Makara Maintenance: Part One – Getting hauled out and being held hostage in the travel lift. Off to a bad start.

The first of many video blogs (vlogs) about our silly boating adventures aboard MAKARA. This one is the first in the series of a major (expensive) maintenance program that addresses several issues related to the vessel’s age.

Please be aware that we are giving you the day-by-day reality of shock over prices, disappointment in other people, general let-downs in situations and some of the profanity that ensues.

These are the shitty days in paradise. Sorry.

Blackish to Brackish: The Beauty of the Bull Rush

This is a spring called Three Sisters in Crystal River. Springs are fed from rain water that is filtered through the ground and as the pressure builds up it gets pushed back to the surface. That is one way that nature filters water until its clean.

So the locals organized and preserved the property from development. In 1994 Jacque Cousteau filmed “Forgotten Mermaids” here, and now the  Dept. of the Interior owns it. Pretty cool.

We rode this trolley that was made decades ago out of cast iron and merry-go-round parts to get out to this refuge so we could walk around and learn something.

My parents were interested in taking us to see Manatees on the Three Sisters Springs, but it was not the right time of year for that.

So I’m guessing that there were at least ten of these diesel-spewing monsters made.

I think Dad’s having a nice time but his mouth doesn’t know it.

We got a guide that was retired from the Dept. of the Interior, who volunteers a couple times a week to talk about the local wetlands project. We walked around the newly created wetland, which is a successful experiment in cleaning the nutrients out of runoff water.

Here is what water looks like when you and I are done with it. This is the water that comes into this very small wetland for cleaning.

The Bull Rushes were hand planted a year ago. They’re thriving.

The birds came almost immediately afterward.

Blue swamp iris. That’s wild.

The birds eat the Apple snails that are plentiful here.

Remember, this is just over a year old.

This is a Lantana. Also wild.

A reminder of Scotland for Lindsay.

Towards the end of the small wetland the water ran clear.

This is Northwest Florida, called the nature coast. It’s hasn’t been developed with condos like the rest of the State.

One of the springs. I’m told the manatees love the steady temperatures here in the winter. Me too.

Nobody there could identify this orange stringy plant.

We’re coming back next year when the gulf is colder so we can swim with manatees!

The Good and Bad Parts About Visiting our Nation’s Capital

The good: Monumental reminders of our great founding fathers. Fantastic!

The bad: The horrible photos people take. Here’s our homage to bad tourist pics. 

Taking pictures of a monument with  people in the foreground. Surprising. 

Cutting out part of the monument in their photo. Disappointing. 

Badly thought out composition: the Narwhal. 

Jets flying overhead every 15 minutes. Unexpected. 

And the next one. 

Selfies in front of non-descript federal buildings on the tour bus. Funny. 

It was a nice day that afternoon. Lots of sunshine. 

Not paying attention to all the details. 

Strange lighting without explanation. 

Tour buses with their engines running. Noisy. 

Another great shot of the Jefferson memorial! Maybe not. 

Cars honking at each other at the traffic lights. Uncool. 

The cherry blossoms were pretty. Why are we here again?

Selfies with shadows on their faces. Unbelievable. 

The gift shop tent. Delightful. 

Lunch at the memorial. 

Lincoln Memorial Potties

Or cherry blossom potties?

Lack of focus: the Jefferson Monument. 

Did I mention the jets?

A tourist impressing his family with a paddle boat ride and picking a cherry blossom-sized booger out of his nose right when I took a picture. So awesome I cropped it. 

Trying to take selfie and getting a tourist in the background. Brilliant I’m a Narwhal #2.

This is as close as we got to the White House. 

But there’s always time at the end of the day for a bad attempt at food photography. 

Cool aerial videos of Makara

We just recently had a family aboard on charter. They had a 14-year-old son with a brand new toy. A drone with a video camera attached to it. He was kind enough to allow us to have some of the footage. We have updated our webpage “About the boat” to include four cool videos of Makara and the reef in Key West. Here’s a sample.

The Nature is in the Details

The Smoky Mountains National Park is big. Very big. Half a MILLION ACRES big. 

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble conceiving that. When I gaze 70 miles across the forest, it seems unreal. The details are lost in the vastness. 

When I look at something closely, I see and feel it in a way I can understand. For example, I saw this and just had to take a picture. 

When most people only take this type of picture, which is also good, but it’s not very creative. 

Just like when I took up underwater photography, I take pictures to see more. More color, more texture and more of the unseen detail versus what is seen with just the naked eye. 

I’m going to share a bunch of pictures that Lindsay and I took. 

Get a closer look. Enjoy the nature in the details. 

Tropical Storm Plan

Based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, the wind speeds for this potential tropical storm will be around 50 knots. We just don’t know where those winds will be located and from what direction they will blow.

Here is the predicted location of the center of the low for 8pm tomorrow, Friday night, the 26th of August, 2016.

48 hr wind and wave forecast for 8pm 26-aug-16

That is approxiamately 300 nautical miles away from Key West, and although there is a note that says possible gale, the wind speed arrow in front of the system is forecasted at a mere 15 knots and below the system is a measley 5 knots.  We hope that will be true, because it looks like it’s headed directly for us.

Here is the predicted location of the center of the low at 8pm Saturday night, 27th of August, 2016. That’s about 100nm away from Key West.

72 hr wind and wave forecast for 8pm 27-Aug-16

Again, forecaster Mundell is predicting the gale-force winds will remain to the northeast of the center of the low.

I think that second “X” to the left of the big “L” is a second low pressure system, due to predicted disorganization.

Right now the plan is that we are moving the boat Saturday morning out of the mooring field to our boat slip at Safe Harbour Marina and working out how best to tie a bunch of lines in all directions so it stays put.

Possible Escape Route

Ok, just to be clear, we are not making a decision yet. We have to wait and see how the system develops over the next 3 days. Here is the forecasted wind and wave conditions at 10pm on Saturday, the 27th of August.


72 hrs as of 2am 24-Aug-16As you can see we are only forecasted 1 to 2 foot seas, and 10 knots of wind on Saturday night, so we have time to watch and wait for the predicted path of the center of the low pressure system, whatever it may be at that time.

We are hopeful that the system heads north and doesn’t affect us very much, and we are allowed to move the boat into our new slip at Safe Harbour Marina a few days early.

In case things get ugly, the green arrow is the escape route from Key West to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It is about 350 nautical miles away. We can travel between 6 and 8 knots, so that is a 50 hour trip at 7 knots. That’s the current backup plan.

Currently we are in the middle of yet another lightning storm and bouncing around in the mooring field. The fear of being hit by a bolt of lightning with the ominous threat of a tropical storm approaching is a bit unnerving at the moment. But this will soon pass, as we have plans for happy hour at BO’s Fish Wagon and the Green Parrot in a couple of hours, once this storm clears!