Monday, July 9, 2018

Fred is in da' howse!

Fred is a Gator. An average gator, about six feet. Fred visits our canal on a regular basis. Don't swim in our canal unless you want to meet Fred.

Always something happening in our little patch, stop by every-so-often for updates.

Barco Out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Boating Report

Well, Buckaroos... Greetings, again.
Captain Big-shot  here reporting almost live about the expedition to the center of F-L-A in the sultry heat of the Sunshine State onboard our favorite river conveyance, Barco Sin Vela.

There was really nothing planned, nor intended about this entire 32 hour quest, we have been neglecting the ole girl for way too long and felt we needed to knock some cobwebs off and move some petroleum through the twin Perkins engines. See, we have only taken the Barco out  on the water, maybe five or six times since November 2016. Criminal negligence, if you ask me...

Anyway, Friday we came up with the idea of heading Southward to Hontoon Island State Park. This little trip used to take over fifteen hours from our previous home in Jax but now it would only cost about seven hours on the St Johns. We be figgerin' to crooz sutherly until da dinneh be ready, right? Ok, the weather looked pretty good and what the heck, let's go!

Literally, we threw two small bags together and hopped on the boat and left. Just a case of bottled water a bag of cherries and some potato chips for sustenance and our exposed skin sprayed with sunscreen to protect us from the blazing sun... We were off.

First thing I noticed was how dirty the Barco had become in our three month absence. I felt a bit guilty about that and what was I gonna do about it? We could either be cleaning the boat before we left-- or just get to some boatin' and ignore the glares of our fellow river travelers. (I did get to cleaning the plastic windows of the flybridge enclosure for safety) Oh, I also sprayed the Sundeck sink area with bleach cleaner, so we had that going for us, which is nice.

We passed the Seven Sisters islands and found ourselves whizzing by Welaka at a scorching 8 knots which was quite satisfying to the Barco Crew. We celebrated by cracking into the many plastic water bottles which were there for our refreshment. The time to Lake George was about three long hours and we were relieved to see a very placid lake under the growing cloud masses.

Looking at Georgetown, South of Welaka, Fl

The Lake Crossing took about an hour and we were able to cut in between two large thunderstorms with nary a drop landing in our faces. This was a good thing because storms can really ruin your day, as you all know, so it felt a real victory to miss the heavy winds, waves and rain. Another pleasing thing is that thunderstorms are a form of real air-conditiong which improves the livability of a Florida Summer day to almost comfortable. Ok, it was pretty nice, too...

Looking Southward at entry marker for Lake George

We're in the main channel of Lake George

We got through the Astor No-Wake Zone and and were well along our way to Lake Dexter and the rest of the smaller St Johns River which rolls through the Ocala National Forest. The only other boaters present were biker gangs of Jet Skis whizzing by us and jumping our wake. The Police were a very visible presence, too. Every corner we turned we would see a Police Boat lurking around and ensuring the good behavior of all vessels traveling the River. I don't know why they (Polizei) were out in force, perhaps there was some Jet Ski Club event that they were monitoring. There were hundreds of those almost annoying buzzing-boats heading towards Sanford.

Midway btwn Astor and Hontoon Landing

The weather cleared up and we arrived at Lake Beresford just in time for 4:20 celebrations, we hopped into the rain locker, cleaned up and shifted uniforms to glad rags so that we were presentable for a dinner with the local Yacht Club Commodore.

Lake Beresford Yacht Club

Lake Beresford looking to South

The Yacht Club feted us with the finest Filet and Lamb Chops, Andretti Cabernet and various other potent potables over the course of the evening. Taps was held at 2200...

0730 we were up with coffee and the Sun preparing to get underway at 0745, we slipped our lines and  headed back North...

Beautiful clear skies and a river free of Jet Skis... Of course, this couldn't last all day.

