Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday After Action Report

Dinner at 1171 was incredible! Mom enjoyed it, too. Great service, good prices and best of all- choice of portion sizes with proportional pricing.

We all had the five ounce Filet Mignon, very tender and cooked perfectly. For the dessert we had the cheese platter with 20 year old Port. It was $175 well spent.

Mom went home, so Spousal Unit and I decided to continue the mission by going to the Yacht Club. Had a couple drinks (Two!) and listened to the piano man do his thing. We retired to the Barco for a bottle of Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top which I kinda regret right now...

A most excellent night out, and we performed the Walk of Shame in a dignified manner from the boat to the truck. My hair was sticking up and I had no ball cap to hide my bed head.

I love to see people in their evening glad rags walking down the street looking disheveled, all in the bright of day. Especially if they are walking with 'what's her name, again?' that they met the night before. It always seems reasonable at 0100, right?

Flame on you is flame off me, I always say.

Oh, another thing; The CONOP (Concept of Operation) for Operation Barco Shift has tentative approval. Did I not say that "No" could be rethought and changed?

Barco Shift will consist of redeployment of Barco Sin Vela from the South Eastern OPAREA to the Gulf of Mexico, via Lake Okeechobee and Intracoastal Waterways

View Larger Map

and will include a 'Remain two Night' component at Punta Gorda, to coincide with the MTOA's gathering of boats, aka "Pirates in Punta Gorda".

Barco Shift; Continued While in Punta Gorda OPAREA, investigate Pirate Activities and infiltrate, if possible.

Return to Homeport with after action reports.

This operation will only occur if there are no navigational issues with the Locks in Lake Okeechobee, due to low water levels. Just don't have the time to all the way around the Keys.

Anyway, it's a beautiful morning, the sun is out and the temperature is looking good for a modified spring morning. Apparently, there will be a front passing us this evening, so it will be cold and crappy tomorrow. Today we will try to clean our cave, get rid of some old clothes and return to the Barco for the run to the Rudder Club for the birthday party.

View Larger Map

We'll be docked on the face, North side by the corner.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Changed the boat picture to last week's

Hoping that everyone is having a fine Friday and is looking forward to a great weekend!

Looks really nice, there at the dock in Six Mile Creek. Even as if we were traveling like "Wilbury's".

We joined the Marine Trawler Owners Association, and look forward to having some fun with some like minded people.

There is a gathering planned for Punta Gorda in April. I brought it up to She Who Will Be Obeyed (By the way, that line is used by Boortz and a few others. It originated in some books written by the Late John Mortimer's series, "Rumpole of the Bailey")

Sorry, I digressed...

I gently (passive/aggressively) brought up the concept of operation of possibly considering, in the smallest least bothersome way, a small journey to Fat Point (Punta Gorda--bad translation) with our own Boat without Sail. After all, we are talking about three or four days each way...

No real answer was given (she said "No"), so I will press this again, later. Remember, I got that traveling Jones-- once again.

Back to the stolen Mortimer quip; My lovely bride is not half as demanding as I make her out to be. I am merely trying to steal some undeserved sympathy from my readers and local friends. It's like having a ready bailout from any and all situations, like saying, "Oh, I can't do that... I have to-- (fill blank in with some horror)"

Quite useful.

Tonight, wine tasting at the local Wine Warehouse and dinner at 1171.

Tomorrow? Off to the Rudder Club for a friend's 50th birthday. We will have the boat so that we don't drive after drinking. Always thinking of society's safety and not breaking any laws...

Stay safe and keep your boats inside of the navigational markers.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Military retirees

"The Drawn Cutlass", one of my regular two readers, posted an interesting link about military retiree's being realistic about retirement. Then he comments on how he shouldn't have gotten out after four years.

Me neither.

April 5th 1979 My first morning out of Recruit Training.

I left Active Duty twice, once in 1979 when I was released from the Marines to the Marine Reserve at 23rd Marines at Navy/Marine Corps reserve Center in Alameda. I joined the Navy soon afterwards, to try out the easier branch.

We used to run by the Navy singing, "GI Beans, GI Gravy, Gee I wish I joined the Navy.."

Oh, yeah! Sign me up for the cushy duty!

It was. So I stayed for nine years and was in two squadrons, did a year in a intermediate maintenance activity, two in recruiting and a year of various schools.

U.S. Navy Photo HS-85 1981

Many bridges were burned as I tried to piss everyone off who I worked for. Just didn't care for authority.

So I left active duty for good in December of 1988, and began my short career as a junior college student. That's where I learned about real poverty. I was essentially homeless, but I was lucky enough to have a living room floor to crash on. I also mooched a couple of months at a buddy's apartment. Kept a 3.4 average while wondering what the next couple years were going to be like, since I wasn't sure of where I would be..

I did what any arrested development kid would do; I ran away and joined the Navy! The Navy gave me 15K just to come back. Bucks, beer conversion units, ducats, filthy lucre. This after having to go dollar to dollar, never knowing if I would have enough to get by.

Plus, I knew that I would be in for the duration, get a pension so that the next time I was broke with no future, there would be a small check coming in on the first of every month. Enough to pay rent in a flophouse and enough left over to enjoy a couple of 40's and some Mad Dog 20/20.

Keeping my expectations low.

This blog is really an accounting of that final ten years. I keep it sanitized so the real stress and tribulations of a regularly deploying Sailor (and I had it good, compared with our good Service Members are going through today) does not come through, and most people wouldn't believe me on the tough times, anyway. Mostly, we retiree's remember the good times. There were plenty!

My two readers should also know that I am very grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve in my capacity as a small time player in a big fleet. The check that I receive monthly is for all the nights I buffed floors, spent sleepless nights flying or on watch, and having to be in some nasty/wonderful places, far away from my loved ones.

Bob will remember the passage way on the helo deck, by the ladder, that led to radio, onboard Deyo. I had to keep that one swept, swabbed and waxed. Even though it was the most traveled p-way, and I was a E-6 who should have been too senior for that work. But it was my job and responsibility, and the ship made sure I did it. For two years.

Good times.

