Friday, January 30, 2009

Back at work

Back in on Monday. Spent the weekend on the Barco, enjoying the clear skies on the water. Took a little trip south of the Buckman and enjoyed a boat-free river. As far as the Barco crew was concerned, we OWNED the river!

I am waiting for my copy of "Deep Water", a Documentary made in 2006 about the Golden Globe round the world sailing challenge of 1968. I ordered from Amazon and it should be here today. Our sailing buddy is in the film as he won the race by outlasting most of the fleet and made it back to England in eight or nine months.

I read the story by Robin Knox Johnston, "A World of my Own", probably around 1974 or 1975. I never really forgot the story and naturally, when the sailing bug bit, I reread it. When Spousal Unit and myself moved to London, we went to the London boat show and met with the folks from the Little Ship's Club and immediately joined.

More to come.

About that seemingly disconnected paragraph above; RK-J's "A World of my Own" is the author's version of what happened during that lengthy race. There was an unanswered question at the end of the book, concerning the state of the Author's marriage.

Moving ahead to 1996, I was at the Little Ships Club, where the President of the club was doing a meet and greet with new members. Spousal Unit and I did the routine Hi-how-are-ewe, brief bio and decided to dash out before we became boring.

Note: When ever you meet someone famous, like a rock star or personality, know full well that they really are quite bored with the normal banality, "Oh, urr sooo great, I have all your books, seen all your movies, blah blah blah..."

They don't care. Really. In fact, all they want to do is go off and get out of the crowd and hide in some quiet place.

That said, Spousal Unit and myself were trying to slip out the door to beat the Famous Couple outside, and decide which pub dinner would be best to dine. This is when Mrs. Knox-Johnston approached us near the door and as if reading our minds, "You're not leaving... are you? Robin would like the honor of your company at dinner with us both."

Well, what the heck... I was surprised, to say the least. In fact, some of the more prominent Club members, hoping for a place at the table... themselves, were completely surprised.

So we sat for the dinner. We made small talk about what I did in the Navy (Search and Rescue and Anti-Submarine Warfare), duty onboard Frigates and Destroyers. Robin talked of his own Naval Service, and the fact that he was friends with the C.O.'s of the Missouri and Iowa. It was a great dinner, with a great teller of tales, and the beginning of a four year running acquaintance. (We would share drinks after eleven o'clock, Club closing time, after the crowd went home--then he would tell Lynne and I how to plan and execute our own Trans-Atlantic cruise).

He asked if I had any questions about his book, and I think he was quite pleased with my cleverness; "In the final chapter, you leave the reader hanging, concerning the pending divorce. "What ever happened?"

Sir Robin Knox Johnston smiled, looked at his lovely wife and said, "You probably should ask Lady Knox-Johnston..."


Tuesday: I couldn't find the actual pictures of 1996 with Robin and his Lady, but I have some from a year and a half later:

This is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston after giving us the "Alderney Tankard" award for publishing the best sailing story for 1997 in "Little Ship" magazine.

Sir Robin is the President of the Little Ship Club.

One cool thing: That man has an unstoppable memory. Spousal Unit ran into him on the streets of the City of London. He not only remembered her name, but her father's name, whom he had met a year before!

The Little Ship Club was founded as a private members club in 1926 to bring together yachtsmen and women working in the City of London who wanted to meet and exchange ideas during the long winter months. It rapidly became renowned for its classes in navigation and seamanship. In 1937, the club was awarded the right to fly the defaced Blue Ensign for its contribution to training the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve.

Racing Wildebeest III on Thames near Thames Barrier

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Feeling ill this past couple of days

I am wrecked. Spent about eighteen hours sleeping in last day. I expect to feel better by the weekend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bold City Beer Update

I tried another Bold City product:Pale Ale.

It was great! Wait, it was labeled as "Pale Ale", but I just went to their site and only found this:

Rye Pale Ale

A medium bodied Pale Ale brewed with Rye Malt which provides a distinct flavor. A slight hop bitterness finishes this beer off nicely. This is a must try!

If that was it, I must give kudos to the Bold City Folks. This was a fine beer, it went well with a Gorgonzola pizza. I had two.

I still stand by the comment below, concerning that White Pale Ale.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't Fruit the Beer

I don't drink much Miller Lite, but they (and Bud Light Real Men of Genius) make some great commercials.

This goes with the previous post.

