Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pelicans and Sunsets

Two of my favorite things are pelicans and sunsets.   Tuesday's sunset was a very nice one, so I had my camera out to shoot it.  Along came pelicans looking for their dinner.   Perfect.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Georgia's Marsh Raccoon

You wouldn't think there would be much difference between a New England raccoon and a Georgia raccoon.

I took this pic today while at Jekyll Island.

First, it seems that their legs are much longer than those back north.  Maybe it's because they wade through Jekyll's marshes.

Second, their tails seem pointy instead of bushy.

Third, it's common for them to be out during the day.

In other news, I'm giving up on boat brokers.  The first one I called thought he could sell Drift Away with no problem, except he thought the price would attract so many people that he'd be driving between Tampa, where his office is, and Brunswick, where the boat is, so he declined.  The second one I called is not aggressive enough.  His office is ten minutes away, but it took him three days to get here.   I was supposed to hear from him on Monday.  Today is Wednesday and not a peep.

So spread the word.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dogs Can Be Overwhelming

There's a New Zealand family that lives here at the marina.  They have a teenager, a lovely young lady named Kellie.  The dogs LOVE Kellie.  I only have to say "Look, there's Kellie" and they go ballistic.

Jack, Belinda, and Kellie had to return to  New Zealand to deal with the sale of their house and to straighten out Jack's visa (Belinda is American) so he doesn't have to leave the country every ninety days.  No, I don't know why.   Some bureaucratic  nonsense.  Anyway, they had to stay for two weeks, but Kellie only one because she had to return to school.  We offered to put Kellie up for the week, which works out perfectly because she can catch the same bus.

I waited on the boat with the dogs while Pam fetched Kellie from the airport.  When they arrived, Pam got on the boat first and got the usual happy dog welcome.  Then Kellie.  The dogs went crazy.  Poor Kellie had all she could do to sit on the couch to fend off the dogs.  At one point, she had all three hopping all over her, each vying for her undivided attention.

Pam pulled the dogs off one by one.  I, of course, pulled out my camera.

A little later, Pam went downstairs to get ready for work.  She decided to lay down to take a little nap first.  The dogs had other ideas.  I heard Pam laughing hysterically, so again I grabbed my camera.   The dogs were hopping all over the bed while Pam tried to cover up.   It was a blur.   See?

So this should be an interesting week.

It's going to be warm and humid for the next couple of days with temps in the 80s.  That means fog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Project Hatch

We had a boat broker take a tour around Drift Away the other day.  I was pointing out some of the water damaged paneling when he asked if the boat still leaked.  Nope, I fibbed.  It was only a little white lie.  The decks don't leak, but when I run a hose on the foredeck, we get some drips around the deck hatch.  I had replaced the old hatch with a new Lewmar and it leaked.  I've taken it out, gobbed it up with silicone and rebedded it four times.  It still leaks.

It only leaked around the back edge.  The new hatch was about a half inch smaller and I think the problem is that I couldn't get enough silicone in there.  Yesterday, I removed the hatch for the final fix.  Make the hole smaller.

How?   Well, the first thing I did was to cut out pieces of cardboard, fold them up, and nailed them to the inside edge of the hatch.   Then I fiberglassed over it.

I'm not very good at fiberglassing stuff, but this will be completely hidden by the hatch so it won't matter.

Next I gobbed it up with silicone real good...

and then dropped in the hatch.

I didn't screw the hatch down.  I just pushed on it to make sure it was seated all the way.

I made sure silicone was oozing out from underneath.   Tomorrow I'll screw it down.

Just as I sat down to enjoy a victory beer, Chevy decided he had to get off the boat and go potty RIGHT NOW!


