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05 September 2010 @ 01:14 pm
resting Labor Day weekend after weeks of labor  

The trip back to Ohio by plane August 20th through 23rd was indeed tiring, partly because I have never flown like that before, never boarded a pet before, and never been all the way to Orlando and its airport before.

And I spent every day that was not part of the trip continuing to work on the boat, since the last entry in mid-August, through Friday, September 3rd.

The late summer weather of central Florida demanded that I continue. -The tent really is ideal as the core of this "houseboat", but it is designed to be used in a shady forest, not on a sweltering barge.

When it gets windy, the tent needs to be tied to nearby trees in the forest, and the rain canopy is not designed to be on the tent with hot summer sun beating down on it.

But the the flexibility and portability of the tent, its bug screening, and the weatherproof floor and lower walls are perfect, and every other design I envisioned was nowhere near as good.

So I just needed to make a canopy over the tent, with four strong posts to tie the tent to in windstorms, with a fairly flat roof to not catch the wind, with adequate overhang, and fairly easy to drop down and partially disassemble when I need to store the boat under the roof at Tedders if I am in Ohio for extended periods.

The result was the 10-foot by 12-foot silver tarp ($20 from the Tractor Supply store) installed thus:

To see more details, go to the beginning of this new gallery:
pictures of late-August, 2010 boat improvements.

The other pictures there, like the picture at the top of this entry, show the final part of the improvements -the four 8-foot wide by 6-foot blinds, and the two mini blinds in the front corners.

The four large blinds were a bargain -$20 each from Lowes.

They are working well at keeping the tent cooler than the temperatures outside.

Now, the only time I will probably need the tent cover is during severe thunderstorms, and in the winter for warmth.

Ironically, even though it is still very hot every day, I was actually getting cold a few hours before dawn every night.

This is because it is so humid the air reaches dew point. When that happens, the heat index reverses, and 70-degree air feels like 63-degree air. (My little weather station confirms this.)

I now light a kerosene lantern to keep the temperature just above dew point, and I've been sleeping very well.

During the day, the humidity drops as low as 30 percent, so I now get everything crispy dry then and put it in plastic bags so it can't sponge up any dew in the pre-dawn.

When it finally gets truly cold, in the winter, what will I do?

Well, I already perfected that last winter:

(See my entries from my days camping in Louisiana in the portable shelter.)

I need to fix the failing CV joint in my Geo Metro so I can drive back to Ohio and back via Louisiana before winter. I will bring the shelter to Florida with me. Then, whenever it gets really cold for a few weeks, that shelter will be where my tent is on the barge.

I also want to bring back my folding motorized bicycle, some larger tools, and several other things from Ohio that would be more useful down here.


I have been doing other things besides working on the boat...

*I have found where to moor so I can get away from the 3G broadband deadspot at Tedders. I need to do this if I want to use the internet on my laptop.

*I saw my first bald eagle up close this morning!

*Last week when I had Ghost on his leash next to the boat in the trees, a curious otter was about fifteen feet away ready to come up and investigate him. He was huge -about three times as big as the cat, so I scared him away. They are cute and playful but can also be very mean and dangerous I've been told. As for the big gator that shows up at Tedders each night, he still seems pretty safe, never coming closer than about twenty feet away, always staying down in the water, and always acting shy.

*I've made more friends than I've ever had in my life! Almost everyone that lives in this little hamlet next to the state park, the workers and rangers at the park, and the air boaters and fishermen who are regulars at Tedders I now know by name, and they are all enthusiastic about my venture and have been providing valuable advice about the locale, animals, plants, and weather.

I do need to get farther from the park out toward the main branch of the river soon if I want true peace and quiet, though. On Sundays like today, there are so many small boats and kayaks and canoes and pedal boats going by it is like Grand Central Station, and at night there are the airboaters idling about fishing by spotlight.

So I've been carefully measuring wattages and motor speeds of the barge as well as the little tender boat, and solar charging rates, and power useage of all onboard devices, so I will always have backups and spare power and emergency plans to return to Tedders quickly if I need to. It will probably still be necessary for me to bring back one or both of my gas motors from Ohio for quick travel in emergencies. I will decide that in September.


Tomorrow (Labor Day), my brother Ed is coming down again from Jacksonville, and we plan to do a little cookout on or by the water.

And I want that to set the tone for the rest of September, a month that must be about living here, and adding little things to this journal, and about thinking about my friends and family in Ohio, rather than working continuously on the boat.

The only new things I've already taught myself about living here rather than about the boat are how to make a nice pillow out of Spanish Moss, and about good clean methods to bury the waste from the marine toilet and litter box back in the woods when I tie up in the inlets.

What about maybe catching fish? What about foraging like I was doing so much of in Ohio?

Maybe I will finally have time in September for these and all the other questions.