Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nothing new to post lately...

Over the last weekend, we completely weeded out our closets of old clothing. We gave three very large garden trash bags of very good clothing to the Navy Wives' Club thrift shop at NAS Jax. There will be a massive professional top-to-bottom field day of the Casa on this coming Friday which will mean the emptying of other rooms of the excess trash we have accumulated over the years.

There has been much spending and doing around the Barco, too. And no boating.

We have a nice young man named JR who is busy sanding and varnishing the teak on the topsides. This guy is soooo goood, he had all the old stuff sanded off and taped up for varnish after two days!

There are now three coats of Epifane's Varnish on the rails and two on the Sundeck trim, I expect all the jobs to be done by next Wednesday. We are looking forward to a scrubbed and ready for family inspection Barco Sin Vela for next Friday family outing. You know that there will be some fellow boat owners who will be looking quite critically at the trim and finish  of our bright work everywhere on the boat. Good thing we have JR. I was going to have a list of excuses ready if the teak was still looking shabby...

Speaking of outings; We have at least 33 people coming from Michigan to visit Jacksonville, and I have a sister coming into town for the weekend. There is also Roger and Janice (From Beaujolais  docked in Australia) and finally one young Soldier coming in from AFG. All will be aboard the Barco Sin Vela for a quick St Johns River run (We have at least 45 life jackets) and afterwards it will be a barbeque at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge.

First Saturday night in April, we will see all of our family and friends dressed in glad-rags (Dress is "Resort Casual"-- Read: Hawaiian Shirts) and mustered aboard the Yacht Club's "Astor Room" for a celebration party.

We have engaged one other feller as part of our supporting cast; The garden maintenance dude Jerry, who is scheduled to drive the 13 passenger van back and forth to the Holiday Inn to make sure that nobody gets a snoot-full and gets behind a wheel. (I think we covered all that in the last post.)

The Yacht Club will have ready a couple kegs, an unlimited amount of wine and champagne and loads of gourmet food to go with the venue, Which will be The Astor Room and Balcony, so we have all that going for us, which is good.

All of this activity to support one party.
But it is in lieu of the wedding we did not have back in 1991 and our way of thanking all of the loved ones who were there for us all of those years.

At least we didn't blow all of these bucks on some silly wedding, back then.  We watch those bridezilla shows and observe all of the efforts made by family and friends to ensure a perfect wedding day but no effort made in actually helping to form lifetime bonds.

Not that we know any better.

Besides, at the poor state of our finances in early 1991, it was all we could do to afford a marriage license with Papa John's pizza as our wedding night dinner!

Sausage pizza, mmm.

This time dinner will be Prime Beef Filet served by a Chef at a proper carvery station.

T-minus Eight Days and counting; This is Party Launch Control.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Road Trip!

The escape from the J.O.B. happened at the crack of four o'clock, I shot out the door and strapped myself into the 560SL and launched with a destination of homeplate.

Messy Garage

Got home about ten minutes later and began preparations for the usual dining fare; Ribeye steak (medium rare) and a bottle of our finest Cab.

The plan was to do some errands on Saturday and Sunday, prepping our home for the rush of guests that will come at the end of the month.

After dinner we relaxed with the tv and retired for the night at 9:00PM.

Up and at'em  came early Saturday, I worked out in the gym and did a walk around the neighborhood in 34 degree cold, marveling at how winter had returned. But no worries, we had bright sunshine and the hope of temps rising to 75 degrees for the afternoon.

We went to the store got some photos printed and were done with errands by 10:00AM, so the Spousal Unit called for a road trip.

Her Uncle was in St Augustine visiting for the month. Why don't we cruise the family truckster down for the afternoon?

Why not?

We were off like a shot heading down I-95 doing the speed of heat. No real goal or destination, just get to the Oldest City and make it up from there.

We were in the downtown by 11:45 and searching for a parking spot. It seems there was some festival  going on so all the lots were F.U.L.L., we drove in  circle for an hour but were unable to find even a pay lot. Finally, we drove towards the Fort and pulled in to a tour lot. It cost us $43.00 to park, we had to pay for a trolley tour that is good for three days, just so we could get the "free" parking. Oh well. Her Uncle only comes down once a year, we can give them the tickets so they can trolley about for the next three days on us.