Next project- paint the inside of the gunnels, finish painting the cabin sides, and finally paint the decks. The weather is getting perfect for painting, dry and temps in the upper 60s and lower 70s.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding A Feather

If you're a bird dog, there is nothing better than going to the beach and finding a big feather.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marinas and Crime

One thing that's not talked about much on blogs and magazines I read is crime at marinas.  Marinas and yacht clubs can be easy targets.  Most boats sitting on docks are not live aboards.  Oftentimes, no one is around.  In my many years of belonging to a small yacht club in upstate New York, theft was sometimes a problem, from member's beer from our club's refrigerator to a 15 HP outboard motor off the stern of my dock neighbor's O'Day 25.

I wrote on this blog some time ago about my bicycle being stolen here at Brunswick Landing Marina and our lucky recovery of it.  Last week, the bikes were hit again.  Both front wheels and both seats stolen and brake cables cut.  $500 worth of stuff.

There's security at this marina.  A guard patrols every night.  But this marina is very long and he can't be everywhere.

Olivia, the German Shorthair Pointer, is high energy.  She asks to go outside on deck every ten or fifteen minutes when she's awake.   I slide open the door, she finds something to bark at within a few minutes, I go out and yell at her to go back inside, which she does.  We repeat this.  All. evening. long.

Last night, during one of her I-gotta-go-out-and-bark cycles, I opened the door to order her in and she ignored me.  I sternly ordered her in, and she looked at me and absolutely refused.  She not only barked, but snarled.  I looked up at the pavilion at the head of our dock and saw someone up there.  I got my binoculars out because it was so dark and the Steiners give you almost night vision.  I could see that it wasn't Tony, the only other guy living aboard on  our dock.   It looked like this guy was barbecuing.  Sometimes, when the gas runs out of a barbecue on a neighboring grill, they'll come to our pavilion to use our grill.  Maybe that was it?

He'd lean on the railing, looking out over the water, check his cell phone, walk over to the barbecue, back to the railing... but it just didn't feel like he was actually cooking.

I got out my camera to take pics.  They're hand held and dark.   I cranked my ISO setting up to 1600, but still you can't see much.  Most of the pics were blurred.  I should have gotten my tripod out, but I didn't want to miss anything.

Here he's checking his cell phone.  

Checking the grill.

I then saw him run out of the pavilion up to the upper parking lot.  He got into his car and drove off towards the other  end of the marina.

Then I saw the marina security guard drive around the upper parking lot to the lower and park his truck to walk the docks.   I took Chevy, our big scary looking male pit bull offf the boat with me and went up to the pavilion.  I put my hand on the grill and it was cold.

I'm guessing here, but what I think happened was that this prowler was hanging out on our dock, pretending he belonged there by pretending to grill.  What he was actually doing was waiting for the security guard to drive to our end of the marina and park.  That gave him the opportunity to drive to the other end to steal something from someone.

I called the security company and they contacted the guard, who came by the boat.  I told him what happened, and what I thought was up.  He said that he saw the guy on our pavilion, but thought he was a boater who was grilling dinner.  Exactly.

These security guards need to approach people they don't know, and introduce themselves.  In a friendly way, ask their names and boat name.  This crap needs to stop.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just A Bunch of Photos

Sorry about the late blog, but I've been busy all day calling Verizon, calling my bank, and a whole bunch of other mundane stuff.  To make it up, I'm just going to post a bunch of photos taken over the past couple of days.

Chevy is very photogenic.

Ruby loves scratching her back on the beach.

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.

Olivia running.  As usual.

Ruby crashing.

Another beautiful Golden Isles sunset.

Neil on Silver Queen left this morning for points south.  He'll be back in May.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Generator Wouldn't Shut Down

The yard guys delivered our new batteries yesterday.  Two big T108s for the Ford Lehman diesels and a group 27 for the generator.  After they left, I fired up the Ford Lehmans and let them run to operating temperature.  I spun the props while I was at it.

After shutting down the main engines, I started the 15 KW generator.  I let that run for about a half an hour and then hit the kill button in the helm station.  The generator slowed down but kept running.  ????????  I tried it again.  Same thing.  It slowed down... slowed down... but kept running.  I went into the engine room, climbed over the hot port engine, and tried the stop button on the engine.  Same thing.