Thanks, tax payers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This is one of my favorites from 1991 Long Cruise and other stuff

I bought a Motorhead tape in Turkey, called "1916". Of course, this tape was not too popular among my Air Det companions, (They were more into Pop music and Country, not that there's anything wrong with that) I was always listening to different music from everyone else. Rush, Buffett, Motorhead were on heavy rotation on my boombox.

Naturally, I ruined music for a couple of people.

This rocks. Lemmy wrote this about his favorite band.

This gets me movin' in the morning!

Spousal Unit really hates Motorhead and Ramones. This is why I have to wait until She Who Will Be Obeyed departs for her J.O.B. to crank up the tunes.

Up and at 'em at the crack of 6:15, doing three laps around the 'hood. Cold.

Thought I would add in a couple more pictures from Sunday. Hyacinth kitty really like her boat, and loves to sprawl;

We were moving slowly, so I shot some photos of the NAS Marina and seaplane ramps.

Closer view of the Ramp.

Lazy Sunday looking at the mooring field

We pass this sign exhorting us to not move too fast, there are Manatee's (PC: "Persontee's") about, and no chopping them up!

We see manatees, fairly often. We go pretty slowly by design, but we are always looking out for the familiar swirl that they make so as to avoid collision. I have never hit one, but it happens when boats are flying along at the speed of heat. Not so with Barco Sin Vela. I don't think we could go 12 knots unless we were going over a waterfall.

Anyway, it is Winter. And like good liberals, the Manatees have headed South for warmer climes and are not a factor in North Florida. 'Ceptin' near a power plant. I would bet a person could see a six pack of Manatees down by Canaveral, at Haulover cut.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

The French Wine Dinner was a success. Great food, fine wines and some new friends. We closed the joint down!

Dinner was Coquille St Jacques, Coq au vin (instead of rooster, the Chef used Rabbit) and finally Steak Dianne. Dessert was Bananas Foster. All excellent.

Saturday morning, Barco held reveille at 0600. We actually crawled out to meet the day at 0700, and we were away at 0750. There was ice on the front deck of the boat. Not a good start, but hey, gotta do it.

The morning sun was warm, and the skies were completely clear. We had a three hour trip ahead of us South, to Six Mile Creek. We had the entire river to ourselves, and it was a beautiful, uneventful trip to the Shands bridge.

Once clear of the bridge, we went to the next red mark and turned to the Southeast, lining up on a cell tower in the wilderness. It was tough to see the mouth of Six Mile creek, especially when there is a false entrance, which leads the hapless boater into a slough called aptly; Mud Alley.

We entered Six Mile and this is the chart plotter view of our position. Got to really appreciate technology:

There were two bass boats doing the bass fishing thing, so I had to take care of not hitting lines. This is the view of the 1500 foot floating dock which is free to use as long as you dine at the Crabshack.

We tied up about halfway down the dock. We were invited to be a guest at the North Florida chapter of the Marine Trawler Owners Assn, (Formerly known as Marine TRADER Owners Assn, but Marine Traders are now a minority, thus the name change) Whatever.

I was presuming that every one would be on their boats, so I wanted to leave all the prime spots for members. Plus, I wanted to be able to beat a easy retreat.

Almost immediately, we were visited by members who were roaming the dock. As it turns out, we were the only boat there for the meeting.

We were treated like celebrities, having the only boat present at a boating club's meeting. Sometimes ya gotta go with it.

We thought we would only know two people at this gathering, since we weren't members, but there were about six people we knew from the past. One, Bruce F., used to be a neighbor of ours eight years ago. He is also a member of the Fleet AW association (Naval Aircrew) whom I had last seen in Pensacola, six years past.

Small world, indeed.

Then a member came up to introduce himself and apologize for not bringing his own boat. He mentioned his name, Bob S. and went on to tell us about his boat. The name was familiar, so I told him that I was his boat insurance agent.

Very small world.

Bob lives in Welaka, has his 42 foot boat on a backyard dock. We have an invitation to raft up, sometime, and I can't wait to make that trip. Welaka is about sixty miles up the St Johns river, just before Lake George. Old Florida.

Definitely Gator country.

Bob and his First Mate

Right after I snapped that picture, a slow moving boat went by us and the Police looking skipper says, "Hello Mrs S, having a good day?".

Bob says, "Who is that?"

First Mate looks down and says, "I'm getting old. He is the Police officer at the school I teach at. "He was in my English class when he was a teenager".

What a complete hoot!

Did I mention the ever-shrinking planet, lately?

Back to lunch.

After a couple flagons of Icehouse, we decided to return to NAS Jax for part deux of our doubleheader. We expertly pulled off of the dock and snap rolled to port as we were backing down. I slipped the transmissions to forward while turning the helm right. We looked mahvelous.

Yes, we paid our tab. 50 bucks for a couple of wines, two beers and a pound of crab legs for her, slab o' ribs for me.

Great day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Again, we reach the goal

Friday, February 20th, 6:30 pm

February in France, even the name sounds delicious! If you’ve ever been to Paris or if you’ve ever wanted to, now’s your chance! Come out and taste what the French go crazy for; fabulous cuisine and first-rate wines. Our guest Sommelier will delightfully educate you as you enjoy a gourmet dinner presented by Chef Stephen Bechan and staff. Each course is matched perfectly to experience the best that France has to offer. Make your reservations early since these events sell out fast!

Friday. How sweet the sound...

Tonight is is a Wine Tasting Dinner, and we are going French. I expect to enjoy plenty of Bordeaux with beef, and a little white with appetisers and Champagne with dessert.

Barco Sin Vela crew must endure and overcome many challenges and obstacles to continue her gustatory mission:

(switch to Shatner voice of over acting)

To explore strange new culinary stations, to devour many dishes and libations; To boldly show, wherever dinner invitations bid us to go...

(switch back to whiny voice)

I dropped Hyacinth Kitteh onboard Barco, along with the late mentioned waffle iron, and various victuals for the weekend. Kitteh is happily guarding the vessel from aviary invaders and catching up on sun drenched catnaps.

At lunchtime, there shall be a beer and wine run. We will be doing some entertaining, tomorrow, we mustn't disappoint our guests...

Now for news;

This was the last view I had of Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, on our trip. After mentioning our visit, a few days ago, I started considering/planning a return trip via Air France. It has been a while, and our friend has been eager to welcome us back.

