Monday, March 30, 2009

Gettin' ready for the trip

Heavy-duty design for big fish
Ball-bearing system
Right or left retrieve
Selective anti-reverse
Dual ceramic pickup pins
Auto Bait Alert
Pre-spooled with 14 pound line
3.4:1 gear ratio

Yep. Went All Out and went on a spending spree. I got a Zebco 733 Hawg and a nice pole to go with it, then acquired a Shimano spinner reel and pole with light line for casting. So now we have two new fishing poles and all the gear that goes with it.

Kmart actually had a better selection than Tarzhay, and almost as good as West Marine. But prices were significantly lower at the ol' Kmart...

We then hit Stein Mart with coupons in hand. (Stein Mart is a mostly Ladies clothes store of indeterminate goodness)

Every time I follow Spousal Unit around a Lady's clothing store, I get a case of induced fatigue. I mean I will begin uncontrollable yawning and become a lethargic and slow moving type of sloth. But to be fair, I feel the same way at a Men's clothing store.

It shows...

We got three jackets and three blouses and escaped Stein Mart for less than fifty bucks. Ooh -RAH!

We paid double that for food at Tarzhay!

Great News! We now have three additional readers, apparently they are from Cairo, Lisbon and Sunnyvale. I am diggin' the sitemeter scene with a gangsta lean.

Prolly spammers, I don't really know, but I do know that someone in Cairo would not be interested in anything I have to say; excepting, of course, if I happened to know the meaning of Life.

I do!*

Unless Marmaris, Turkey is considered "Middle East", there ain't any of "it" available in the Middle East.

Lists are being made, stores are being raided for provisions and in about eleven days an epic voyage will be undertaken.

Have a safe week!

(Izza-Pay, Eer-bay, and ond-Blay innish-Fay icks-chay)
Ixnay on the Ifey-Way eading-ray is-thay...

Friday, March 27, 2009

On a Happier Note

Check out Pete Goss' site and watch the video.

Peter Goss and his crew of three are sailing from Cornwall to Australia onboard a 37 foot Cornish fishing boat.

This is "Mystery" sailing in the Southern Ocean at the beginning of a storm.

The sound is icy rain striking the camera and boat deck.

One of the crew gets a broken leg immediately after filming. Incredible video!

I have been in similar seas, but never in that cold of temperatures. Worst I have ever been was 45 knots off the coast of Mauretania.

The Southern Ocean is something I look forward to have sailed and returned from. There is no land masses to slow up the winds or the "fetch", which is wind driven seas.

Here is something that is more like it.
Off of Madeira, a Portuguese island group West of the Mainland.

Have a fun Friday evening!

Monday Morning Quarterbacking; A follow up

The AP just reported the investigation findings by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissions on the 28 February 2009 sinking of the Fishing Boat which claimed the lives of two NFL players and another.

Read the link and the conclusion is "Improper Anchoring".

The anchor was apparently trapped by the coral reef.

On a personal note; I had an anchor do a similar thing at Anse A L'Ane, Martinique. When I tried to retrieve it after a couple of weeks, it just wouldn't budge.

I had to cut the cable.

Real shame about those football fella's, nothing humorous about that situation which lost three families a loved one.

Have a safe weekend.


So I make it back to the UK, and we wait for the arrival of the 'Beest. Talk about an antsy month of trepidation: "What if...?" is the word of every day. Money, costs, time off, availability, electricity, oh yes. Boat uses 30 Amp 110 volt. UK is using 16 Amp 220.

This is deeper than I thought. Not only that, I know absolutely NO ONE who has an American based boat.

Well, I have thrown our hat over the fence, so I will have to go through with this. One way or another.

The boat arrives in Southampton around the 25th of October on a Friday. Naturally, nothing can be done all weekend while Customs gets a round 'tuit' to clear the boat through.

So we drive the two and a half hours, or so from London so that She can see what her Husband has done.

The boat sat inside a fenced in yard, and we could only look from about 20 yards, but there she sat in her cradle... probably the closest I will feel to being a proud parent! After about ten minutes of gawking, a security guard came and told us to clear out.

So back to London and a dinner of celebration at Tiroler Hut!

I just can't resist putting a video on here from the You Tube:

I recommend the Platte fur Zwei.

Paperwork: The British are a paperwork society. It's the basis of their being and provides jobs to people who would ordinarily be unemployed. Customs works for the Queen, and they mean to ensure that She gets her cut of every transaction.

The roots of this go way back and is why the Colonists of 1775 had to Rebel.

Same as it ever was...

I show up with a check for about 1700 pounds for their expenses and triplicate importation documents.

"Sorry, Sir, we need five originals... can't be helped..."

Typical, I am unprepared and I needed more. So I had to drive all the way back to London to get more. I asked "Mister Ransom" if he would make up 30 original importation certificates. I was pissed.

He didn't bat an eye.

Mr. Ransom was Air Force retired and from Baltimore, and he had married a local girl while he was in the Air Force, so he had a U.S. Civil Service job as an admin type at CINCUSNAVEUR while getting to live on the economy.

So Mr. Ransom kindly made up those thirty "Originals", and I sped my way back to Southampton. He fully understood the runaround I was enjoying and he really dug the fact that I was doing something out of the ordinary. His way of helping to stick it to the "Man".

All this while wearing 70's bell bottoms and platform shoes. Mr Ransom was the coolest cat and the nattiest dresser. He was/is a great friend.

Here is one of those "Originals", as I still have six of them in my boat file;

Only two wasted f$%^&* days... First of many.

Lesson Learned Alert

I drive back to Southampton, wander across the huge complex, in the rain... and return to the office with plenty of copies. The Customs man even wanted the rest of them, to which I refused.

They're MINE!

So I wrote out the check and was given custody of our boat. Customs was disappointed that they couldn't cull another 5000.00 pounds out of me in "Value Added Tax", since I was a visiting Armed Forces member who would be taking the vessel back out of the UK within the time of my tour, which seemed like it would be forever...

I called up the trucking firm, they said I had paid for the boat to be shipped anywhere within 250 miles.