I hollered up to Pam to turn off everything running on 110 volt.   I then switched from shore power to the generator.  I hollered up to Pam to turn on everything we had 110 volt to put a load on the generator.  Turn on everything, including the electric stove and convection oven.  I hit the stop button again.   It slowed down... slowed down... and stopped.   Phew.

Just one more thing I'll have to look at and figure out.  The stop button is electronic, so it must close a valve that either shuts off the fuel supply or the air supply.   Either it needs adjustment, needs to be cleaned, or needs to be replaced.

Luckily, Mr. Tiner, the original owner of the boat, was meticulous in keeping all the manuals in order, and thankfully Mr. Van Breems as well.  Maybe I'll find a clue in the operator's manual.  Or maybe I'll have to surf Al Gore's internets for a service manual to find the answer to this one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is the forecast for upstate New York.

This is the forecast for Brunswick, Georgia.

We must be nuts.  Well, those of you who've been following this blog already know that.

The new batteries are being installed as I write this.  Wayne, one of the marina mechanics, was going to do it yesterday but his helper didn't show, and the batteries are too big and heavy for one person.

Wayne also checked the Sentry charger and found that the manual mode works fine, but the automatic mode is dead.  A local guy can fix it for about $200.  I told him to go ahead and repair it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Killed the Batteries

Drift Away has a Guest battery charger, model  2610W.  One charger takes care of both of our big T108s.  According to the manual, once the batteries are charged the rate drops down to a maintenance level which will not boil off the electrolyte.   Well, guess what.  I tried to start the boat the other day and all I got was clicks.  I checked the charger and it was lit up and functioning.  I then checked the batteries and the water was so low that the plates were showing.   I had topped off the batteries just a few weeks prior.

I added gallons of water (they're big batteries) and hoped for the best, but no go.  The batteries are toast.  And they're only a year and a half old.  I replaced them just before we left on our cruise so I wouldn't have to worry about them, even though the 22+ year old batteries seemed to be fine.

Since the batteries weigh about 150 pounds apiece, and since I have back problems, I'm going to pay through the nose and have the marina remove the old ones and install the new ones.

I'm also going to get rid of the Guest charger and hook up the old Sentry.

I'm going to switch the battery charger off, and only turn it on a day or so before we plan on moving the boat.


Monday, January 21, 2013


Nope, no story.  Just a pic of a squirrel that thought he was hiding.

He wasn't very good at hiding.

For you cruisers who think you need to get to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas to escape northern winters, the weather here in Georgia has been beautiful.  Cherry trees are blooming in Savannah, and my truck is covered with yellow pollen.   It's mostly been sunny and in the upper 60s and 70s.  The Golden Isles is indeed a nice place to stop.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another Dog Beach Day

Yesterday was chilly and breezy, but the dogs were a bit antsy so we took them to the beach on Jekyll Island.   The driftwood beach that we usually go to is getting crowded with snowbirds, and since we always put the dogs on leashes whenever someone comes by, the dogs were spending more time on leash than off.  So yesterday we went to the far southern end, just north of the no-dog bird nesting zone, which is pretty much snowbird free.

Run!  Run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run!

The wind was blowing and it was a little brisk.

The walkway out.

No problem.

A flock of Ibis.  Ibises?  Ibeese?

A nice day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oooooh Noooooo!

Daughter Megan sent a Mr. Bill toy to Olivia.  The dogs love it.  They play with it constantly.  As proof of their affection for it, they haven't destroyed it yet.

So what is it like living on a boat with two vicious pit bulls and a kraut hunting dog?   Here you go....

Yes, this is a typical day on Drift Away.  If you plan on cruising, do NOT get pit bulls or German Shorthair Pointers if you want any peace, like trying to watch Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.   Not one of our better ideas.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Two Happiest Days in a Boat Owner's Life

I mentioned yesterday that a boat broker visited us to discuss selling Drift Away.  I'm now sitting alone here tonight while Pam is working, listening to the wind howling outside, Drift Away rocking back and forth...  and my mind is wandering.

