Monday, November 10, 2014

Hair and Horse heads

One of my problems with cruising is getting a good haircut. Some towns we visit just do not have a barbershop worth visiting or they don't have one at all. Most places have a beauty salon but nothing for men. There were a few places I've been to where I thought Floyd would be cutting Sheriff Andy Taylor's hair when I popped in. There were also places where I wanted to bolt for the door mid cut. Smock and all.

Cash only. Bring your Doe
When I look for a clip joint I have to find one within walking distance or by bus. This limits my choices as most most American businesses have moved out to the burbs in most towns. I will find a shop on Google maps or Yelp and then do a walk by, commonly known as a stakeout. I'll peek inside to see whats what and decide whether to go in or not.  If all the chairs are full it's a good sign but a long wait. Waiting is good because you can watch the action. If you don't like what you see you fake a phone call and walk out. Easy. When you walk by and you see an old guy asleep in the barbers chair with Judge Judy on the tube well, just keep walking.

My last hair cut I walked into a quiet shop with a kid and his Dad getting some work done by a small Asian woman. I looked around and it was only the one barber. She was using scissors and a comb and was cutting the kids hair in surges. She would back away from the kid, tilt her head, attack with the scissors, then repeat. I sent a text out to the family saying I may need a phone call so I can bail on this place. I would take the call outside and then make my escape. The woman must have sensed I was getting nervous and said, "You next OK?". Ugh. I was toast. Before I knew it the kid was done and I was getting the ninja cut. Back and forth she went. A lunge and a cut. Lunge and cut. I thought she did a good job despite her technique and I tipped her well. When I got home I noticed one side was shorter than the other. Crap. Her lunge from the left wasn't as good as the one from the right I guess. Son of a bitch.

That one wasn't so bad. The last time I was in Vero looking to get the fuzzball trimmed I popped into a place near the beach. Every chair was full and three ladies were doing the cutting. The ladies were pretty happy and joking around a lot. I watched this guy getting trimmed up and when she was done the dude just frowned as he looked into the mirror. Uh Oh. Bad sign. He left without a smile and she was patting the chair for someone to sit. "You next", she said to the three guys ahead of me but they all deferred to the youngest of the three barbers. Shit! Bad sign number two! Our eyes met and she said "Come on handsome. I'm ready for you." I fake smiled and nervously moved to the chair and she proceeded to talk my ear off about everything travel related while I watched her hands and those scissors. She stabbed my ear a little and now I had a tissue stuck to it. She giggled. I figured she was almost half done butchering me when another woman came in and yelled "lunch!". The razor then came out and after a quick trim I was out of the chair and she was asking for twenty two dollars. I reluctantly paid after catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror while the ladies all sat down for lunch with only the young one cutting hair. Worst haircut ever. I now call them the Witches of Vero. They flirted and laughed like they were high on champagne and totally in love with the guy in the chair, but they were secretly plotting to make you look hideous before you left. Deb cringed when she saw me. It was one of the worst haircuts I ever experienced. The next barber I went to asked who cut my hair. "Geez buddy don't go back there!" The witches were too hungry to finish the job and in some ways I'm thankful for that.

Even when we were  dirt dwellers I had issues with hair cuttery. I had this theory years ago about getting your hair cut. If you were a married guy in your 40's with children you should look for the sexiest young hair stylist you could find as there would never again be a time when a sweet young thing would run her fingers through your hair. Made sense back then. I found myself a Morgan Fairchild look alike that worked at the Hair Zoo. She did an OK job, but I didn't care too much. Getting my head massaged in shampoo while she hovered above me was good enough. I was in haircut heaven. One Saturday I strolled in to find Morgan had quit. What? Another girl took her place. She was not Morgan Fairchild. She wasn't even Morgan Averagechild. My haircut was bad. I was depressed. I had another month to find someone to cut my hair.

Amazingly I ran into Miss Morgan at the grocery store and she told me she cut hair in her house now. Oh really. I called for an appointment. Excited I was. Thinking of those magical fingers I couldn't wait to get there. When I arrived, three kids were eating breakfast in their pajamas and staring at me while a black lab wanted to get real friendly with my leg. Labs are fairly large dogs by the way. I was lead to the half bath off the kitchen where the toilet was replaced with a barbers chair. Nice. The door was closed and it was literally like being in a closet together. She cut my hair in between answering the phone, the kids banging on the door and the lab walking in and sniffing my crotch while she stepped out. An hour and a half later I was done. No shampoo. She said to wash before I get here. Damn. She did a good job but my ass cheeks fell asleep and my pants were wet with dog snot. This lasted a few more visits and then the dog started humping my leg again so I bailed despite Morgan freaking awesome Fairchild.

