Pam came to me the other day and said she wanted to go to a fine arts craft fair. Guys, you know what I'm talking about here. In a situation like this, it is perfectly allowable to whine, to cry like a little girl, or to feign a heart attack. Nothing worked. All I got was "the look". I actually saw lightning bolts shoot from her eyeballs.
I checked out Cedar Key on Google Earth. It was about an hour and a half from where we are in the Ocala area. Not too bad of a drive, but our Kia was long overdue for an oil change, and seeing how I'm so busy saving the world on Facebook with my brilliant political insight, pithy comments, and squabbling over if Sasquatches can cloak and that's why one rarely sees one, I simply didn't have time. Too busy.
I tried the mechanical ruse. That might work.
"We can't go. The Kia is overdue for an oil change," I stated flatly.
"We'll take my Miata."
"All that way?"
"We'll put the top down. It will be fun."
"I won't have fun and you can't make me."
Nope not going. I'm the man in this family and what I say goes. I am the King of my Kingdom.
So the next day we're on our way to Cedar Key in Pamela's Miata with the top down. It was a nice drive on a beautiful spring Florida day, but man that car is tiny. Pamela was driving. She promised not to drive like she usually does and to drive like a normal person.
As we approached Cedar Key, we could smell the salt air. We miss salt air. Then we saw water. Salt water. It looked shallow. You know how, when you've been cruising long enough, you get a sense of water depth by the flatness of the shoreline? That was it. We swallowed the anchor, but we still remember stuff.
We pulled into the tiny town of Cedar Key. It was a quaint old Florida Gulf town. But it was crawling with tourists. You'd think they'd all have something better to do than to go to some crummy fine arts craft fair. Stupid tourists. And look at all of the old people here. Sheesh. We had to park far away, but Pamela found a spot right on the water. The first thing she did was to get salt water on her feet. Here are the photos.
Here it is.
Now this was pretty cool. A guy cut down what I think may have been a live oak and then put all of those carvings in it.
They have friggin' pelicans here.
Lots of friggin' pelicans.
This light pole was pretty cool. There are about 350 dolphins that reside here, although I didn't see them. I took this from the balcony of a watering hole where Pam and I stopped for two craft beers. The bartender opened the bottles and then told me the price. $11.75. If he hadn't opened them, I would have put them back.
Two women were walking their goats there.
I don't know what that thing is dangling off her butt, but I loved the tee-shirt.
On the ride back home. The Ocala area is the horse capital of the country.
Get a load of the size of this rig! Holy crap.
I took a selfie in the reflection of the back of the big rig's trailer.
This would be a good cruising destination, so I looked it up on a nautical chart.
Nope, looks too shallow. But many of you cruisers winter over in Florida, so it might be worth a road trip. We're going to go back when they're not having a stupid fine arts craft fair to check it out. And I wanna get a couple of more $11.75 beers.
Pam and I both miss Drift Away and our adventures, and misadventures, cruising down the eastern seaboard. We spent about three years on Drift Away, half of that spent getting the boat ready, and the other half cruising and exploring.
Regrets? Well, we spent a pile of money, and right now that would look good in the bank. But then again we wouldn't have had such a great adventure, nor met so many wonderful people, and so that is the upside.
There is nothing like the carefree lifestyle of living aboard. If you're a dirt dweller, you seriously have no idea. There is also nothing like cruising down a waterway, wondering what's around the next bend, and marveling at all of the wildlife along the way and the amazing diversity of the scenery.
We both remember our first palm tree, in North Carolina.
We vividly remember the pea soup fog of Beaufort, NC and being grateful for our amazing instruments that guided us.
We remember going straight when the ICW took a right.
We remember our wonderful liveaboard community at Isle of Hope and Brunswick, Georgia.
We'll never forget meeting up with old internet friends from California, Rod and Patti. who bought a boat on the eastern seaboard and were bring it home via the Panama Canal.
We'll never forget losing both engines in the Ambrose Channel only to find that Seatow, who sent me emails every other day to sell me something, couldn't be bothered to send one telling me my towing insurance was going to expire.
We won't forget spending a month at Atlantic Highlands Marina while I bullet proofed our fuel system so we wouldn't lose an engine again.
We'll always remember waking up when the cat jumped off the bed into a foot of water. That's never good.
We will never forget dolphins. Nor will our dogs. To this day, several years since we moved off Drift Away, I can say "Where's the dolphins!" and Chevy the male pit bull will go nuts.
And pelicans? There's always another friggin' pelican.