We met up with Uncle and his wife at the festival. Seems they already had the trolley tickets, too. They rode the trolley from their resort to downtown.


We cruised around the Lions Club fair, ate crappy fried seafood and enjoyed a couple beers, all for a good cause. It was one of those Artsy Fair things, so we walked about and oogled the stuff that was for sale, wasting an afternoon.

After the festival, we walked over to George Street in the old town center with a goal of finding the oldest Tavern for Sangria and Beer.

One of the really nice things about St Augustine is that history is all around and most of it is free of charge. The Taberna Del Gallo is one of those freebies that is quite satisfying. The Staff wear period outfits and pour Spanish wines and run the place as it has been for 350 years. They had Samuel Adams Cherry on tap.

We took our drinks out back and enjoyed the warm afternoon surrounded by Coquina walls of the original city. There was musket and cannon fire to punctuate the quiet as salutes were set off.

The bartender came out to get her bottle back from us, we complimented her on how nice the Tavern was kept. She explained that she is a History Professor over at Flagler College and that this was a part time job with the State. It seems the State of Florida owns and operates the Tavern.

Too Cool!

We got a brief history lesson as we sipped our drinks.


"This is wine from Spain"

Soon it was past 4:00 and we needed to send the Uncle and his wife to their bus ride to the resort.

We went in search of lodging, because I had enjoyed four beers over the course of the afternoon, I was not going to get a DUI for driving home. We stopped at the Best Western; No Vacancy. In fact the Clerk said it was unlikely we would get a room anywhere near downtown because of Bike Week and other events going on locally.

We hiked over to the Casablanca Inn. They had one last room, $266.00 for one night.

"You're only staying one night, right?"

I replied, "Yes. Especially at those prices."

I justified the expense by thinking of the costs of a possible DUI. A couple hundred bucks is nothing compared to loss of life, injuries and even worse; Loss of License and Insurance!

We were assigned to the Secret Garden portion of the Casablanca Inn. It was somewhere out back and they gave me a map.

The suite was incredible! Old wooden floors, beautiful Persian carpet and best of all, tucked away in a garden courtyard.

The Accommodation

Courtyard/Secret Garden

Since we had no luggage, we ran out the door and headed for the Tradewinds Lounge for some music and fun.

We were spotted and recognized immediately by our old friend, Mark Hart.

Ten years ago, we arrived in St Augustine onboard the Wildebeest III, after completing our Trans-Atlantic trip. Then as now, Mark Hart was doing the one man show.

We have hired Mark two or three times over the years, and he is always quite the gem as a performer.

After his show, we chatted a bit and promised to make plans to have him work another of our parties.

The next stop was my American Legion Post, right next door.

I have maintained my membership of Post 37 since 1994, but nobody knows us. That wasn't going to stop us, we were on a roll!

We hung out for another hour, or so and the low food level light came on. We headed over to a Greek restaurant for Gyro Platters.

After stuffing ourselves, we took the doggy bag and headed back to the Casablanca Inn. I gave a homeless guy our leftovers. I hope he enjoyed it as much as we did!

Stopped by the Martini Bar at the Casablanca and we split a bottle of Champagne and called it a night.

Sunday morning came, and we went to Anastasia Island for brunch at the Beachcomber bar.

Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island.

St Augustine Lighthouse
We had a nice lunch at the beachcomber eatery and then bid a good bye to the Family and had the
top down, took the long way home through the North Florida forested state highways.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coolest Knot Tying Site

I used to spend hours practicing my knot tying, back when I was stationed on a Destroyer, USS Deyo. The Bos'n Mates were always glad to take time out to teach an airdale some great knots.

There was a time I could tie a Monkeys Fist! Nowadays, I have forgotten all the cool knots except for the ones I use everyday, like the Bowline.

Anyway, go here to see ALL knots and they include animation, so no excuses about tying that cleat knot!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I dare you to go to the link. No; I double dog dare you!

Fort Polk Guardian 

Yet another great story of National Guard folks doing the hard work for the rest of us. Those Guy's ROCK!