Before we were cruising, listening to Buffett tunes and dreaming about sailing away to paradise, we discussed haircuts and what we would do. Deb said she was going to let it go gray and she would cut her own hair. Me, I said I would let it grow and maybe pull it into a ponytail. Maybe get some tatt's to go along with it. Maybe grow the beard out too. Deb followed through and cuts her own hair. Looks good. I let my hair grow until I realized it still likes to grow out and not down. My head is big and round and the extra hair makes it look even bigger. Sputnik. I can't just let it go. I'd look like a frizzed out Q-Tip. Besides which every old cruiser in Florida looks alike. You can't even describe a fellow sailor now. "He's the dude with the gray pony tail and beard". It's like being a scientist and describing a fellow worker as the guy in the lab coat with the glasses.

There was a barber shop I walked into once. The one hair cutting dude was finishing someone and the other was asleep in the chair. Both kids had tattoos all over. Metal played over the sound system and Reservoir Dogs was on the tube. There was a large poster of The Rat Pack playing pool. Hair was all over the floor. The sleeping dude never stirred so the dude who just finished cutting looked at me and spun the chair for me to sit. "What number?" he said. Number? What the fuck is he talking about? I looked at him like a kid who didn't know the answer to a math problem. "Uh, I uh, regular haircut?" I sat down and the tattooed arms swung around and he grabbed my head and jerked it to one side and ran the dog clippers over my head while it rained salt and pepper hair all over the floor. Two minutes later I was spun around to the mirror. Dude raised a hand mirror to show me the back but I was too stunned to say anything. I just nodded, paid the fifteen bucks and slowly walked to the car. I put a baseball cap on my head, which was now a loose fit, and drove home. The white walls the kid gave me reminded me of an old '59 Buick Electra cruising through Motown. My kids couldn't stop rubbing my head and the guys at work kept saying sorry.

 I know what you are thinking I'm being a bit dramatic about all this. I'm over 55 and really shouldn't care anymore. I know. I'm getting better. There were times I couldn't even walk into a place unless my buddies recommended it, and now it only takes me a few passes by to chance it. It's a problem I know and if I could place any blame it would be on my Dad, Sergio and a creepy horses head.

As a young lad in the early 60's growing up to rock n roll, my Dad would make sure my hair remained short and no longer than the Beach boys. If it started looking slightly British invasion he would take me to Sergio for a trim. Sergio was a barber my Dad somehow came to know and the thing I remember about him was his not so perfect english. Not sure of his accent but he was a nice guy until he got those scissors in his hand. One day he hooked up some vibrating machine to his hand and ran it across my head. My friggin eyeballs felt like they were randomly rolling around in my head and I started getting dizzy. Sergio got a good laugh out of that even though my young brain probably suffered some damage. No wonder I had trouble with math.

When I got to Sergio's he would greet me by saying what a nice young man I was and he was going to make me handsome for the ladies. I never paid much attention to what the hell Sergio was saying because I was staring at the decapitated horses head that was mounted to a barbers chair.

I sat on one of the many customer chairs and instead of looking at the latest Life magazine with Jackie Kennedy on the cover, my eyes were fixed on the dark horse head. The old wooden horse with it's yellowing and chipped white teeth were grinning at me with that bit in its mouth and it's marble eyes wild and accusing. "Sergio is gonna clip those ears right off your head kid! Hee hee hee hee hee..."

Apparently Sergio thought kids would like a decapitated horses head with peeling paint and a mouth filled with oversized teeth, bulging eyes, flared nostrils and a mane matted with the salt of children's tears. When it was my turn for a cut Sergio kept those scissors flying while I kept my eye on the equine pagan idol. When he was done and my hair went from John, Paul, George and Ringo to David and Ricky Nelson I was removed from the dead horse and left standing there for my Dad and Sergio to observe and comment. I'm pretty sure neither one said "What a handsome little guy. He will do good with the ladies eh? No, they probably said "Maybe a little more off the top but he looks good." "Sure. Kind of Charlie Brown looking with that big mellon."