But the news is grim
and I have decided to wave off at this time. I did invite Pierre-Louis to visit us here in Florida. We have two extra rooms at the Veldt Lounge and deux bateau's for entertainment.

My friend followed up with a short email yesterday, saying President Sarkozy has given a speech and that conditions will return to normal. "Please come visit!", said our friend.

President Sarkozy may have said something, but I'm sure he didn't say anything about troops or martial law to force the rebellious workers to return to their jobs.

Today's news

I guess we will stay in Florida or California for our semiannual trip. My offer stands: Pierre-Louis, come visit us in Florida!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Middle of the week rants

Day after tomorrow, will be Friday.

Is this beginning to be a running theme? Always looking forward to the fun part of existence, rushing through the unpleasant part.

I have to remember that there are many who will never have fun. Like prisoners. When life closes in, a person begins to shrink their idea of pleasantries. A pizza can become the same as Presidential Dinner, to some folks out there.

It can be as simple as a warm place to shower or defecate. Or as grand as living in a marble palace with gold fittings.

Being pain free can become a fantasy lifestyle.

But even the "Donald" loses all of it about every eleven years. He probably likes the challenge of getting it all back.

I knew a fellow, thirty years ago, who came from a small town thirty miles from me. His birthday was on the third, while mine was the eleventh, same year. We enlisted in the Marines to get away from being seventeen in our home situations. There we were, seventeen, and going through the medical, re-swear in and off to the airport for our first airplane trip.

"San Diego Marines, over here!" (Pointing at a spot on the concrete, to wait for a bus)

Wayne asked me how to stand, since I was already at "parade rest". Which is neither Parade nor Rest. He mimicked my stance, while we silently shook from nerves, waiting for the ride to MCRD San Diego, 92140.

We processed through and became members of Platoon 3001, (First Platoon of the New Year!), Third Battalion, RTR. Joy! We got to wear blue t-shirts. As time went slowly by, we became very close, as most recruits in a stressful environment will.

Graduation came, and off we went to our futures. I reconnected with Wayne in Memphis, while he went to Avionics school and I went to Basic Electronics and Electricity. We lost touch in August of 1979 and I never heard of him again.

Today, I whine if I have a rainy day, or if I have to sit next to a bunch of well behaved children at dinner.

Wayne's on death row.

The State of California say, "Deservedly so".

Our bodies change every seven years with cell renewal, so each one of us is different from seven years ago. Or twenty one or thirty. I have no idea of who W. A. Ford became, only the pictures and memories which fade through passing time.

I need to mellow out and enjoy what I do have!

Today will be a trip to the dreaded Commissary. I have a list begun and fine foods from across our great nation will find their way into our overloaded basket. I imagine a prime rib roast, Hyacinth cat food, dry cat food for Them, and Bubba Burgers.

I don't like paying more for hamburger, but I hate getting greasy hands even more.

Better I re-review the paragraphs, above.

There will be a surprise appliance for Barco-- a Waffle Iron. She Who will be Obeyed will enjoy this, but is not aware of my cunning plan. Remember, this is always about me. Pancakes are messy, too.

I'm not having a bad time of it all, but Saturday-- There can be waffles...

Photo stolen from cinarasplace

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Living where the river meets the sea

Living in North Florida has many facets that are unseen to the casual observer. Back when I moved here in 1989, the first thing I noticed was the smell. It was thick and pungent, and not pleasant.

I asked the locals about the ever present stench, and they said it was the papermills. Paper mills that made paper towels, facial tissue (whatever that is) and all other sorts of paper. It was a rotten odor, but you quickly got used to it.

That smell ruined the mornings, though. Reminded me of the high humidity and swamps. When living in the UK, I missed that smell and the brown water that flows up the chain of lakes called the St Johns river.

So when we get back, do I smell the paper mills? Why no. Now, because of heavy government involvement, that stupid Superbowl of 2005 and the "Better Jacksonville" thing, we don't have the smell.

But we do have the highest murder rate in Florida. Even greater than the rate in Miami Dade-Port Au Prince County!

I'm all about lauding accomplishment.

If we is gonna call usself's the Fust Coast, we better be the First Coast!

But I wanted to talk about why I like it here.

I refuse to live North of Interstate Ten. It snows up there. And in Georgia, it still has that ole papermill smell. They have plenty of murders, but you don't hear too much about it. Maybe the Okefenokee Swamp keeps better secrets?

Maybe that's what caused the murder rate to climb; The lack of the smell causes a frustration from joblessness, or for that matter, too much oxygen which generates energy to go out and do something. You know, like whacking your buddies at the local teen club.

Anyway, Let's read about something fun...

What I like is that on Tuesday, I am planning a trip which will take place Saturday to the Outback Crab Shack ! Three hours from our homeport, but another world in locale and attitude.

View Larger Map

I don't really get too enthused about seafood and gator, but the rural ambience Rocks! Like seeing a boat show on the water, since all the cool kids bring their boats to the Crabshack.

We will get underway on Saturday, about 0900. Make way to the fifteen hundred foot dock up Six Mile creek. Once there we shall dine on whatever the Spousal Unit desires. (She can eat her own weight in crab meat, to steal a phrase). While there we will look for the wild gators that lurk in the reeds, and watch bass fishermen pull in the big 'uns.

When walking in, you are greeted by stuffed and mounted gators and other wildlife. A sign instructs all patrons that "Free Beer, tomorrow"!

Sign me up for that.

On Saturday nights, they put up a tent to handle the overflow crowd. It's old Florida, 1940's tourist Florida, at its best.

Some Calumet High Alum's enjoying Outback Chow on a Saturday Night

Useless trivia; George Gipp was a Calumet High graduate. Six degrees, baby!

We will stay for lunch. Then it is off for Plummer's Cove for a Navy "Raft Up". Dinner is supposed to be Cajun style, provided from the Louisiana immigrants from the mighty houseboat, "Bebe", and the crew of Lee and the lovely Cheryl.
Plummers Cove

View Larger Map

Only they don't know we are coming. Barco Sin Vela II weighs at least five times "Bebe's" tonnage. Could be interesting... Nah, we'll anchor separately and invite "Bebe" to tie up to us.