I called a number of marinas, one called Hoo Marina, near Chatham (40 miles from London) had a nice young lady who asked what the tonnage of the boat was.

"Thirteen", I say.

"Sorry, can't be helped, but you are too big for our Travel Lift." "Sorry".

So I arrange for the boat to go to Hamble Marina, about eight miles from Southampton Dock. And the boat goes...

What that nice Lady from Hoo forgot too mention, she was talking Metric Tonnes, and not Imperial Tonnes. Dammit!!! We were well within limits, but I did not verify.

That is the Lesson Learned. Be precise. Could cost later...

So I get ten more days of Leave, and I had a friend come out to help move the boat. But first, painting the bottom. Nasty.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ok, we back off on the smugnitude

New Word; Smugnitude

Definition; Always thinking that whatever one does is always uniquely clever and is to be considered the new paradigm.

"Why don't you stick to what you know, and get back to having the sense of humor?"

Ok. I will take my smugnitude and sulk somewhere, quietly.

Announcer Voice Over: "Now back to regular programming"

I reread my spew from yesterday and decided that I was preachy. Nobody wants a sermon, unless the sermon giver hay-azz bee-unn AHHH-nointed-dah.

Can I get an Amen?

The local Caribbean restaurant, Star Caribbean burned up yesterday afternoon.


I never had a chance to try it out, since it is around the corner from the office. It looked a little forbidding, like a cool looking barbecue joint that you really want to try, but said joint is in the most ethnic of neighborhoods... You can go in with a bunch of your friends on an afternoon, but forget about the evening.

Picture the crazy kids from "Animal House" walking in that cool Urban Club and upon seeing Otis Day and the Nights yell out, "Otis.... my Man!"

If they rebuild the Star Caribbean, I will make a real effort to check it out. Been a while since I chowed down some Jerk Chicken and Pumpkin Soup. The review hidden on the link claims it is a five star experience.

But if I see Otis Day and the Nights, well I'll keep my mouth shut.


Announcer Voice Over: "Page Two":

I got an email from an old buddy from my teenage years. He mentioned that our friend who lives in Montana had hip replacement surgery, and was grumpier than usual...

Hip replacement? Under fifty???

So naturally, I give this person a call. He works for a fire fighting outfit in the mountains, maintaining their various aviation assets.

Everyone has a cooler job than me...

So he answers the phone and gruffly says, "Hey, Man. I'm in line waiting to punch out".

Like I call him every day. We haven't spoken in over a year.

We catch up and talk about the past year. Says the surgery hurt, but that he is up and about and getting better.


We used to be teenagers.

This might be the suspect:

Or maybe this geek, in the center.

Shiver and twitch...!

Announcer Voice over: "This is... Rock and Roll Radio. Stay Tuned for more Rock and Roll."

One must always crunch soda and beer cans when finished. Otherwise, you might forget that you need a new soda and some jerk will use it as an ashtray, with unpleasant results.


Smugnitude.... Out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend wrap up for 21/22 March

We did not muster at the Barco at 0800, as planned. There was no 0830 departure.

Dinner on Friday was a smash. We had seven people fed on a five pound Prime Rib served up with steamed green beans and the twice baked potatoes. To wash it all down was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (on tap) and a couple of bottles of Nymanthia. For dessert was seasonal berries soaked in Pinot Grigiot (Cavit).

Then, Idiot Boy decided to break out the Montand Champagne, of which two bottles were served to the Host and Guests.

I decided to do some thinking and helped Mom home via taxicab. Very smart.

Saturday morning saw your scribe waking in slow stages, nursing a category three 'gover. Category five being a full blown "day of sighs" and the worst, category six being full illness with inability to fight off gravity storms.

By 1000, we had everyone sort of coffee'd up and motion towards bringing Mom's car home to her. I stopped by Mickey D's for a six pack of hamburgers to take on the boat.

We were underway and shifted colors at 1145, and made a course of 090 degrees into a very strong wind. In fact, it was very strong, at least 20 gusting to 30. When we turned 180 and headed South, we were rolling on very robust swells caused by the fetch from Northeast winds. We had a bumpy, ocean like ride down to six mile creek, which smoothed out nicely after we entered the creek proper.

Tied up to a scarcely populated dock and made our way to the outside tables. We shared the outside with a Motorcycle Organization who were very nice and seemed to not mind us yuppy boaters.

Free beer was alas, tomorrow. So we made do with five dollar Bud Select, along with a large platter of "Low Country Boil." Three or four crabs with crawfish, clams, various fish filets and the usual sausage, corn and broccoli. To top off the great meal was a great server named Angela, who kept our pitcher full and the crew well fed.


Made our way home and were back at our dock by sundown. Had a very sedate evening of billiards and draft beer back at the "Veldt Lounge".

I hope to have some pictures, later.

This could be a great cure

I usually get hiccups at bad times, like after 16 beers. I stole this from Theo Spark.

Seems like a reasonable idea.

More later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Back to Friday routine

Thursday saw the Barco crew hosting Her relatives and entourages. Her Dad came in at 0645.

Surprise, surprise, well, you know the rest.

I placed a corned beef brisket into the crock pot, covered with water and the enclosed spice packet and set for 10 hours.

The crock pot really did the job. The corned beast was so tender I could literally cut with a plastic spatula. I poured the fatty cooking water in with potatoes (Ahh, calling Dan Quayle, I need a spell check!) and cabbage. Totally spaced on the carrots.

Dinner served at 1900, sharp. I acquired a keg of Sierra Nevada, so we had draft beer with dinner. Even a non-beer drinking guest enjoyed the beer. Really fine beer with a very hoppy flavor, always a favorite of mine.

By 2200 we had a serving of Balvenie 10 year old, had final conversations and then called Taps at 2300.

Reveille came at 0630, we did our normal hike around the hood and returned home to check on the guests. I cooked up six omelets with the remaining potatoes from the last meal and applied coffee to every one's cobwebs.

She Who Will Be Obeyed commenced making the twice baked potatoes which will go with tonight's Prime Rib Extravaganza. A five pound prime rib, dressed and tied with string on bone and coated with McCormick Montreal seasoning will slowly roast over indirect charcoal heat.