The trip North was uneventful until we made it about three miles from home. S-e-r-i-o-u-s thunderstorms closed in on us and we zipped the flybridge enclosure and tried not to touch any metal objects for fear of lightning zapping us. Visibility dropped to virtually nothing as we were completely drenched in a rain that was enveloping us in a wet and noisy roar combined with the high winds associated quality thunderstorms. It was a couple of sporty hours from Buffalo Bluff to downtown Palatka and the rain reduced to "annoying sprinkle" when we arrived at our home berth. We tied the Barco up, removed the empty water bottles and other trash and departed to the Barco Landing. Mission Complete, 14 hours were spent in transit both ways and it was indeed, a lovely cruise.

Barco Landing in the rain

After getting our gear off the boat we headed home to clean up and go back out for dinner. About an hour and a half later we were greeted with very clear skies, cool weather and a swarm of dragonflies! The dragonflies eat mosquitoes and gnats so I think the stormy weather brought out predators and prey. Victory goes to the dragonflies, I didn't see any biting bugs...

...In a while, crocodiles. Barco Out.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Some more Wildlife action photos...

Hello Buckaroos, again.

I re-read Pat Frank's 1959 novel, "Alas, Babylon", the other day when I was bored. The first time I read the story was sometime in 1977, and it was pretty good to the teenager reading. The tale is about a group of folks living on or near the St Johns River who survive a nuclear holocaust and make a good living without the modern conveniences. When She Who Will be Obeyed and I began our search for a new home, the memory of that story came a bit alive. Imagine the fun of finding a new home that fit in with the locale of "Alas, Babylon"?

The previous owner mentioned the similarity of the property to the novel when we first visited, and we had a very nice conversation about our common enjoyment of the novel and I was sure to bring her a new copy when we closed on the home. The real estate closing was in an office across the way from a park with a gazebo in downtown Palatka. Darn it, if that wasn't the same gazebo described so clearly in the text of the novel... I knew we were gonna love living down here!

There is always something to do when living on a property adjacent to a waterway, fishing, birdwatching, gator and snake avoidance, turtle guiding (Yep, turtles get on our lawn!)

and cat wrangling. We have four regular feral cats in the yard with two reserve cats who come around for the occasional scrap that the four will leave.

Sammy Snowshoe

Pyewacket, Maureen and Odd Job

"Where's dinner?!"

We feed the outdoor kittehs twice a day and they seem to like us. But, as feral cats, they keep their distance and retain their independence.

This tale, is about other wild life.

We love to spend time on the dock watching the birds and other critters doing their daily routines. Anhingas, herons, mud hens, hawks, buzzards and every other water fowl which reside in Florida are the real regulars around Barco Landing. Once in a while, we have a camera handy to record some of the activity on or near our dock...

This one is from Brazil

No, really... We do have some great bird photos.




Wait, what's this...?

One afternoon on the dock, I heard a rustling above our heads. An Osprey, carrying a fish was trying to get away from another B1Rd...


The fight was on...

The osprey tried jinking, diving and climbing but the eagle had him locked on with it's canny version of fire control radar...

Osprey tried for a climbing stall, the eagle seemingly stopped in mid-air, applied the afterburners and powered his way into climbing to the stalled osprey... 

The osprey was not giving up the fish, he made a quick dive and turn towards the lone cypress tree to dodge the eagle's incessant attacks...

Yankin' and bankin'

Finally, just past the cypress, the Eagle made the move and took that fish all of the way from that osprey...  Good Kill!!!

 The victorious eagle flies away with his just desserts while the osprey returns home to his nest to the hungry ridicule of his mate.

Have a fine day, we'll come up with more 'Tales from Barco Landing' in the near future. Until then...

Barco Out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hi, Buckaroos...

Hello all,
I'm not sure if anyone is still out there, but if so; Greetings.

Much has happened in the past couple years since I have last written and there is a possibility that someone is interested in the Barco Sin Vela's whereabouts and activities.

Virgil Xenophon, is that you???

Every once in a while, I stop by to see if anything new has happened at Buck's old site, Exile in Portales. I miss that guy.

Blogs are no longer as popular as the  Book of Faces, Tweet and other such wastes of time. Right?


I'm hoping to recontact a few of our old followers and at least let them know that the Barco Crew is still endeavoring to persevere AND living the lifestyle that confounds our detractors. Living well is the best revenge, according to that philosopher/wit Noel Coward, and he did know, indeed.

