Monday, October 27, 2014

Drift Away

It's the end of October, and Pam and I (and our three dogs and cat, and Jeremiah the horse) are preparing to head south in our RV for Florida and warmer temps.  As often happens, I think back on our time on the boat.  With all the fun times we had, and the many fine people we met, it is with a sense of melancholy.  I miss Drift Away.

Yep...  this is the song that gave Drift Away its name.

Just listening to this song makes me choke up a little.

Drift Away is now in St. Augustine and getting a complete cosmetic makeover.  It is now named Happy Ours.  The folks that bought it seem nice.  If you see Happy Ours, say hi for me.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Drift Away Has Been Sold

They say that the happiest two days in a boat owner's life is the day he buys his boat and  the day he sells it.  I'm here to tell you that isn't true.

When we first bought Drift Away, it was with trepidation and a sense of dread.  We knew the boat needed a lot of work, mainly due to being unused for over twenty years.  But as we tackled each boat project, we became more and more familiar with the boat and our hope that we would make Drift Away into a cruiser again soared.

We have so many fond memories of our trip.  Cruising the East River to the Hudson from Stamford.  Up the Hudson, dodging debris in the water from a hurricane that passed a couple of weeks earlier.  A warm wedding reception at the Castleton Boat Club.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Besides, it  is all in the blog.

I think we enjoyed the people we met along the way the most, especially our cruising friends at Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah and at Brunswick Landing Marina in Brunswick, Georgia.  I  won't name them, at the risk of forgetting someone, but you know who you are.

I also appreciate all of you blog followers who lived vicariously through us, enjoying our adventures and misadventures, and sharing many a victory beer.  We also have victory beers on Bleecker Mountain, but somehow it is not quite the same.

Of course, I need to thank Kent Boatguy and the Black  Duck R&D Center for all those Navi-Nuts (patent pending), Rick LaPorte, MarkJ, Brigantine, Captain Jim and the Blonde, Bill K, Bob Taylor, Bob Mayo, Rick-Deb-and Izzy, Kevin in Ashland, Jan and David, and many many more.  Your comments always made my day, either by making me laugh or offering advice, or sometimes just playing along with the running gags.  It is nowhere near as interesting, since it doesn't involve cruising, but Bleecker Mountain Life is a bit different from normal (whatever normal is, it isn't Bleecker).

We also enjoyed the scenery along the way, and the differences between the north and  the south.  We distinctly remember our first palm tree, in North Carolina.   Our favorite cities?  Easy.  Beaufort, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.  Our favorite beach is the Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.

We put Drift Away on the hard in Green Cove Springs, Florida.  It was for sale, but we weren't in too much of a rush to sell.  We were planning on building in Bleecker and I knew that would have to take precedence.  But after my accident last year,  I knew I wouldn't be the same on the boat.  I wouldn't be able to do some of the things I did before, like handling dock lines and running around the deck.  And then Pamela started working at the Griffin Ranch in Fort McCoy, Florida, a dream job for her, and I knew our course had changed for good.  It  was time to sell.

I had people clamoring to look at the boat, and two brokers told me that it received the greatest number of hits on their websites.  But most of the offers that came in were too low.  Finally, I decided to sell Drift Away to a couple from St. Augustine who offered my rock bottom price.

Once we got the dirty fuel issues sorted out, Drift Away performed flawlessly all the way from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida.  It provided us with an exciting adventure and introduced us to an alternative way of life, as well as dozens of new friends.  Pam and I have memories to last a lifetime, and photos to keep those memories alive.

There's plenty of work left to do on Drift Away, but at this point it is mostly all cosmetic.  If the new owners are handy, they got a great deal.  If not, they bought it at a price that they can pay painters and carpenters to finish what needs to be done.

As Pam and I left Drift Away for the last time a few weeks ago, we were both a little teary eyed, and shared a hug.  No, it was definitely not one of the happiest days of my life.

So what's next?  We thought we had a plan, but at this point we don't know.  I'm not only still suffering from the effects of my accident last summer, but some things are getting worse.  It will be hard to build a summer place when I can't swing a hammer or lift more than a pound or so.  So its off to a string of doctor visits for me.  This summer, things might be on hold in Bleecker.

So I'm putting this blog to bed.  I'll keep it up for the few nuggets of wisdom it contains and I hope those of you who stumble in here find it useful, or funny, or enjoy the photos, or all of the above.