Sergio presented me with a sucker/lollipop for enduring the evil steed without whimpering. I walked out with my Dad, casting one last glance at the horse head who made kids cry and popped the lousy lemon sucker in my mouth. Sergio had only lemon or lime suckers on those lousy looped sticks. Screw Sergio and that damn horse I thought. I survived another one.

The air was a little cooler on the head going home than it was heading out but I didn't care. I was in a Malibu convertible with my Dad and we looked good. Sometimes haircuts aren't so bad. We went cruising for chics.

Just kidding Mom.

Chevy Malibu

Friday, November 7, 2014

Morning Tea. Vero.

Morning Tea posts are just random thoughts dumped onto a page because I can't seem to string any of those thoughts together to form a post lately.

No See Ums. Hate the tiny bastards. Not sure what works out there for protection but we have to try something. Lost a good nights sleep getting eaten.

Vero is a good place to re-stock and get some work done on the boat. It is also good for socializing and meeting new boaters.

The Bus system in Vero is great, you can get anywhere free. Depending on where you go it could be an all day affair and you might enjoy or suffer, depending on your outlook on life, with an out of ordinary discussion with some of the regular riders.

Walking everywhere gets you thinking about all the cars in the Country. It used to boggle my mind thinking about all the cars that were being assembled and hitting the car lots every day. Still amazes me. Actually it's depressing. We would be so much better off with mass transit. The number of cars sold world wide each year :

We've been cruising in stages. First was the A1A cruise from St Aug to Vero. Second was the Northern run from Vero (and Arthur) to the Chesapeake. Now we just completed the Southbound Sail from the Chesapeake to Vero. Blazing new trails from here on out.

When we roll up or down the ICW Debra takes the helm on the straights and I get to steer the wiggles. I am getting much better at making those wide sweeping turns and have not been yelled at lately for driving on the wrong side. Eventually Debra will just take over and I will be assigned to the galley. Wait. I'm already assigned to the galley!

Our Pirate friends suggested the ABC store for a better selection of brewski's. They were right! We have been finding some interesting and tasty brews in cans no less! Consumption is actually down. When corporate swill is all you have you tend to pass and have lemonade.

There are a few things on the boat that have bothered me lately. The rudder post has a tiny leak around the seal. I'll try to tighten the nut a bit. Our shaft seal drips way too much under power and the lock nut won't budge. Hammer time? Recently I went to start the engine and only the solenoid clicked. The next try it fired, but this is disturbing. I have some leaky ports to contend with still and the engine keeps creating belt dust even though the alternator load was electronically reduced by half and the belt is nice and tight, but not too much. WTF?! Alignment?

We are missing the kids and grandkids very much but we will see them all at Christmas. Hopefully we get enough lovin to carry us through the winter.

We have a plan for travel for the winter and that is to get as far south as we can. Not sure where that will take us but we are just winging it day by day, week by week. We found out you can't really make concrete plans in this life we live.

There are some really interesting people out here on the water and especially here in Florida.

We went to Walmart the other day.

We ran from Walmart the other day.

We need to get more exercise. A morning or evening walk needs to happen or we will both have a short cruising life.

I still have not learned anything on the guitar.

I want an electric guitar. This way the whole anchorage will not have to suffer if it's not plugged in. When I learn a few things the whole anchorage will know about it. Yes they will.

There is too much face to screen time on this boat. So goes the world I guess.

My laptop battery only lasts an hour. Maybe this is a good thing.

We called for a bottom cleaning but like last May, the guy will need prodding. This reminds me I need to buy more zincs.

Like many Americans, even the folks on the water seem to be in a hurry. All those Buffett songs about not living in a hurry and enjoying your surroundings didn't stick I guess.

The sometimes comical haircut saga continues. Not sure why I have this problem with getting a good haircut but I think it stems from a bad childhood experience with a horse head. More on that in the next post.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Blog changes coming

I have been meaning to change the look of the blog for some time and now I'm finally getting around to it. There are other more important things to do, like relax in the sun, walk a beach, or fix the many things that need fixing on this tub but the blog was getting a little dated. The cold weather forced us inside so it gave me an opportunity to change a few things.

One BIG change is that Debra is getting her own blog! Deb has been keeping a journal and taking photos and I convinced her to put it online. I am not a travelogue person and I do not detail the places and people we meet everyday. That's Deb's job now :)

I will continue to post the weird and quirky details while Debra gives you another more normal take on things. Details to follow shortly.

We are in Vero Beach Florida getting a few things taken care of like dental and doctor visits. We are also picking up some spare parts and getting the bottom scrubbed. I plan on re-bedding a few ports as well. There needs to be some major organization taking place onboard as well. We kind of have stuff scattered all over.

Our V-berth is relatively cleaned up but I still have that pile of line to splice into new dock lines. We have a hot knife now and all I need is a fid and I'll give it a go.


Monday, October 20, 2014

A lazy update

We are strapped to a dock in Beaufort South Carolina and enjoying the "break" from traveling. From here we will jump offshore to Florida and hang out in Fernandina Beach for a bit. We are ahead of the pack for now but they are slowly catching up to us.

Our time here was well spent with our daughter Nicole and our grandson Aiden. He is growing up fast and seems to change every week. The visit was too short but we got our playtime in with the little guy and we were blessed with a smile from time to time. We also witnessed a few diaper fills and a spectacular hose vomit scene in Nicole's car. Go Aiden!
What impressed us was how much Nicole and Jonathan have grown as parents. They are doing a great job and their love for the little guy really shines. We are very proud grandparents.

He always falls asleep when I hold him

Aiden is not too pleased with the Bills hat.

Poor guy didn't like the bright sunshine.

Tough for Grandma to let go.

Debra and I enjoyed our 33rd anniversary recently. We walked around town (pub crawl) and enjoyed our day well into the evening. I had a nice reminder of our good time in the morning when the sunlight hit my bloodshot eyes. Some people never learn. Debra just shakes her head.
Thirty three years of wedded bliss. Who would have thought someone would stick with me that long. I consider myself to be pretty lucky in the relationship department. Deb should definitely win an award for patience.

So here we are on our way to the Bahamas and beyond. Lots of things to do before that happens this winter. I'll post about the list of things that need to happen before we jump the stream. Nothing too major, just items to make our life less stressful while we are away from the states.

We enjoy every day in a relaxed pace right now. We see old friends and make new ones. We do a little boat work some days, and then others we read a good book and nap in the sun. It's nice. Blood pressure is down and the only stress is boat related and  (knock on wood) it's normal stuff.

I admit to being a tad lazy about blogging lately. Lazy days in the Sun do not provide enough material for posting unless you want me to write some poetry.

the sun hit the water
our day was now over
the anchorage was quiet
conversation got lower

out of the dark
into our realm
a ghostly vessel creeps
dark strangers at the helm

rattle of chain
shouts from the bow
the shadow grows near
they're close! holy cow!

the wind will increase
the boats they will travel
the strangers will shout
my evening will unravel

the sun returns
the night was long
everyone is ok
the strangers are gone

relaxed in the sun
i dream of a night
where the ghostly vessel creeps
i am nowhere in sight


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's a shit! It's a no good.

When I worked at GM, ages ago it seems now, there was this little Italian guy who never really mastered the English language. He ran an assembly line making little plastic valves for an emission system. A kind fellow, always smiling and polite he would try to make small talk with me even though I barely picked up what he was getting at. I was one of the manufacturing engineers in his department and responsible for keeping his line running when he could not. Once a week I would get a call to his line because it was down for whatever reason and little Tony needed help.
I would ask Tony what the problem was and he would reply, "It's a shit! It's a no good." Then the little bastard would walk away to get some coffee leaving me with a dead machine, a screaming foreman, and no clue as to what happened. There were some long days and nights trying to figure out what went wrong while Tony shot the shit with the ladies and added more sugar to his coffee. I would mumble to myself how just once I would like to be little Tony, sucking java and flirting with the ladies (even though most of them didn't know what the hell he was saying) and not a care in the world.

As we motor sailed down the Chesapeake Bay towards Portsmouth we saw the wind had died and our headsail was sagging. It was time to roll it up but it got half way there and stopped. A couple more tugs and it still wouldn't budge. I went up to the bow and tried to man handle the drum but realized it was no use. She was jammed. The aluminum track had slipped down over the turnbuckle and the top collar had pulled clean off the track. Crap! I had to manually wrap the headsail and because I am not ten feet tall it looked like hell. Big and puffy and loosely hanging on. I wrapped a few sail ties around it and prayed the wind wouldn't pick up tonight. Deb asked what happened. I really didn't know so I just said it's jammed and walked away from it. I might as well have said "It's a shit! It's a no good."