First off, in honor of 2017 the Barco Crew made a move to the South and set up a new homestead in the country. We traded suburban neighborhood living for rural, replaced no see-ums for biting yellow flies and switched sewage systems  for something called a septic tank. (I don't really know what that is but I do know that when you flush the head the product does not go far away for the County to deal with...)

Here is my new view;

View from living room
View of left part of porch
Little citrus grove
Nu Gnu waiting to sail...
View from office

Wilbur (The Wildebeest) still commands a view of our living room, a room that has 166 years of having lived and will continue to be lived in, at least by us.

We own both sides of the little tree lined canal which currently has the "Nu Gnu" tied up and waiting to sail on the waters of the adjacent St Johns River. Across the way from our canal is Murphy Island, which is a Nature Preserve. The author and Naturalist William Bartram had described that island as "Dunn's Island",  in his book, "Travels..."

Any-place that has been described in books from 200+ years ago is A-OK with me, and please count US in when it comes to a forever home like this one!  One must endure, mustn't one???

We arrived and set up house keeping back in July. It was so amazing to actually find ourselves in this particular circumstance and it was a bit overwhelming at first. The first evening we sat and watched the beautiful sunset over the river on our wonderful antebellum porch. There were a few bug bites, I blew them off as the No-See-ums, or gnats.

Oh, noes...!

The next couple days I discovered that I was swelling and blistering on my legs and had no clue as to what was happening! I went to a medical clinic to learn that they had no idea, either!  They gave me some antibiotics to fight whatever it was that was ailing me and wished me well. The swelling went away and I was none the worse for the wear and the rest of the summer we settled further into the Country Life.

Edit; I recently learned in the last three weeks which bug I am allergic to; Yellow Flies. YIKES!!! They are very easy to avoid, don't go out an hour before and after sunset or sunrise during the May to June Yellow Fly season. That, and wear long pants/sleeves if you must be out and about.

Anyhoo, after our Labor Day bbq, we hunkered down for Hurricane Irma, which threatened to punish us all for getting a little too comfortable here in Florida. Our two marshes did a great job of absorbing the floodwaters and our homestead took no damage, excepting a few branches that were blown from some trees. The worst we endured from that storm was five days without electricity which meant five days without air-conditioning and internet. At least our water flowed slowly from our artesian well which provided for our plumbing and household needs and we had propane for what little cooking we  performed daily.

No big deal, we just move on and continue our regular mission of having a good time and staying well.

You might be asking, "What about your Barco, and all that fun boating stuff you used to do???"

Barco Sin Vela II endures and will be doing some long distance traveling in the very near future, I hope to be doing the Great Loop in the next twelve to twenty four months.

Who wants to be crew? Anyone...?

Until next time, (Which might be sooner than later!) You can find us here on the blog and physically at this place...

Barco Landing

P.S. We have wildlife here, too.

Person-Tees (formerly known as Manatees)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Recent sailing stuff

Over at Exile in Portales, regular commenter Virgil Xenophon asks for us to keep telling sailing stories.

Ok. The latest sailing tale goes back to a year ago, around Oct of 2014. I was looking over eBay at sailboats for sale and was hoping to find a trailer for the 22 footer I had parked out back. I would up bidding on a San Juan 23 with trailer up in Worcester, Massachusetts. I won the bid with a ridiculously low bid and with that made a road trip to Taxachusetts.

I borrowed a friend's one ton truck and drove through Pennsylvania into New Jersey. I presumed the stupid Tom-Tom would find my way to I-95 and then I would vector left for Mass. via Connecticut.


Tom-Tom made me go across the George Washington Bridge ($13.00 toll!) and dropped me into the Bronx, just in time for commuter traffic. I had to aggressively muscle my way back to some parkway which brought me into Connecticut and into some of the worst traffic i have seen since Los Angeles! After a couple hours of that nonsense, I finally made way into Massachusetts and got to Worcester around 2230. Checked into a crummy hotel and waited for morning when I was due to meet the seller  off the boat and close the deal.