It is time to swallow the anchor.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blog Stats

Pam and  I have been off of Drift Away for over a year.  As such, I have pretty much stopped updating this blog, but I do check in from time to time, mainly to check the other blogs that I follow and are listed here.

The first thing that I noted is that we're about to hit 300,000 hits.  The second is that we have 100 followers.  That's a lot for a boating blog.  I checked the stats.

What this shows is the number of views each page received yesterday.  What this shows me is that, as I had hoped, there would be information in the blog that others could benefit from.  The blog had 262 visitors who read about things like using Thompson's Water Seal to seal teak decks, to rebuilding a Groco head, to running TV coaxial cable, to Magma grills, to philosophical thoughts on cruising.

So what are our plans?  Well, cruising on Drift Away is out.  I'm still suffering from the ill effects of breaking my neck last year, and some things are getting worse.  Pam is working on a horse ranch in the Ocala, Florida area so we'll be spending most of each year there, and our plans to build a house in the Adirondack Mountains have been scaled back to a summer cabin.

Drift Away is still for sale, but offers are coming in.  It should (hopefully) be sold shortly.

Pam and I cleaned the last of our things off of Drift Away before we headed north.  What a great boat, and what wonderful memories we had on it.  We both left, for the last time, a little teary eyed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Missed Photo Opportunity

We'll be heading back to New York very shortly, so we decided to go to Drift Away in Green Cove Springs to fetch stuff.  I was amazed at how much we had on there.  We took off a wicker sofa, loveseat, rocker, chair, end table, and coffee table.  Boxes and boxes of dishes, food, utensils, and other kitchen stuff.   We took the convection oven and even the bread box.  Then, finally, I took the dorm room sized refrigerator that was my beer fridge on the boat.  It will be the beer fridge in the garage.

Yes, on the ride back to Eureka, we were pummeled by huge thunderstorms.  They're predicted everyday until Sunday.  I need to pick one day to fetch the Whaler with the trailer that Earl and I fixed up, unless the boat sells first, which it might.

I stopped at Holland Marine to inquire about them lifting the Whaler off the boat with a crane.

"Why don't you use the electric hoist on the boat?" they asked.

"The Whaler weighs about 600 pounds.  I'm nervous that this might turn into a ya-all-hold-my-beer-and-watch-this moment as the trawler falls of it's jack stands and crashes to the ground."

"You mean tip over?  Naw, that won't happen.  We've done it before."

So that's the plan, sometime soon.  But then our cell phone rang.  It was a boat broker.  He had a legitimate offer on Drift Away.  I asked him to check with the buyer to see if he was agreeable to the boat without the Whaler.  There should be an inflatable up there anyway, something much lighter.   I had time to ponder all this on the drive home.

I pulled the Kia towing the box trailer into the yard, close to the door.   Pam went to let the dogs out.

"David, we have a problem!"


""The dogs locked the door to the RV!"

Uh oh.  It must be they were jumping up, trying to force open the door, and hit the lock.  This is especially bad because RV "the Boat" has only one door, and the only keys to the RV were inside.  Daughter Megan was able to slide open a window on the driver's side.  She stood on a chair while I held it and she crawled in head first.  She had to stop halfway in to fend off the excited (and no doubt bewildered) dogs.   Her butt was hanging out and her legs flailing.  I totally missed a fantastic photo opportunity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Since Earl sold his fishing boat, I've been kicking around the idea of fetching the 13' Boston Whaler off of our trawler.   Drift Away is on the hard and the Whaler is on the roof, tied down in chocks.  The only problem is that I don't have a trailer.

Earl and I spent the past two days driving all over, looking for a small but heavy duty boat trailer.  The Whaler weighs about 350 pounds and the 50 HP Johnson a couple of hundred.  That's a lot of weight.  We drove to all the places that Earl thought we might find a used one, but no luck.

Our neighbor, Wanda, was here this morning and she said that a neighbor a couple of blocks away was setting up a garage sale and had a boat trailer.  Earl and I went over.  It looked perfect.

"How much?" I asked.

"I forget.  I wrote it on that piece of tape on the front," he replied.

I walked up and looked at it.  I didn't have my reading glasses.  I squinted.  Is that $400?  Not bad.  No wait, there are two small zeroes.  Probably a 2 or a 3 before the 4000.   No.  Is this $40?

"$40?" I asked quizzically.

"Yeah, that's it."

Earl's eyes got wide and he started to say something but I waved at him to shut the heck up.

"I'll take it."

I need to modify it a bit.  The Whaler's hull looks like this.