I just wish the researchers could find a way to eliminate cancer. The Pharmaceutical companies  have stupid drugs available for every non-threatening ailment but not for the afflictions that hurt entire families.

If there was a prayer I would encourage people to pray; "God Damn Cancer! Please."

(We're still thinking about Team Julian!, up in Michigan)

Disclaimer; I saw that article at Confederate Yankee and Theo Spark. No, Theo, I can't link due to work.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I really like Saturdays

Saturdays are the nicest treat after five days of being in someone else's service.

It's a day of promise; Rest and relaxation, time on your favorite projects (I have none. Lazy) watching TV or just stretching out and doing nothing. The reason it feels better on Saturday is because we expect at the end of Saturday, there is Sunday.

And not Monday, which is the calendar equivalent of a rough hangover.

Not that I ever enjoy hangovers. The term is endure.

We are living in interesting times, the middle east is completely cracking up and departing from 60 plus years of dictatorships to possibly a brief future of freedom before the Religious Authoritarians begin the new Islamic Caliphate.

Which brings me to Charlie Sheen;

Whose idea is it to suddenly refocus our entire media attention away from world changing events to a ridiculous self centered Hollywood actor?

Seriously, what propelled this person into the spotlight? Nothing he does is surprising to me, at least he isn't bombing his neighbors in Torrance or machine-gunning the good people in Watts.

I wonder if the media is trying to get our bumbling Government out of the spotlight so that the average voter does not see how out of touch and inefficient our elected stooges are. And I'm especially pointing the finger at Europe; Those European Governments, who some in our country think are the paragons of democratic governance, can't seem to come up with a rational way of being of some service to their North African brothers who are suffering just five hundred miles to the South.

I think Europe is waiting for America to come to the rescue. But America is too busy worrying about Charlie Sheen.

Charlie Sheen says that when he goes off to do something unhealthy or crazy, and we stop to stare at his car wreck of a life, that it is his gift to us(!) Charlie Sheen has made us forget about our troubles, just for a moment.

And then Mr. Sheen passes his whiz-quiz drug test.

Which I find interesting. Especially after the media has supposedly been telling da troof (Like they always do!) About drug use, and all the other fun stuff. Which again, I. Do. Not. Care. About.

I'm suspecting Charlie Sheen is acting out the role of a lifetime, working for someone who wants to use sleight of hand to distract the discerning public.

And that worries me.

By the way; I like Charlie Sheen's acting and the character he plays on his TV show. I could care less how he deports himself on his own time because it is none of my business. Good luck to him and I hope his show continues.

Back to boating, of which I know a lot more about;

Here are two videos from last weekend, I wish I were out on the water today, which is a cloudy and cool Saturday.

This snippet is a brief view of our speed boat ride with our friend Bill.

Have a nice Saturday. Thanks for tolerating my little meaningless rant, which buffered the empty space before the nice videos!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

About last weekend;

She Who Will Be Obeyed has required me to ready our cruising vessel for an underway period; Namely for the next two nights.

The Barco Sin Vela shall rendezvous with a number of like boats to anchor somewhere in the Black Creek, off the St Johns River. Black Creek is notable for it's wildlife, both reptilian and mammalian.

Looks like thirty boats will be there so I hope we aren't too uncomfortable with the crowd. I generally prefer our gatherings to a bit more exclusive. Then again, I'm sure some of the others wonder how I got in to the Yacht Club, too.

Arrggghh; There be some old money in some of those other boats. It be a pirate's dream... (Pirate's of the Caribbean pirates, that is)

The Barco Sin Vela comes from the Old "No" Money. Sort of like inviting the yard keeper to the family Annual Barbecue. But we shall go and mooch up some barley pops and snackage.

We departed about an hour late!

(Written five days later)

Got underway in a southwest breeze and headed towards it. It was a two hour journey at 8 knots when we arrived at the Black Creek mouth, west side of the St Johns.

There was much activity on channel 68 VHF; All the boats from the Yacht Club were quite talkative as they headed in our direction.

Being faster boats, they all got underway about an hour after us. But stay in contact with each other, they did. It was amusing at how they needed to stay closely in contact with one another.

