Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nasty weather!

Good riddance to Tropical Storm Debby. The past two days have been horrible, our region is still flooded on many rivers and roadways. We got stuck at the Yacht Club last night after dinner by rising waters flooding the road in.

The good thing about all this rain is that the drought should be over. The bad thing is all the damage to roads and structures, especially trees that fell over from wind and over saturated  earth.

Ah well, we must endure. One does, doesn't one?

If this is as bad as our hurricane season can get, I will feel fortunate. But we are still annoyed by the lack of sunshine!

 Have a nice rest of the day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Second Tropical Storm in a month!

We are soaked to the bone out here. I know the Barco has a leak in the master cabin, so I will stop by to clean up and standing water from this latest of storms. Ugg Effin' Lee!

Needless to say, the Airplane gig was cancelled. And I have been asked to clean up some oil, so I got that going for me today.

Note to self; Reseal living room bay window. The towels on the sill are soaked.

Stay dry out there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Walking weekends

She Who Will Be Obeyed is able to walk (for short durations) without aid of her walker or crutches. This is only while wearing special support shoes, but we will take this advance and (ahem) run with it!

The visits to the physical therapist has given her some real confidence and we are grateful for being a few weeks ahead of the planned progress. It's a competitive thing with SWWBO, she always has to win.

Sunday at 0900, "Pacific Princess" will be hauled outside and will finally fly away from NAS Jax. Afterwards, a barbecue to celebrate. Something fun to look forward to, and it's always fun to play with airplanes.

Who wants to chip in for buying this plane? Just joking...

Today we have a 0900 Physical Therapy appointment and then later I will putz about and prepare for the weekend fun.

Have a nice Friday!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fifteen Gallons of Oil

25-60 Multiviscosity oil, that is. From the fine people of Phillips Petroleum, poured by hand into a large funnel.

I was standing on the foothold on the port side of the engine, balancing on the wing root and pouring oil into the engine sump. The crew chief was servicing the brake system by bleeding and adding more hydraulic fluid. Bob supervised with coffee in hand as we moved quickly through the paces. After I was finished, I picked up the empties and gathered rags. I placed some spares into the gunner turret space and we locked up. "Pacific Princess" shall fly on Sunday, sometime around 1100. Afterwards we will burn meat on a grill celebrating the launch and return to flight of the Avenger.

There was a shirt waiting for me, I guess I am considered a small part of the crew. Cool!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Another fine week that starts with cooler weather!

Big bird cleaning itself in the morning sun.

Cool outside with clear skies. I love these mornings, it feels like one can accomplish anything while still feeling fully energized. In my case, I will drive She Who Will Be Obeyed to the office and then make tracks for the Air Station, where I get to help out around that nice airplane.

Wish I had $200K... If any of you happen to be interested, let me know. A part of aviation history can be yours at a very affordable (Not to me) price!

Airplanes are fun but really, they require more care and upkeep than children. You can slough off the maintenance on either boat or airplane, but if you neglect your boat, it won't try to kill you. Not for a while, anyway. An airplane would be a huge extravagance that I would not ever be able to measure up to and actually keep flyable.

I still haven't gotten around to varnishing the hand rail on Barco, inexcusable.

Since I was outside with the camera, I took a few other photos;

Our tomato stalk gave us three tomatoes and shed its leaves. It still grows. I think of Charley Brown's Xmas tree.

Pepper plant has one pepper.

One Honeydew in progress.

Pepper plants from seeds we retrieved from store bought peppers.

Cantaloupe seedlings, from yesterdays breakfast. I wonder if we will get to see any melons? Why do I keep mentioning melons?

Have a nice week!


Just got off the phone with my buddy Bob; Tuesday at 1000 we meet at the Hangar and I will be adding 18 gallons of fresh oil. I wonder if I can get a pump?

Still a fine day, airplane or not!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dudley DooRite day

The Family Wagon is having problems again, so we brought it in to the Dealer for some stern lecturing and adjustments. The Dealer told us it would be a while so they gave us a nice 2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe to drive as a temporary replacement. One must endure... Mustn't one?

Anyway, driving the Spousal Unit into work this morning, she lowers the visor and a check falls out. Insurance payment to some Restoration Company, to the tune of $431.00.