Saturday View out back and Beer testing

We had adequate weather, last weekend onboard Barco. Maybe about 65 degrees, and there was rain in the evening.

The above picture is a view of Pirate's Cove, looking from the Sundeck. Not too shabby.

The next picture is the view to our Port, but really it is to the right as you look to the stern.

Saturday was quiet, we sat out back with Hyacinth while nibbling on chips and cheese. Went over to the club for some better victuals, but all we could get were wings that came off of a Cornish Hen. The wings were tiny.

While snacking, we watched the "tennis" crowd came in and ordered drinkies to go, and laughed as the Bartender tried to offer free tastes of "Bold City White Ale".

I have never seen people pass a glass of free beer back, unfinished. The White Ale purports to be (this ripped off from their website): .."

White Ale

Our lightest beer; is a Belgian White Ale. Brewed with white wheat malt, Coriander and Bitter Orange peel. This refreshing Ale is pleasant on a hot summer day or a fall afternoon. Try it with a wedge of Orange.

I thought Burt Reynolds and the rest of the Miller Lite Man-Law crew have already made it a Man-Crime to fruit the beer.

Try it with a wedge of orange??? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot????? I supppose some snob will claim that there is a "Licorice finish, with a hint of Elderberry.."

Mongo's Straight!

I really, really, really want to support local brewery(s). Just meet me half way with something drinkable.

I watched at least six people refuse this beer. Even the bartender said that the Ale tasted different each time she tried it this week! (Of course, I found this simply Hi-Larious) I really want to like this beer brewer, SO I will try out their India Pale Ale, the English Ale and the rest of their offerings. Also just to set something else straight, I have never liked Belgian Beers, or for that matter Weiss Beers. But the Belgian beers like Hefeweizen were drinkable, even for me.

Of course, if you are buying, I'm drinking! Just not the Bold City White Ale.

One has to have standards!

Moving on;

The rain started coming down, and my jokes were falling flat on the Spouse and on the Staff. Time to go home to the Barco, and kick on some good tunes and break out the snacks and more reasonably priced refreshments.

Anyday spent on Barco Sin Vela is a good one.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meet Hyacinth Bucket

She is a stray who chose to live at our home. Like we needed another cat.

Big problem; the Siamese girls, Mali and Saffy, are kinda feral. And they hate Non-Siamese cats. It has been a year, no mercy, no quarter.

Hyacinth is a "British Street Cat". She is HUGE, and should have no problem sorting out the Meezers.

Nope, she cowers and cries when they attack. They cut her up when they can. So Hyacinth has to live separate from the two girls. Major pain in the backsides.

Mao is bookended by his Girls.

The small Siamese girls look so loving, so precious. But they aren't. In fact, they are feral and vicious!

So today, Hyacinth is on the boat, at the moment. (We went to the club last night, and instead of driving home, we stayed aboard Barco). We bring the cat because she really likes the boat. It is incredible, the pleasure she has just lounging around the boat.

Just like her humans. Dogs have owners, Cat's have Staff.

Still Livin' the Adventure. Go Navy!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Welcome to a glorious Friday!

Temps have finally inched above 6o degrees, and the sun is splashing the outside with warming sustenance.

I have swapped cats in the sunroom, so the Siamese will have to stay in the shade and allow Hyacinth Bucket a chance to thaw.

Hyacinth is probably ready for some boat action. This is how she would look if she was human:

Some gratuitous nudity:
Hobie sailing off of Mayport and having dolphins visit.

Beach shot of Hobie number 2.

Anything depicting a seashore is invigorating.

I hope my two readers have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thirsty for adventure Thursdays

Winter is still present and accounted for in North Florida. Temps are still in the teens at night, and merely cold in the day.

Won't stop me. I see a weekend on the Barco approaching, and we have heating if we need it. No worries on the ice maker, I don't suppose it has come on in a week.

I ran into a pack of boat vagrants at the Moon River Pizza, Wednesday. We pretended not to notice them, but they came up to force us to acknowledge them. Feeling sorry for us "non-cruisers". I asked if they would be leaving anytime soon... Of course, they said "We're off to the Abaco's, this weekend!"


I wouldn't mind a little two week jaunt to the Bahamas. I would probably head down the coast, perhaps the Intracoastal if the winds were busy, to Daytona. Stay the night at the Halifax River Yacht Club Halifax is a very nice club with a wonderful dining room and a great little Marina. They are just to the North of Daytona's city marina.

