Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter, Everyone

The shooting of 13 month old Antonio Santiago here in Brunswick, Georgia was a horrible thing.

But for those who have faith, he is in a much better place now.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Time In Georgia

Just photos of spring busting out all over down here in Georgia.  And I have the allergies to prove it.

Olivia's mockingbird.  Whenever we pass by our dock's pavilion, this mockingbird greets Olivia, our bird dog.  Professional courtesy perhaps?

This guy must have just gotten back from the papal enclave.

Maybe I'll bombard you with pelican pics tomorrow.  Today, two is all I can manage.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Moon River

I arose very early this morning.   It's springtime here and Georgia is in full bloom, so I'm either suffering from allergies or I picked up a cold somewhere.  It's one of those things when you can't sleep because of a huge sinus headache.  Yuck.

But one nice thing about getting up early is the sunrise.  As I'm writing this at 7:15 AM, the sun isn't quite up yet, but the moon is setting and it's a very nice one, just past full.  Instead of the dozens of pelican pics I was going to bombard you with today, here is a nice moon photo.

This was shot hand held.  For you aspiring camera buffs, these are the settings I used.
Image Size: 1024 x 819

Date Shot: 3/29/2013 07:05:06.40
Image Quality: RAW (12-bit)
Device: Nikon D3100
Lens: VR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 300mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1000s
Exposure Mode: Manual
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400

Just south of Savannah's Isle of Hope Marina is Moon River, so named to honor the song by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.  If you ever head south on the ICW, you'll pass right by it.  Mercer's home was on the Back River, and southerners love to honor folks by naming things for them, and so the name was changed.

The song Moon River was used in Breakfast at Tiffany's and won a grammy for Song of the Year.

Savannah is very proud of it's hometown boy Johnny Mercer, and besides renaming a river after his song, named a street Johnny Mercer Boulevard, and there's even a Johnny Mercer bike path.

Maybe tomorrow I'll bombard you with pelican pics.  I'm sitting here with my morning coffee watching them dive for their breakfast, right outside Drift Away's big windows.  This is better than the Nature Channel on TV, and certainly better than the morning news.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Yesterday Was A Poopy Day

If ya'all... yep, been in Georgia too long.  

If ya'all are a bit squeamish, you might not want to read today's blog.

I'm not squeamish about much of anything.  I'll stick my hands into anything.  I even stuck my hand in a full porta-pottie once, right up to my elbow, because it stopped working.  Not too much triggers my throw-up button.   Maybe that's why I don't get seasick either, for which I am thankful.

I do draw the line at changing a baby's diaper though.  Sure, I did it plenty of times because as a dad you have to, but it always took me about a half an hour because I had to keep on running out of the room to take another deep breath, and then run back to do some more changing while holding my breath, and then back out of the room, and so on.  There's just something about baby poop.

I cleaned dog poop off the foredeck yesterday.  It's where Olivia goes.  I was very proud of her when I discovered this.

Do you know how accurate you have to be to hit a shore power cable just right like that?  Oh sure, it took a lot of practice shots, as you can see all around there.   But then she nailed it, bullseye.

Here's a closeup for you, in case you want to make it your office computer's wallpaper.

I happened to be in the middle stateroom a bit later, and I noticed some water under the head in there.  I never noticed any water before, and finding water where it's not supposed to be is never a good thing on a boat.  We don't use that head as a head.  We use it as a closet.  So I removed everything from on top of the toilet and opened the lid.  It was full and overflowing.

Now, before my landlubber friends get all "Ewwwww!   Gross!" on me, let me explain.  The toilets on many boats, ours included, are below the waterline.   If someone turns the intake valve to "open" or "flush" and leaves it there, seawater will seep in.  It seems someone, who shall remain nameless (Pamela) moved the valve while cleaning in there.  No big deal, really, except I had to unpack the whole head to get at the overboard discharge seacock to open it so I could pump the seawater out.   And, of course, I then cleaned up the mess behind and under the toilet.  I made a note to get a shutoff valve for there.

I thought I should trace that intake line to see if there was a shut-off for it.  Since we don't use it, I should probably shut it off.  I followed the line into the forward head, where it simply tees off that one's intake line.  While I was on my hands and knees checking it, I noticed a kink in that line.   No wonder it pumped a little hard.

When I replaced that toilet a couple of years ago, I didn't notice that I kinked the line.  So I got out my heat gun (if you don't have a heat gun and you own a boat, buy one) and softened the hose up, cut off a few inches, and stuck it back on.

By my reckoning, that's three victory beers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

... Is Worth Two In the Bush

Yesterday's blog entry was entitled "A Bird In The Hand", so it's only right that today's is "... Is Worth Two In The Bush".  Not literally in the bush, of course.  Photos of shrubbery would be boring.  So here are photos of birds not actually in their bushes.

Pam and I relaxed on the aft deck the other day, watching the sun set.  Birds were everywhere, especially birds of prey.  I would hate to be a little fish and live here.


This pelican was a long way off.  I had to crop in real close which really messed the photo up, but I like the pose so well that I included it.  Also, note the band on his right leg.  He looks like he's making an in-flight u-turn because he saw a really tasty fish!

He flew between our boat and that piling, only a few feet away.




I love pelicans.  To paraphrase an old joke, they look like a bird designed by a committee.

Olivia, the bird dog, didn't miss a thing.

It's Elmer!  And he has something special for Myrtle!

"Hi honey!  Look what I have!"
"Is it a glazed donut?"
"No.  I don't know what it is, but it's stinky!"
"If it's not a Krispy Kreme glazed donut, I don't want it."

Myrtle didn't want it, but that seagull did!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Bird In The Hand...

Yesterday was a blustery day here in Georgia.  It was cool, but not cold.  The wind, though, made it pretty chilly.  Pam had the day off from work and we decided to make it a "down" day, but we still needed to take the dogs to the dog park to run and exercise and to get really tired out so all they'd do is to sleep the rest of the day on the boat.   We got them off the boat and up the dock, and I was putting Olivia in the back of Audrey (our Kia Sorento.  See previous post) when I heard Pam mumble something from afar.

No, I don't have a hearing problem.  An issue facing this nation is that people mumble way too much.

I didn't quite make it out, so I continued getting Olivia secured in the back of Audrey when I faintly heard Pam mumble with more urgency, and I thought I made out the word "scissors".   Scissors?  Being a guy, my brain was trying to process this bit of input and to either make sense of the word scissors, or to find a word that scissors would rhyme with which is what she really meant.  Nope.  I came up with nothing.  I should investigate.

I looked around.  Pam was nowhere to be seen.  I traced the route from Audrey to the pavilion at the head of the dock, down the dock to Drift Away.  No Pam.  Did she fall off the dock and into the water and was calling for help?  Help that included scissors?  I quickly decided that was unlikely, but possible, and so thought it would be best to head back in that direction.  Then I saw Pam part way down the embankment, hunched over something with Chevy staring at her.  I trotted over.

"It's a bird!", Pam shouted.  "It's caught up in this fiberglass stuff.  Go get some scissors!".

Aha!  See, I don't  have a hearing problem!  I quickly hied myself to the boat and grabbed scissors and the camera.  Something like this must be documented in photographs.

Part way up the dock, I stopped to take the first photos.  Chevy looked at me with an air of disdain, a look of "What the hell are you doing?  Put the camera down and bring scissors!  And a treat!".

I did (not the treat) and Pam cut away at the fiberglass cloth trapping the bird.  She had the bird in her right hand and was trying to use the scissors to cut with her left.  If you've never tried to do that, stop reading.  Go get some scissors and a piece of paper and try to cut it.   See?  It doesn't work.

So, realizing that I would now have to do the right thing, as icky as that might be, I offered to help.  Sadly, Pamela thought that would be a good idea.  So I set the camera down, scootched beside Pam, and took the bird from her so she could cut the fiberglass with scissors in her right hand.

Rip rap had been placed on the embankment years ago, and under the stone was fiberglass cloth to prevent erosion.  It's springtime here in Georgia, so I can only surmise that the bird, a very pretty European Starling, an illegal immigrant admonished by political threats to "go back where you came from", might have been looking for nesting material and had gotten snagged up in the frayed, tattered ends of the fabric.

