed’s adventures by purchasing their books here: