Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fleece navidad

It's cold! Yes it's fifty degrees but we have no furnace to warm things up before we kick the covers off. 

I am hoping that this weather is just a brief taste of winter. 

I'm not much of a sock guy anymore but waking up to 50 degrees was too much for my old toes. Good thing we have a sun room. 

I was busy yesterday building a temporary new mounting base for our crude radar support pole. If this doesn't work I am either going to mount it on an expensive pole/motor lift or put it on the mast. Pulling the mast is $$. So let's hope this works. Pics later. One nice thing about having jury rigged shit on your boat is that other cruisers see it and they refrain from asking you for any help with their shit. :)

I couldn't make tea fast enough this morning. Needed warmth and caffeine. I then remembered I had this horrible black tea. I thought it was loose leaf when I bought it but opening it I found this:

Tea bag you say? Why no, it's a Sachet. Pinkys out! I would go back to coffee if it didn't destroy my stomach. All those years at GM with that acid we called coffee didn't do me any favors. 

My blogging has been done by iPhone lately. We were charged for more data recently as we went over our limit so we are using it up. The laptop is pretty lame when running on batts. By the time windows gets done with all it's power up horseshit the battery is half gone. There is no wifi in this mooring field which I find pretty lame as well, so we are internet deprived right now which is probably a good thing. We have plenty to do. 

Here's to warmer weather and an awesome Christmas and holiday!
Safe travels. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why Fi?

Our goal today was to buy some cheap veggies and do some online chores. Things didn't quite work out for us. 

 Our last purchase at Fresh Market was broccoli which didn't make it two days without spoiling so we hit up the hippie farmers market today thinking cheap and fresh. We got shocked at the register when it totaled $51 for two zucchini, radishes, 5 potatoes, one squash, blue berries, broccoli and some tea leaves. What the hell!

I have to take a closer look at those tea leaves because I definitely paid way too much for just vegetables. Maybe that's why they threw rolling papers into the bag?

After getting fleeced at the market we went to Starbucks to pay $3 for a cup of coffee and use their wifi. The coffee sucked and so did the wifi. I ordered an Americano figuring that was as close to a regular cup of joe as I was going to get. I asked for soy milk instead of cream. "How much?" The gal asked. I said a splash. She stared me down and asked if an inch was ok. Geezus. Awfully technical aren't they? Ok an inch then. "Steamed or cold? Ugh. Steamed sounds good. Apparently steaming soy takes a half hour and then some ass hat grabbed my coffee by mistake. I asked him what he ordered. He got the same thing only with milk. Dude, this has STEAMED SOY! Back off. 

Fully jacked on caffeine we strolled to the library to use their wifi which also sucked. Turns out the folks behind us which looked suspiciously like cruisers, were streaming a movie. Really guys? We attempted to use it anyway but it was useless. I wish I knew what movie they were watching so I could tell them how it ended. 

On the way out of the library some homeless guy coughed in our faces and crossing the street some kid yelled something at us from a car. Maybe he said get a job. Do we look like bums? We had backpacks and a grocery bag. Not like we were pushing a shopping cart! Little shithead. Must be the backpacks. I see a lot of homeless folks in the park with backpacks. Could be why that store manager followed me around CVS that one day. Maybe I should shave more often. 
We got in the dinghy and pounded though the two foot chop of this unprotected mooring field feeling totally defeated today. 

Tomorrow is a work day. Boat chores are calling so we will ignore our internet woes. Somehow, some way, somewhere, we will find good WiFi and get some important things done. 

The wifi we pull in with our antenna is spotty at best and it sometimes takes hours just to do a blog post. Not quite what's needed to order boat parts or enroll in health care. Monday we will try again unless the homeless guy gave us a nice gift for the holidays. 


Your moment of zen:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pungo Pots

One of our favorite anchorages on the ICW is after the Pungo River on the South end at STM 127.4. We were there on our first trip south from NY. It’s a quiet spot with relatively deep water and room for many boats. It’s not the most protected spot but if it’s not blowing stink it’s OK. We like it because it’s quiet. There may be a few yahoos shooting the bark off of trees and the occasional dog barking but for the most part it’s just you and the fish.

After our adventure with “Snakes on a Chain” at the north end of the river, Deb was determined not to anchor there again so we were pretty excited to pull off the waterway and spend a peaceful night in a favored spot. We came out of the river and glanced to the north towards our refuge. Pots! Crab Pots! Hundreds of crab pots littered the area as far as the eye could see. Our hearts sank and for once I was the calm one while Deb swore like a sailor. It was late in the day and we were tired. We had motored to  the point where we would turn into the anchorage and I said, “Let’s go in and look around.” Deb said, “It’s full of F@#&ing pots!! They are everywhere!” You wouldn't believe the field of pots we saw. We were ready to give up and just find a spot off channel for the night but I thought why not give it a shot.

We bobbed. We weaved. We worked our way toward a spot that looked good while watching the depth sounder. The target area showed promise. It looked full of pots but as we got closer a clear spot opened up for us right in the middle of a small cove surrounded by pine trees. Yes! We tucked in and dropped the hook in mud and settled in for the night. What are the odds that the very spot that was most protected was empty of pots?

After a night with dead bugs staining the deck and motoring in fog, this was a pleasant ending to a long day. I slept like a teenager after his first pot party and snack run.

It’s amazing how time on the water has reduced our anxiety over some things like crab pots. Well, for me anyway. When we first started out I was freaking out over all the damn pots everywhere. They used to drive me nuts because everywhere we wanted to anchor or sail there were pots to dodge. I know some of you folks reading at the time were like, chill dude!

I still want to avoid them and snagging one means I have to get in the water with a knife, which would probably lead to being in the water with blood. Being in the water with blood usually means you will have company. I like to swim alone thank you. 