View Larger Map

Depart at 0-Dark-Thirty the next morning. Head South through the "Haulover Cut" at Cape Canaveral. But go slow; there are hundreds of Manatees in the lagoon by the drawbridge! All right, I'm fibbing about 'hundreds'. Tens.

View Larger Map

Gotta love Google Maps! A mariner can really plan a journey with the great tools available on the web.

After clearing the Cut, the next delay will be on the Nasa Causeway. They stay closed during commute times, so stay flexible and bring a snack.
This boat caught an opening.

View Larger Map

So, now we buster as quick as possible down the Indian River. We have to make Eau Gallie for our next RON! (Remain Over Night)

So we would arrive at Eau Gallie.
Not quite as nice as Halifax River, but great location. Fuel is about a hundred yards away. There are stores within walking distance to reprovision the larder.

Underway before sunup, we should be able to make Fort Pierce by late afternoon.
Once at Fort Pierce, choices can be made. You can anchor in a snug little lagoon, or pay the big bucks to one of the marinas that specialize in boats heading south.

We would be at a point to consider going off shore for the next stop, West Palm. South of Fort Pierce is the land of Burt Reynolds and Greg Norman. The Intracoastal gets narrow and the millionaires don't like us going too fast or stay too long in their private waterway. I prefer offshore.

Once you get to West Palm, Lake Worth is a nice place to spend the night. Go to Singer Island Marina to see various art shows and just the hubbub of big time fishing boats. Under the docks, which are lighted, you can see huge fish taunting the wannabee fishermen.

Then the fun begins!

I would do a good study of the weather coming up. One would not want to get under way with the winds coming from the South. Big. Fargin. Swells. in the Gulftream. Same if the winds are from the North. Only steep and squared. Doubleplusungood.

Ideally, winds from the West or East. (Generally, the winds will come from a more South-easterly direction, which is still good).

Set your GPS with proper waypoints, which I will not give out. I ain't takin' blame for someone hitting a hard bit! Be sure to check those waypoints with someone else. It is too easy to reverse digits, and cause yourself to run into a nasty bit of coral. Oh, don't forget to bring a "Bahama's Cruising Guide"! Good info with detailed maps for entring marinas and coves.

Pick a good time to depart (I like nighttime passages) and go. Grand Bahama island is about sixty miles away, figure 12 hours for a sailboat making an average of five knots.

View Larger Map

Anyone up for a trip?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Start of a new era

What can I say. The thought of the day is our new President. I hope that our new President has all the luck and that he is successful.

Back to boating.

Mao Cat Actual

Key Biscayne

Monday, January 19, 2009

More sea stories, T.I.N.S

January 1994 Inport Castries, St Lucia.

FFG-55 with HSL-44 Det 3 Embarked. Better known as the World Famous Rod and Gun Club!

Fast forward to the past, 1994. Having spent all of 1993 in the Med, our good ship Elrod, FFG-55 (I think the name was Spanish for the 'Shaft', but I only heard that third hand) was dutifully embarked on a most important mission;

Showing the Flag at the island of Saint Lucia, helping the locals celebrate Independence Day. Our ship was the big guest along with the French Foreign Legion Detachment from across the way, based in Fort De France.

I had never been to St Lucia, before. The clear aquamarine waters brought a happiness to the soul, reggae to the ears and the availability of cheap rum and other island treats. Oh yes, we did indeed partake in the four dollar rum, Mount Gay flowed and we were definitely gonna be in our cups. Total badness!

Get this; We had to actually form up on an early Saturday and march in a parade. Three Quarters of the good ship's crew were mustered in whites and standing in the cricket field, near downtown Castries. I had been on Shore Patrol the night before, so I was not in any kind of hangover condition. But the Gent about two rows from me was feeling it, and he passed out flat on his face with a great thump. This was in grass, so no one was actually hurt, except for his pride and the new trousers he was a needin'. It was that bad.

After the parade (my first since MCRD San Diego) we made our way through the shopping district. After an afternoon of rum and bad barbecue, we repaired to the Mighty Elrod for revivifying naps. (Read: We passed out until the bus was scheduled to pick us up for a ride to someplace called "Rodney Bay.)

We show up at Rodney Bay, a little bay carved out of the North tip of a volcanic island. It was/is a yacht center with overpriced bars, foreign tourists and sailboats. By the way, you will hear of Rodney Bay, again.

I asked about boat rentals, and I was introduced to a fellow who owned the biggest bar, he was wanting us to charter his 75 foot Catamaran, with full bar. I told him that we were froma Frigate, not a CArrier. Our crew was about 200, not five thousand and we were essentially broke.

So he graciously allowed me to take this boat out, at NO charge.

Did I not say that things were getting better?

A Beneteau 39. Free, except a little "tip" for the local guide. I am wearing my "Green Parrot" bar t-shirt from Key West. It said, "See the lower keys on your hands and knees" on the back. I always act like I'm some sort of "cool" person. What a geek!

We acquired a couple of cases of Piton beer, and we grabbed a few of the available shipmates from the 'Rod and off we went to sail down the island to the Piton's, about halfway down the island, along the western coast passing Castries and Marigot Bay. We made sure that everyone got a chance to steer the helm, while we worked up an incredible buzz on beer and life.

Some more of that "Hedonism"

Finally, back to Rodney Bay for gloating

I was startin' to really get better at this sailing thing! I'm glad to have found these pictures and pass on the story.

We returned to the ship with some great stories and some more beer. We had no cooler or fridge, and beer can't come aboard to get chilled, so we took matters into our own hands...

Be sure to use CO2 extinguishers. The powder stuff makes a tremendous mess...

Happy MLK Day!

There has to be nothing worse than working for a private business.

Back in the "bad ole days", us military types got every holiday imagineable off!

Nowadays, no such good deal. Gotta be at work (and yes, I am glad to be one of the lucky ones still working) and have to be ready to do for those still needing our office's services. Day after Christmas and New Year?

At the job. So it goes.

The past weekend was kinda cold, so we stayed onboard Barco on Saturday night. We were snug with the heaters doing the heating thing. I was having a final Sierra Nevada, and the Spousal Unit said, "You're done drinking beer today, huh?"

I agreed.

Shocking. I was actually not enthusiastic about wanting more beer.

Getting old before my time. Some days a person will actually run out of beer, but not this time. Beer will get you through times of no money, better than money will get you through times of no beer.

Sweetheart USO race is coming up for the NAS Jax Yacht Club, which will be held at the base. We might have to do this race with "White Lightnin'". But only if the weather is warm. I don't care for cold sailing. One does not volunteer for freezing.

You have to bundle up and the fingers never really perform as requested due to numbness. Plus, there is a lack of can-do because you might really want to scrunch up in a corner to save heat.

This is more like it:

Don't do this at home kids, only idiots sail bare-footed. It's a good way to lose toe's and literally your footing on deck. I saw a guy leap onto a dock barefooted, and get a two inch splinter in the big toe. Ruined. His. Entire. Fargin'. Weekend. This guy was about six foot three and an Ordnance Officer in the Navy, and I watched him cry like a little girl in pain from this little mishap. Of course, I'm not going to mention the infection and near loss of said toe a month later. I wear shoes when boating. But the picture is a fun looking one!

Back to cold weather sailing: The problem with cold weather is that the winds really blow hard, in cold weather. Nothing gentle about the back end of a cold front. I think the purpose of cold winds are to keep the dilletente's and poseur's off of the water, and leave them back home in front of the t.v. where they belong.

This is 'She Who will be obeyed' sailing White Lighnin' to victory, awhile back. (Ewe can still buy the sailboat for 6K!)

Have a great week.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tall Tales Thursday

So I'm back on the early days kick, this because I saw some of the early photos.

The Spousal Unit and I really had some good times. This was from a sense of urgency that Military folks and their families regularly feel. You may only see your loved ones a day or week at a time. Navy folks will remember that we deploy at pleasure of those we serve.

My point is that out of the first five years of marriage, I was usually gone. Every day at home was to be lived to the fullest. As an aircrewman in a Navy helicopter squadron, there was a better chance than none that we would either be going or coming to some far off place. Some of my peers did not come home at all, so One just never knows so live it up when you can.

Live it up we did. A bottle of Mt Gay rum, two liter bottle of coke, limes, Jimmy Buffett or Bob Marley, friends, pour all into a sailboat and shake. Life was really good, when I was home!

When I returned from an almost seven month deployment on the Strike Trawler Deyo, along with the best welcome a Sailor could get, my loving Spouse showed me a little boat on the way home that would start us off for real on that sailing dream.