As we approached the bridge, we could hear two of the other boats sounding concerned as they could not see the bridge or where they needed to make the turn.

We called out that we were a mile ahead, follow us in.

There was a silence as they digested the info, and they wondered who we were.

They acknowledged our call and slowly came in. They started calling out the depths, they were growing concerned that there was shallows.

I called back and assured them that there was over 7 feet of depth. The reply was to the negative, they could see they were clearly in 4 feet of water.

I called that my lying eyes were looking at my depth meter and that I saw 7 feet. I told them to favor the South side of the channel and they they would be fine.

They chattered amongst themselves as the Spousal Unit and I giggled. The St Johns River is an excellent waterway with plenty of depth and few shallows. Our friends were driving 30+ Foot go-fast boats, so I could understand how depth can be troublesome when it changes on you at 20 knots of speed.

We passed uneventfully under the bridge (30 feet clearance) and proceeded up the creek (Without a paddle!) Soon, we traversed about two miles and came upon the rafting site. It was two small docks which had two boats already tied up. We joined our friend the fishing vessel "Goombay" and tied securely on their starboard side. We quickly were in place with fenders and extra lines firmly securing us.

About 20 minutes later, the bulk of the smaller boat fleet approached and I helped seven boats get secured to the raft.

The Spousal Unit busied herself on the cell phone on a Conference call with her company. She was sure to tell the others that she was on a boat (Think of the viral video "I'm on a boat...!") while her fellow employees were trapped in cubicles.

I enjoyed my first PBR of the day and we settled into 48 hours of celebration.

The Frostbite Rally has been held at the Ira Farm for the past 44 years, and we had several boats who had three generations+ of people who had been coming since 1967. Actually, that rally has a history going further back, it's just that the past rallies were at other locations.

Friday evening there was a free fish fry, Randy (Our Club Fishing Guide) had caught about 130 pounds of Sea Bass at Steinhatchee, over on the Gulf side of Florida. Randy had filleted the fish and was nice enough to cook all the food for all of us hungry revellers. We turned in about 2200 for the evening.

Saturday morning, we had even more boats arrive to the raft. We also had a Clay County Deputy on his official boat and a Trooper from the Fish and Wildlife Commission who patrolled our stretch of the creek to ensure nobody waked our raft with excess speed on the water.

Our friend Bill came over with his 18 foot speed boat and took the Barco crew for a spin up the creek as far as Blanding Blvd.

When we got back, we opened up the Mount Gay Rum and had two Cuba Libre's, each. Bill departed to get his family while the Barco got her stuff together for the evening steak cookout.

What a time. There must have been 60 people there, we all had too good a time with some wonderful dining.

After dinner, the hosts gathered all the leftover steaks which would be the the basis of the morning "Steak and Egg" brekkies.

The next morning we turned for the recuperative milk punch and mimosas served with gallons of coffee. Breakfast was served at 0930. There were the final speeches and a closing prayer and we all headed back to our homes.

Good times!

Here are some pictures. I have videos, but they are a pain to upload.

Coolest 13 y/o kid on the water.
Coolest kid is quizzed by the sheriff if he has proper papers. He does!

Barco Base

Saturday night steak sacrifice

Bill drives up the creek

Black Creek Saturday

Bloanding Blvd Bridge

Some of the Chirren having fun Saturday night

Cool Trawler

Alle ist klaar, Herr Kommissar!

some of the Honey's

SWWBO is a capable Skipper!

Black Creek Hwy 17 bridge 30 Ft Clearance

Our Hosts of the Raft up

A beautiful antique Lyman woody motorboat

Hot pursuit of a speeder

Not getting away...

Pulled over for a "talk"

Donut time.

This is Leigh, she is a professor at a local University.

Our unused bbq.

Fish and Wildlife Trooper on patrol

Some of our fellow members (I mean Betters) I love their Hatteras Yacht!

Night Time ain't no-time to be in this here neighborhood!

The Raft. Looks cool, right?

This dinghy started sinking. Hilarious!

Some of the local wildlife.

One of these people is a retired NASCAR official. I am not saying which.

Tributary off of Black Creek. Will explore, later.

Barco out.