I noted that Mabel (her name was Mabel, she said) seemed very calm.  She must have been trapped for quite some time and sensed that we were trying to help her.  She laid very still in my hand.  Was she relaxed, or having a heart attack, or a bird stroke?  I've heard that birds will die of fear if you catch one.  Hmm... now that I think about it, that may have been my mom that told me that when I was small.

In any event, Pam soon had the bird cut loose.

Mabel was free of the fiberglass cloth, but still had a big wad of it wound around her leg.  So we took her down to the boat where we could work on it out of the 30 MPH wind.  I gingerly held Mabel while Pam carefully cut away at the fiberglass cloth tightly wound around her leg.  She was using those itty bitty scissors that we guys have no idea what they're used for, but every woman has a pair.

My mind wandered.  A pair of scissors?  That's one of those idiosyncrasies of the English language that make no sense, like a pair of underwear and a pair of glasses.  Did whomever invent the English language do this to be difficult?   Or did they have a weird sense of humor?  I wonder who invented words?  Did a blacksmith in ancient times hammer out a new tool and declared "I shall call these... scissors!   And not "a scissors, but a pair of them, even thought there's only one!"  That bastard.

Pam said something and I was back in the present.

I had Mabel on her back, and gently stroked her head with my thumb while Pam worked.  Mabel closed her eyes.  Was she having a bird stroke?  Or was she exhausted and falling asleep?

Soon, Pam was done.  At this point, I would have flung Mabel out the door while singing "BORN FREE, AS FREE AS THE WIND BLOWS..."

That would have been me.  That was not Pam.  She was concerned that Mabel was exhausted and would be easy prey for... well, our dogs for one.  Pam thought Mabel might need time to recover.   She got a Tupperware container and placed a small bowl of water in it and a dishtowel.  Then she got some dog food and ground it up and placed that inside.  I set Mabel inside the box and Pam put the lid on.

"Shouldn't we poke holes in that?"  I queried?

Pam stuck the scissors under one end of the lid and  placed her purse on top to hold it down.  I looked inside.  Mabel was sitting on the edge of the water bowl, evaluating her situation.

We left her there to rest and took the dogs to the dog park, and then to the doggie car wash for a bath.  Yes, for you sane non-dog owners, there is such a thing.

With less odiferous canines, we returned to Drift Away to deposit the dogs and free Mabel.  We kept the dogs outside while we did this.  They were still wet, for one.  Second, if Mabel wasn't dead from a bird stroke already, she might be if confronted with three curious dogs.  We left the pack outside while we tended to Mabel on the inside.

Chevy needed to know what we were doing and parked himself on the helm seat to see what was going on.  Is that a toy??  A treat???  It's got feathers.  I love feathers.

Chevy is one of those dogs that actually smiles.

We peeked in the Tupperware box.  Mabel looked perky.  All of the dog food was gone, and there was bird crap on the towel and water bowl.  Her digestive system seemed to be functioning properly, always a good thing, unless you own the towel and the bowl.

We took Mabel up to the pavilion, which was dog-free.  Pam reached in and took Mabel out.  Pam wondered if Mabel would be OK.  We didn't know how long she was trapped.  She could be totally exhausted.  And her feathers looked to be a bit worn.   Would she even be able to fly?

Mabel gave Pam a quick look of approval and was gone in a blink of an eye.

Monday, March 25, 2013

More Thoughts On Guns, and an Alternative

A month and a half ago, I wrote a blog called Guns On Board and the NRA.   The topic of guns on board has been a hot issue ever since Al Gore invented the internet.   Second most controversial is what kind of anchor is the best.

I mentioned that I have no problem with the responsible ownership and use of guns, having been exposed to them at an early age from my mom's side of the family who had a farm and used guns to shoot woodchucks.  It seemed that dairy cows aren't too bright and never watch where they're going, and tended to step in woodchuck holes and break their legs.   At least, that's what my Uncle Frank told me, and since he was 14 when I was 9, he should know.

I removed my two guns from the boat when we began our cruise south, not wanting to run afoul of any local gun ordinances and not knowing where we would travel.  When you have pitbulls, you don't need guns, I figured.