I got home and looked at the map on Yahoo, the company is about two miles away, I could send it via a Gubmint Uniformed Messenger. No, I bet the Company really needs the bucks now and no telling how long the Post Office will sit on this little check. So I drive there to drop it off, like a good Doo-rite. Once I arrived, nobody was there (strange) but I called the number posted. The "Dood" answers like he just woke up. At the crack of 0930. I asked if he was the "Company" and he realizes that this is a professional call and not some fifteen year old chick calling to find out if her virtue was still there... 

Sorry, I digressed a bit, can't help what I think while conversations are going no effing-where.

So Mr. Groggy apologizes for not answering with Company Name. I tell him I have a check that I found in a Loaner Car from Mercedes, ring any bells?

I grew weary with the direction this was all going, even though the entire conversation was 25 seconds looong. I asked where I could leave the check where it would not go walkies (The Neighborhood is less than savory), and I was directed to the Gutter Installers located across the street.

At least the "Dood" will probably eat this week, after cashing the check at one of those check cashing joints that rip off the poor. One does what one can to support society, I suppose.

So endeth the feel good story for the day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

TBM-3 Avenger recap

My friend Bob was nice enough to invite me to wipe oil and gather tools in support of doing run checks for his 1945 Grumman TBM-3 Avenger. Oh yeah, too cool!

I got there around 1030 and the prop turns were underway. I passed up a couple gallons of lubrication oil to the assistant mechanic and generally made myself sort of useful. It was a great feeling to be back in a Navy Hangar doing flight line type of stuff, just like 30 years ago.

Turns complete, oily mess has leaked on the deck.

Gun Turret needs a seat with a crewman!

I passed oil and gathered empties

Just two car batteries to keep the electrical system working.

Oil everywhere!

Radial Engine. The Harley of the skies.

Navy Tow Tractor

Everybody stopped work to watch a piece of aviation history in motion.

The Owner is getting tired of waiting...

Finally on the Flightline!

 What a great day. It was like being 19 years old, again. The Navy folks didn't talk to me but I know they were wondering who I really was. (Running back and forth with rags, wearing a very noticeable swiss watch and wearing old Raybans...) It was a great day for this old guy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday was UGG-Leee and wet.

Cloudy with 30 percent chance of rain...

Indeed. We arrived at Barco at 0730 carrying sandwiches and ice. Phil scurried about releasing docklines while I unplugged the cables and fired up the Perkins 200's. All systems were 'go' as we backed out of our berth in Pirate's Cove. The Spousal Unit was set in a chair watching the stern of the boat and she gave the alarm as I closed in on a large log in the middle of the fairway. Quickly, I changed the direction of the propellers and moved forward, out and away from the hazard.

"Underway, Shift Colors!" I merrily exclaimed.

Phil moved quickly to pull up inflated fenders and secure all loose lines. There was a bit of sunshine peeking through the dense rain clouds. I called "Moondancer" on the VHF radio and we discussed meeting up by Kyser Point and forming a parade line into NAS Jax. I then received a cell phone call reiterating our plans from Moondancer's Spouse (Tina), who was unaware of the radio conversation.

About thirty minutes later we rendezvoused with "Moondancer" and the appropriately named "Warrior" off of the Kyser Point on the Northeast part of the Naval Air Station. A sailboat also approached, but I did not know who they were. Everyone's welcome to join us!

About then we saw the black storm clouds gathering over the Buckman Bridge, three miles away. And the rain began, obscuring Interstate 295 and the areas around the bridge. Navy Jax Yacht Club called on the VHF and asked us to stand off the end of the runways and wait for the heaviest weather to clear.

Heh. Like we could be anywhere else at that moment!

We started to drive our boats in a racetrack pattern to maintain space between and yet keep our boats in visual distance.

About 200 yards to our East, cruising slowly in the St Johns River Channel was three kayakers, accompanied by a North Florida Cruising Club sailboat and three open power boats formed up around the slow-moving rowers. We stayed as clear as we could while minding our wakes. It would not do to swamp the little boats out of carelessness, would it?

After 45 minutes of pacing about in the strengthening rain, I called the three boats with us and began briefing our method to approach the fuel dock, in the windy rain, located between two other heavily damaged wooden structures at the Marina. I went in first (Since I know the Mulberry Cove Marina best!) and checked the condition and direction of the river flow. I called "Moondancer" to begin making a slow approach to the Fuel Dock and I recommended that they go in Starboard side to. There were four brave and wet souls standing on the dock to receive docklines and assist the Wounded Warrior Passengers onto the vessels.