Today will really be an endurance test.

To wrap up that story from yesterday, I rode some airline from Orlando to Gatwick, brimming with excitement about the new boat. Once I arrived, I hopped on the train to Waterloo station.

I would link the Kink's song; "Waterloo Sunset", but the j.o.b. computer won't give access. Maybe later.

So I'm standing by the door of the train station, waiting for a cab and comedian Steven Wright walks up and waits next to me. I recognize him immediately, and he looked at me waiting for the obligatory, "...Are you Steven Wright?!"

Only I stayed in his character type, and ignored him. I even let him take the next cab, just to get his depressing personage away from me. I had nothing but good news for my household...!

Note: I think Steven Wright is a talented funny guy, and I enjoy listening to him on XM Raw. But as mentioned in the past, I prefer to give famous people their space.

Free Beer Tomorrow!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday after action reports

Well, here we are doing the after action reports.

Last night, Pastiche did a bang up job serving a fine feast for our famished friends. Really. We all ordered from the "Prix Fixe" menu, which is a three course meal. $25 bucks and you limp away stuffed. There was five choices for Entrees and Starters, and I vaguely remember about five desserts.

Mine was Duck Liver for starter with an excellent UniBroue La Fin Du Monde. Then it was a Grenache wine (24 bucks a bottle!) with my entree, a Pork Tenderloin. The knife they brought me was totally unnecessary, as were teeth. Very moist and tender... dessert was the Pear Tart with vanilla ice cream.

I blame my buzz on the La Fin Du Monde. 9% by volume. And the two bottles of red.


Back to yesterday's tale;

Paul departed the "Wildebeest III" while we were at Hooters. He was having girlfriend trouble for having gone off with his buddies on a crazy boat trip.

Rich and I put on quite the load, having returned to familiar waters and comfort levels were rising. So we pounded down about three pitchers too many.

Rich wanted to go, so we went back to NAS Jacksonville, Mulberry Cove Marina. Rich left me alone to sort the boat out after our epic voyage.

One thing I knew, was that there was at least two 100 gallon water tanks, but I had no idea of how they were plumbed. I turned the faucets and nothing came out. So I came up with the idea that one of the tanks must be in the "on" position and it is empty.

Solution? Add water to both tanks so I can have a nice shower in the morning. We can figure out the valve situation in the bright of day, especially after a good night's rest with its concurrent sobriety.

I found a hose and opened the deck fitting and filled water until it runneth over. Then I "rinsed and repeated" with the next fitting.

Feeling a bit shagged, I stumbled down below and snoozed.

The next morning was a glorious one, with the famous Floridian sun cleaning all the cobwebs out of eyes and spirits. A friend from a nearby boat asked me who's boat are you on? I was able to proudly say that it was my own, thank you.

I tried to take a shower, but the darn pump was still making strangling noises.

Hmmph. So I went ashore to take care of business.

Later that day, I decided to run the motor to keep the batteries topped. The motor ran for a few minutes but died.

After running for 40 hours straight. Are we out of fuel?

Looked at the RACOR filter. Nope, glass is full with crystal clear fuel.

Try the engine again. Runs for thirty seconds, then expires.

Fuel sample. Looks clear.

Clear.... isn't diesel supposed to be another color, like red?


This is what happens when you try to be a wise ass and do too much with too little sense. With all of the added alcohol, I thought I was being sensible.


I used to wear contact lenses, and after about eighteen hours in they would start to become opaque and uncomfortable. I couldn't make out the little "diesel only" engraving on the deck fitting.

I had to hand pump fifty gallons of water out of the fuel tank and reprime the engine. I worked for eight hours doing this.

Without beer.

Next day I brought the boat ot Ortega river and had her hauled out for shipping. I paid a Shipping Agent $12700. to wrap the boat up, place it on a Auto Hauling ship from the Wallenius Lines for further transport to Southampton, UK, one month hence.

I left our boat in good hands at the boatyard, and made my way to Orlando for the flight back to London.

All this running around (Alone!) made me very discombobulated. So much so that I ran out of gas in my rental car a quarter mile away from a gas station. So I had to walk to NAS Jax, go on base and buy a gas can, walk over to the gas station for a gallon of regular, walk back off base to my car.

My flight was in four hours and it is a three and a half hour drive from Jacksonville to Orlando International.

I made it.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So let's get started on yet another TINS!

Starting a marriage at the beginning of a 42 month sea duty tour can make things look a little bleak. You do your expected long cruises, you endure the continuous in and out of Counter Drug ops and just count down the months until Shore Duty. At the same time as all that excitement, we were learning how to sail our 23 foot Sovereign sailboat, "Wildebeest". We started getting some real breaks on the professional and personal front.

Example; We had a Hobie 16 (replacement for the one that sank) and we had an old Dodge Van. We sold both on the same day, thus enabling us to pay off all of the extra bills in one fell swoop.


Then, after three years of trying to crack into the Jacksonville health care mafia, She Who Will Be Obeyed scores her first non-educational related job with a well known Health Care company, mirroring my Navy salary! This was an amazing feat, first of many good things which would happen over the next 15 years.

Out of debt? Check.
Bright Future? Have Shades.

So what do we do with this filthy lucre? Buy "Wildebeest II"!

It was a 1982 Watkins 27.

Sister vessel

Mom drives the Wildebeest II on the day we took delivery.

It had a wheel and an inboard diesel engine! Also, this boat had actually cruised the Bahamas, so we were now in possession of a boat that could really do the dream. Plus, the advantage of having a inboard diesel means that the motor can be started in any kind of weather or sea state, no more tugging a pull cord or having the motor stop because of swamping.

We really started sailing, then. Weekends on the river, trips to St Augustine, it was all exciting. The only problem was that we found out that I had orders to London. In nine months.

Try to sell the piece of junk house. Sell the newly acquired boat. Quit great job.

Not a great way to begin 1995.

Oh, well.

We found ourselves in London, boat-less.

I went sailing from Calais, France, and sailed the coast of Normandy, and this trip made clear that we needed to do something. We needed to get a boat and fast, this need to sail was upon us and we had better do it now.

