Monday, December 31, 2012

Arrrrgh! Dogs!

You regular readers know that we have dogs on Drift Away.  Oh no, not cute little boat dogs.  Not Portuguese Water Dogs.  We have regular dogs.  Two pit bulls and a German Shorthair Pointer.

We have parquet floors on Drift Away.  Sometimes, a piece will get loose and I have to glue it back down.  I noticed one coming off in the galley and I made a mental note that I'd have to glue it.

Dogs love sticks.  Stay with me here.

So I go down below to our stateroom, and what do I find?  This.


Oh, Olivia knew she was in trouble.  See the submissive pose, laying on her back?  That's not because she wants a belly rub.

And notice where she chewed it up?

Chevy heard Olivia being yelled at, and came to the head of the stairs to see what all the fuss was.


~sigh~

Well, today is New Year's Eve, the last day of 2012, a very fine year for us all on Drift Away.  We've met many fine people and have made many fine friends, many whom have gone off cruising to different places.  And in that spirit, here is a New Year's toast for you.

Friends may come
and friends may go.
And friends may peter out, you know.
But we'll be friends through thick and thin.
Peter out, or peter in.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunsets and Gertie

We're presently living on a boat in Georgia's low country.  One thing we love about it is the the gorgeous sunsets.  We're going to miss these when we move off the boat and back to upstate New York.


And then a few minutes later...


In Gertie the cat news, she's had a total relapse.  She's struggling to breathe again, and vomits up everything she eats.  Fur continues to vanish from her nose, which is very weird.  We're thinking now it must be something on the boat like a mold or mildew.   Pam's mom is headed to Florida next week and will pass by here on I-95.  We're thinking of giving Gertie to her to see if a change in houses will make a difference.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Game Changing Solar Technology?


This is a cross post from my other blog, Bleecker Mountain Life.

I've been calculating our planned home's energy needs.  What I've come up with is a need for 50 245 watt solar panels.  That's a lot of panels, and a lot of real estate.  I remember reading about new technology last fall, but for the  life of me I couldn't remember the name of it.  Well, I found it.  It's V3Solar.

One problem with flat solar panels is that they're rarely optimally positioned unless you have an expensive tracking system.  The performance of photovoltaics also decreases with heat.  V3Solar has come up with an ingenious way around both of these problems, and are claiming their system yields an astounding 20 times more energy from the same number of cells.

Rather than me describing it, watch this video.  Prepare to be amazed.


If it's truly 20 times more efficient, that means that I'd need 20 times less panels.  I could get by with three of these.  They even have "trees" to mount these things on to take up less space.


Probably scare the crap out of the chickens, though.  And my neighbors in Bleecker would think aliens moved in.

Now, think of applying this technology to your boat?  Mounting big, flat solar panels is a problem.  Instead, you could mount a small one of these along with all the rest of the crap on the back of your sailboat, or on the upper deck of your trawler.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Walk In The Woods

I just finished reading a great book by Bill Bryson called A Walk in the Woods.  It was recommended by an old (very old) friend and fellow blogger Bob whose blog is one of only two non-boating blogs I follow - Rensselaer Plateau Life.

While recovering from a bad drug hangover (new meds for my back), I ensconced myself in the aft stateroom to enjoy this fine read.  Bryson is witty, funny, and holds the reader's interest.  It's about a couple of middle aged guys who decide to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine. I had a hard time putting it down... well... except for the Georgia-Alabama football game.

I got to this part, at the beginning of chapter 6, and it made me pause.

Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable,ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception.  The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know.  Planetary scale is your little secret.

Life takes on a neat simplicity, too.  Time ceases to have any meaning.  When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between.  It's quite wonderful, really.

You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties;  no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants;  you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation,  "far removed from the seats of strife," as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it.  All this is required of you is a willingness to trudge.

It reminded me of a letter (remember those?) I received about 15 years ago from a friend who was cruising and living aboard with his wife in American Samoa.  Michael reasoned that cruising isn't a mode of travel, but rather a mindset.  Michael opined that one can "cruise" in a boat, a motorcycle, an RV, or at the end of one's thumb.

Look at the paragraphs in italics above.  Substitute "foot" with boat, RV, kayak, airplane, hot air balloon, pogo stick... whatever.  It is indeed a mindset.  Wanderlust.  The mode of travel is secondary.

As my old (very old) friend Bob did, I highly recommend reading A Walk in the Woods if you're considering chucking it all, buying a boat (RV, canoe, new sneakers, cabin in the mountains), and casting off the dock lines.  It ain't all a rose garden, but then again, it ain't a bad life.  It all depends on whether you truly have a cruising mindset.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Living Life on Your Own Terms

It might be kind of cliche' to say that one should live life on one's own terms, but how many of us actually get to do it?  Not too many.  We buy houses and have mortgages, and all of a sudden we're bound to a work-aday life.  We no longer have the means or the ability to live life on our terms, but on the terms of a bank.  Certainly, we're living the way we're supposed too, according to social mores.  Get a job, buy a house, pay the bills.  But maybe not living on our own terms.

All that changed for me many years ago when I decided that I really didn't care about possessions or money.  I don't think those things are bad, necessarily, but they became secondary to me being happy with my life. I think that's a point that we all arrive at, at some point, but few are actually able to act on it due to financial constraints.  We keep working to add to the retirement fund maybe, and that's all well and good if that's what is important to you in life.  Not me.

I'm a huge music fan and have been all my life.  I grew up with music and loved listening to my mom's old 45s.  I loved the old soulful westerns like Shifting, Whispering Sands by Rusty Draper.


Songs like this taught me to love ballads.  Songs with feeling, with a message.

Then the tumultuous '60s came, and I matured and listened to a new genre' of music.  In a time of war, there were songs of peace like Cat Stevens' Peace Train.


I'm not only a fan of Stevens' music, but also of his life.  At the peak of his career, he dropped out of sight and followed his soul.  He converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.  He set his music aside and didn't pick up a guitar for over 25 years.  You can read a synopsis of his biography here.  Remarkable.

How many people achieve the level of success that Yusuf Islam did and then simply walk away from it?  Walk away from fame and money?

There is an inner peace that comes from living life on your own terms.  Many people do this, including many cruisers and live aboards, as well as artists, musicians, authors, and others who follow their hearts and not their pocket books.

To be honest, I don't get the Donald Trump types who are on money, power, and ego trips.  What kind of a life is that?  Sure, a luxurious one, but how spiritually rewarding?  No... I don't look up to the Donald Trumps of the world, I respect the Yusuf Islams.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To All My Blog Friends




With the Holidays upon us, I would like to share a personal experience with you about drinking and driving. As you may know, some of us have been known to have brushes with the authorities from time to time on the way home after a "social session" out with friends.

Well, this past weekend I was out for an evening with friends and had several cocktails followed by some rather nice red wine. Feeling pretty good, I still had the sense to know that I may be slightly over the limit. That's when I did something that I've never done before - I took a cab home.