I hope they have red beans and rice and maybe some Gumbo....
That is why I like North Florida; Always something to do, a world apart, but a couple hours away.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I gotta get some of this Stimulus money.

I feel if the gubmint would slide me a 10 million dollar Stimulus Loan, I can be enabled to demonstrate a "Sustainable Lifestyle Experiment", in which She Who Will be Obeyed and her faithful servant shall perform the actions which will show a sustainably greener lifestyle, and we will help restore full employment of the masses!

Just doing my part to further Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

And another benefit to all; we won't commute anymore!

See? The love just flows.

It used to be that if you felt the winds a-blowin' from D.C. way, it was time to grab your wallet and ride out the heavy rolls.

I hated to see the weekend come to a close. Close it did, at 0600. Up and at 'em, throw on the tennies and begin the force march around the neighborhood. We try to get in a couple of laps, every day. Today it was three laps. Maybe a two mile romp on the pavement.

We usually talk of whatever is on the mind, and we go over the weeks plans. I carry a flashlight to let groggy drivers know that we are sharing the road way.

Our neighborhood, Confederate Point, does not have sidewalks. Pretty convenient for playing dodge 'em with early morning commuters.

We only saw one car out this morning. This is because school is out for President's Day. Most of our neighbors drive their precious cargoes to school, since they wouldn't want the young 'uns riding a bus. Germs, you know...

I like to hear the owls getting the final hoo's and listen to the cardinals clicking at their mates. The wafting scent of the ritual morning cigarette smoke snuck outside the front door of a home... loud music blasting from a garage gym... these are some of the regular sights, sounds and smells of a neighborhood returning from slumber.

The most frustrating thing about a fine morning as this is that it is a Monday. I would rather have a cloudy rainy Monday and a sunny Saturday.

A few days ago, there was a tantalizing little taste of Guadeloupe and the Ile De Saints.

We have a friend in Basse Terre, Guadeloupe. His name is Pierre-Louis, and his boat was parked next to ours in a little marina that we just barged into, uninvited and without permission.

After tying up next to his bateau, we made sign language and Franglish greetings of the day. "Bonjour" we said.

"Hello and welcome", said Pierre-Louis.

Grateful to meet someone who could speak Anglais, we invited him onboard for spirits and cheeses, along with some wonderful Saucisse-Sec and baguettes.

Pierre-Louis was so pleased with his new friends, he invited us out for a sail.

You are probably considering the ironic implications. Asked us out to sail.

Well, I'm in! Anytime there is beer and boats, you can count me as onboard.

Underway, shift colors at 0900. A French banner on the stern and Kronenbourg in the helmsman's hand. Leinenkugel hat on my brow, a crew of Parisienne's and us two Americans. What could go wrong?


After a day of champagne and beer we made our way back to Basse Terre, with a fishing line trailing. We caught a tuna, which became the evening feast with our new friends.

I think we need to look at a trip back to Guadeloupe. Asap.

This, my friends, is a better story than the one I was working towards at the beginning of today's screed!

Have a fine Navy day.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday after Friday


That was a fine celebration.

I wore a jacket and tie, Spousal Unit had a new floral dress and we glided into the Pirate's Den bar, on the shore of the St John's River. After a couple beers, we went to the Formal dining room for chow.

First, I had to decant the Port into the crystal decanter, and let it rest. I came into the dining room with expectations of a wonderful dining experience.


I asked "Bernard", our server, if we could possibly get another table?

"Nosir. "All tables are reserved, we cannot move you."


There was sitting next to us, twelve 11 year old girls and boys, doing a "cupids party". All giggly and so forth.

Then an elderly couple sat behind us with two 5 year old, spoiled and loud girls.

This was turning ugly, most ricky-tick.

Our salads were brought out, a Sommelier brought out our Top Shelf wine, and complimented us on our 32 year old port.

I whined to Spousal Unit about the unfairness of sitting next to unsupervised children, while their parents were in the fargin' Pirate's Den, partying!

Really, I felt exactly like I did when I was eleven, having to sit in the kitchen with the other kids. In 1975.

Same as it ever was...

We definitely don't feel as old as we are becoming, but this was too far. I was mentally writing the nasty-gram that was going to be written Saturday....

Bernard came up to the table, and I was about to ask for our dinner to go when he says, "Come with me, please. "We have another table for you..."

Land of Goshen!

To disapproving eyes, we passed six other equally surly customers and were led to a back room. There, a beautiful table was set in front of a working fireplace.


Our celebration suddenly became a genuine dining event. Stunned people, wondering "Who the heck are they???" As they passed by in amazement/jealousy.

Our filet's were brought out, then a wonderful cheese platter to go with our Port.

Dinner ended, about two hours later. We were greeted and congratulated by the Sommelier, The Manager and other servers. Of course, we shared our Port with them all. We repaired back to Barco after the best dinner we have had, in years.

Our dinner had literally been resurrected phoenix like, from the ashes of despair to the heights of joy.

Best part, you might ask?

We didn't drink the champagne, waiting on the boat. So no hangover, today!


We will be returning to Barco in the next couple hours. Gray and rainy day, but there is still celebrating to be done.

We hope that everyone has a great Valentine's day!

Barco Sin Vela Crew


Friday, February 13, 2009

The big One Eight

Back in 1991, things at work were kinda hectic. The Navy was still fighting the war in the Gulf, and I had been on standby for almost a month, myself and two pilots, we had our seabags packed and a helicopter waiting for a C-5 ride to the Middle East, in case any of the deployed aircraft were lost. We just didn't know what was going to happen at any given moment.

Being on alert meant no days off, no time for personal business. We spent about twelve hours a day hanging around the aircraft, while the maintenance tech's worked their asses off.

My girlfriend was not too happy about the situation, especially since she had given up a fine career at Pensacola Junior College, where she had been teaching living skills to blind and low vision afflicted people. To be with me. Uh, oh.

Now there was a war.

She was worried that something might happen to me, so we better firm up our situation, preferably legally. I agreed.