Now I see pots as a sign of shallow water. They keep you honest on the ICW. There were a few times I was almost out of the channel on a turn, but the pots kept me in deep water. We have even anchored with pots all around us, which I really do not like but hey, we all have rights to the water. I remember one crabber getting all pissed off one morning because a sailboat next to us literally backed up over his marker. He was shouting some unintelligible nonsense about keeping the hell away from his pots. I couldn't help but laugh. I saluted him with my coffee mug. How’s it feel asshole. 

Recently in Florida I got all worked up about dodging a pot in mid channel. “Bastards can’t be laying pots here!!” Turns out I was avoiding a coconut.

Life out here sure is amusing and amazing. We continue to gain experience and learn something new with every day. We are now suffering anxiety over the upcoming crossing of the Gulf Stream. I'm sure we will over plan and lose sleep over it until we actually do it. Next year at this time we will be giving advice on how to, or how not to do it. Until then we have projects to complete and some quirky technical issues to solve. 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Where the Fugawi?


Sitting at anchor near the old Marine Stadium watching the world go by. We have a nice view of Miami and we have a little island next to us that appears to be very popular with the locals. The water is a nice blue and fish are all around, Dolphins drop by for a visit once in a while and something with a big head, possibly a turtle, popped up recently while I was scrubbing the ICW stache off the boat. I hope thats what it was.

We had a nice motor sail from Lake Worth to Government Cut. We left at sunrise with a few other boats. Eventually there were about fifteen boats behind us and it looked like a race to Miami. By the time we made it to the entrance we were one of two boats heading in. Where the hell did everyone go? I have no idea. We didn't see anyone go into Fort Lauderdale so who knows where they all went. They couldn't all have been day sailing. Many times it's just a mystery to me where people go. When we are anchored off the ICW we would see boats go by with about a half hour of daylight left and about five miles to the next anchorage. I dunno.

We caught a nice breeze for a few hours that took us up over seven knots over ground else we would have been lucky to make it after dark. We looked over some anchorages and settled on Virginia Key south of the bridge as it was the easiest to get to and we were dead tired. Our friends on Kintala, Deb and Tim, were anchored on the other side of the causeway at the Marine Stadium. We didn't feel like navigating shallows so late in the day so we opted for the other side with some mega yachts filled with the rich and famous. One thing mega yachts do is attract other boaters. There was plenty of water based activity going on all night. The two yachts have a love affair with LED lights of all colors and it drew people like moths. Unfortunately those moths drove by us all damn night and we rocked and rolled to sleep.

We bailed the next day to the Marine Stadium anchorage with Deb and Tim. It's nice having friends in town. We hopped aboard Kintala for happy hour and snacked out. Good times. Kintala is a pretty nice boat and in great shape. They both do a great job maintaining her and it shows.

This anchorage has a tiny island in it that is quite popular with the locals. I mentioned to Deb on Kintala that we ought to claim it as ours at the first opportunity. Drinks on the Island sounded good. Eventually the place cleared out for a few hours and we claimed it. We sat and chat about life while we watched seaplanes take off . Eventually some kids motored up and blasted some Latino dance music while coming ashore. I guess they figured Grandma and Gramps would run away when they saw and heard them coming. We did. Not so much because of them but from the sand gnats that just came out. About an hour later the kids were gone. Latino dance music has no affect on sand gnats.

Kintala moved on to a better anchorage for the upcoming wind. We decided to stick it out one more night as we were undecided on what we were doing. Do we head to Marathon or not? Our friends there say it is seventy percent full already. What the hell. Do we secure a mooring for the holidays here before they are gone? Our decision was made by mother nature as she threw some really ugly weather our way. For almost a week now it has been blowing stink and then the rain came and has not stopped. Been pretty miserable. Not as miserable as the folks in Buffalo NY though. Friends and family have been buried in all that white stuff. Buffalo now holds the record for the most snow in a twenty four hour period in the US. Damn Lake Effect. I really don't miss all that white stuff falling from the sky. I just hope everyone stays safe. Memories of shoveling snow are not pleasant, though one night I remember as being completely beautiful as I sat on the roof of the house, taking a breather from shoveling the snow off of it before it got too heavy. A crisp star filled night with all the snow a bright white blanket covering the trees and houses was an awesome sight. I had a Molson Canadian Lager stuffed in my jacket pocket for just such an occasion. I must have made quite the shadowy figure to my neighbor across the street.

So here we are bouncing around Biscayne Bay not sure of our immediate future. Christmas is coming and we need to park the boat somewhere so we can spend the holiday with the kids. Relatively speaking it's not a bad situation to be in. We are south where it's supposed to be warm and are in a good position for a jump to the Bahamas when we are ready. If we miss out on Marathon it's not a huge disappointment as we were going to cross as soon as we got back from seeing the kids anyway. This is a good crossing point and a good place to prepare. I wouldn't mind seeing some of Miami either. No complaints. Life is good.

Wait! I do have one complaint. It's about our engine. The Yanmar 4JH gave us an alarm for low oil pressure as we throttled down to drop the main. It was just a few chirps and the gauge was bouncing all over the scale. Deb throttled up and it went away. We then eased the throttle down to idle and it never returned. This happened once before but I found the oil filter had come loose. This time I see nothing wrong. Not sure what this means. I have plenty of oil and it's only 20 hrs old. It's the correct viscosity as well. Weird. Only after running all day does this happen. Oil too hot? Plugged cooler? Looks like I have some investigating to do.


Is this the last of our ICW days for the foreseeable future? Only time will tell.

Beer tongs!
Finally found some with grip.
Perfect for that deep dive into the fridge.
Beer me!

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