Sure enough on the way home there was a police road block, but since I was in a cab they waved me past. I arrived home safely without incident. This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before. I don't know where I got it, and now that it's in my garage I don't know what to do with it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I lived most of my life in upstate New York and enjoyed many white Christmases there. I now live on a boat in Georgia. It's forecast to be in the 70s on Christmas day. There is nothing white nor traditional about Christmas for me here.

One holiday tradition I have, though, is to think back on Christmases past that I spent with my family.  I particularly like the photo below.



It was 1959 at my great-grandma's house in Lansingburgh, NY. My grandfather is on the left, next to my great-grandmother, my mom (she was only 30 and "expecting" with my sister), and my dad's uncle. My grandpa had his glass of beer as well as a cigarette. Behind him are Christmas cards taped around the doorway. A small copy of the Last Supper is on the wall on the right. A jar of my mom's canned pickles is on the table. I remember this day well, even though I was only nine years old.

They're all gone now, but I have many fine memories of Christmases past.  The laughter, the love, the food... the joy.

I hope today's Christmas will be a memorable one for you and your loved ones.  Merry Christmas to you, from everyone here on Drift Away.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pets On Boats

I've written often about our pets.  Ruby and Chevy the pit bulls, Olivia the German Shorthair Pointer, and Gertie the cat.  We've had other pets aboard as well.

Pam had Smudge for something like 22 years.  She passed away just a few months before we began our cruise.


Smudge liked to help Pam make her seaglass jewelry.  Pam, not so much.

The following video shows Ruby as a puppy playing with Tony the guinea pig.  Also in the video is Charlie the three legged snowshoe Siamese   Charlie hated the boat, so we found him a nice home when in Annapolis last year.  Sorry about the shakey camera work.


Tony was on the boat for just a short time before we realized that we needed to find him a new home.  Tony liked to run around the floor, and the boat would just afford him too many places to get in trouble.

Ruby and Tony loved each other.  When we took Tony off the boat, Ruby was visibly depressed for a couple of weeks.  Pam finally gave Ruby the blanket we covered Tony's cage with and that eased her funk a bit because she could smell him.  I think that once we're CLODs situated in Bleecker that we'll have to get Ruby another guinea pig.

It's certainly been an interesting thing, living and cruising on a boat with all these critters.  But I love them all.  Yes, even Olivia, although she makes me nuts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unclaimed Funds

Pam and I are originally from upstate New York.  We moved to Connecticut in 2008, and left there and started wandering south on Drift Away in 2011.  In early 2012, we signed up with St. Brendan's Isle mail forwarding service, which I highly recommend you do if you plan on living a gypsy lifestyle like we have.

Yesterday, I was reading the Leader Herald, a bird cage liner from our home town of Gloversville New York.  In it, there was an article about unclaimed funds that New York is holding because the recipients of the money could not be located.  Just for fun, I clicked on the link and went to the site.  I entered my name in the search box.  Surprise, surprise, my name came up twice!  Once for National Grid, my utility company, and once for Lucent Technologies, a company I had some stock in.  YAY!

I have no idea how much money I'll be getting, because they don't tell you, but something is better than nothing.

So if you've ever lived in New York State, check to see if they're holding any money for you.  If you're not from New York, google "unclaimed funds" in the state where you've lived.

No no, no thanks is necessary.  It's just another public service we provide.  Although a holiday fruitcake might be a nice gesture.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End of the World Came Yesterday

Yes, it did indeed.  The end of the world came yesterday, December 21st 2012.  A world filled with  problems, and stress, and bad news.  Yesterday's world.

Today is the first day of your new world, the first day of the rest of your life, the first day of your new world.  Make of it what you will.

I've been doing it now for the past few years, and I recommend it highly.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gertie the Cat

Many of you have been asking after Gertie, the last remaining vestige of the feline persuasion on Drift Away.   She'd been going steadily downhill for quite some time.  She had difficulty breathing, struggling for each breath she took, her sides heaving in and out as she labored for each breath.  Pam  took her to Chatham Animal Hospital where she worked.  Dr. Gall examined her thoroughly, including opening her up and examining each of her organs.  Everything looked normal.  Dr. Gall was stumped, saying we'd find out what it was after an autopsy.

We moved to Brunswick, and we took her to Cheek to Cheek Animal Hospital, hoping that a new pair of eyes might find something.  Dr. Cheek also examined Gertie thoroughly, even consulting with Dr. Gall, and found nothing out of the ordinary.

Gertie was at the point where we thought we might have to put her down.  Everything she ate came back up.  She was malnourished, all skin and bones and obviously in distress.  When we went north for my daughter's wedding, we dropped Gertie off with Dr. Gall again in desperation.  Dr. Gall said he was would be looking for a zebra, vet lingo for something extremely obscure and rare.  She was there for about two weeks.

He found it.

Gertie has a congenital birth defect called Myasthenia Gravis.  Among other things, It affects muscle tone.  In Gertie's case, the muscle that allow her to swallow.  She also doesn't have the sphincter the closes at the base of her throat.  Basically, she has a pipe that runs from her mouth to her stomach.  The only food that got down there did so by gravity.

The good news is that it can be treated with an anticholinesterase drug.  Whatever that is.  Well, what it is, is magic.  Gertie is no longer struggling to breathe, she can eat, and she looks much better.  She'll have to take the drug for the rest of her life, which might be a problem because Myasthenia Gravis is incredibly rare, and almost non-existent in cats.  Dr. Gall said this was like looking for a horned zebra.

The bad news is that the drug to treat her is also incredibly rare.  The supplier has stopped making it.  I'm not sure what that means, such as if there is a replacement drug we can get.

After two  weeks of living in a crate, Gertie was happy to be home, and the dogs were happy to see her.  You know how excited our dogs can get, right?  The happy, dancing, jump up and down happy dog dance like Snoopy does?  Gertie dove under the saloon table to hide, and then to her cat tree.


Gertie thought she'd sharpen her dog slashing claws of death, as a warning to the dogs and as a practical thing in case needed.


The dogs finally left her alone, and Gertie was quite content to get some much needed rest in the bright Georgia sun.  It's always good to be home.

Oh... and happy Mayan New Year.  We've survived yet another apocalypse.

One more note.  For those of you who enjoy reading about my troubles and misadventures, fear not.  While this blog will no longer be updated once we move off it, my new blog about building an off grid homestead on Bleecker Mountain will take it's place.  You can read it, and follow it, at http://bleeckermountainlife.blogspot.com/. Seriously, if you thought this blog was a trip, wait until this next one.  I love thinking outside the box, and I've even been reading about rocket stove mass heaters, and Pam's been studying about apple trees and chickens.

Life is about to get very weird.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

We've Decided To Sell Drift Away

Yep.  No joke.  I'm as serious as a heart attack.

Pam and I talked long and hard about it and we both came to the same conclusions.  Leaving Drift Away here in Georgia for eight months at a time while we're in upstate New York doesn't make much sense to us, especially from a financial standpoint.  Sure, it's cheap enough when we consider it our home, but spending $7,000 a year for a boat we'd use for just a few months during the winter is expensive.  We could put that money towards chartering in the Caribbean, or a European vacation or something.