So the next Friday comes, and naturally the two of us were enjoying a home cooked meal with wine and champagne. After the second bottle, liquid courage caused me to call a Credit Union at ten o'clock at night; I applied for a loan for a sailboat that I intended to buy, and the nice Gent helping us was glad to take our application... it was only 4:00 PM in Virginia, after all.

Did I mention that I was properly in my cups? Oh yes.

Tuesday comes along, and the Credit Union downstairs calls my office; (We had one on the ground floor of the office building, how convenient!) They asked me if I was ready to pick up my $75,000 check.

What $75,000 check?

"The $75,000 loan you were approved for." "Have you changed your mind?"

I quickly replied, "I'll get back to you...."

Wow. I couldn't get a loan for a home without 20% down (Long story... 75K home in California was available in Vallejo--- No go) But I could get 75K for a boat with no down payment.

I didn't even have a boat picked out, yet. What was I to do?

So Spousal Unit and I laughed at our new opportunity and began in earnest to locate "Wildebeest III". We picked out four possibles and I flew to Florida to look at these boats, have a Survey on the chosen boat and make purchase. In two weeks.

I went to St Pete and looked at a CSY 44. Took it out on a test trial, but said I had to look at a couple of other boats. Traveled to Titusville to see a Cheoy Lee 50, but it was under contract. Darn.

Went to another Boatyard in Eau Gallie to look at a Morgan 43. I had never heard of the Morgan 43, but what the heck.

This boat had everything. Two fridges, microwave, two cabins, two heads, autohelm and all the goodies. The guy wanted 87K, I offered 70K. His wife took the offer!

What I didn't know was that the Owners had purchased boat to live their dream of cruising. Only she didn't like it, got scared and made way back to Florida and left the boat, moved back to San Diego.

Her husband got involved in the negotiation, countered with 71K, but he takes the RADAR off. I finally gave in and said $72K, with RADAR.

These are the very first views I had of Wildebeest III, on a hot Summer day in early August 1996


There was a couple months worth of food onboard... Too cool.

The previous owner comes out to pick up his personal junk, begins to whine at me about being "low-balled". He also informs me that he is a retired 0-9, and that I was a lowly enlisted puke.

I called him a pejorative term which describes a British cat, for not packing the gear to tell the Wife that he is keeping his boat.

He asked what I would do in the situation; I replied that I would probably miss my wife as I had to live on my boat alone.

The evening went pretty much that way, and the next morning we closed the deal with checks being exchanged.

I was underway with that boat by 1200, passing by the Green Dragon and heading North on the Intracoastal waterway. We had myself and two crew, three cases of PBR, a couple bags of chips, burgers, buns and maybe a six pack of cokes. Add in some bacon, eggs and a loaf of bread and we were underway with a Northern bias!

Only thing we lacked was boat insurance... Unable to acquire it before leaving. Not smart.

By the time we reached Haulover cut at Cape Canaveral, we had plowed through about a case of beer and a box of Bubba Burgers. We had been delayed by a draw bridge, and went swimming.

This is an actual picture of me jumping in the water:

Once we cleared canaveral, we were heading up the Mosquito river and the sunset arrived. We continued on with a spotlight and a chart and were going along nicely until we ran aground near New Smyrna. We wrenched ourselves off, and went through Ponce Inlet

View Larger Map

and into the Atlantic.

Note, we had been drinking beer since 1200, it was now 2330, and we had been off of beer for the previous three hours.

Fatigue set in and we set watches, Rich took the first two hours, I had the second and Paul would have the third.

Paul zonked right out, while I wandered around the interior of the boat checking for leaks and troubles. I attempted to sleep, but was unable to drop off due to the troubles on my mind; Rich had not idea how to run things (Neither did I, but who cares?) We were out on a new boat with NO INSURANCE!!!! and I had a loan of 75K to pay, and finally I had no idea how to accomplish the next task of finding someone to set up the boat for transport to the UK, and I had seven days until I had to be back in London.

You might say, "Why don't you just shut up and enjoy the ride?"

After trying to doze an hour, Rich told me that he couldn't stay awake, so I relieved him on the helm. May as well, since I'm responsible, anyhow.

An hour into my own trick, I noticed the very dark sky, thunderclouds in the distance giving me a light show. I also focused very intently on the constant drone of the Perkins 4-108 diesel, waiting to hear any hiccup or malfunction.

Looking to my left, I could see the bright lights of Daytona Beach, at 0130 in the morning, to the front I could see the St Augustine Lighthouse doing its thing.

This was going to be the first overnight offshore trip, evah! Wasn't life grand? Spousal Unit is going to poop her pants when she sees the bitchin' boat I just acquired!

I also started to hallucinate and do the familiar head bob. Otto was keeping us on course, but it was a Autohelm 4000, great for 36 foot boats and below, but a little underpowered, as I was learning. I was seeing cars trying to pass us, up ahead, and my mind was running wild, trying to get some desperately needed rest.

Finally, 0330 came, and I woke Paul up from a deep sleep. I went below and slept for at least four hours.

I came to about 0730, Saturday, to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on my galley stove. Talk about feeling like $9.95, this was awesome!

After brekkies and a small shower (Livin' Baby!) I took my place on the helm. Looking left, I could see that we passed St Augustine and were well up to Ponte Vedra Beach. There was a gentle breeze blowing from the East, so we decided to set the sails.

Paul had noticed how stressed I was, but when we successfully got the sails up and working, he commented on how it was all worth it.

And handed me a PBR. Life was indeed, good. Rich and "Otto" sailing off of Jacksonville Beach.

A Boat Bum and his new boat, sitting on the liferaft

Finish the trip at Hooter's, Jacksonville Landing. Ahh, the party!

We rafted off of a home made trimaran.

The skipper asked me, so where'd ya guys come in from?

"Satellite Beach, by the Green Dragon."

The trip took about 36 hours. What a time!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday skipping school day

She who will be obeyed has Dad, Uncle, and entourages coming in for a visit, Wednesday/Thursday. I thought I would skip work today to complete field day and rigging rear of house for guests.