We dropped anchor in front of Portsmouth at hospital point or whatever it's called. I call it barely enough room to anchor. It was crowded and I felt that all the nice nice boats were looking at the sloppy headsail on the old Morgan. That annoyed me so I let out one hundred feet of chain and let her swing with the wind. I was a tad irritable at this point and I hope all they could think about in their bunks was the thirty thousand pound Morgan moving around out there.

We motored up the Lizzy River towards Great Bridge and the folks who were going to repair the furler. We were happily motoring along when we noticed the first bridge, a railroad bridge was not up. A call on the radio produced an unintelligible garble. Maybe Tony had moved and his brother got him a job with the railroad.

We circled for about forty minutes. In the distance I saw the second railroad bridge was up. Cool. A train consisting of three cars finally rolled over the bridge and then twenty minutes later the bridge opened. I called the Gilmerton Bridge operator. This bridge is directly next to the second RR bridge. The gal says she's sorry but the Railroad bridge is down and she can't open until it's fixed. Sure as shit the freeking second bridge must have closed right after we got through the first one! The Gilmerton operator says to call the No.7 bridge operator to ask about the No. 5 bridge. Really? You people don't communicate with each other? I called the damn RR Bridge dude but got no answer. We waited. And waited. An hour later a tug calls us and says he's coming through and wants me to stay clear. OK. Mushmouth gets on and says, "Sailboat cap$%^ $%^$ the bridge$%$#&^(".  I had no clue. The Gilmerton bridge operator then tells me to go to marker 22 and wait there until its clear. OK. WTF is with all the ordering around?

I get to marker 22 and there's like six feet of water and the wind is blowing me in the shallows. I do a quick circle and here comes the tug and barge. The Gilmerton operator goes "CAPTAIN OF THE SAILBOAT YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!! I laughed and told her everything is cool. We circled around and slipped past the Tug. She didn't reply when I thanked her for the opening and to have a nice day.

The rest of the journey to Atlantic yacht Basin was a peach. We got to the marina and tied off. It then rained all night and the next day. When the sun finally came out so did the staff. "You have to take that headsail off so we can look at it." they said. Um, no. I can't. "Why not?" they replied.
Because...It's a shit! It's a no good.

Now under a crane. One that's not tall enough to get someone to the top of my fifty nine foot mast. You would think with all the sailboats on the ICW that...oh never mind. We hauled a small dude (not me) up the mast to unpin the headstay and gently lower the furler and sail to the ground. After the guys took a look at it and perused the manual I gave them, they concluded that the two pins in the drum that were holding up the aluminum extrusion had both backed out and allowed everything to slide down onto the turnbuckle. Re-seated pins and two extra pins later and we were back in business. Deb and I were directly involved in the process, from running people up the mast to lowering the furler assembly, removing the sail and consulting on the repair.

At the end of the workday the lead tech on the furler job came over to shake my hand. He thanked me for making the job fun and helping him out. He said he loved talking and working with us both and was happy everything went together so well. He also told us to be sure to write :)

I always thought little Tony had it licked. Let someone else fix it. Not my problem. I learned a long time ago that Tony had it all wrong. You can't go through life letting someone else solve your problems. There will be times when you need assistance, but you better learn from them because the problem will repeat itself eventually and your help may be a long way away.

Not sure if I could have solved this one on my own. I did learn a few things though. I learned I could loosen my backstay and drop the headstay without the rig coming down. I learned that the furling's aluminum piece can bend almost like spaghetti and not break and I can lower it with the halyard. So maybe at a remote dock somewhere I can repeat this procedure with a few helping hands.

Little Tony, I am sure you are still around somewhere enjoying an espresso and chatting up the ladies. I can tell you that those ladies would have been a hell of a lot more impressed had you bought them all a coffee at break time with your sleeves rolled up and your hands dirty from getting the line running again.

I do remember that coffee that little Tony used to make. It was a shit! It was a no good.


I want you all to know that I really liked most of the people I worked with at GM. Most were hard working friendly people. I liked Tony as well. His only fault was when he encountered something he didn't understand he was too quick to bail and refused to get training. I put up with this for years and it bothered me to no end. One day I pressed, and tried to train him on an issue. There was a moment there when I realized the problem with Tony was that he couldn't read. He also realized I had figured it out. We looked at each other and I could see his eye's watering a bit. I dropped the issue, patted him on the back and bought him some of that shit coffee.
I ran into little Tony years after he retired. He still looked good and rested and he never did improve his language skills. I'm not sure but I think he said retirement was the shit. I was all good.