We also considered the boat, being closed up for eight months.  Mold and mildew, rust and rot, dust and dirt.

We've worked hard fixing up this old boat, and spent a lot of money doing it.  We got a good deal on it when we bought it, though, so we're into it for far less than what it's worth, which should make it easier to sell, because we're passing the savings on to whomever buys it.  We've decided to sell it for about what we have in it.

To cut to the chase, here's the price- $79,000.

That price is a deal for two reasons.  First, all the money spent doesn't include my labor.  Second, most all of the parts I bought were at wholesale.  You could add another 40% to that price for what it actually represents.

What do you get for that?  A Cheoy Lee 46' LRC (Long Range Cruiser) that works.  Everything.

Twin Ford Lehman 120s with less that 3,000 hours on them.
15 KW generator
7.5 KW generator
Naiad stabilizers
All batteries new in 2011
Big honkin' windlass
Roof mounted crane to pick up the 13' Boston Whaler off the roof
New 2011 frost free apartment sized refrigerator
New 2012 ice maker
New 2010 Origo electric stove
New 2011 bimini
All Simrad electronics new 2011 (AIS, broadband radar, 12" touchscreen helm, 8" flybridge, etc.)
80 lb. Manson anchor with 200' 3/8" chain
Two Filter Boss Systems
Fuel polishing system
Decks fiberglassed over in 2011
Bottom painted July 2012, new zincs, new packing for stuffing boxes
All kinds of spare parts and filters
About 600 gallons of diesel in the tanks

The list goes on and on, but that's the important stuff.

Why so cheap?  Well, there's still plenty to do.  All of the cosmetic stuff.  The entire boat needs to be painted, including the decks.   That's the big one.  I've started on it, might finish it.  The interior needs attention, especially where water from leaking decks damaged paneling.  Most of it could be painted over, but some of the paneling needs to be replaced.  I was thinking of just buying wainscoting a Home Depot and varnishing it.  That would look nice.  The headliner is down in the vee berth, which is our storeroom and so I don't care.  Also part of the middle stateroom.

The boat is in Brunswick, about 50 miles or so from the Florida border, which I think is a plus.  We've gotten it down the tough part.  The Bahamas is only a few days away.   The buyer could take it someplace beautiful (not that Brunswick is not) to work on it.

I used to appraise used cars for a car dealer I worked for.  What I did was to figure what the car would be worth when put in top condition, and then deduct the cost of doing so to arrive at a trade-in value.  Drift Away, in top shape, should be worth between $140,000 and $160,000 from what I've seen, although some have been listed for much more.

So if you're handy with a paintbrush, a staple gun, and a skill saw, this is a great deal for you, or someone you know.  I'll keep it for sale privately for awhile to see if anyone feels like rising to the challenge.  Then it goes to a broker and the price will have to go up as well.

And what if it doesn't sell?  Well, I guess we'd come back to Brunswick after the 2013 holidays and head south with it.  No point in letting it go to waste.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas

Christmas is only six days away.  It doesn't feel like Christmas here in Georgia.  Last year, we were in Annapolis and it was cold and blustery.  While we didn't have snow, it sure felt like Christmas.  Here, it's been in the 60s and 70s.

Are you making your Christmas lists?  What's on it?  Visions of GPSs?  AIS?  Maybe some new foul weather gear?

As for me, this song comes to mind.

This is for all you other old timers out there.


Lyrics to Nuttin' For Christmas :
(S. Tepper, R. Bennett, 1955)

I broke my bat on Johnny's head;
Somebody snitched on me.
I hid a frog in sister's bed;
Somebody snitched on me.
I spilled some ink on Mommy's rug;
I made Tommy eat a bug;
Bought some gum with a penny slug;
Somebody snitched on me.

Oh, I'm gettin' nuttin' for Christmas
Mommy and Daddy are mad.
I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas
'Cause I ain't been nuttin' but bad.

I put a tack on teacher's chair
Somebody snitched on me.
I tied a knot in Susie's hair
Somebody snitched on me.
I did a dance on Mommy's plants
Climbed a tree and tore my pants
Filled the sugar bowl with ants
Somebody snitched on me.

So, I'm gettin' nuttin' for Christmas
Mommy and Daddy are mad.
I'm gettin' nuttin' for Christmas
'Cause I ain't been nuttin' but bad.

I won't be seeing Santa Claus;
Somebody snitched on me.
He won't come visit me because
Somebody snitched on me.
Next year I'll be going straight;
Next year I'll be good, just wait
I'd start now, but it's too late;
Somebody snitched on me.

So you better be good whatever you do
'Cause if you're bad, I'm warning you,
You'll get nuttin' for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Friends

Cruisers meet lots of other cruisers while cruising and living aboard.  I think Isle of Hope Marina, just outside of Savannah, introduced us to the majority of our cruising acquaintances.  Many others lived aboard there, and of course Pam and I met them.  IOH isn't that big.  And being strategically located on the ICW, many snowbirds stop there and we met them too.

A fact of life about cruising is that people come and people go.  You become friends with others, and get close to them, and then they, or you, leave.  It's how it is if you live this lifestyle, and you need to deal with it, as sad as it may be.

Just yesterday, I heard "Ahoy Drift Away!" from outside.   It was Larry and Jeanette and their dog Callie from Wye Not, nice folks we met at IOH.  They were traveling by and stopped at Brunswick Landing Marina to check on a friend's boat, and thought they'd pop by to say hello.  Sadly, Pam was working and missed them.  They're nice folks, and as they came aboard Drift Away, our dogs did their overwhelming doggie OMG IT'S A DOG!  I LOVE DOGS! dance and prance and chaos and butt sniffing which ensued for the next ten minutes.  Just close your eyes... imagine...  yep... there it is.

Surprise visits are always fun. Bob and Janet, folks who also lived aboard at Isle Of Hope on their sailboat King of Salem, also popped over for a visit.  They're at Gold Isles Marina now, not too far from here, within biking distance.  What a pleasant surprise.

Jon and Renne' stopped by once.  They were at Brunswick Landing Marina on their sailboat when we first arrived. We met them on our first day here, July 4th.  We invited them up on the flybridge to watch the local fireworks since Drift Away pretty much blocked the view from their boat.  They're now at Golden Isles.

Bob and Lynda came for a visit on their way driving to Florida where they purchased a winter home.  We first met them at Isle Of Hope.  They were transients who stopped because their little dog was very ill and having seizures.  Sadly, the dog passed, but Bob and Lynda enjoyed the camaraderie of the IOH live aboard gang and decided to stay a bit and we got to know them.  Nice folks.

So cruising and living aboard isn't just about the scenery and wildlife you see along the way.  It's meeting people and making new friends.  Unlike things, a person can't have too many friends.

You know that old saw about things, right?  As comedian Steven Wright so pithily said, "You can't have everything.  Where would you put it?"

Very true.  But that doesn't apply to friends.  You can have all of those you want.

Which reminds me of a toast first brought to me by my old (very old) friend Andy...