I need to position the longitudinal pads under the hull where I drew the vertical lines.  the boat's beam is 5' 5", so I'm guessing that they're a little over a foot off center.

Earl and I are also going to reinforce the frame.  I'm going to weld a couple of struts from  the trailer frame in front of the wheels to the tow bar part.  I also need to raise the pads quite a bit so the Whaler clears the tires, and that will require some welding too.

I'm glad I bought that little $20 welder at that lawn sale last week.

What about selling Drift Away?  Well, I've been hemming and hawing about whether we should sell it or not.  Since my neck breaking accident last summer, I've been warned by my doctor to be very careful.  Another good head whacking could really mess me up.   Well, today I smacked my head on our RV's awning frame.  Pretty hard.  Hard enough that pain came back in my neck where I broke it.  

That did it.  I was always hitting my head on something on the boat.  So I called the broker and told him to lower the price to a fire sale deal.   If you don't believe me, go to and check it out.  Five Cheoy Lees come up.  Ignore the one in Brunswick, Georgia.  That's an old listing of Drift Away.  So there are four.

Why take the Whaler?  Two reasons.  First, I want a boat to take Pam and all three dogs out in.  The Whaler is a great boat for that.  Secondly, the Whaler is very heavy.  I think an inflatable is the way to go, probably a RIB.  Pam and I had a heck of a time pulling the Whaler in from the side of the boat when raising it back to the roof with the hoist.  Its so heavy that Drift Away would heel to starboard and we had to pull it uphill.

If anyone is looking for a fixer-upper that's in good shape mechanically, Drift Away is your boat.  If you have any questions, ask.  If you want to snag it, contact Mike at St. Augustine Yacht Sales.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Are You Waiting Before Cruising?

You're sitting in your cubicle, bustin' your butt, working working working.  You're thinking that you can't wait until you can retire and go cruising.  You can retire at 62, but 65 would be better.  Your social security check will be a few hundred dollars a month more.

Two scenes.  Bear with me.

Scene One.

A few weeks ago, a group of us rode horses around the Griffin Ranch in Fort McCoy, Florida.  We went out through a gate at the back of the ranch and down a dirt road.  Most town roads are dirt here.  Along the way, we passed a woman working in her yard.  We stopped and chatted a bit about how nice her place was looking, and how cute her little dog was.

Scene Two.

Like everyone, I have two sets of grandparents.  My Irish grandparents were very family oriented.  Since Ireland has a matriarchal society, we all met every week at the home of the eldest Gibson.  I knew all of my Gibson relatives because showing up at my great-grandma's house wasn't an option, it was a requirement.  I can even remember young relatives showing up with dates to pay their respects to great-grandma, not even take their coats off, and then leave.  I remember my dad driving through a foot of snow with chains on his tires on the required Saturday night, even though my mom was in the maternity ward in labor with my sister.  But I digress.

My Chase grandparents were the opposite.  My grandfather immigrated to the United States from Krakow Poland.  They were tight lipped about everything.   My wife then was doing our family tree,  and every question asked was answered with "What do you want to know that for?".  Nothing family was discussed.  Ever.

When their kids, my uncles, grew up, they scattered all over.  My mom and Uncle Ed still lived nearby in upstate New York, but my Uncle Joe moved to Arizona never to be seen again.  Lee moved to Lynn Massachusetts and John to Cleveland, and it was very rare that we ever saw them.  Maybe twice in 20 years.  Frank lived in New York for a time and I saw him a few times, but then moved to Massachusetts, and then to someplace in Florida.

Enter Al Gore's internets and Facebook.

Becky, my daughter, was doing our family tree on and bumped into Sharon, one of my cousins, Uncle Ed's daughter.  Becky and Sharon live only a few miles apart, since both grew up in Saratoga.  One thing led to another, and all of a sudden I have all these Chase cousins I'm now "friends" with thanks to Facebook.  We have a lot of catching up to do!

Now to tie it all together.

One of my cousins is named Justeen.  She said my Uncle Frank had moved to Ocala, where she grew up.  Ocala?   Seriously?  Ocala is only fifteen or so miles from here!  What are the chances!

Where does Justeen live?  Fort McCoy.  Fort McCoy is right next to Eureka and where Griffin Ranch is.  Its only three miles from here!   You have to be kidding.

Where in Fort McCoy?  On the dirt road behind Griffin Ranch.

No way.  Which house?