So I managed to get a Wednesday afternoon off, on the 13th of February. She had a job at a local nursing home, and they kindly allowed us a place to do the wedding. But to my eternal shame, I only thought of myself and how shy I was in public. So I made it a private ceremony.

I wish I could go back and change that. See, there were a number of elderly people who wanted to be part of the wedding, if only to remember their own happy years of wedded bliss.

They gave us a case of champagne and a wedding cake. Oh, how I wish I could have been a bigger person.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and the little party was grand. I wore a blue grey wool suit, and Lynne had a white lace dress. She was stunningly beautiful. I'm glad we videotaped the ceremony.

We were some good looking cats!

Afterwards, we drove home and listened to my favorite Buffett tape, "A1A". The last song is called "Tin Cup Chalice". She who will be obeyed always thinks of us when it is played.

I couldn't find a clean Buffett version on Youtube, but this cover is as good, or better. This tune and a couple others got me through being far away and missing my bride over the next five years of sea duty:

Despite being away for seven months at a time, we always would reconnect immediately. Never any fights, or stress from doubting fidelity. We seemed to be immune from all of the strained relationships and failed marriages around us at the Squadron.

I have no idea what made us continue our mission. It happened.

After I finally got shore duty, we were sort of nervous if we were the type of military couple that is most successful when the spouse is constantly deployed, and friction comes from a spouse returning home and finding that everyone is getting along fine without your input, thank-you-very-much.

Nope. Nothing had changed, other than not having the reuniting after 'x-months romantics' drill, on a regular basis. In fact, we settled into a pretty nice routine of just being glad to enjoy each others company on a daily basis.

So we tested the deal, by moving onboard a sailboat permanently. In a foreign city. In winter, with snow and ice. Add in inadequate heating and insulation.

No problem, Mon

Ok, let's try crossing the ocean. Yeah, that usually does in a marriage.

Instead, more fun and jubilation ensues!

So, tonight will be a huge, private celebration of the past nineteen years together. There will be fine wine, great food and for dessert we will have the best cheeses and a 1977 Vintage Port.

Afterwards, we will make our way back to the Barco Sin Vela and enjoy a fine champagne, remembering the loved ones who are gone and the love that we share that like fine Port, has aged and mellowed through the years.

I hope I can get another thirty good years.

This is a poem written by Don Blanding from his book, "Floridays", ( I have a signed first edition!) This poem was written at Fort Pierce, 1941

Toast to Today
(A Philosophy of the tropics)

Live each day as though it were your last
Pressing wine of joy from every minute;
Counting the hour lost when it has passed
If you have failed to find the laughter in it.
Even dark sorrow's brew may be distilled
To bitter-sweet liqueur. The salt of tears
Gives riper flavor to the flagon filled
With wine of memory aged by passing years.

Live each day as though no more remained.
Perhaps this is the last... oh, do not waste it.
The final cup may be the sweetest drained.
Let's toast "Today!" ... with lips athirst to taste it.

Love the Lynne!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ok. I got slapped by a cluebat!

I sent a note to Mr Mitch Traphagen, concerning my last post about the video, "Being Out There":

If a person wants to do a hatchet job on someone else's product of blood sweat and tears, the least the critic can do is confront the artist directly. This is why I tested my review on the blog, before I put it out to the world.

While driving home for lunch, I thought of how I would feel if my video or blog was run through a snarky wringer, and I was the subject of a real slapping around.

While watching the video, I was thinking of the producers as trying to make a buck off of sailing and I was viewing through my own prism of experience.

Here is an email I sent to the Producer, Mitch;

Hello Mitch,

I watched your video last night and you can see the review I made on my blog;

Since it is not the most glowing commentary, I will only alert you to it and will not place it on Amazon, as I threaten in the title. It's tough enough to lay your personal life out in the public.

Many people do indeed, dream of leaving it all behind. Few will actually work up the nerve to actually depart. After sailing for the previous eight years on weekends, we finally did it between Sept '99 through Sept '00, so the Spousal Unit and I know the pre cruise nervousness and the post cruise relief.

I say it in my blog that most of the glorious stuff any of us do while cruising is relegated to the log book, since we are living the moment and are too busy to document it visually. Very unfortunate because us cruising folks can be quite heroic during the six really bad days that you have on any sailboat cruise.

We have also swallowed the hook for the moment. Really bad when you get the house on shore. I am getting up the gumption to do the cruising thing again, which was why I purchased your video. I am hoping to inspire the wife to want to do it again. Right now, she wants to do the "Great Loop", which sounds like more of a pain due to more traffic and crowded marinas. But we will do it so that I can hope to cross some oceans at another time.

Good luck on your future cruising, and I hope your next video is a best seller.

All the best to you and yours!

I received a most rapid reply:

Hi DC -
Thanks for the note and the kind wishes - I appreciate it.
First and foremost, however, please let me know how much you paid for the video (include the shipping cost) and I'll get a check out to you. We meant it when we talked about leaving a clean wake.
Obviously, the video was made on a tight budget - and despite a few thousand copies sold it probably hasn't paid off yet. Fortunately, we didn't expect to make a living from it - the goal was just to show some stuff and provide some info for people who have never been.
Almost all of the emails we've received have been positive, so that has been nice. In total, we've been asked for four refunds (including the one I am offering you). The first was to a fairly well-known person who was preparing to cruise on his Deerfoot and the last thing he wanted to encounter were people like those shown in the video. He wanted to get away from people. He is a gentleman, though - and we've remained in touch. Another was for a bad DVD, the third was for reasons unknown (no questions asked).
That said, there is no way there will ever be another. The time and money spent simply can't be made up for a very small independent. Not to mention, it's a nasty business - even as small as we are. My view on it has been "the more the merrier" in terms of cruising videos - that there aren't enough. But that's definitely not how some colleagues (competitors) see it.
Simply put, on the limited $15K budget we squirreled away to make it, we can't do a Hollywood-level video. That, of course, should be obvious, but increasingly it seems as though a Hollywood production is what some expect. We absolutely can't meet those expectations. That makes me worry about the future of independents. On one hand, technology is now making it easier than ever - on the other, putting yourself out there with the best that you can do is becoming an invitation to slaughter.
Michelle and I are cruisers temporarily living in Iowa - nothing more. We just wanted to make a video that showed some of the stuff that we wondered about while we were dreaming about cruising. In all honesty, I'm losing my willingness to continue to put myself out there and have been seriously considering pulling the video from Amazon and other resellers. The reasons for that happening would not include your review - you appear to be honest in your assessment and you are very considerate - I appreciate it. But others aren't so upstanding. Not to mention, Amazon gets most of the money - printing, components and assembly take much of the rest leaving very little towards paying off the initial investment. That, coupled with less than honorable behavior from others, makes putting ourselves out there less than worth it.
I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the video, Darryl - as well as the heads up on your review. I can't give the 86 minutes back to you but I can return your money - just let me know how much and where to send it.
Thanks and fair winds to you -

Oh. I stepped in it, bigtime.