Friends may come, and friends may go.  And friends may peter out, you know.  But we'll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Becoming a CLOD

CLOD.  Cruiser Living On Dirt.  We're not there yet, not until next year.  But the planning starts now.

I've started our new blog, Bleecker Mountain Life.   Don't go there yet.  It only has one post, a copy and paste of What If You Have Two Dreams that I posted here.  Well, I suppose you could go there, just to see what it looks like, and maybe to follow it or something.

It should be interesting, to say the least.  Pam and I will be carving out a homestead from the woods of Bleecker Mountain in upstate New York on ten acres of land.  On our last trip to upstate New York, we stopped at the county sheriff's office (why does sheriff have two Fs when one would work just fine?) and got an address, went to the county highway department to have a guard rail cut so we can get to our road (which has already been done as of this writing), and arranged to have half the land logged.  It's got a bunch of trees in the way now.



Logging is a dangerous occupation.  Sadly, I just read in the local paper the other day that a 41 year old logger was killed just a few miles away from our property.

I've been thinking of cruising and living aboard, and comparing it to what we're about to undertake.  There are many similarities, I think.  Especially so because I'm pretty sure we're going to do it off the grid.

I'll be looking for advice from you guys on that one.  Who better to ask about the latest in solar and wind technology than you boaters?

We're torn on what to do with Drift Away.  It's a great boat.  Since we installed the Filter Bosses to deal with crud in the fuel tanks, we've had zero problems traveling from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, all the way to Brunswick, Georgia.  I'd like to keep it, but leaving it sitting unused for nine months of the year doesn't make sense.  It's also not good for the boat.

I have a special attachment to Drift Away.  I know this boat inside and out.  Heck, I should.  I've replumbed it, rewired much of it, replaced all the electronics with the latest cool stuff, and removed and rebedded much of it.  I've taken good care of Drift Away, and it's taken good care of us.  Keep or sell?  The cost to keep it here in Brunswick would cost us about $7,000 a year, and we'd use it maybe three or four months.

Decisions, decisions.  Well, we have a lot of time to think that one over.  Spring in Bleecker is a long way away.  July 7th and 8th this year, I've heard, just after the black fly harvest.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown

Sorry folks.  I know this has nothing to do with cruising or living aboard, but like all of you, I'm sure, this hit me pretty hard.

Snopes will undoubtedly prove that the following did not come from Morgan Freeman, but no matter.  It is the message that is important.

Morgan Freeman's statement about these random shootings.....

"It's because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you kn
ow the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN's article says that if the body count "holds up", this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer's face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer's identity? None that I've seen yet. Because they don't sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you've just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man's name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem."


•Charlotte Bacon, 6
•Daniel Barden, 7
•Olivia Engel, 6
•Josephine Gay, 7
•Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
•Dylan Hockley, 6
•Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
•Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
•Chase Kowalski, 7
•Jesse Lewis, 6
•James Mattioli, 6
•Grace McDonnell, 7
•Emilie Parker, 6
•Jack Pinto, 6
•Noah Pozner, 6
•Caroline Previdi, 6
•Jessica Rekos, 6
•Aveille Richman, 6
•Benjamin Wheeler, 6
•Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Adults:
•Rachel Davino, 29
•Dawn Hocksprung, 47 (principal)
•Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (teacher)
•Lauren Russeau, 30 (teacher)
•Mary Sherlach, 56 (counselor)
•Victoria Soto, 27 (teacher)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Such A Sad Day Yesterday




Mass murders around the world since the turn of the century.

1910 to 1920 - 1
1921 to 1930 - 0
1931 to 1940 - 1
1941 to 1950 - 1
1951 to 1960 - 1
1961 to 1970 - 4
1971 to 1980 - 9
1981 to 1990 - 11
1991 to 2000 - 20
2001 to 2010 - 38
2011 to 2012 - 16
Notice a spike here?

Another sad statistic. 87% of children killed by guns are American.

Sorry to be so gloomy today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What If You Have Two Dreams?

Warning.  This is a long one, and profound.  I usually try not to get that serious on this blog, but this is a good one.  If you've come here while you have a few minutes to kill at work, you might want to come back later.  But if you have the time, this one might strike a nerve.

I've had the dream of cruising in a boat ever since I learned that small boats can cross oceans.  I was in my early 20s and had just started boating.  I first learned about it from reading magazines at my yacht club, and then from books borrowed from the local library.  I was awed by tales of brave men and women single handing their small vessels against the power of the sea, and intrigued by their descriptions of tropical islands with waving palms and white sandy beaches.  You can actually do that in a little boat?  And live to tell about it?  I started dreaming, and hoping that I too would one day be able to cast off dock lines and wander where the wind took me, without a care in the world.

I've never been too interested in crossing oceans, but I always thought I'd cruise in a sailboat one day, probably to the Caribbean.  As it turns out, our boat is a 46' trawler, and our islands turned into the ICW.  But the dream is the same, and I don't think I've missed out on anything.

We cruised, in a weird way.   We wintered in Connecticut, cruised south, stayed on the Chesapeake until  after New Year's, and summered in Georgia.  Yes, I know the way it's supposed to be done, but I've always marched to the beat of a different drummer.  Ask anyone who's known me for any length of time.  There's something wrong with me.

But listen, I've had a second dream, for many, many years.  It all began during the energy "crisis" during the 1970s.  Energy prices were soaring.  There were shortages, especially of gasoline.  There were odd-even days to refuel your automobile depending on your license plate number, and gas lines.  Remember gas lines?   And you could only buy up to ten gallons, no more.  Gasoline was suddenly a precious commodity.  Prices soared to $1 a gallon, but we felt lucky to get it at any price.

I was in my late twenties, with a family and a raised ranch house in Saratoga Springs New York.  It's only heat source was electricity, which was very expensive.  What if those prices became unaffordable?  Or what if electricity was rationed like gasoline?  What would I do?

Being a sort of impulsive person, I dove into research of alternative energy, and long story short, bought a Vermont Castings Vigilant Wood stove and installed it, along with a Metalbestos chimney.  I loved that stove.  It provided wonderful heat, and the fuel could be found by walking in the woods behind my house.  Later, we had a 20 acre woodlot where we could harvest our winter's fuel.  Utility companies could kiss my ass, and it felt good.

We started a weekly "Energy Conservation Night" at our house.  We turned off the lights, the TV, and the stereo.   No computers, no games.  For light, we used candles, kerosene lamps, and the fire from the wood stove.  My daughter, Becky, who was maybe six or seven, was very dismayed.  No TV?  Well, her mom and I got out a board game, I don't remember which one.  We played it, sitting on the floor in front of the warmth of the fire, illuminated by the soft glow of candles and oil lamps.  We talked, we laughed.  We had fun.  We loved it.  She loved it.  We all looked forward to it.  Before long, her friends asked if they could come to our house for energy conservation night.  It was a hit.  Half the neighborhood kids were at our house, interacting like kids did a century before.  It was a hoot.

A few years later, I returned to college as an adult student.  I took an earth science course, with the professor focusing on environmental issues.  Half our grade was a final paper.  I chose to name mine "A Self Sufficient Homestead", using what I learned about alternative energy as a basis.