The other day, Geoff the Scotsman on dock 15 stopped by as I was tinkering with my car.  He told me that he heard noises on his deck the night before, and when he popped his head out of the hatch found two people on his aft deck.   He hollered and they ran.   Geoff ran after them, but they outran him and got away.

I immediately chastised Geoff for chasing after them.  What if they were armed, I scolded?   There's a bad neighborhood not too far from the marina, and I've been told that gangs and drugs are common there.  So too would be guns and knives.

I saw another marina denizen on my way back from the shower the next day.  I told him about Geoff's encounter.  "It's a good thing they weren't on my boat, because it would have ended differently," he said.  "I have a .357 magnum on board and I would have shot them."

Seriously?  You would shoot two people for being on your boat?   What if they were kids goofing around?  Or a drunken dockmate boarding the wrong boat?  Sheesh.

I think we have two problems here.  One boater would shoot first and ask questions later, and the other displayed questionable judgement in chasing after what might have been armed drug crazed bad guys.  I guess Geoff didn't think much about that, since guns are rare in Scotland.   But he might be thinking about it now.

If you carry guns aboard, use them only in self defense and only when absolutely needed as a last resort.  Please don't shoot someone just for walking on your deck.

If you don't carry guns, don't put yourself in a bad situation.  Avoid bad guys whenever possible, and certainly don't chase them once they've started running away.

For all of you who want to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your stuff but don't want to carry guns, consider keeping a can or two of wasp spray handy.  Wasp spray can shoot 20 feet and will temporarily blind a bad guy without killing him, giving you time to call police or to escort him over the side.  And to my knowledge, wasp spray is fully protected by the 2nd amendment and there are no laws anywhere prohibiting wasp spray and no registration requirements.  You should buy one extra can, though, and train everyone aboard in it's proper use, and target practice.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I'm Going To Go Kicking And Screaming? No.

It's 3 AM.  I can't sleep.  It's a genetic problem I have.  I inherited it from my mom and passed it on to my daughter.  I wake up, toss and turn in bed for a bit, get up and pee, go back to bed, toss and turn for five minutes or so, and then get up.  In the old days, I'd watch TV.  Now I surf Al Gore's interwebs and update my blog.

I think I'm most creative at this time.  I'm certainly more introspective, and instead of writing about painting a windlass, I think about deeper things, such as death.

Oh, no one likes to talk about it.  It's creepy.  But we all know we're headed in that direction.  As my old buddy Vic said, "No one is getting out alive!".  He said that when he was 30.  Vic died at 40 of lung cancer.

We know it's inevitable, like taxes and campaign promises.  Most people fear death. Usually, it's the young, and that's understandable.  They haven't had a chance to live.  I have.

No, I hope I don't go anytime soon.  I still have so much more living to do,  especially with the light of my life, Pamela, by my side.  But if I was given a sudden, short prognosis that wasn't good, would I be upset?   Sure.  For a few days.  But then I'd think back on my life and reflect on all I've done.

I've lived life on my terms for the past 30 years.  Yes, before that, it was on society's terms.  School, work, marriage, mortgage, etc.  But at age 32, life suddenly crystallized for me.  I realized that I could be in control of my life.  I realized that money was secondary to... well... everything.  And it's when you realize that, and instead of adjusting your working life to pay for your non-working life, you adjust your  non-working life to live within your  means, that you achieve happiness.

I'm not going to go into all the details of my life here.  Sorry.  Suffice to say that, for the past 30 years, I've lived it on my terms.  And for all you current cruisers and liveaboards, I know that I'm preaching to the choir.  You all get it.

My point here is to give all you others some advice.  Live like there's no tomorrow. Live your life so that it is not only fulfilling for you, but for your friends and family.  Live such that, when you die, there won't be a funeral and sadness, but a celebration that you lived at all.

I can honestly say that when my time comes, there will be two tears.  One will be for leaving such a wonderful world, and such wonderful people I've met along the way.  To my daughter, Becky... my ex-wife Jahnn, to whom I owe much... and especially to my wife Pamela, the light of my life, the person who brings joy to all I do.  But there will also be a tear of happiness, for being able to have lived life on my terms, in such a wonderful place.