This means Hyacinth Kitteh will have to stay in the sun room. She'll get over it.

Dining on Wednesday will be the lovely, "Pastiche". Good stuff, great hosts.

Clean kitchen...

Friday, will find all of us together for Prime Rib, slow cooked in a Weber Kettle. My Mom will be here for that, and I am sure we will all be stuffed with great chow and even better wines.

I am presuming a 0830 departure, Saturday for Outback Crab Shack, where I hear there will be "Free Beer, tomorrow." When people visit from Michigan, they expect an opportunity to eat fresh seafood.

Whatever... Order me some ribs!

Today, after doing my usual wandering around the 'net, I followed a link from Drawn Cutlass to the Old NFO's blog.

Stop by and read a full page of Navy style humor, describing underway living. I wonder if the host is a former AW?

It's all good, as someone always says. I am going to head back and clean some cat litter, break time is over.

The Aviation Toilet Control Technician's work is never done...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did anyone else see the Shuttle Launch?

We had a clear night in Jacksonville, with almost unlimited visibility. Right after Houston made the control call, I went outside and looked South East and saw the familiar flaming chariot make its way to the Northeast. Almost immediately, I could see the two boosters slowly tumbling their way seaward.

Great show.

Hit the hot tub with some champagne, and I think I could see the space station overhead, going in a parallel course towards Europe. I will verify on the NASA viewable objects site.

Has anyone seen this; Obama Signs Law Banning Federal Embryo Research Two Days After Signing Executive Order to OK It

Is this a hoax? There are many ill people who were relying on the Government to pay for private research for Stem Cell therapy. Can the Administration be this ill informed? Is there anybody at the helm of our government?

(Personal note: I don't have a dog in that fight, but I note the irony of last week's public rescinding of the last administration's ban on Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research.) Actually, I am hoping that private University level research is ultimately successful with Stem Cells, since I have close family that have Juvenile diabetes and other disorders. I'm of the mind that the Government is so freaking inefficient that nothing of note will ever be accomplished, at great cost.

Look at the V.A. Medical system.


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hah! Verified. The International Space Station whizzed by at 2020, Sunday. I spotted it! The ISS was like a large airplane, moving way too fast without the sonic boom or rumble. It wasn't too high in the sky, but it was bigger than the normal airliner. Having the sun an hour to the west certainly helped on the white skin reflecting light.

Good thing we had champagne!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happily in Fridayland

Indeed, another week down.

Too bad they can't seem to find any Democrats who have paid taxes to fill some empty Government positions.

I'm here, I've paid taxes, and probably going to be available for new employment due to our company needing to move. As an added bonus, I held security clearances that went above the normal red colored ones, which means with a quick update I could trusted with the keys to the kingdom.

Of course, this all makes me Very Unqualified. So when my little job situation goeth away, I will have to draw unemployment. So I have Hope and Change.

Enough whining. Make it better or make it go away.

The Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge will be open, tonight. There will be New York Strips and Chateauneuf De Pape to chase it down. Afterwards, maybe a little sing along at the Barco Sin Vela, where we will celebrate the spring like weather. Nothing improves the attitude like some boat action.

Or this stuff;

Here is a "Demotivator" poster I stole from Castle of AARRGGH

What amuses me is that you can see the cooler on the back of the Tank. Only Americans would remember to bring their lunch box to an Ass Whuppin'! I'm sure the crew would rather that there was a couple cases of barley pops, chilling within...

Speaking of Barley Pops, I am running low, both home and on Barco.

Beer Run!

Have a safe weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I must talk about "Them"

Ever since I started the Liveaboard lifestyle, we have always had "Them". Way back in '90, we acquired two darling little Siamese kittens. Mogwai and Jellicle. Mogwai had large ears and smaller face than her half sister, and Jellicle had a very sweet personality but was longer and skinnier, with a rounder face.

They took over the house while I was on various cruises, and they were a challenge because of their aggressive begging and weird habits. For instance, Jellicle liked to push pens and pencils off of tables, hop down and pick them up for transport to the water bowl where she would drop these items into the water.

They really loved the Spousal Unit.

Mogwai loved my boots, and would drag my dogtags around the house. This was her in her later years, but old habits never leave;

When I got orders to London, we sent the kitties ahead for the six month quarantine (which is a barbaric relic from the past, which is a great way for jerks to make $4K for just babysitting cats and dogs in small cages. But the english reason that it keeps the UK free of rabies... Six weeks would be sensible but would make less money.) which I regret to this day.

After the six months were up, we lived in a flat for ten more months before acquiring Wildebeest III. We carried the cats down the dock while they cried and yowled at our horrible mistreatment of such Royal beings. We dropped them unceremoniously, they sniffed out their new home and moved right in.

They LOVED the boat! We had a separate head (bathroom) for their kitty litter, and they responded by never leaving the boat for walkabout or any other reason. It was like having a 43 foot cat perch with nooks and cranny's for hiding.

Them did not approve of sailing. Or motoring. When doing our sailing trips, they rode with us. We just would leave them behind if we were going to France, since another six months would be required at the quarantine. But they would go with us for weekend trips, usually cowering on or around Mom.

Big advantage in cold weather: They snuggled even more!

Even though Them really preferred their Mom, sometimes, Jellicle would actually sit with me, if I would sit still for more than a moment.

We would get entertained for hours, when the Cats would do stupid things like walk out to the cockpit, peek over the edge of the back cabin, and fall onto the bed. Over and over again, I called it "Raining Cats". This is a pre-raining cat photo.

When we prepared for the Atlantic crossing, we sent Them home to my Mom's, where they stayed for almost two years.

Them got to live aboard Wildebeest III again when we brought them home to Florida. Mogwai passed away a year after that, and her sister Jellicle went a year and a half later. I wonder if the quarantine had anything to do with it...

Mao is the boy cat who replaced Mogwai. We call him Mao, or Maogwai, since he is a clingy "M" class cat like Mogwai used to be. Him's picture is the little kitten picture on the left, giving me a what for, while Jellicle snoozes behind where Him sits. Mao really bothered and bugged the elderly Jellicle, but he picked up her best traits.

