Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Good Reminder to Add to Your Checklist


Ohio Key, Florida (high 87, low 79)

We were shocked to wake up this morning to the news about the explosion in West, Texas.  As bad as it is, at this point it looks to be an accident, rather than something intentional.  Our prayers go out to all those involved.


Today is the last day we’ll be able to take the little boat out and we were hoping for crystal clear water and flat calm seas.   I’m checking my weather app and I see 18 mph easterly winds.   Not exactly perfect conditions, but we’ll probably go out and do some fishing under the bridge near Sunshine Key Rv Resort.

Yesterday, we launched the boat at Bahia Honda with the intention of fishing in the deep channel under the bridge.  Al fished a while, but we saw no fish on the fish finder and he got zero bites.  We moved around a few times and had no better luck. 

The good news is that the boat ran great.  We picked it up from Andy the boat mechanic yesterday morning. We dropped it off to him at 5pm the night beofre and he had it ready first thing the next morning!  He did some preventative maintenance work.   That was some fast service.  Thanks Andy!  Great job!

This next picture is a picture of Andy and his cute little 6 toe’d Hemmingway kitty.  The kitty likes to help Andy work on boats.  This is his boat and it was in the water.  Kitty jumps down into the boat.

5 toed cat in boat


A few days ago, we were out for an early morning walk along the fishing bridge.  We were on the road which is higher up than the campground.  Looking down into the campground, we noticed a motor home leaving with toad attached.  We heard a loud noise.  Evidently, the toad came unhooked from the coach and the toad actually rear-ended the motor home when the motor home stopped.  We heard loud scraping noises and saw the toad raise off the ground a little.

We walked down to see if we could help.  Evidently the pin holding the hitch into the motor home had been stolen.

That little pin is the only thing holding the tow bar to the motor home.   Dewey, a Sunshine Key employee  happened to come by and had an extra pin which he gave to the man.  This man was in a real big hurry to leave, so without checking anything out, he proceeded to re-hook the toad to the motor home.   If it had of been us, we would have checked that hitch out very well before heading out.

I convinced them to check out the car first, because I had seen it lift off the ground.   Also, the tires  were turned the wrong way indicating it wasn’t tracking correctly behind the coach.   He reluctantly released the cords and chains and gave the toad a 5-6 foot test drive back and forth.  As soon as he confirmed that the car was okay, he immediately hitched the toad back up to the motor home.  The hitch needed a little work to get the arm to extend properly, but he got it done and left.  That indicated to us that the hitch may have been damaged.

I was worried about them.  We certainly would have done some more checking before we left, but he was in a big hurry and was gone before I had time to think and remember that he probably didn’t even know the toad rear-ended the motor home, and I also wonder if it ran over a part of the hitch.  Possible tire damage?  

It happened so fast, I wasn’t really sure what I saw, but it wasn’t good.  I wish he would have stuck around long enough for these things to come back to me.

Anyway…..he took off.  I hope they arrived at their next destination safely and hopefully he will have every thing checked out.

The point of the story is to check all connections before each and every trip.  We believe these hitch pins should have a lock on them.  People will steal these things, if not because they want them, then because it’s “fun.”   When I was a claim adjuster, I remember getting a claim where someone else had a pin stolen.

We also had a hitch assembly stolen off the back of our truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot in south Georgia.

Al locks everything down that he can.   It’s not just the fact that you have to buy a new hitch pin, but it’s a safety issue.  You should also check these pins regularly to make sure they are solid and not rusted out.

This next picture is some of the options available from Amazon.  The one on the top left is similar to what we use.

amazon  hitch pin lock   Yahoo  Search Results

How about you?  Do you have a locking hitch pin?

One other thing we do before we leave, is that after we check to confirm the brake lights and turn signals work, Al drives the coach up a  little while so that I can confirm the toad is tracking correctly.   We learned to do that one time when we forgot to make sure the toad front wheels were turned correctly and we drug the toad a few feet.  Fortunately, that was in loose dirt and we didn’t have any problems, but it taught us a good lesson.



There are restaurants here where you can bring your freshly caught fish and they will cook it up for you.  How nice is that?

we cook your catch

They give you all the sides you would get if they supplied the fish.  The trouble is, it cost about as much as if they supplied the fish!   Evidently it’s a popular thing down here because most of the restaurants do it.  If I’m supplying the fish, I sure don’t expect to pay $18-20 for the rest of the meal.


Last Sunday, we decided to head up to Islamorada.  It’s another of the many islands (keys) in the Florida Keys chain.

They advertised a festival that looked like it might be fun.  There were supposed to be sand sculptures and crafts.

It turned out to be a big mistake because the traffic was horrible and it took us forever to get there.  Normally, we don’t mind driving up and down US 1 because it’s such a beautiful drive over the “overseas highway.”

We finally got to the festival and saw this scuba diver floating over the area.


scuba diver

It was particularly hot that day and the humidity was stifling.

We walked through a few of the craft booths, saw some pretty things, but bought nothing.

We got down to the beach about the time the band started playing, but it was so stifling hot, it was hard to enjoy it.

Had we known there was a nice beach there, we may have been better prepared.


Founders Park Seafood festival

There were only two sand sculptures.  I should have known.  There is not much sand here in the Florida Keys.

Founders Park Seafood festival

The heat got to us, so we cut our losses and headed back home.  There were a few cool old cars, including this 1940 Lincoln.


Al is off getting boat gas, so I’d better be ready to leave when he gets back or I’m going to be in trouble!


  1. Sometimes you just can't talk to people. They know it all. Hopefully, he had a safe trip.

    I love sand sculptures. We were lucky enough to hit the sand sculpture festival in Oregon. It was amazing what talented people can do with sand.

  2. We have a 5er, and yes we have a lock on the hitch pin...wouldn't leave home without it. And, yes, we check lights and signals before pulling out..just part of our normal hook-up routine. I hope that guy makes it safely.

  3. We have a lock on the hitch...good points to remember about checking the tracking of the tow car, we need to be a little more thorough before heading out once again. Loved the diver floating photo!

  4. Since we have a fifth-wheel hitch, George has a lock on it as well. Don't want anyone backing up and taking off with it! We perform many checks before leaving as well.

  5. We have locks on everything that can have a lock. I made sure of that. And ever since dropping the fiver on the pick up bed we triple check everything. When we towed the car behind the MH we had locking pins. Hopefully that guy got to his destination safely and didn't cause any problems for anyone else because he was in such a hurry.

    $18 - $20 for the sides - I don't think so. We can cook our own fish thank you.

  6. Yup, got locking pins on the tow bar. It's an expensive piece of equipment that I don't want to walk off!

  7. I never used to lock the tow bar to the hitch when I had a pick-up, but it was put on with a bolt and nut that I would torque at about 80 foot pounds. Wasn't coming out of there all that easily.
    When we had our motorhome, there was just a pin, so I used a hitch lock to keep our bike rack from getting pinched. They're not that much money to keep things from vanishing.

  8. Good tips on staying safe. We have a checklist that we go over every time no matter how confident we feel. Being in a hurry is not something we let ourselves do as we usually only have a three or four hour drive ahead of us. We do have a locking hitch pin as we did have one stolen early on in our travels.

  9. We have always used the locking pins on our tow bar exactly for that reason.
    Thou we have seen many people that don't, and refuse to spend the money.
    And always double check everything after we hook up.
    Great posting.


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