I could go tomorrow and have few regrets.   I'm thankful that I ran my own business for so many years.  I'm grateful for the many days I've spent on boats.  There is nothing like spending a day boating, free, at least for a short time, from the stress and worry of the world.   My heart is full of love for the people I've met along the way, who have rewarded me with friendship and kindness, and  hopefully I've reciprocated adequately.

Finally, they say that girls marry their fathers, and boys marry their mothers.  No, not literally.  That would be wrong.  My mom was of Polish descent, and always had a cheery disposition and a smile and kind words for those around her.  My mom's yearbook stated, under her senior photo, "a merry heart goes all the day".   That was my mom.  I married my mom when I married Pamela, another of Polish descent.  She has a merry heart, all the day, every day.  It must be in the genes.

Yep.  If I go tomorrow, there will be tears.  But most important will be the tear of joy for the privilege of such a wonderful life.  I love you all.   I love you, especially, Pamela.  Not because I have to.  But because I want to.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How To Finish Drift Away

Most of you regular readers know the history of Drift Away, but for those of you new readers who do not (and there are many new readers, no doubt because of my Craig's List ads) here is a very brief synopsis.

Pam and I bought Drift Away from an estate.  It sat on the hard for over 20 years in Connecticut.  It was unused, unloved, and uncovered for much of that time.  That's not good for any boat.

Luckily, Drift Away is fiberglass.   Fiberglass practically lasts forever.  Wood though, does not.  The boat had screwed down teak decks, and they leaked, just like all screwed down teak decks.  The core of the decks, I believe, is marine plywood.  I couldn't find any rot, which would weaken the core and so too the boat.  I didn't want to take the time and expense to rip up the teak decks, cut open the core to look for rot, and seal it all back up again.  I had no intentions of cruising around the world.   So I did the next best thing.  I fiberglassed right over the teak, effectively giving Drift Away two cores.  This would make the boat stiff, and the added weight of leaving the teak on a 50,000 pound boat is nothing.  This would be a concern on a sailboat, but not a big trawler.

Fiberglassing the decks stopped the leaks, now what of the damaged wood parts?   Well, the really nasty stuff, the wood that was all rotted, we scraped into garbage bags and tossed it.  It's only a veneer covering fiberglass and not structural.  So some of the wood is gone, some that's left is beyond repair, and some is water stained.   To quote the 1950s movie Tobacco Road, it don't hurt the  runnin' of it none.

This is what's left to do inside the boat and how I would approach it.  You may have other ideas, and I'd love to hear your suggestions, since if Drift Away doesn't sell, I'll be tackling all this next winter.

In the photo above, you can see where water leaked from the flybridge deck and down across the paneling.   I think this paneling can be reused.  My thought is to take a heat gun or a chemical stripper to these panels and remove all the old varnish, sand it, stain it, and then revarnish.  Most of the main saloon needs to be done.  A big job.  Working at it full time, a good solid week probably.

This is the parquet floor in the main saloon.  The finish is worn off.   This too can be sanded and refinished, but I think I'd have wall to wall carpeting installed throughout the boat.  Carpeting wouldn't cost much and would have the added benefits of being warmer than a wooden floor and a good sound insulator to boot.   It's also not slippery like a varnished floor, and slippery is never good on a boat.  Total time zero, except for driving to the carpeting store.  Total cost, I don't know, but certainly not much.  Yes, I suppose one could do it oneself.  I did the bathroom in the master stateroom, but that was just a little itty bitty space and there were no seams to worry about.  Pay a pro to do this one.

This is typical of the lower staterooms.  It looks pretty nasty, doesn't it?  The white shelf was once covered in teak veneer and that screw held down a fiddle (a piece of wood to keep things on the shelf, for my landlubber friends).  Not only was that water soaked because it's a flat surface, but a bit of it wicked up the wall.  I think what I'd do here is to put tile over the shelf and part way up the wall.   I used tile when I did the head remodel and it looks pretty nice.   You can read about that project here.  I'd figure about a week in the master stateroom and maybe two weeks in the middle stateroom and hallway, which suffered most of the damage.