I finally saw the sailboat in person, sometime around 1100. The tires were flat and the boat looked pretty rough. I tried to take the wheels off to inspect the bearings, but I failed in those tasks. I bought some trailer lights and a couple of tubes of bearing grease and spent the entire day trying to get the boat ready to move. The seller was kind of urging me to get going, too. After spending a frustrating afternoon and evening, I checked into an expensive hotel for the night.

First view of the Nu-Gnu!

Not a bad boat

Hopefully, we would be ready to go by 0800... Not.

Quick inspection of the room, it was clean and a review of the mattress seams was ok, the mattress was actually sealed by a couple of sheets so I could not see the actual seam but it all looked proper. And this was a $175 room so I was confident. I ate a bad sandwich and drank two beers sometime around 2030 and hit the sack at 2100 for the night.

I woke up itchy, at 0400. Turned on the lights and saw nothing. Woke again a half hour later and gave up on sleep. Especially when I noticed the welts on my torso, arms and legs. Covered. In. Bites. Big puffy welts like a score of mosquitoes had lunched on me in the tropics! I hopped rapidly into the shower and scrubbed myself for at least forty minutes. I looked again for any signs of bugs and couldn't see any, so I packed my small bag and went to the desk.

When I tried to discretely mention my dilemma to the desk person, he rapidly passed me over to the manager, an older lady who was quite helpful.

"I think you might want to send a cleaning crew to my room, pull out the mattresses and bug bomb the place," I said quietly, while pulling my sleeve up to show the welts.

My hotel bill was instantly reversed and they spent a few moments apologizing. What could I say?

Got back to the sailboat and it began to rain as I did the final tie-downs and hook up to the truck. Miserable, wet and itchy was the state of affairs.

We got the paper work done and I left town on a slick road in the New England rain. Tom-Tom kept trying to send me back to NYC, which I responded by turning the damn thing off. It was about eight more hours until I got to Harrisonburg, Virginia and returned the truck to my friend Bruce.

Once there at Bruce's home, we got the boat stowed and headed to Wally-World for new clothes and skivvies. I pulled all my stuff from my bag and dropped it all into a hot wash. I left the bag outside in the cold. My entire body was now swelling up from an allergic reaction to the bug bites and I was an unhappy cat for the night.

Just my thigh. It was most ugly the next few days. 
Common sight in Harrisonburg.

Still holding together!

Next morning we took off for Florida towing the boat merrily down the interstate. The only snag was when a large part flew off the trailer and went into the roadway, thankfully landing in the center guardrail. Otherwise no problems to Jax!

Once we got the boat home, we began the cleanup of the interior and an inventory of gear and sails. I was pleasantly surprised by the great condition of the sails and hull! We changed out a bulkhead that was rotted with some stuff called Star Board, which is a dense plastic sheet made to replace wood.

The Dude will abide.

New Bulkhead is stronger than original!

Cut a pattern using old rotted wood as template.

We put the Nu-Gnu away for the season while Bruce returned to his duties back in the Sand Box and I stayed home waiting for Spring. Once Spring had Sprung it was decided we would race the Nu-Gnu on the St Johns River in the annual Mug Race.

Heck, we didn't know if the boat floated, but we had faith! We set up the mast using a mast raising system which consisted of levering the mast with the boom and a 7:1 pulley system. One person can raise the mast, which is pretty remarkable!

It all works!

We connected up to the truck and drove forty miles to Palatka and dropped the boat in. We set up the sails and joined all the sailors at the big beer party by the river.

World War 1 Naval Memorial, Palatka, FL.

Underway and sailing!

Fearless Skipper takes a selfie.

San Juan 23, Hull number 346.

It took about eleven hours but we finally made it to the finish line, we were fourth in our class and beat out an identical San Juan 23!

Yes, it is myself on the helm for the thrilling finish in the Florida sunset!

Funny, this whole sailing trip began in October, 2014 and yet came to a great conclusion in May, 2015.  Probably one of the best days on the water in many years, at least since the last big trip to Oz in the South Pacific. Big thanks and gratitude to Bruce for doing all the hard work which enabled the Nu-Gnu to do this sailing trip. I look forward to when Bruce comes back, there is another big trip on a Morgan 36 sailboat which is in the planning stages...