It was an involved project.  I won't go into detail here, but it involved Clivis Multrum composting toilets, solar hot water heating, passive solar heat, and energy efficiency.  I even wrote a computer program that calculated the solar gain of things like southern orientation (including latitude), the R value of insulation, moving and sizing windows, etc.  The paper got me an A+.  It also planted another seed.  Another dream.

I always thought it would be wonderful to actually be able to implement some of those ideas in an actual house.  Live like people used to, harvesting the land, living free from ties to big oil and international corporations.  Now, I have my chance.

My wife, Pamela, and I bought ten acres of land in Bleecker, New York, in the Adirondack Park.  If nothing else, I think land is a good investment.  They're not making it anymore.

The Adirondack Park is the largest protected park in the United States, roughly the size of Vermont.  It is a combination of state owned and privately owned (and regulated) land.   It was officially protected in 1894 by New York's Constitution and declared forever wild.

Our little ten acres, out of the park's six million, is all woods, with a road built from a ramshackle trailer that was hauled in there by the previous owner out to the road, which was blocked off by the county highway's guard rail.  It was logged a couple of years ago, and the really valuable timber was gone.

Pam and I, and the dogs, drove from Georgia to New York for my daughter's wedding in Vermont last week.  While up there, we went to the Sheriff's 911 coordinator to get a mailing (and 911) address, and then to the county highway department to arrange to get the guard rail cut so we could access the road.  We called a logger, met with him, and arranged to have half of the ten acres cleared.

On the two day ride back to Georgia, we talked about going back north in the spring and what lies before us.  We'll be busy contracting with a bulldozer guy to come in and level and smooth everything off, which will also get rid of logging debris.  We need to get a well drilled, which we'll contract out, and then build a small guest cottage, complete with outhouse until we install a septic system.   We want to be off the grid, so power will be by solar panels and a wind generator, using what I've learned over the years in boating.  The power to pump water from the well will be by wind to cisterns.

I know, you're thinking "Whoa, slow down there!  What about fixing up Drift Away?  What about finishing that?  You're so close!  You're only a few days away from the Bahamas!  Have you lost your mind?"

No.  Well, OK, maybe.  OK OK, yes we have.  Cruising has been my dream for 40 years, but it has only been Pam's for a handful.  Don't get me wrong, Pam loves the boat and our lifestyle, but she's also been a horse person her whole life.  On our trip north last week, we stopped at some kind of horse rodeo thing.  Pam's friend Kim (you'll be hearing a lot more about her) was in some kind of horse event where you ride into a herd of cows and cut specific ones out and send them off.  Yep, you get it.  I have no idea what they were doing, but Pam did.

So why not combine my dream of living in a small, self sufficient homestead in the woods with Pam's love of woods and horses?  And her love of family back in the frozen tundra of upstate New York?

Call it mountain insanity if you will.  When Pam and I went to New York last summer, we instantly fell back in love with the Adirondacks and the forests.  When an opportunity came along to buy a piece of it, and just like with Drift Away, we snatched the gold ring.  Just like with Drift Away's dreams of cruising off without a care in the world (HA! Yeah right!), we have dreams of a small cabin in the woods, with a large garden, a few chickens, and a couple of horses to boot.

What of the boat?  We have a few months to consider that.  Do we keep her, or sell her?  We've invested a tidy sum making her a boat again, and we're at the point where everything works.  It's only cosmetics now.  Wouldn't we be nuts to sell?  Probably.

Next spring, we'll be busy cleaning up the mess that the loggers left behind, using the money we get from logging to buy a chipper and wood splitter.  If we're lucky, we'll get the small guest cottage done by winter.  We could then go back to Georgia after the holidays... or we could stay in Bleecker working on the property.

Should we sell the boat, and focus on Bleecker?  That's the heavy question weighing on us now.   Selling Drift Away and swallowing the anchor seemed unthinkable a few months ago, yet here we are, at yet another fork in the road of life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homesteading in Bleecker


Pam and I love our boat, and we really enjoy cruising and living aboard.  But when we returned to NY last summer, we both realized how much we miss upstate; the mountains, the forests, and even the climate.  We had an opportunity to buy ten acres of land in Bleecker and we took it, once again becoming New York State taxpayers.

We had to return to NY for my daughter's wedding in VT last weekend ( the Bleecker in-laws dog sat for us). While there, we arranged to have a guard rail cut with the county highway department (very efficient and accommodating) so we could access the road built by my father-in-law and his friend (the fella we bought the land from), and met with a logger to clear half of the land for the small home and out buildings we're going to build.  I'm getting psyched.

We're in Virginia tonight on our way back to Georgia.  We'll be heading back north in the spring to arrange for well drilling and to begin construction.  We're going to build most everything ourselves. If I can take an old trawler and sort out things that don't work, I think I can take brand new stuff and put it together to make stuff that does work.

We intend the place to be off the grid.  We plan on using solar, wind, and possibly even water power for electricity, using boating technology that I've learned over the years.  We'll use propane for cooking and backup heating.  Wood will be our main heat source.

Horses, chickens, apple trees... we're looking forward to it all.  As for Drift Away, that's up in the air.  We're debating whether to keep it and spend winters down south, or sell it so we can focus on the homestead in Bleecker.  If we decide to sell it, it will be for a realistic price, preferably to one of you folks who might want to pick up where we left off.  There's still lots to do!

We'll be starting a new blog for the Bleecker homestead project.  If it's anything like our Drift Away blog, it should be a lot of laughs and a lot of missteps.   I'll let you all know what's happening, and the URL of the new blog once we decide on a name for it.  It's like when you get a new cat or dog.  You don't name it right away.  You adopt it, and then it sort of names itself.  But we do welcome suggestions.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Gave Away My Daughter

What a beautiful wedding.  The Lilac Inn in Brandon Vermont is a perfect place for weddings.

We posed for family photos at 3 PM, and then the wedding was at 4.  I know, you all want to know if I cried.  I'm not telling.

The bride was beautiful, of course, and her dad was very proud.  Becky has always been the kind of person who knows what she wants and doesn't settle for anything less.  For Rick to meet those incredibly high standards is surprising to me.  He must be quite a guy.

I have to say that I was also very sad.  My mom and dad weren't there, nor was my Uncle Wayne... nor my grandparents...  I miss my family.  I looked around the room of happy people... my cousins...  where are my parents? My grandparents?  I need them to be here to share this.  This is when I choked up the most.  I hate that lump in the throat feeling, yet I love it because it means that they meant so much to me.

Today we drive back to Bleecker (half way on the road from Bleeck to Bleeckest).  Maybe I'll post a few pics if I have time.  Well... now that I think of it... I don't have internet access on the mountain, so if you don't hear from me for a few days, that's why.

We'll be back in Brunswick on Wednesday and back to our Georgia life and our chosen live aboard lifestyle.  I have to say, though, that we truly miss the mountains of upstate New York and New England.  We're looking forward to returning in the summer and beginning the building of our new home.  That will be a different blog though, not to be confused with our Drift Away blog.  If you think me fixing up an old trawler was a lot of laughs, just wait until I try to build an off-grid house in the woods!