Gee, howza bout thinking before engaging mouth, hmm?

This is my further reply:

Hello again!

Mitch, you kind reply is all I need to get that hour and a half back. I am kind of ashamed to have been as mean as I was. This will be documented on my blog.

I was being sort of tongue in cheek vicious about the beginning of the review, like some of the real critics out there, who criticize rather than do.
Since you really stand behind your production, (and I can only imagine how hard it is to put together the jumbles into something resembling a story)
I will consider your video the home video of a friend and it will remain in our home. This has become more personal.

The invitation is there for you to visit my small blog and offer up your own criticism and comments as I rehash my own cruising experiences of the past ten years. The story will take the next few months, so I mean it--bring some of your experiences over to go along with mine.

I was really hoping to see some of the mundane sailing stuff, but now that you bring the production issues to light (like licensing music!) it gives me a better view of why there was what I saw. Eileen Quinn was kind to allow you to use her songs, again, my shame.

So to close, my congratulations on documenting your turn in the arena, and I know your next video will be something to look forward to and watch!


I stand rebuked, and my apologies for shooting off my mouth.

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

Teddy Roosevelt

I hope that Mitch will come by and offer some of his commentary on cruising and I hope he can be a friend of the Barco Sin Vela sailing club.

A review which will not be on Amazon

While visiting Guadeloupe we took daysail and are tied up to anchored boat in Ile de Saints, Guadeloupe

Hey there, Groovy Guys and Groovy Gals!

Last night was a sedate one, the Missus was out of town, and rather than be bored I made dinner and consumed mass quantities of Pabst (Three) and watched a couple of videos I recently purchased from

I watched an amusing little video called, "Being Out There". It was produced by Lifecaptions in Marengo Iowa, and the website is interesting, I will explore, later. I went over there, and the story is a good one. I wish they would have included their journal, as a voice over for the video. Great stories!

But, there is no way I will ever get that one hour and twenty six minutes of my life back.

I made the purchase because the Amazon description made it sound like I would see some sailing, interspersed with some commentary and advice. What it was was about one-five minutes (15!) of boating with the rest of the time taken up by cryptic interviews with fellow cruisers at a party, and then expert discussions by couples sitting in front of a green screen. The music track was done by stringing some Eileen Quinn songs which told stories in verse about such diverse things as night sailing, anchoring and whatever else Eileen feels we need to know. It got that I would mute the video because the songs were not my cup of meat.

At least we weren't beat on the head with Margaritaville. (Really dislike hearing that old rhubarb)

Couldn't we have more of a variety of music? Marley? Barefoot Man, Pat Daily, Crosby Stills Nash? How about no music?

Back to the film.

The Male host seems to be a pretty smart guy, he describes a 32 foot Nicholson and the couple years spent getting it ready for the cruise. Pretty routine, brief commentary on getting ready and I could understand the desire to get the boat right. The Female host doesn't address any boat issues, or what she was doing to make the vessel ready for sea.

Nope. They show a canned scene of a setting sun and talk about heading for Cuba.

Ok, this could get better...

Nope. Just a couple scenes of downtown Havana and a voice over describing the wonderful, simple living people they saw on the trip. Then a couple of shabby video scenes of Marina Hemingway.

I was glad to see the vid of the Marina Hemingway, since I would like to visit there, myself.

I'm living vicariously, baby.

Next thing you see is Luperon, Dominican Republic. Again, talking glowingly about the locals and gushing about how poor yet proud they were. Ugg. Getting worse.

Wildebeest III off of Dominican Republic

Afternoon canned vid, underway. Loud singing by Award Winning song stylist, Miss Eileen Quinn.

I will spare you the rest. I admire the video makers for going out and cruising, and caring enough to share their video with the rest of us. They have a great story to share, but it didn't come though on video.

Constructive criticism: More watch standing, show the ship's routine like cleaning cooking and underway maintenance. Show some navigation tools and their uses. maybe some anchoring tips and etiquette.

Less talk about the dead animal that kept floating by your boat in Georgetown. This is almost a third world harbor, expect there to be less public services than Tampa Bay.

Finally, remember that the Bahamas are a sixty mile crossing. Weather is important, but a Bahama crossing is not like launching the Shuttle. Weather dilligence is important, but usually the weather will change in a day or so.

More talk on equipment would be nice. Everyone has opinions on boat gear, and I was really interested in seeing what gear they had, and what they found to be unnecessary.

Overall; Thumbs down. Good effort but not enough filling for the sammich. Less music and more sailing, please. Maybe next video by these nice folks will be better. Their blog sure is.

Otto driving Wildebeest III while Spousal Unit relaxes near Puerto Rico

The other video? "End of the Century" Sad film about a Rock and Roll band that never got the commercial recognition they deserved. It ROCKED!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hope I spelled that correctly.

Sorry about skipping Tuesday. Had to be in class all morning, then busy all afternoon trying to help folks on the phone. Insurance is a business which we all need, and when your company says it is leaving, people tend to take it very personally. Especially when people believe what ever the government is saying about insurance rates, and that a company is evil for trying to not lose money.

Speaking of the word "lose". Does it annoy anyone else when someone substitutes the word "loose" for "lose"? I see professional writers do this often. Wood ewe be less the ware for all to reed first what we right?

Did the pizza and beer thing last night. Again, "Rye Pale Ale" performed above expectations. Even the Moon River Staff concurred with my pronouncement that Rye Pale Ale was fit to drink. I think a keg worth is in the future, at the Veldt Lounge.