This Sovereign 7 Meter, built in 1979, was waiting on the side of Atlantic Blvd with a "For Sale" and the $7900 scratched out. Next to that was a $6900 and $5900 scratched out. $4900 American Beer Conversion Units could make this boat ours. We literally counted change from our large coke bottle (over 400 bucks!) and I had a paycheck or two on hand.

The deal was made for $4300.00 and I towed the boat home. It was like being a new father! I brought over a couple guys from the Detachment to show off the new boat. I reveled in the envy. Only problem was that I had to go back to sea the next week.

During the previous seven moths, I flew with a LCDR and a LT (usually on a Air Detachment, we had two complete aircrews and we would fly with the same three people routinely. Sometimes it was because of convenience or personalities meshing. The Officer in Charge was a "Born Again" type, and he preferred to fly with the other aircrewman, leaving me with my two buddies Steve and Lee flying, with me in the back.

Instead of constantly talking about girls, port visits, beer and the usual, we talked incessantly of boats and sailing. I had a video tape from MacGregor Boats, and we would come back from liberty beered up and would slap that puppy into the t.v. Once, we measured out the 26 feet of the MacGregor and taped the flight deck in the shape of a sailboat. We were jazzed on the idea of being on our own boat vice the Navy kind. I couldn't afford a new MacGregor 26, so I had to wing it.

Lee came back from that cruise and bought a 26 footer and I got the 23. Steve never did get a boat, his loving wife wouldn't let him. SO much for being a Lieutenant Commander with all of those priveleges and authority.

That was the first day in the water and was it was intoxicating, to actually have my own boat in the water. Life was exceedingly good!

Check out the torque on that tiller. I seriously had no idea how to trim sails or balance the helm. That, there is called "weather helm". But I looked really cool driving.

A few moments after after the previous picture, we learned about rounding up involuntarily. On minute heading north pulling a lot of strain keeping course, the boat tilted a little too far and VOILA! We were now heading on a sort of westerly course! So I had to look cool to my new bride, I snapped of a quick, "This thing tacks like a Yak"

Like I knew what had just happened.

What happened was the rudder had left the water and no longer was providing stabilization and a straight course so the boat turned into the wind that was driving us. Kind of a safety feature. Sorta not. But the Lord watches out for fools and drunks and I was the former.

She who will be obeyed coined the new name, "Wildebeest" which is in honor of the National Geographic films showing herds of Wildebeest' suddenly making 90 degree turns while in full gallop. Quite exciting...

That name was judged to be right and correct. And the Wildebeest promptly ran into a piling when I lost directional control while traversing the Doctors Inlet bridge. You can see the new custom bend in the bow pulpit in the next picture!

This a pic of our trip to the Mug Race in Palatka

My buddy from home, Rich, in his natural environment, usually towards front of boat with a smoke in hand.

The Mug Race of 1992

Great memories. This boat got me through five years of sea duty because each time I got out on the water, it was like a real holiday trip.

If you can, try out sailing. If you happen by Jacksonville, I can arrange it for you. 'White Lightnin' is a San Juan 28 which sail much, much better than the ol' Wildebeest. (P.S. You can buy 'White Lightnin' for 6K!)

But you have to buy the beer and snacks for the trip!

Sometimes, when a couple of boats are near each other, either a race or party begins. This photo shows our buddy Dave and his boat "Niagara", on a typical Saturday night. I took the photo and She who will be obeyed is the good looking one.

Have a great Navy day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Barco Sin Vela Photo Changed

I changed the title picture because it looks more like a boat havin' fun. This boat is our previous
BarcoSinVela 2004-2008. It was a Marine Trader Sun Deck 40 with twin Cummins 210 diesels. It was a very nice boat and we traveled up and down the coast of Florida on board her. When we lived in Fort Lauderdale, we kept her on a dock at the condo we lived at, and loved to confound the old folks by going out on weekend trips to Elliot Key. (The condo commando's would grouse about the ruckus we would make when leaving or arriving--the elderly from NewYawkTaxachusettsNooJursey hate to see anyone having fun!)

We endured two nasty hurricanes with nary a scratch. It was a tough boat. She met her match last summer, when a 30 foot boat broke loose from her mooring and drifted into the Barco, causing her to sink.

Always keep your insurance active, and make sure you have agreed value coverage. Some company's will only give you what they consider "fair cash value". Talk to your Agent and make sure you know. The other feller had 100K in Property Damage coverage, so my insurance had to cover this little bit of undercoverage.