I can't believe my little girl is married.  If I went to a fortune teller ten years ago, and she told me that I'd be living on a boat with Pamela and two pit bulls and a German Shorthair pointer in Georgia, and that my daughter would be getting married in Brandon Vermont, and that I'd buy ten acres of land in Bleecker NY to build a house... I would have said that was preposterous.  Completely laughable and unbelievable.

Proof that life is stranger than fiction.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Giving Away A Daughter

It happens to most fathers with daughters, I guess, but it's never happened to me before.  It's going to happen to me today.

Becky was one of those girls who dated a lot of different guys.  I remember quite distinctly her first date.  She was sixteen years old, and came to me while I was working on a computer program in our den.

"Dad, is it OK if I go to the movies with Chris?" (note here.  Chris is probably not his real name.)

"When did Chris ask you to go to the movies?"

"He hasn't.  I'm going to call him and tell him to take me."

Chris came, introduced himself, announced that I'd be seeing a lot more of him, took Becky to the movies, brought her home, and I never saw him again.

That's pretty much how it was from then on.  Becky has always been a person to know exactly what she wants, and won't settle for anything less until she gets it.  I knew she was that way when I took her shopping for boots when she was in high school, wandering from store to store in the mall, sorting through boots that looked perfectly fine to me but not to Becky.  On to the next store.  Exasperated, I demanded that she buy a pair of boots.  Fine, she said, and she did.  She never wore them.

Little did I know that she would be the same way when it came to men.  She dated many before deciding that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle and pretty much stopped dating.

As a father, this was all fine by me.  Becky is a successful engineer and earns a good living.  She bought a townhouse and was quite content with her life.  And then she met Rick.

Stepping into father mode, I asked for his background check, drug tests, and financial statements.  And does he drive a cool car?  Well, actually, he does drive two cool cars, an Acura RL and a Miata.  I never did get the background check or the financial statements, but Becky did say that he's studying for his drug tests.

So the wedding is in a few hours.  Rick's family seems very nice, so I guess since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Rick is a nice guy too.

And if Becky put half as much consideration of a husband as she did in those boots in high school, I guess she landed the perfect guy for her.

I recommended that instead of Becky taking  Rick's last name, Rick change his last name to Gibson.  Maybe add some flash to it, as in Rockin' Rick Gibson.  That didn't fly at all.  I guess what I think really doesn't matter.  Becky is going to do what she will when she knows what she wants.

Well, congratulations to my lovely, wonderful daughter.  "You're not losing a daughter, you're gaining a son", they say.  A son with two cool cars and a perfect 300 bowling ring from the PBA.  And whom I think must be a pretty savvy guy when he told me that he bought Becky's ring and then got the hell out of the way and let Becky arrange everything.  Smart.  It took me years to figure that out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Vermont

Pam and I are in Vermont.  We drove up for my daughter's wedding on Saturday.  It was 20 hours on the road, which the dogs endured Olivia barely.

We dropped the dogs off in Bleecker.  When we arrived, all three leaped out of the car and ran.  And ran.  And ran.   Then, they'd come into the house for five or ten minutes to warm up (it was in the 20s) and then go right back out.  They love the country.

This is a really nice inn.  I'll try to take a few pics for you to post later.

Oh, and thank you all for voting for my photo on the Golden Isles Facebook page.  As of 11 PM last night, I was 30 votes behind, so I don't think I won, but it was a darn good effort we all made. Thank you again.

Now, off for the rehersal!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Last Day of the Photo Contest

Yeah, I know.  A shameless plug.  But all you regular followers know how hard I've been working on my photography since this spring when I bought a DSLR.

My photo is in a virtual dead heat with another in a Facebook photo contest.  The other three are out of the running.   I did some googling around, and it seems the other photo was posted by someone who enters and wins photo contests on a regular basis.  I'm up against a pro, and an organized voting system.  I'm not going down without a fight!

If you enjoy this blog, and you'd like to help us win a three night stay at the ritzy Jekyll Island Club Hotel, and if you're on Facebook, and if you don't have an iPad, go to this link and "like" the Golden Isles.

And then go to this link and vote for my photo, the night scene at our marina.

If you've already voted, thank you.  You can vote again after a 24 hour waiting period.

As you know, Pam and I have been busting our butts on fixing up Drift Away for the past two and a half years.  Three days at a nice resort would be, well, nice for the both of us.  We'd put the dogs in a kennel and take a mini-honeymoon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Social Media and Cruising/Living Aboard

As you know, for the past couple of days I've posted about being in a Facebook photo contest.  I also alerted my friends on Facebook, my email address book, and on a few message boards I frequent and urged them to vote for my photo.  You have to be on Facebook to vote.  I'm surprised how many of my friends aren't on Facebook.

I love Facebook.  I've reconnected with many old friends, schoolmates, and neighbors, many that I haven't seen in years.  But I'm also connected with many cruisers that Pam and I met in the past year of cruising.   Many, if not most, don't have blogs, and if they do, they update them infrequently.  But if they're on Facebook, they will post a brief note about where they are or something interesting they're doing.

Besides people, I also "like" places.  If I particularly enjoyed a particular restaurant, I'll find it on Facebook and "like" it.  Same for marinas and other places.  They might occasionally advertise a special, or maybe live music or something that Pam and I would enjoy.

Many people are concerned about their privacy, and I suppose that's a valid issue.  However, I've always had the view that I really don't have anything to hide and I doubt too many people are interested in me or what I'm doing.  I also don't post things on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet that would be too personal.  I don't post anything that I wouldn't say to a complete stranger.

You can also protect yourself on Facebook with privacy settings so that total strangers can't see your stuff.  You can even become invisible and hide yourself from certain individuals.

As most of you know, I've been raving about Georgia's Golden Isles since we arrived here in July.  I  "liked" the Golden Isles Facebook page, and saw the notice about the photography contest on my newsfeed.  I entered my photo and it's now in the finals.

The grand prize is a three night stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel as well as a few smaller prizes.

If you'd like to vote for my photo..


go to Facebook and search for and "like" Golden Isles.  Then click on this link to the photo contest to vote.  I'd appreciate it.  As of 6 AM this morning, my photo has a tiny three vote lead over the next.  Even if you've already voted, you can vote again, every 24 hours.

And finally, if you're a cruiser or liveaboard, or are about to, consider opening a Facebook account.    And be sure to "friend" me.

Who ever would have thought that "friend" would be a verb?  Why didn't Facebook just use "befriend"?  Too archaic?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We Have a New Record!

The score was Gertie 4, Olivia 4, and Chevy and Ruby 3.  That would be the number of times each has been in the drink.   Olivia has set the bar higher, making it 5 for her.

We had taken the dogs to the beach, and had arrived back at the marina.  I was walking down our dock first, followed by Pam and the dogs.  I didn't see it, but Pam did.  The dogs started to play,running down the dock.  Olivia was in the lead, and turned her head behind her to see where Chevy and Ruby were... and ran right off the dock.