Him loves boats, too. Only problem is that Him thinks that all boats belong to Him. So he goes on walk-a-bouts, and makes the other boat owners angry. So he stays home with his two little girls, Mali and Saffy.

We never bring the three Meezers to the boat. Not worth the hassle, although Mao sniffs our clothing and bags, and gives a knowing look of "Why didn't you bring ME?"

Closing this out; We were right in having the original "Them" on the Wildebeest III, as they enhanced the experience of living aboard in a far away land. Today, "Them", Mao, Mali and Saffy, could become good boat cats, but the need is not there.

For the time being.

I still miss the original "Them".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I always wished I packed the gear to be a Naval Aviator

Unfortunately for me, I had a number of things going against me. First of which was a flaw in my eyesight (Far Sighted with astigmatism). I have thick glasses like the stereotypical egg head of the forties. I mean thick, magnifying glasses which pretty much disqualify me for anything.

A girlfriend from 20 years ago, said I looked "smart".

The other problem was a real case of the Can't-pay-attention-for-long-periods for anything educational. I'm still afflicted.

So with that, I became a search and rescue swimmer who looked for submarines. I was good at neither, but I had a good time of it.

The long winded point of all this is a link to "Tailspin's Tales", who gives us a look at a letter written to one of those fortunate fellers who is given a billet at both The Air Force Academy and Annapolis.

We used to say in 1984, Soldiers and Air Force personnel go on Pass or Leave. Sailors and Marines go on Liberty. You ain't partied until you go on Liberty with a Sailor or Marine.

Chicks' used to dig that. We partied a little too hard back in those days...

The author of that letter mentions this, "The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore."

Never made it to Singapore. But I have seen all that in Cannes, France.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

T.I.N.S. Action, again!

The Boat Bum did not make it back to Barco, yesterday. I went home and made Teletubby Salad for the Spousal Unit, and then we did a couple of laps around the 'hood. The day was too nice to waste working or watching the tube.

Have you ever watched Teletubbies? Teletubbies was a Childrens TV show from the 90's and it was classic government indoctrination, totally focused on the two and four year olds. I kid you not. Watch the eerie focus of the computer generated images. The creepy sun, with baby face super-imposed, giggling and laughing as it supervises the Teletubbies and their daily routines.

A Voice issues instructions from the loudspeaker, and the speaker is camouflaged to look like a sunflower. Teletubbies are directed when to watch tv, exercise and eat. I am so effin creeped out.

Apparently, about eight years ago, some agitator came out and claimed that the Teletubby "Tinky Winky" was living an alternative life style.

Then, accusations started flying about that the so-called religious right was starting up an initiative to remove the TV show because of a so called "Gay Character".

I call B.S.; This is/was a transparent attempt to portray Conservatives as intolerant about imaginary Gay characters, who are purply complected with triangles on their heads... How would we know the character swings in a different way?

The TV show is creepy, but they win because I am obsessing about it. Clearly, I am in some sort of closet in a green bunker, wishing I can carry a magic handbag, getting three hots and a cot with entertainment provided by Public Broadcasting, which is transmitted on the bellies of fictitious creatures!

But we do luv's us sum Teletubby Salad... Can't we just have television without ulterior propaganda?

Soooo, back to our T.I.N.S. show!

By the way, that acronym is "This is a no sh&**$#".


Q: Do you know the difference between a "Fairy Tale" and a "Sea Story"?

A: 1. One begins, "Once upon a time..."

2. The other begins with, "This is a No Sh&**$#" or ..."And there I was."

Both may contain the same amount of fact and fiction.

I might offer, "How is this for a build up?"

To that you might reply in one voice, "GET ON WITH IT!"

Ok, the place was the Caribbean Sea. The Ship; Strike Trawler Deyo, DD-989.

We were on our second Counter Drug OPS mission for 1992, and we were having a rough time of it. Flight quarters at 0530, lift off at 0545, fly until 1245 (missing breakfast and lunch) Relaunch at 1300 and secure from flying at 1700.

Fish call at 1730, the Ship would slow to two knots and the crew given the opportunity to fish. Hence the affectionate knick-name "Strike Trawler". A big fishing boat with 5 inch guns and missiles. And a hundred fishing poles.

Each week or so, we would pull into some fabulous island for food and fuel. Usually Gitmo and Roosey Roads, but sometimes someplace cool. Like Curacao.

View Larger Map

We pulled into Willemsted, moved up the river just past the swinging bridge, docked at the highway crossing.

As we entered, I spied a hundred foot Ketch, docked by the down town. It's still there, I saw it a year or two back.

Anyway, my buddy Lee and I went out on our normal reconnaisance for cheap beer and family style entertainment.

We approached the Ketch and hailed the American Captain, who was kind enough to invite us aboard and offered us beer. Of course, the Captain was hoping to get us to sign up for the day trip, $45.00 and two Planter's Punches with lunch thrown in.

The Captain of the Charter Vessel

After my third free Polar Beer, I noticed that business was a little slow. Especially since the Captain admitted that only six tourists were signed up for the next day.

I made like I was the world class sailor, and talked mucho grande about how I could get a number of genuine Sailors and return for a gran tour of the island, maybe at the reduced price of $25.00 per? With all the beer we could drink???


So Lee and myself continued drinking the free Polars, and concocted a plan of plans. We stumbled back to the Deyo around 2200 (Ten PM for you Land Lubbers).

Up and down the length of the ship we did traverse, but only 15 or so takers for this non-ship approved trip. None of the Airdales would have it, either,


(I mean that in the French way, Un homme, meaning Man.)

Next day, me and sixteen Men from Deyo sauntered up to the Sailing Ship. The six civilians watched nervously as we filed aboard, we hoped we looked like Piratical Desperadoes, as the Maidens were trying to press themselves out of view.

As I was the leader of this motley crew, I offered our assistance in getting underway and in the handling of the vessel at sea. Seaman La Mattina, of Deck Division took his place at the helm. Myself and the rest strategically placed our selves by the halyards to heave and pull the sails into place. We were underway by 1130, the trades-breeze was gentle from the East and the main brace was spliced.


