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  • Steve

Fire Extinguishers, Batteries, and Fuses Oh My!

We finally made it to Key West. I haven’t had a slice of key lime pie yet, although I hear it’s the better here than anywhere else in the world, and I love some key lime pie so I'm psyched to be here. I’m guessing it’ll probably be the most expensive piece of key lime pie I’ve ever bought too but that seems to go with the territory here. Everything is expensive, like higher than NYC prices. But you're at what feels like the end of the world (at least of US1 or Amazon), so it doesn't seem all that bad in the end.

We’re staying on a mooring ball in Garrison Bight so at least the price is right for lodging...

Since we’re getting ready to make the final jump off to Isla Mujeres in Mexico we need to do a final accounting of all our systems and make sure everything is good to go as we’re not planning on being back in the USA for some time. I happened to notice the other day that two of our fire extinguishers were in the red zone indicating they were no good, so we scheduled an appointment with a fire extinguisher certification guy who we met at the dinghy dock here. Figured it would be as easy as getting them checked or filled but ... nothing is easy on a boat.

Turns out that all four of our fire extinguishers have been recalled by the manufacturer, Kidde. So if you have little white fire extinguishers on board, even if they are in the green, check to see if they are made by Kidde. When we contacted the company, they assured us we could take them back to West Marine, buy new ones and they would reimburse us, but when we get to West Marine, they tell us they don’t have any in stock.

In fact, West Marine doesn’t have any available at any location and the really knowledgeable guy we spoke with said we wouldn’t be able to find them anywhere in the United States (because of the recall). He couldn’t tell us exactly why they were recalled, he wasn’t sure if the chemical in them wasn’t good for fighting fires or if it was harmful to people or what, but the point is we can’t exchange them. The salesman at West Marine seemed to think that Kidde would be filing for bankruptcy soon due to the recall....

Our only real option is to buy new big marine grade fire extinguishers that are about twice the cost of the little Kidde ones. Yay! I mean, sure we could keep the Kidde ones and hope the percentages don't work against you but in the rational analysis it makes sense to bite the bullet and get some new ones.

The next fun surprise came when our electrician, who was recommended from Andrea’s friend came aboard. Brent was great from the start, finding the blown fuse for the navigation station fixing our AIS and chart plotter within minutes.

The batteries were another story. Once we got the meter hooked up (because Brent took a totally cool approach teaching me how to troubleshoot all kinds of electrical issues), the reading came back as 4% -- replace batteries on both. Ugh. Brent said he’d never seen batteries so low, so we had to haul these two big 120+ pound behemoths out of the port aft cabin, up and out onto the dinghy. Boat life requires no gym.

Then Andrea and Brent went to West Marine and got some new batteries. I dove into the water and cleaned some of the muck off the side of the boat with a rag and took some pictures of the doggies.

We’ve got a ton of solar but with the clouds and storms rolling through here it’s too variable to reliably power everything we’ve got onboard. Andrea and Brent came back from West Marine with a ton of stuff, including three brand new West Marine Group 31 AGM that we wired together into the same exact space the two older burned out big ones were occupying with only a minimal loss in overall power. And just like that, we’re good for seven years, minimum.

We also checked out a number of other systems with little electrical hiccups and Brent was nothing if not affable, generous, kind and wise, dispensing wisdom and humor with equal measure. We figured lots of things out and laid out a plan to tackle the few remaining major issues on Friday after the Thanksgiving Day holiday. We're both going to miss being away from our family celebrations immensely, I'm going to miss the beautiful spirit at the thanksgiving day spit with Andrea's parents, and from being with my own family.

I'm going to miss Andrea's niece and nephew, Clementine and Henry the most of all. The twins really made me feel at home at Thanksgiving in the Radoff household and I think they'd really get a kick out of Mischa ruling the sidewalk outside of our breakfast cafe today that asked asks you to "Get Your Buns in Here."

We've both got fingers crossed for a decent weather window in the coming days as we look to let go of the mooring ball, which has held nicely despite winds that took our American flag from us last night. It was attached to a piece of metal so there is some hope that we might be able to find it in the morning. I dove off the boat this afternoon when I discovered it was missing but after the winds and the storm last night, there was really poor visibility. I couldn’t see two feet in front of my face, let alone the bottom, so I didn’t recover the flag.

Maybe tomorrow. It was expensive, but pretty cool, so hopefully we can recover it. We’re going to search for it tomorrow. It shouldn’t have drifted far...I hope. If not we’re going to have to get another one.


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