She was frantic, of course.  Not that she can't swim.  She can.  But dogs like to swim only on their own terms.  So I dropped my camera and Olivia swam over to me, dog paddling and thrashing away, her eyes bugged out like Marty Feldman.  I laid down on the dock, trying to figure out how best to scoop her out.  I finally got my hands under her armpits and got her up.

To show her gratitude, as soon as she got on the boat, she ran downstairs and jumped in our bed.

Later, Pam and I put Olivia in her crate and went out to dinner.  If we don't lock up Olivia, she selectively destroys something of mine and pulls a piece of Pam's underwear out of the laundry basket and chews on it.  Nope.  No idea why.  

When we came home and let Olivia out, Pam noticed that Olivia had puked in her crate.  Olivia never hurls.  And then a few minutes later she blew chunks in the helm station.  Pam theorized that maybe Olivia swallowed a lot of putrid marina salt water when she fell in.  Sounds plausible.

So Olivia went to sleep in our bed downstairs.  After the Ravens/Steelers game, Pam went downstairs to read.  She soon came back upstairs and announced that she was sleeping in the middle stateroom.  

"Why?" asked I.

"Because Olivia threw up in our bed."

"Oh."

See?  Living aboard isn't always utopia.  Maybe if you don't have pets...

Our photo has a slim lead in the Golden Isles photo contest.  If we win, Pam and I will get three nights at the la-de-da Jekyll Island Club Hotel.  That's a place they'd never let us in under ordinary circumstances, but if we win the photo contest, they'd have to.  Just think of the photos I'll be able to post!  If you're on Facebook, please like the Golden Isles page and then vote.  My photo is the marina night scene, at the bottom.

Even if you've already voted, you can vote again after 24 hours.  Vote early, vote often!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Need Your Vote!

I know, you thought the elections were over and you were happy that all that nonsense was behind you.  No!  Not yet!  I need your vote!

I entered a photo in a Golden Isles Facebook photo contest.  The judges selected five photos, with mine being one of those chosen.  The grand prize is a three day vacation on Jekyll Island.

Yeah, you're saying "But Dave, you LIVE in the Golden Isles, and you go to Jekyll Island every other day!  What kind of a prize is that?"

Yeah, you're right, and if we win, I have no idea what we'd do with the dogs.  But it would be really great to stay in a nice hotel and stuff.  Here is the grand prize...


Grand Prize (one trip for two)                                                                                      
  • Lodging (two hotel rooms, occupancy for two, for three nights) at the Historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel
  • Jekyll Island VIP Passes (2) – Historic District Tour, GA Sea Turtle Center, Miniature Golf, 1 hour Bike Rental  
  • Travel allowance ($200 total)                                                                                  
  • Emerald Princess II Casino Pass with Drink Tickets (2)                                     
  • Ghost Walk of St. Simons Island Passes (2)      
  • Ocean Lodge Gift Certificate for Dinner                                                                
  • St. Simons Lighthouse Admission (2)                                                                                 
  • 4 Bottles of Southern Soul BBQ Sauce 

We'd get to sleep in a real bed!   Our travel allowance would be about $7.50 for gas for the eight mile drive and not $200 so we'd save them some bucks.  We've also thought about taking the Emerald Princess casino cruise, although Pam would probably blow through $50 at black jack in no time.  And I could really use four bottles of Southern Soul BBQ sauce, whatever that is.  It sounds tasty.

Just go to this link on Facebook and scroll down to the bottom photo.  That would be my photo of Brunswick Landing Marina at night, taken with my Nikon on a tripod and a long exposure.

Just think of the photos I could post of the inside of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on this blog!  I mean, c'mon, you know they wouldn't let me in there otherwise.  If I won this contest, they'd have to.




Corn hole at Skipper's Fish Camp

Yep.  That has to be one of the strangest titles I've written.

We met new friends Holly and Bill on Saturday.  Pam was selling her sea glass jewelry at a local craft fair and Holly was selling her scarves in a booth next door.  I met Bill and Holly when I walked the dogs down there in an attempt to tire them out.  They invited us to corn hole at Skippers.

First off, Skipper's Fish Camp is a bar and restaurant in Darien Georgia.  It's off the beaten path.  You have to have good directions, or an address and a GPS to find it.  It serves great shrimp, as does most places in Darien that sell locally caught shrimp.  Shrimp here have a delightful taste because of the water they live in.  All Georgia shrimp is better than most, but Darien shrimp is the cream of the crop.

Corn hole is a game something like horseshoes, but with corn filled bean bags instead of horseshoes, and a slanted 2' x 4' board with a 6" hole near the top instead of a post.  Each player tosses four bean bags at the target.  You get one point for being on the board, and three points for going down the hole.  Bags offset each other.  That is, if one bag from each team is on the board, the bags offset each other, and instead of getting one point each, you get zero.  You play to 21.

The participants take this game seriously.  As serious as horseshoes, I dare say.  I even found a corn hole website, http://www.cornholegame.org/, so you can see that it is a legitimate sport.  Maybe we'll see it in the Olympics one day.

By the way, Pam's shrimp was delicious, and my fried wings were as well.  Yep, I ordered wings.  I like to walk on the  wild side.  We've now eaten at Darien's Skipper's Fish Camp and B&J's, and both were great.  The Purple Pickle is also on our list, and is rated really high by Yelp and other ratings web sites.  No, no idea why it has the funny name.  We'll eat there soon and tell you.

Darien has a town dock that you can stay at for free for two days, including 30 amp electric and water.  It's seven miles up the Darien River from ICW mile marker 652.

With a free dock and great restaurants, you cruisers traveling the ICW might consider taking an extra day and making a short detour to Darien, Georgia.  Seriously, what's the rush?    I know, I'm as guilty as anyone.  On our trip south, I bypassed Darien too, despite the cruising guide's recommendation to stop at Darien.  Well, now I'm here to tell you that I was an idiot.  I mean, really.  A free dock?  Including electric?  Great restaurants?  And you can corn hole to boot.

You need to make Darien a stop on your way north in the spring.  Or, on your way south if you're a procrastinator and running late (it's December dude, and you haven't made Florida yet?).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Glacial Speed Cruising

Remember how I mentioned that our glacial mode of cruising allows us to really explore an area?   Today we ate lunch at a place we pass often.  Willie's Wee Nee Wagon.  Their motto is "We relish your bun".  I had their pork chop sandwich, mainly because I'd never heard of such a thing.  Willie will pay you $2,000 if you can find a better pork chop sandwich in Glynn County, Georgia.  Well, let me tell you, that was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, and at age 62, I've eaten well over 20,000 sandwiches.


Pam had a Polish sausage sandwich that she really liked too.

You can find Willie's Wee Nee Wagon on Facebook.

Pam and I are finding out that Brunswick has a lot of really, really good local restaurants.  Most are small out of the way places that you have to look hard for, Willie's being an exception on a busy road.