To be sure, Pam and I are both excited and looking forward to building our shack in the woods, but we're going to miss this life, and this boat, a lot.

Isle of Hope Marina...  we made our closest cruising friends there.  It had a nice, small liveaboard community and we socialized.  A lot.  As in everyday, at happy-three-hours.  But, being cruisers, we've all moved on.  It's what cruisers do.  In a way, that's very sad.  We miss our Isle of Hope friends.

Brunswick Landing Marina dock mates... all of our dock mates on our dock but one have left.  Most have headed to the Bahamas, except Rod and Patti on Second Chance who are now in the Pacific and headed for California.  But Pam and I both love Brunswick, and are enjoying the weather here.  Even the "cool" days when its only in the 60s.  We don't regret staying here.

Drift Away... has been a great boat.  Except for gunk in the fuel tanks, which resulted in us getting towed into Oyster Bay one time, and then me swapping out filters and bleeding the engines off Sandy Hook the second, this boat has run flawlessly.

By the way, I fixed the tank problem by installing two Filter Boss systems and using the old Racors to make a fuel polishing system.  I've never had to change a Filter Boss filter, and we've had no issues since.

As I was describing all we've done to this boat since we bought it three years ago to the broker, I realized all we've accomplished.  It's pretty mind numbing.  I won't go into it all here.  The list would be too long, and it would be repetitive to our regular readers.  We've done A LOT on Drift Away, turning it from a bone yard derelict boat into a vessel reliable enough to take us from Albany, New York all the way to Brunswick Georgia.

The broker seemed especially impressed with our Naid Stabilizers, which added $70,000 to the price of the boat in 1980.  With the stabilizers, Drift Away doesn't rock side to side, at all.  The system has a gyroscope, and as the boat starts to rock, fins attached to the hull kick and keep it level.  It's one of the cooler things this boat has.  We love them.  Thank you, Mr. Tiner!

Yeah... I love this boat.  I always thought I'd be making this trip in a sailboat, but here I am, snug and warm in our trawler, the reverse cycle air conditioning keep it warm and toasty, while the wind howls outside, and Drift Away happily, gently rocking in a soothing sort of way.

Our blog...  I've been going back to our blog to see what we were doing one and two years ago, reliving the fun we've had.   In 2011, we were living aboard in Stamford, Connecticut.  I had just started the blog on January 13th and didn't update it everyday, but suffice it to say that we were tied to a dock and didn't go anyplace for the next year and a half.  In 2012, it was Coinjock to the Alligator River.  Yawn.   We were on our way to Belhaven, North Carolina, a place we both loved and spent a few days in.  We were ICW newbies, looking for our first palm tree.

We've made a lot of fine memories in this old boat.  We visited many interesting places, met many fine people and made new friends, and had many adventures.

When we hand the keys over to a new owner, we'll take one long, last look at her, and then drive slowly away... I'm sure we're both going to have a few tears.  That old saying about the two happiest days in a boat owner's life is the day he buys it and the day he sells it is baloney.  Our first days were full of trepidation, and our last a feeling of abandonment.  Like leaving a faithful dog off at the pound.

Except a boat isn't alive, and doesn't have feelings... right?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yesterday's Photos

First, I took advantage of the "golden hour" to take a nice pic of Olivia.   This one would be worth framing except I've got the railing running smack through the middle of her head.  I really need to pay attention to the background.

I love pelicans, as many of you know.  I've been trying to get a good shot of a pelican just as it hits the water.

This might have been a good one, except for that darn piling.

Try again...

Not bad, but the piling and the dinghy detract from the shot, and I was a fraction of a second too late.

A pelican with another bird I really like, a seagull.

I gave up after that.  The golden hour was quickly ending as the sun set.