So what does that leave?  Except for painting the topsides (which is a big job, about two man-weeks of work, maybe four if you're slow and fussy) small stuff.

Replace two gauges in the main helm.  Maybe check the flybridge to see if those gauges work (I don't know, we never steered from up there.  I should check).  Replace the Morse engine controls in the flybridge (I have a new replacement in a box in the junk store room) and reconnect the cables in the engine room.

Oil or varnish all the cabinetry.  

Replace the non-functional garbage disposal if you're so inclined.  We're more inclined to just toss biodegradable stuff over the side for the fishes.

I think I'd get a power washer and spray the engine room.   It's got a 33 year accumulation of grit and grime that would be nice to clean up.

So if all this is so easy, why haven't I done it?  It's tough when living aboard to do those kinds of projects.   But our plan is this.  If Drift Away doesn't sell by the end of April, it goes on the hard for the summer while I play builder in upstate NY and construct our little place up there.  Next winter, we return to Drift Away.  Pam goes to her mom's with the dogs while I paint the hull and restore the main stateroom, main saloon, and middle stateroom.  That would take me a month or so.   Then we launch the boat and go cruising some more.

Yes, we'll sell Drift Away if someone buys it in the next four weeks.   That way, we can focus on building the house and barn in New York.  But if we don't sell it, it's not really a bad thing.  Besides cruising next winter, I think the boat market, which is already showing signs of quickly becoming a seller's market, might even be booming.  

And if we never sell Drift Away, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  A friend with a sistership just cruised from Florida to Cube to the British Virgin Islands and back.   That sounds nice... and I've heard that the west coast of Florida is beautiful.

As I wrote the bulk of this last night on the laptop, this was my view from the dinette table...

Friday, March 22, 2013

It Doesn't Take Much To Amuse Me

Pam and I aren't much into junk food and snacks.  Oh sure, the occasional chips and dip and such, but that's about it.   Nellie came by the boat selling Krispy Kreme glazed donuts to raise money for her kids group at church so we bought a dozen.   Over the next few days, we ate them all but one which was stale.   I love stale glazed donuts, but Pam didn't know that as she tossed it over the side for the marina critters.

Once upon a time, there lived two seagulls, Elmer and Myrtle.  They did everything together, from flying and swimming to fishing and eating.  They were very much in love and lived a happy, harmonious life.  That is, until one day when a donut magically appeared.

It was quickly discovered by Elmer who snatched it up.  What was this?  This is good!  And Elmer made the mistake of trying to hide it from Myrtle.

While he spread his wings a bit to hide the donut, his wife saw the tell tale signs of a donut shaped wet spot.

"What do you have Elmer!"

Another seagull approached and Elmer needed to drop the donut to scare him off by flapping his wings.

"Get outta here!  I found it first!  It's mine!   All mine!" 

While Elmer was defending his donut, Myrtle broke it in half to share.

Anfrony the black bird came by and sweet talked Myrtle, who gave him half of hers.  Black birds are very smooth talkers.

Everyone took their piece of the donut and hid it away from each other while they finished it off.

And the moral of the story is...  is... I dunno.   Birds of a feather dunk together?   Naw.
Can any of you guys come up with a moral?

The End.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You All Should Be Ashamed of Yourselves

This blog usually gets between 400 and 500 hits a day.  The weekends are a bit slower, Mondays a bit higher.   Yesterday, I titled the blog "Check Out This Rack" and we got 645 hits.  That's a new record. Seriously??  LOL!

Anyway, the sunsets here in the Golden Isles are pretty nice, but last night's sunset was really special. Instead of the reddish hue it usually has, it was a gorgeous golden color.  I left Pam to fend for herself with the dogs and hied myself to the boat to get the camera.

I'm sorry, but this just doesn't get old.

In the pic above, that's Drift Away on the left.  The person is Pam, the dog with the curly tail is Chevy.  The pelican is Bob.

Because of where we'll be on the mountain in Bleecker, the eastern side, we'll get nice sunrises but no sunsets.  Luckily, I'm an early riser.