I don't want this to turn into a restaurant review blog, but if I find something truly unusual and different, I will share it to show you how glacial speed cruising has its benefits.  How many cruisers stopping at Brunswick have been to Willie's Wee Nee Wagon, or have seen Confederate Station?  Today will be corn holing at Skippers.

I rest my case.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bad Drugs


I went to a doctor for the first time in three years a couple of days ago.  I think I may have found a really good one here in Brunswick, and just by chance too.  I didn't ask any locals who to go to, I just picked the one closest to the marina.

It was for a general checkup, and part of that, since I'm a new patient, was to ask me a list of questions.  Do I smoke, do I drink, what operations have I had, what currently ails me... that one he spent considerable time on.  I've had chronic back problems since I lifted a keg of beer out of the backseat of my '67 Camaro back in 1971.  He asked what my symptoms were and I told him.  He asked about leg pain and numbness.   He asked if it was getting worse over time.  Then he asked if I had problems washing dishes.   What kind of a question is that?   He'd like to send me for an MRI.  He suspects my herniated disks aren't as much of a problem as something called spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the open spaces in your spine that nerves pass through.

He then gave me three prescriptions.   One for pain, which he says will work better than the daily Aleve I take.   A daily one for inflammation.  And a muscle relaxant.

I picked up the drugs today, and since my back has been really hurting for the past two days, took one pain pill.  Tramadol.  The prescription was for one or two pills every six hours as needed.  I took one.  It made me slightly tired, dizzy, antsy, and nauseous for the rest of the day.  I didn't do anything except google "spinal stenosis" and watch TV.

It was 10 PM.  I couldn't get to sleep because my back was starting to  ache.  I went upstairs.  I read the label of the muscle relaxer.  May cause drowziness.  My back hurts and I can't sleep.  Perfect.  I cut a pill in half and took it.

I surfed the internet for a bit and then went downstairs to go to bed around midnight.  As I touched my side to get in, Olivia growled.  She was on the bed on my side.  Rather than cause a scene by moving her off the bed and wake up Pam, I went to the middle stateroom.  I tossed and turned.  I turned on the TV and watched MSNBC (to counterbalance listening to Fox Radio) until 2 AM when I turned it off to try to get some sleep.  The muscle relaxer should also carry the warning "may cause itchiness" because I felt like I had fleas.  I was itching and scratching.

It is now 4 AM.  I'm back on the internet.  I googled the side effects of Tramadol- dizziness, drowziness, and feeling anxious or nervous was on the list.  Then I checked carisoprodol, the muscle relaxant- yep, down on the long list of things it does was insomnia.  I'm now drinking a scotch until the itchiness wears off or the alcohol kicks in.

So, no boat projects to report on yesterday, no photos to post, no nothing.  I'll try to do better today.  There's a big craft fair here in Brunswick and Pam will be there selling her sea glass jewelry and a batch of some of my area photos.  Maybe I'll photograph that when... if... I get out of bed.

We have three dogs and a cat.  Maybe I do have fleas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Star Gazing

I'm not a star gazer.  All I see when I look up are a whole bunch of white dots.  Oh, I can find the big dipper, and so the little dipper and north star.  Sometimes I can even find the belt of Orion.

It's not that I'm not interested in the stars.  Like many cruisers, I like to sit on the deck on warm nights and star gaze.  I just have no idea what I'm seeing.  That's about to change.

I wrote about spending too much time online.  Since I retired, I have this new found need for knowledge.  I'll spend countless hours googling whatever pops into my head, or scanning my news feed in Facebook looking for a nugget of brilliance.  Yeah, I know.  It's pretty rare.

One of my Facebook friends posted a link about a free program called Stellarium that shows you the night sky and identifies stars and planets for you.  I downloaded it and configured it to my location in Brunswick, Georgia (with some difficulty).  Two nights ago, I got to see the stars even though it was overcast here and, looking out the window, I couldn't see squat.  Yesterday was partly cloudy, so I'd hoped to find the stars that were displayed on my laptop up in sky.

This was at 6 PM looking west.  Cool.  You can even see the twilight. Yes, it really looked like that, although the land scenery was a village in France or something.


Here is another shot, looking east at 7:22 PM last night.


That big bright thing is something called the "moon", with "Jupiter" above it at 1 o'clock.  I poked my head outside and there they were,

The other nice thing about Stellarium is that I can now star gaze without actually having to go outside.

If you'd like to download it, go to www.stellarium.org.  And to save you an hour of trying to find where to set your location, just hit the F6 key.

And finally, I can't stop laughing about this one.


Yeah, I found it on Facebook. So what.  It's still funny.  C'mon, I know you're smiling.  Maybe even laughing out loud, like I did.

So you're asking "So Dave, are you ever going to do something productive?  Anything?  We regular followers are thinking of banding together for an intervention.".  Well, today I need to go get some blood work done for my every three years annual physical, and then go to the Walmarts to pick up some meds, and then we'll see.  It's perfect painting weather here in Georgia, but Pam has today off from work.  I think we should spend quality time together and go to the movies to see "Lincoln" rather than me painting all alone.  I'll let you know tomorrow what we actually did.

Please root for the movies.  I have plenty of time for painting.  Here's our forecast...


5-Day Forecast for Brunswick, Georgia

Today: Partly Cloudy, High: 74 F, Low: 55 F

Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy, High: 74 F, Low: 55 F

Sunday: Partly Cloudy, High: 75 F, Low: 56 F

Monday: Partly Cloudy, High: 78 F, Low: 55 F

Tuesday: Partly Cloudy, High: 79 F, Low: 54 F

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hash House Harriers

Each of us follow blogs for our own reasons.  Maybe you're bored in your cubicle and need an escape, or maybe you're living vicariously through the writing of others, or maybe you feel better about yourself when you read about some of the really stupid things other people do.  I follow blogs for all of the aforementioned reasons, but I also follow blogs to learn new things.

Now that I no longer work, I find I want to spend many hours of my day learning.  Whatever. Important things, political things, trivial things.  It doesn't matter.  It keeps my alleged brain working.  I read several message boards, I read CNN and my hometown newspaper online, I follow Facebook (way too much), I study photography websites, and I follow other blogs.  There is a list of the blogs I follow at the bottom of this page, on the right.

One of those blogs is "Zero to Cruising", a blog I just started following not too long ago.   This one was titled "Where to Spend Christmas".  OK, I need to know that, so I opened their blog.  This is the first paragraph.

Countless times we’ve posted on this blog about the fun that we have had hashing in Grenada. I honestly don’t think there is any better way to make friends and really get to know the islands than to get involved with the local hash groups. As such, we were very pleased to be able to join in with an equally fun group of hashers here in Trinidad this past Saturday.

?????   What is "hashing in Grenada"?  What is a hash group?  What is a hasher?  Isn't that illegal?

So I turned to Google for the answer.  The answer, in a nutshell, is that hashers are drinkers with a running problem.  Every couple of weeks, a bunch of folks gather to run (or walk) a course, and at the end drink.  Sounds like a lot of fun!  Except for the running part, this is my kind of group!

I never cease to wonder at the marvel of Al Gore's internets.  What a wonderful thing.