Victory beers? Yes, I still have them, but it is not the same. Pounding some nails or cutting boards has nowhere near the satisfaction of cleaning a radiator in an old generator.
So we could have traded all that, plus much, much more, for money in the bank.
I'll take all that. Doctors and hospitals can take away my money, but nothing can take away my memories.
Living Among Sasquatch: a Primer is published. Not on purpose, but those of you who know me, know me.
In Bleecker in the summer, we live among Sasquatch. Yep. They're all around, and no one is more amazed and baffled as I am. So, last year, I decided to document our findings in a book, primarily using entries in this blog, and adding to it as time passed. Time did pass, and a book was the result.
I looked around for a publisher, not expecting much. First time authors are impossible to publish, but I found a publisher in the UK who was considering it. In the meantime, I started working through self publishing on Lulu.com. I'd go to it every few days, work on it a bit, and hit the button marked "save and continue". Fine.
Yesterday morning, while working through the web pages, I got to "save and finish". OK. I hit it, and the screen said something to the effect of "Congratulations! Your book is published!". What? Published? Why didn't the button say "Save and publish"!
So I am an author. I posted a link to my book on Lulu.com and sold one. So now I am a professional author.
I am actually pretty proud of this book. It is all truthful, and quite honestly, to me, pretty amazing. How would you feel if you found that leprechauns were real? Or unicorns? That's how I feel about Sasquatch.
Oh well, besides two blogs (this one and Bleecker Mountain Life) and a handful of magazine articles, I am now an author of books. I'd have a victory beer, but it is 4:15 AM here. Probably not a good idea.
The book is available on Lulu.com now. Click the link below. This is a collector's edition because I haven't read the proof yet, so things like the copyright page are missing. Someday, it will be worth millions, no doubt.
I used to love my "day in photos" blog posts. Nothing tells a story quite like photos. Yesterday, the folks who Pam works for, who have become friends, invited us to go for a ride on the St. John's River on their pontoon "boat". We haven't been on the water much since selling Drift Away, and so leapt at the chance.
Lots of fishermen on the St. Johns. He's wearing a life jacket for a reason.
This is the reason. People who don't understand wakes.
Another friggin' pelican.
A no wake Manatee zone. No wake. As in sloooooow dooooown.
More fishermen. Imagine a wake hitting them?
More friggin' pelicans.
A 73 footer.
I love palm trees. They feel so... tropical, and not anything like snow and freezing rain.
My honey back at the helm.
Nope. No idea. Apparently, this Austin-Healy Sprite was turned into the helm station of a pontoon boat.
I just love friggin' pelicans...
and big ol' alligators.
And then this imbecile came roaring around the bend in the river, throwing up a monster wake. Pam tried quartering it, but the huge vertical wall of water crashed against the bow of the "boat" and rammed the bow's door open, and we had a three foot wall of water pouring into the boat. The bow dove under water! We were going down, and going quickly! "Quick! Everyone to the stern!" I hollered, while wondering if I had time to swap out my 300mm zoom lens for my kit lens to take photos. Nope. I watched as my camera bag floated to the top of the bow rail, ready to go overboard. We were about 20 feet from that alligator. Should we jump ship? Nope.
The bow slowly rose above the waterline, and the hundreds of gallons of water rolled back towards the stern.
"Everyone, to the middle of the boat!".
Pam started bailing with an ice chest after dumping out our Bud Lites without so much of a does-anyone-want-a-beer-before-I-dump-these-out?
Since when do boats not have scuppers to discharge green water? Since when do pontoon boats exclude themselves from needing scuppers?
Well, I took this pic after all the excitement was over, with my zoom lens. My kit lens was soaking wet after almost floating off the "boat".
No one died, and the only casualty was possibly my kit lens, which is sitting in a bowl of rice to absorb all the moisture. But if it is history, I have this jerk's registration number.
I swear to Gawd, I have NEVER seen so many people without a clue of what they're doing on the water. They go flying through no wake Manatee zones, past docks and other boats throwing up gigantic wakes, completely oblivious to the damage and destruction they cause. And you all know me. If my kit lens is history, I will be like a pitbull on this guy. I will find out who he is, and he will be buying me a new one.
Cripe, we could have all been swimming with that alligator. Without my kit lens to photograph him slipping off that log and coming our way, I'd have been very angry.
But it was a wonderful few hours back on the water. A bitter sweet day. For all of my cruising friends, you might consider taking a right off the ICW at the St. John's River by Jacksonville and heading up towards old Florida. It is truly beautiful up here, and fresh water! No barnacles to scrape off your hull!
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.
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.