Spousal Unit had a hard day, so she required myself to engage the bubble maker and heating unit in the back yard. We had some bubbly and let the jacuzzi jets relax and massage tense muscles. Beautiful evening, we had a full moon for illumination and Orion the Hunter standing guard almost directly above. Really nice that Florida has returned to more normal temperatures, sending the Baltic weather back where it belongs; Washington, D.C.

Imagine this in a night image:

But I have been given Liberty, for Wednesday evening. She who will be obeyed is on travel for the next couple days.

This means beer for dinner!

And beer for ....dessert!

Only hassle is that the Cats will want to occupy my sleeping spot for warmth. They have claws, you know. They get the message when I roll over and give them no warning about the impending crushing.

Last time the Spousal Unit left me alone for a few days, me and my sailing buddies went night sailing. On a Wednesday night. Gives me ideas.

Heinhold's First and Last Chance, Oakland

Monday, February 9, 2009

A glorious weekend!

'White Lightnin' is gone.

Well, not gone as in really gone. I know exactly where she is and who is driving. Oh, and she has a new name; 'Breezin' Through'.

That's the proud new owner, Denise. We have known Denise over the past eight years as an active sailor/racer in North Florida who is very active with Women's sailing and will campaign this boat over the five race Women's series. She has an exciting personality and she is very jazzed about her new boat. We had a great motor over to the Epping Forest marina from NAS Jax, I gave her the obligatory bottle of celebratory champagne and left her puttering about her boat.

I don't know what to do! I only have the Barco and a Hobie 18. My fleet is shrinking...

SOooo, we went out on Barco Sin Vela and had some quiet time.

Look at the empty river towards downtown. Feller could feel down right lonesome:

And another:

The temperature was a balmy 75 F, not a breath of breeze and nary a wave on the river.

Hyacinth kitteh does not like being underway, but she will sit near her staff on the flybridge. Not so loud or shaky, upstairs.

The sun was beginning its descent, and I took another shot towards the base as we headed back to the barn.

Old Picture of the day

This was from around October of 1983/84. I only remember that we were in a hurry to get over to the 49er Club to give dancing girls our money and empty the bar of potent potables. I think we were doing a series of Torpedo drop exercises.

The guy who looks like he is ready to burst out of his flight suit is/was a mechanic by the name of Larry Nye. What a character. Funny as hell, and could drink until the beer was gone. He was my room mate in the barracks back at our homebase in Alameda. I thought he was old as hell, at the time. He had been in the Navy since 1964. He was prolly 38 at the time.

The cat with the red beard and green hat, trying to look serious is Brian. He was probably trying to keep an eye on his wayward junior Aircrewman, me. I was more than a handful, since I had not a care in the world other than getting hammered at the club and chasing girls. That's what you do when you are 21 or 22 and a Helicopter Antisubmarine Warfare/Search and Rescue Aircrewman. When not actually employed flying, we attempted to elude sobriety and clean living.

Brian is now the Vice Commodore of the local Navy Yacht Club. Funny how people who remember you from the murky past, and can tell stories that may be a little unflattering in the present. In Jacksonville. From over twenty five freakin' years ago. In California.

Keeps me grounded, I say. Best not be spoutin' lies about my rosy past. Twenty years of undetected crime they said, at my retirement ceremony.

Brian works for the State. He says that his tenure in the Navy, herding us cats and trying to keep the noise to a dull roar. All while trying to ensure we be safe aviation professionals, keeping all our fingers and toes intact while helping the Command keep its own helicopters out of the dirt, made him uniquely qualified. Yep, good experience to do what he do now.

Corrections or collections, not sure which.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

We need some positive music, again!

After reading Buck's site, talkin' about the Beyonce/Etta James conflict, I felt I had to listen to the tune, done back in the forties.

I re-found this:

We need this kind of national renewal and quit the self loathing of our country that has become prevalent.

I won't bad mouth anyone who has talent. It's tough enough to get a singing gig, much less get national attention. But tell me that the Ray Eberle/Lynne Bari (who lip synched Pat Friday) version of that song does not ABSOLUTELY ROCK! Watch for the brief glimpse of Harry Morgan.

Is it funny if I admit that I have a crush on Marion Hutton and Lynne Bari??? People dressed and acted much better and were more sophisticated.

There will be a suit and tie worn by moi, this Friday for dinner at the "Club".

Rock on!

Saturday morning revival

Greetings, sports fans!

It's ten thirty, and I have started moving towards productivity. We have completed two loads of laundry (had to remove the cigarette smoke from our clothes). The stank was permeating the dirty clothes.

Mali cat is trying to climb back onto my shoulder. She prefers Left-Shoulder-Cat, where she starts the purring and biscuit making on my tender shoulder flesh. Someday I will miss that. Until then, annoying. Can't drink coffee nor make tapping sounds which turn into words on the screen.

So, today will see me over to 'White Lightnin' to give her a desperately needed baff. (sp. int) We are showing her to a nice school teacher, tomorrow. Denise is really excited about possibly purchasing the San Juan 28. I hope it works out, because Denise and her kids are the right fit for this boat. We will be taking a 4K loss, but it is fine, since everyone needs a break in price once in awhile.

Alright, you got me. We need to pay taxes... I think Barco Actual is one of the last tax payer's in America. I couldn't get a position with the new President if I paid for it. Not qualified. I don't cheat the Gubmint.

They have more guns.

I have a genuine fear of anything containing the letters; I - R - S. Them folks can remove your rights in a Texas second, if it pleases them.

If I had Tom Daschle's money, I'd throw mine away.

By the way; We really don't make that much of an annual salary. Just haven't the children for the write off. But we haven't seen a tax refund since 2002 and I don't think there will be any for the forseeable fewtchums.

I have wealth envy. But I know that the market makes provisions for those who can and those who can't. Log me as one of the "dem who barely slide by".

We all must make decisions for the future. I made some lifestyle choices very early on that eliminated future involuntary servitude by eating a lot of crap over a twenty year enlistment, and not falling into the various life traps along the way.