I had never felt so good to be a Sailor..

Me in front of green shorts, yelling for every man to "heave and pull with a will!"

My friend Lee Bonawitz, heaving on a Main Halyard;

We were like Rock Stars, for a day onboard that small ship. I think the six civilians began to warm up to us when they could see how competent the Destroyer Men were, on an old sailing vessel. We began sailing to the Northeast, looking for the cove that the vessel's owner lived.

Three meat barbeque.

And all the beer.

And we continued heaving and pulling. The paid crew just got out of our way and took a break.

You can kinda see the civilians hiding out in the upper right corner, by the helm.
I think they were getting a kick out of us taking the ship over.

I have more pictures, just have to find and upload.

We pulled into a little bay, and we swam ashore for the barbeque. A little snorkeling and frolicking, and back to the City Dock. We arrived around 2200. Tired and shagged out from the best day at sea, ever.

The ship was completely out of beer and rum. We all went back to Deyo with real sea stories, and had terrific hangovers for the morning.

For 25 bucks a person.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend Wrap

Dining and quiet evening at Barco, Friday night. Up and at 'em Saturday, went out to find new clothes for the Spousal Unit (12 Outfits!) then back home to re-rig for afternoon doing varnish.

I really dread varnish work. I'm not good at it and it is very messy. Couldn't find all the proper sandpaper, had to make do with 60 grit to strip the old varnish off. I couldn't even find my paint scraper. Delays...

Sanding with 60 grit is exciting, as it strips everything off, and most rikky-tik. Ya wanna watch closely, because the wood also will reduce down to sawdust. Not that I would know anything about that.

Most people like goals or incentives, since Captain Ron learned about that in rehab, so I set some really attainable goals; Like ten feet of front facing teak. I thought if it is a small amount, I might be able to actually finish the task.

Baby steps.

Plus, it was going on 1500. Sort of late in the day, so I expedited the effort even with out the proper equipage. The wood was looking clean and I was surprised that the sanding took only 20 minutes.

60 Grit sandpaper, baby!

So I applied the blue masking tape to prevent the inevitable mess. One does not want errant varnish on the white gelcoat. It never really comes off, for years. Trust me. After applying said 3M miracle tape, I poured a small amount of half varnish/half thinner mixture into a can and proceded to place the first coat.

Done in less time than to type it out. What will I do with the brush and unusable excess varnish?

Trash run.

I settled down with a contented sigh of hard labor completed, and cracked open the fourth Pabst of the afternoon.

"Is that it?", sayeth the Mistress.


"Doesn't it take longer, usually? Spaketh She.

I pontificate; "Sure, but in order to not overwhelm myself at the largeness of this project, I took a little bite. Otherwise, I would quit because of the little things that seem to pop up and make the varnishing more cumbersome."


So Sunday was a second coat of varnish and remove the bimini and side panels. I will bring the bimini in for repairs and refitting. We need new zippers, badly. I will put a third coat of varnish on today.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Change Three, of Two

In the Naval Aviation world, everything has pretty much been "done before". All these lessons learned are in print in a book known as, "Naval Aviation Training Operational Procedures Standardization", or NATOPS. All procedures within are literally written in blood and deviation from the written procedures can mean loss of Wings or worse.

But there are times and situations where new procedures evolve and once these new procedures are properly documented and presented to Authority, who approves the new methods and promulgates the emerging methodology as a Change.

Sometimes, a change will be an emergency change and is sent out via message in order to get the new word out before someone else gets hurt.

Otherwise, normal changes are sent through the mail and full listings of pages and their contents arrive in neat piles to the Squadron NATOPS Officer.

The Aircrew department then adds these changes to each copy of NATOPS in the Squadron. You will see a title of say, "Change 2, of 3". Makes sense.

When anything would suddenly get out of routine, we would gather the team together and say;

"Change Six of Three, to the Plan of the Day. WE are gonna do this...

This is how we could quietly/snidely point out that no one knew what was really going to happen or when.

So I am making Change number Three of Two projected. You might probably say that I am possibly FUBAR'd, but it is my ship and I can be as big a jerk as any of my betters.
o 03062009 0700Z
From: CNHF Jacksonville, FL

1. Proceed to source of the St John's River. Travel South until you either find Kurtz or the Fountain of Youth. Loiter as required in the back country fishcamps, anchor at Silver Glen Springs and explore feeder rivers and lakes of the St Johns.

2. Augmentee Crew are not required and expenses for Off Shore safety equipment will not be expected to be authorized at this time.

3. Predicted savings of operations costs of over $3000.00 will be realized and can be reutilized in victuals and libations for the crew. Encourage that MAOGWAICAT spend freely and enjoy the exploration of a still wild frontier.


I went over the costs and time to be expended and came to a realization that I could see the local stuff, first. No crowds, no danger just open river and our boat. The fuel savings alone will finance months of filet mignon's. I was expecting to spend about 3K on fuel, then there is dockage and other emergent expenses. The Pirate's thing in Punta Gorda would have been 80 bucks a night plus dining charges and hundred thirty five bucks a head charge for the gathering, alone! (Hmmm, lessee, minimum four people X 135... Not.)

Now, the good deal about the MTOA, is the classes and seminars on boating safety, trip planning (Huh?) living aboard tips and so forth. Dogs and boating, the Great Loop, etc. And alcohol.

Would have been great fun. But also, "Lines". I can see it already;

For the Heads
For the Beer Tent
For the Luncheons and Dinners
For the freaking ATM
For the Locks in Lake Okeechobee
For paying the Dock Master
In the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) as we all head home en masse

You get it, right?

After living aboard various ships, I acquired an aversion to standing in any line. This includes: Theaters, restaurants, concerts, DMV, VA, credit unions, etc.

I will miss a meal to avoid a line.

Commuting traffic? Fuhgeddaboudit. Move to the favorable side of town.

This trip up river will be great! No lines. For anything. All the boats will be on the coast, heading North or South. On the ICW.