I love to learn lessons through someone else. First law of thermodynamics in the Navy: Flame on YOU is Flame off ME.

T-minus two days until the weekend, which of course means time to go boating!

Axe Maidens and O'Brothers Irish Pub

Tuesday night found She who will be obeyed and myself at O'Brothers Irish Pub. Allegedly, there is London Pride Beer.

Nope. They had the tap and it looked like there would be said beverage, but no.

Spousal Unit and I grabbed the last table from under someone's nose, I think it was being saved but I felt that we should sit. Victory!

Some "Dude" and his lad posse showed up to help solidify our hold on the only table. Dude then introduced us to the owner, Drew, and we proceeded to quaff pints of Old Rogue.

This team of cheerleaders, called the "Axe Maidens" came in to entertain the small crowd.

It was underwhelming. Nicely dressed ladies who were all undergoing/gone the applied art of the plastic surgeons guild, which is pretty popular with the ladies of South Florida. Some folks dig that kind of thing, not me.

They were very nice young ladies, who just seemed like Hooter's waitresses who grew up and are looking for further work in that field.

I hope they break into that tough world of adult cheerleading. Otherwise they have been wasting time chatting with beery smelling, old fat guys. Yuck.

The Oscar Wild burgers were good, the beer decent and the tab a little pricey, but O'Brothers seems like a fun pub. We will be back.

Gotta go now, muster for duty is in three zero minutes.

Sky King

This is a great song and even better video.

I always enjoy flying. I would try this out, but I am afraid I would rack it into the mud. But I have my student certificate, so now I need to get about 6K together and visit the flying club at jax. The pilot license is the next big step that needs to be completed before I get too old.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Foul Weather Jacket Tuesdays

A fine example of a Navy Foul Weather Jacket, not wearable with civvies or off station. Too bad, they are quite toasty.

The following picture is what happens when it gets cold. Siamese cats will take over.

Three Cat Night

Well, we went from summer to winter, completely bypassing autumn. Rain and cold, it was a three cat night.

I have been off of beer during the week, and the funny thing is that the lack of said beverage makes it difficult on the body. For instance, if I consume six Sierra Nevada's in the evening, I will respond to the wake up alarum promptly and without any delay. In fact, I will be up with the chickens.

When I have consumed water, (and as instructed by W.C. Fields, we know what fish do in water), or green tea, I find that I can hardly get out of the rack. Even after NINE complete hours of rest, I feel lumbago and the effects of ague and gravity seem overpowering!

The lesson is to drink beer, every night. It's good for you.

Days like today, grey, wet, depressing. Cold. It reminds me of living in London. But in London, there was the hope of visiting a toasty pub, with its coal burning stove and cool Bitters.

Not in Jacksonville! No pubs within walking distance and certainly no cool London Pride. In fact no beer. One of us has to lose about one stone of tonnage, just to return to fitting my suits. Jack Sparrow would ask, "Why is the rum always gone?"

Have a fine Navy Day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Passports and Travel

Wilbur J Wildebeest wears a Fez because he can. He is a swingin' hipster who lives in the billiards room of the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge

Hey there Groovy Guys and Groovy Gals, Peace, Love and Dope!

I loved that line in an old Cheech and Chong album. How funny it was in the seventies, and I always wanted to say it. Done.

Today's screed is brought to you nice people by the letter "P".

I mentioned a few posts ago, the need for all to be ready to deploy to far off lands for testing beers and wine from other climes. Today we review October's trip to Cooloongalook.

The deployment order was received from COMNAVHOMEFRONT in June. She who will be obeyed instructed yours truly to comply with the invitation for a housewarming party, and make reservations on United. Four months early.

Now, I never do anything that far in advance. To be honest, I was trying to passive/aggressive my way out of actually going. I do it all of the time; it gets me out of doing something the Spousal Unit wants me to do. You know, like yard work. (That is definitely something for others to do...)

Anyway, so I book the 5000 buck round trip tickets (didn't I say I was trying to get out of this duty?) and all is harmonious at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge.

By the way, we couldn't afford all of this. But has no bearing on the mission, right?

We take off from Jax at @1300 and make way for Chicago. There at O'hare, we have a four hour layover. So we go to a roosting spot and do some roosting. There was a Marine standing by the bar looking lost. So we offer him a drink as thanks for his service and have him sit with us and chat. He has two, and actually tried to pay for his drinks!