This morning was sunny and warm, a beautiful start to the day.  Right now it's gray and misty, a little cool, and blowing about 20 MPH.  A yacht broker came by to look at Drift Away anyway.  He was impressed with the boat and its equipment and thinks, because of the price, that it should sell.  He just needs to find a buyer that can swing a paint brush and cut paneling.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creative Outlets

I guess many people, like me, feel a need to express themselves, and do so through many forms, such as writing, painting, photography, music, acting, and so on.  I've tried most of them.

Only one thing kept me from being a rock star.  What, you say?  I don't have any talent.  Old joke.

There are a lot of talented people out there, most of whom will never earn a nickel from what they do.  That doesn't stop them.  Take, for example, my ex-wife Jahnn.  She had broken both of her wrists in an ice skating accident and was in casts for three months.  During that time, she wrote a young adult's sailing book called "Susan's Sailing Adventures", still available at  What she's earned from the sales of her book works out to about 25 cents an hour.  She didn't write it to make money, though.

A friend of mine, Ron Chappell, just had a book published called Fat of the Land.  It's a compendium of short stories about growing up in the southwest.  I'm reading it now and enjoying it immensely.  It is a product of Ron belonging to a creative writers group which spurred him on.

I don't know how many blogs there are, but there's a lot.  People blog about cruising, homesteading, politics, and anything else you can think of.   Some are good, some not so good.  I don't know anyone who earns a living blogging, especially if there's no advertising (like this one).  Still, we blog on and on.

My first recognition as a writer was my 11th grade English teacher.  I was struggling to get through a humanities class and needed to pass the New York State regents exam.  After the exam, I was walking down the school's hallway, past the teachers' office.  Mr. Schwartz was there, saw me, and called me over.

"Your test essay was good," he said. "Reallly good.  The best I've ever read."

That floored me.  I never considered myself much of a writer, and no teacher had ever made any comments about my writing, except derogatory ones.  My essay was about UFOs, something I was passionate about back then, and it must have showed in my writing.  It must also have been a fluke, I thought.

Later in life, much later, I posted about chartering in the Caribbean on the old Cruising World internet message board.   Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Herb McCormick, the editor of Cruising World magazine, asking if he could use it in an upcoming issue.   Sure, I thought.  Cool.  Knock yourself out.   A few months later, I was in print, and received a nice little check.

That spurred me on to write subsequent articles for Cruising World, Good Old Boat, Latitudes and Attitudes, and All At Sea Southeast magazines.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, I still don't think I'm a very good writer.  I have a folksy style, writing pretty much the way I talk.  It seems to work for me, though, and it will work for you.  If you're getting ready to cast off the dock lines, or are building a cabin in the mountains, or whatever you are doing that you'd like to share with the world, write about it.  You'll be surprised who might enjoy reading about it, and you'll have the satisfaction that you've made someone else's day a tiny bit brighter.   Maybe someone you don't even know.  And I think that's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Olivia the Wonder Dog

As you regular readers know, we have three dogs.  And they're not your typical boat dogs (little yappy dogs, or Portuguese water dogs, etc.).  We have two 80 pound pit bulls and a German Shorthair Pointer.

Olivia spent the first few weeks of her life in a crate in a vet's office, having no contact with other dogs other than her siblings.  When our family adopted her, she learned her doggy behavior from the pits.  I began affectionately referring to her as our German Shorthair Pitbull.  She retained all the traits of a hunting dog, fixating on prey (especially birds), but she also learned how to play rough and wrestle like a pit bull.

We took them to Jekyll Island yesterday.  Here are the pics.

The joy of running.

The thrill of the chase.  Ruby and Chevy don't have a ghost of a chance of catching her.

Olivia can leap totally out of the water.

Just chillin'.

The joy of more running.

Time for pit bull play.

GRARRRRR!  Notice the fangs.  Ruby and Chevy did.

I just wanted to take a pic of this palm tree on the way out...

and Live Oak and Spanish Moss.  I'm going to miss all this.  Ya'all need to spend some time here.