So, tomorrow will be some varnishing and light maintenance. We already have everything we need for this journey. Just add food and libations and the significant other!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One month to go

A mere month to go and I am still in the midst of planning. It's a little deeper when venturing out for more than a day; A boat needs to have various extras and spares.

Sometimes, I can go a little overboard on packing extras. I have a serious phobia about being a mile away from nothing and needing a padeye wrench or BT punch.

On the Trans-Atlantic, I had stuff packed away in places I forgot. So much so, that I repurchased crap I already had duplicates of...

This won't happen this time. There is a six person life raft and I will have the following in a bailout bag; a handheld VHF radio. There will be a rented Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (E.P.I.R.B) in said bag, along with signal mirror, handheld GPS, batteries, knives, canteen of water, bandages and a six pack of beer.

I'm gonna need that beer to mellow the f%&$@ out after going through a sinking of a boat. The bailout bag will also have a plastic bag with passport copies and ID. The bag shall reside secured lightly to a hand rail by the fly bridge. I want it to be the first and last thing I grab before departing the vessel permanently.

You have probably said to your self, "Why weigh the bag with beer, wouldn't alcohol be a bad idea?"

O.k. I'm fibbing about the beer. This is supposed to be entertaining, here.

Maybe a little half pint bottle of 151 Rum for wound cleaning/killing fish. Did you know that the humane way of dispatching a live fish is to put a cap full of 151 Rum into its gills? Instant death. No need for a small bat and fish blood all over your nice boat. Unless you are carrying that bat for crew compliance issues.

Digress away, Captain.

Note: I haven't sunk a boat, yet. Except for the 16 foot catamaran that went into the rocks, eighteen years ago.

Have I lost your trust and faith???

I thought we were friends, here.

Believe me or not, it is safer in the open ocean than near shore. Shallow waters have unique differences; Like Rocks and Shoals and hard places. But many people are soothed by seeing a nearby shore, like they could possibly swim that five mile distance to a rocky breakwater.

I could do that swim for real up until about nine years ago. Tonnage and laziness. Been there, done that for real. Today? I am a sloth. A three toed sloth who lives in the trees and comes down every couple days to defecate and gather berries.

Boating Mishaps:

Monday Morning Quarterbacking a tragedy is definitely not fair to victims of boating mishaps (As per Navy Safety Center dogma; there is NO such thing as an "Accident". Only mishaps that can be avoided.) The Naval Safety Center has some gouge, and the Coast Guard will have better info than the Navy. The recent tragedy off of Western Florida reminds me that none of us are immune.


We purchased a couple of brand new inflatable float coats and harnesses. I need to customize them with signaling devices like whistles and mirrors. I will also add knives to the harnesses. I would bet that those football players were needing a knife to cut away that anchor line that was a possible factor to their mishap. Small dive knives with rubber sheaths are relatively cheap and are amazingly sharp.

Note the harnesses on these two goons:

Saturday will see a great running about as I make lists and make all this stuff come together.

Life Jacket Mao:

I still have to find crew. There is an extra billet available, for the trip South. Figure a week underway and return home via airline or boat, from Lauderdale or Miami.

Stay safe out there!

Have a fine Navy day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Vantage Point Guides Link in last post

Vantage Point Guides

I added that link to illustrate what Elliott Key looked like and show a satellite shot of the area.

Do your self a very pleasant favor, and click on the link. Professional photo's of all boating in South Florida, with great descriptions of the facilities and things to do. Think of it as a mini-vacation to the warm azure waters and white sands all from the comfort of your work cubicle.

The views of Stiltsville are better than actually being there. I really love the pictures and the memories they inspire.

Great work, guys!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Navy Blog

Picture left was stolen from EM Blog
The "EM" Log is back online. This guy was a Nuke Engineer type who tells fabulous Sea Stories that you may enjoy, all from a perspective of a Submariner living in a pipe. I admire those folks, since I require sunlight and fresh air, daily. Submarine Sailors are always two minutes away from disaster, and it takes a very careful and organized person to hack that type of duty.

The first story is about taping up a Chief's coffee mug.

Someday, I might be able to remember the one's that I can tell. Fictional facts and factual fiction. Plus, I have Brian from the Yacht Club keeping me honest about the heroes and villains in my first six years in the Navy.

I'm really glad to see the EM blog back in the "on" position.

Just checking if people are paying attention...

This is before heading out to the J.O.B. Probably the finest recording of the most recorded song in history;
Nat King Cole doing Hoagy Carmichael's, "Stardust".

Is that nice?

Doc Severinson rocks it out;

Now, off to work!

OK, I'm here.

The planning for the trip has taken a different turn. Always needing plan "B", there are always emergent obstacles that have to be factored in. Like water in Lake Okeechobee levels, lock closure, excessive fees for Pirate Gatherings, etc.

Elliott Key.

One of my favorite places to visit; it is pretty rugged, no services or amenities. You need a shallow draft boat to get to the park, and there is a restroom and some paths. Just another great place to sneak off to, especially if you have water, food and a dinghy to get ashore. Satellite view

View Larger Map

Beautiful fish and clear water.

This may be a secondary destination if the Punta Gorda thing becomes unworkable. April in South Florida is a great thing, indeed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Look out Punta Gorda

This is what the Intracoastal looked like 14 years ago. Looking backwards into the past; Here is a cool picture from 1994, heading up the Intracoastal Waterway on Wildebeest

Fishermans Village

This Punta Gorda thing is beginning to take shape and waddle its way to reality.


Charts: Most of them are present. May need new chips and paper copies
Money: I have fifty bucks in my pocket
Fuel: 400 gallons, about 600 miles worth.
Food: I have a bag of chips

This is going to be a great field trip. I have been Jonesin' for just this thing. I hope to be able to go offshore for the first 27 hours, which will get me to Fort Pierce inlet. Then it will be off to Stuart to join the other Trawlers from the MTOA on the Okeechobee trail.

There is one person interested in going, and I hope to entice one or two others for this cross country boating experience.

I know better than asking Joe Bones.

If I had a 1MC, I would announce that the "XO's Underway Check Off List is available on the Quarterdeck".

Heck, planning is half the fun.

This is SWWBO, Maogwai and their Staff driving Barco 1