Meanwhile, the bartender has been keeping track of our many drinks and brings us our tab; 31 bucks for three and a half hours of constant drinking! I was stunned, since I had consumed at least eight beers and She who will be obeyed had at least five wines. Not to mention the young Marine's drinks. I mentioned that the tab was looking a little "light", and she should recalculate.

"Since you were so kind to that Marine, I could see that you were both fine people who might appreciate a break in your bill as a 'thanks'", she said.

God Bless America!

That young lady got a 25 dollar tip.

Back to traveling;

So we stumble to our flight, with happy vibes coursing through our heads. We shared a session of giggling while on the takeoff roll. Snoozing became our routine for the next three hours.

We arrived in SFO with the beginnings of a well earned hangover. We shuffled through the international waiting area and were shoehorned onto a 747. Good thing we paid for the "Economy Plus". This gave us decent seats on the wing area with adequate leg room for my short legs. We spent the next 14 hours in various states of grogginess/snoozing/stiffness and finally gaseous pain from "Boyles Law" taking over in our bellies.

Note to self: Be sure to take Beano on flight home.

We arrived in Sydney at 0700 and made our way through customs and found Beaujolais Actual waiting in the arrival area>


It was a three hour drive up highway 1 to Cooloongalook.

The wildlife above were everywhere to be found. The kookaburra's are hilarious, waking us up with that oo-oo-oo ahh-ahh-ahh oo-oo. Like they were laughing at us.

I couldn't get any pics of the stars due to my ham handed photo skills. Very bright and very foreign. Kinda scary, since nothing was familiar about the constellations.

The beer? Horrible. I tried to choke down as much as possible so I could at least be sociable. I never saw "Foster's". The locals say that Foster's is crap that has to be exported to the Yanks.

Well, I choked down a few 12 packs of "Victoria Bitters". Nothing like "bitters" in the UK. Kinda resembles "Meisterbrau" of the mid eighties, only more bitter tasting. Beer is VERY expensive, about 14 bucks a twelve pack.

I may not have appreciated the finer beers in Australia, but I made a real Navy try at keeping up.

The "Nelson" pub in downtown Sydney had the finest beers on tap. We ran up quite the tab in short order. I will make my way back to that pub in the near future.

We wrapped up the ten day visit with a proper Indian dinner in the dining district. Very affordable, we fed eleven New Zealanders, South Africans, Scot's, and Welsh (Is no one from Australia???) for about $160 U.S. Very, very nice, we left stuffed.

The trip home was relatively uneventful, excepting that a fine Flight Attendant gave us a bottle of Bubbly to celebrate! (I told him that I wanted to purchase some champagne to celebrate my wife deciding to stay with me...)

Have a fine Navy day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome Aboard Friday!

I thought I would welcome my two readers aboard, and give the inside tour of Barco Sin Vela.

Barco is a Nova 40 Heritage. Built in Taiwan, for those of us who can't afford a Huckins or Grand Banks!

This particular hull is powered by twin Perkins 200HP diesels, which propel us at the blistering speed of 10 Knots.

Lying in wait, in the background is a Kohler 8KW diesel generator. It ensures that we will be cool in the Summer and warm in the winter. It also powers the icemaker and fridge.

"But, how do ewe drive this behemoth?", you might ask.

We have two stations for controlling this aquatic wildebeest. There is a flybridge, which is the main control position. We have a Garmin 2006 Chartplotter, Raymarine depth and fishfinder (I don't fish), an ancient radar and an equally ancient autopilot. We keep communications with a super-trick-gofast West Marine 650 DSC VHF radio. Get this, you can actually call a specific radio with this. Of course, I have no idea, but the neat features include Lat/Long info which will be digitally sent out if you push the "Mayday" button.

Only the best for our retired boys in uniform!

This is the inside helm. It's for those who can't stand to be outside when the winds and rains bloweth like stink. To a sailboater, I like to think of it as the redundant steering if I lose control upstairs.

I have a smaller chartplotter and a West Marine 550 DSC VHF. Some of the same features as before, just smaller. You can't see it in the photo, since these pics were taken before the big upgrade.

Next are views from upper helm towards the rear. Got to the Sundeck and you can see the entrance to the Salon.

We have a sink and ice maker on the Sundeck, in case you get too winded to go below for water and ice.