The one with the lady working in the yard.  I've already met my cousin, without realizing it.  You can't make this stuff up.

So we're getting together at the Fort McCoy/Eureka Community Service Center on Friday evening.  My Uncle Frank, Justeen's dad, passed away a couple of years ago.  He was only five years older than me, so we hung around together quite a bit.  I have a number of Uncle Frank stories to tell Justeen.

Oh, and for all you who feel you need to work until 65 so you can get the maximum social security benefit, Frank had just retired when he had a massive heart attack and died.  He hadn't even received his first retirement check.  You might want to consider that time is more valuable than money.  Go now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Man o' War

Yeah, I know.  This is supposed to be a cruising and liveaboard lifestyle blog.  I'm no longer cruising or living aboard, although it is a possibility down the road.  I just thought I'd pop in to stay in touch and to let you all know what's going on.

First, Drift Away.  Yes, it is still for sale.  Brokers don't seem to put much effort into selling boats, and I simply don't have the heart to do it.  It's not true what they say about the two happiest days in a boat owner's life.  The boat has generated a lot of interest according to the brokers, but no really serious offers.

One offer came from a boat restorer who would buy Drift Away, finish it up, and resell it.  That interested me, but I declined the offer.  I then offered to sell the boat to a long time blog follower for the same price.   He looked at it, wants to buy it, but the Canadian dollar exchange rate isn't too favorable right now.  He's thinking about it.  He has the skills to finish what needs to be done on Drift Away, which is mostly all cosmetic.

Pam is working at Griffin Ranch, working with the horses and taking care of guests during the week when the owners aren't around.  That keeps her busy.  I've also been learning more about horses.

I'm an animal lover. I think I got this from my Grandfather Chase, a Polish immigrant who came to America, married a farm girl, bought a farm, raised pigs and geese and rabbits and cattle... and couldn't slaughter anything. My grandma had to do it. He didn't have the heart.

As you know, I've been learning a bit about horses lately. Horses are definitely more complicated than dogs and cats. From what I've learned, horses love to have jobs. For a draft horse, its pulling things. For a trail horse, its riding. For a race horse, its running.

I lived in Saratoga Springs for twenty years. I went to the track only a handful of times. I'm not a gambling person and don't understand why anyone is. But the times I went, I enjoyed the horses and the people and the pageantry of it all.

For some reason, on Facebook, I mentioned that Secretariat was perhaps one of the best race horses of all times, winning 20 of 21 races, losing in Saratoga to Onion. Then I got thinking about Man o' War. Who was the better horse?

Well, I googled a bit about Secretariat, and he was indeed a spectacular horse. But when I googled Man o' War I was blown away. This was a super horse.

He also ran 21 races, and won 20. He lost to a horse named Upset at Saratoga, hence the phrase "being upset" by an underdog. But by all accounts, Man o' War was cheated. He was sideways in his starting position when the race started, and was poorly ridden and boxed in for most of the race. When Man o' War broke free, he accelerated and finished only a half a length behind Upset. He went on to beat Upset six more times. You can read an account of this race here.

But what was interesting to me is that Man o' War's owners and trainer told his jockey to hold the horse back at each race. He measured 16.2 hands and 1,200 pounds, a big muscular horse. He had a 28 foot stride, believed to be the longest ever. He won each race easily, and the owners were afraid that such a dominant horse would have a hard time finding competition , as well as odds.

No one wanted to race against Man o' War at one point. At Belmont, Man o' War could find only one challenger for the Lawrence Realization, a horse named Hoodwinked. In this two horse race, Man o' War beat Hoodwinked by 100 lengths and set a world record for the 1 5/8ths mile that stands to this day.

The more I learn about horses, their temperament, their competitive spirits, and their attitudes, the more I like them.

I rode Pam's Morgan, Jeremiah, a few days ago. Pam is a very experienced rider and once said that Jeremiah was head strong and nothing a novice rider like me should be on. He was obstinate and a handful. Well, a couple of weeks ago, Pam put a small child on Jeremiah, He was as meek as a sheep. Later, I rode Jeremiah recently and he was obedient and a smooth horse, but when I was unsaddling him, he gave me a look that said "I could have tossed your ass anytime I wanted, but I didn't, because I know you don't know what you're doing. You just keep the treats coming and no one will get hurt." I got the message loud and clear.

Some of this may be coming from me watching the Sopranos for the first time off of Netflix, I dunno. But it seemed very real to me. Don't mess with the Mafia, and don't mess with horses.