Like divorce. I make sure that my Spousal Unit gets all of my attention and I ensure she knows that I am grateful for any bit of her affection she cares to toss my way. Oh, yes. It doesn't hurt that I do indeed, like her.

Divorce is the number one method of sloughing off personal wealth. Drugs are the second. Johnny Carson used to joke that he was going to find a woman he hated, and buy her a house. Just to cut out the wasted years in between.

When I was in a Navy Squadron, they always put me on the various weapons load teams. When a "Warning", "Caution" or "Note" would be read off the check list, we would all have to "Acknowledge" the warning caution and note, individually. DC on a weapons loading team might say, "Note acknowledged, continue". Gotta learn them easy lessons when we can, right?

Today, after cleaning the sailboat, I will return to the Barco Sin Vela, where we will begin the Saturday routine. What ever that is, but it will include beer, wine, champagne, music and hopefully a friend or two. More than likely, it will be She who will be obeyed, Hyacinth kitty, and long drawn out speechifying by the Junior Partner in all this.

I. Have. It. Made.

Almost forgot to mention last night. If you read my past couple of entries, you may notice that I am not big on bugging the famous, or somewhat famous.

We went to "Pastime" bar also known as the "Jug". It does indeed, have a small dance floor in which one could run from an armed, jealous lover by making the required three steps to the door.

This is a bar for regulars only. Yes. We walked in, and I could almost hear the hush as the bikers and their ol' ladies noted our arrival. (I have a Navy Haircut, wear very clean Wrangler jeans, belt and shiny Sperry boat shoes. Wife has a very professional short hairdo, clean trousers, leather shoes and a European cut soft leather jacket. We. Don't. Look. Like. We. Belong.)

We found a roosting place at the bar, in plain view of all. I didn't want to find out how fast I could get my butt kicked.

The bar was very friendly to us, and when Tim Dorsey came in he was welcomed like an old friend. After all, he was that city feller who wrote them nice words about their bar and all the nice patrons.

We met one of the characters from "Nuclear Jellyfish", Rhonda, and she introduced us to the author. I shook his hand and began the small talk that I knew was required, but also could see he just wanted me to go away.

Me: "How do you do!. Love the books, have been a fan for past ten years, and as you can see, we buy all your junk. Thanks, for sending the "autographed proof sheets" with our orders. "How is the merchandise moving on your web site?"

Tim Dorsey, looking surprised that I would ask a complex question: "Oh, well. "Great. "Uh, I notice you already have a copy of the new book, how did you do that?"

Me: "Easy. "We pre-ordered on Amazon".

Tim Dorsey signed our books and dismissed us, as a swarm of fans dog-piled on and obscured the big guy out of sight.

We were first. too cool.

So now it was ten to ten, I had the obligatory three Busch beers and we were trying to find an escape from the bar and not look like we were trying, to, well, escape.

So we went home, shared a bottle of bubbly and commenced checking our eyelids for light leaks.

End of Story.

Have a fun Saturday!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday is the right day

That's one of my favorite pictures, Spousal Unit having lunch at the Praia Da Roca, Portimao, Portugal.

Gotta love dem Fridays.

My earliest memories of the Friday feeling goes back to Junior High. The day would whiz past, since I wasn't really paying attention to my schoolwork. My mind was on getting out of class and making my appearance at home. Before going out with my best buddy Perry.

If I could convice my father to let me go over to spend the night at Perry's home, (usually not too hard, he always was in a better mood on Fridays... See, it's contagious), then off I would go.

Perry's Mom had passed away a few years before, so his Dad would go off to socialize with his friends. This meant me and Perry would be alone and preparing for mischief. Mischief for us was doing what we wanted, or watching tv. Actually, we were very sedate, compared to our peers. We really weren't interested in smoking dope or even drinking. Just didn't occur to us! Ok, we were quite boring. But it was better than being in trouble. Coulda used a girlfriend, but that would mean going to a dance. Like that was an option to us two nerds. I still can't dance.

Sure wish I had known that I was going to be a boater, in the future. I had no idea that it was all available to me, you don't need to have money. The Sea Scouts, various yacht clubs, all welcome youthful boaters. All ya gotta do is be there, ready to lend a hand and you can go sailing. The San Francisco Bay Area is probably one of the best sailing locations, anywhere.

So, ever since those days, thirty years gone by, Friday has meant something.

Fast forward to the present; I like to sneak off from work, around five o'clock go find my girlfriend. I cook her up a filet mignon, and I force her to enjoy red wine with the meal, since one should have a dry wine with boeuf. Usually a Cabernet or a Bordeaux. After a fine meal of burnt meat and steamed veggie's, we sometimes break out the Champagne or Methode Champagnois stuff. I recommend the Piper Sonoma-- about eleven bucks a bottle, and the taste is very close to the French stuff costing twice.

Always doing my part to keep the costs down.

Then it is off to the backyard hot tub. Something about stars, hot water, and the afore mentioned bubbly to round out the night. Really, someone has to do it.

One time, about three years ago, we were watching all the lights and stars. Then this bright light starts moving on what looks to be a easterly course. I commented on seeing some fast moving navigation lights, probably F-15's zig zagging about the sky. But the one light seemed to be motionless.

Then the light exploded, in a flash, it was growing smaller, and falling. We silently watched, with our mouths open, champagne glasses in the right hand, gawking at a falling light.

"Is that thing heading for us...?" She said, nervously.

"Yep. If it is a large aircraft, we don't have a chance to get out of the way of the impact", I bravely said. "I think someone just got smoked by those F-15's. "This is not good".

So Spousal Unit says,"Should we call 911?"

"No. "They are well aware, and if there is an emergency, they don't need to hear from us." "Looks like whatever it was, it hit the ocean."

We quietly finished the bottle, and head in for the night.

The news came out the next day, "Final Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral, NASA uses last of the giant rockets to spectacularly launch satellite into space. Switchboards inundated by concerned citizens who saw fireball of staging rocket as it leapt into orbit."

Gotta love Florida!!!! No wonder I keep coming back. Just for the show...

Thames Sailing Barge near Isle of Sheppy, Shearness UK

Tonight? Tim Dorsey's book signing at "Pastime".

I hope my three readers have a great weekend, and stay safe out there, ya hear?