I kept the Barco doing a short orbit around the moored vessels in the area and I asked "Warrior" and sailboat "Ruack" to stand off and orbit slowly outside the mooring field.

After waiting about 30 minutes, "Moondancer" was finally off the dock with around twenty passengers, including a number of children. The Hatteras 52 headed North in heavy rain for Downtown Jacksonville...

I called "Warrior" and directed them into the Fuel Dock as number two, and alerted Sailboat "Ruack" to stand by as number three.

The rain let up slightly as the passengers alighted "Warrior". "Warrior" had some nice plastic windows and coverings, so once onboard, the passengers were warm and dry. Same for "Moondancer". I was wondering how the guests would fare on "Ruack", being a sailboat with smaller acommodations.

The "Barco" was completely saturated with rain, the water was coming straight through the flybridge bimini cover and dripping on to the miserable Crew. We continued to monitor the fuel dock, ready to jump into action if there was any mishaps. Our bimini and plastic coverings need replacing and now is not the time to notice this salient fact! I hate being wet...

"Warrior" was soon underway and we watched "Ruack" make its approach, just as the rain intensified.

After twenty more agonizingly wet minutes, we were cleared in. By that time, some of the guests had clearly decided to not endure the bad weather so there was only one last couple to take onboard Barco. I was disappointed, but they came for a show and our guests were going to have a show!

Our guests were placed into safe and almost dry seats as we tossed the lines ashore and started to leave the Marina. The other boats had an hour head start and the weather looked quite crappy to the North...

As always, click the photo to enlarge for easier viewing:

I said, "Do you guys mind if we head for better weather? "I know you were told it was a downtown cruise, but this weather sucks and I would rather you were dry and comfortable!"

Durant, our veteran guest said, "No, we don't mind... this is great, thanks for having us on your boat!"

"This is the first time I've been on a boat since 2007, when I got out of the Navy!"

Happy Camper

I'm sure there were at least six people on the dock who gasped as we turned the Barco towards the now clearing Southern sky at 10 knots! And that's with our radio turned low, since I was not in any mood to explain diverting from the established plan. Besides, I'm the Captain out here!

The boating brief was given to our passengers as we approached the Buckman Bridge, I explained the life preservers, what we would do if any sinking danger (Run the boat up on shore, failing that, the boat can sink and we would stand on the sundeck cover and await rescue...) and finally how they were welcome to any kind of snacks and beverages. Sodas and water in the cooler right there, beer and more sodas in the fridge down below.


Phil, now feeling a bit drier

Ok, this is posed. Durant and Camelia

Our guests did not know I had a camera on them at this unguarded moment.

My favorite person does the driving.

The next hour and a half were spent talking about service, getting to know our young couple. They talked about going camping with their church and how they love the outdoors.

The "Barco" headed for Doctors Lake. The air was warming and also quite dry. The trip was becoming quite pleasant for all. I passed a couple of Life Preservers to Durant and Camelia, and pointed to the bow of the Barco. I wanted them to enjoy a few moments alone in the beauty of the St Johns River.

As I was looking at the chart plotter, looking up I noticed they were putting on the class one lifejackets...
Making the Starboard turn to Doctors Lake

I went forward with a couple sodas and said that the jackets were to be used as cushions to sit on the wet deck! (I also took pictures of them looking silly... on their camera)

It was snack time and I served up some sandwiches and peanuts as we cruised slowly under the Highway 17 bridge.

"Mark Twain once cruised by riverboat into Doctors Lake, back in the 1880's and he wrote about the experience," I explained.

We cruised into the lake until we got as far as "Whitey's Fish Camp", Ahem...

The Spousal Unit took over the driving as we left the young couple sitting up front enjoying their spontaneous quiet moment on the bow.

Time passed and we reluctantly headed back to the Base to leave Durant and Camelia back with the rest of the Wounded Warriors. There was a big barbecue and the NAS Jax Navy band provided the background music.

Barco SIn Vela passed our passengers ashore and we headed home to our berth at Florida Yacht Club  in the warm afternoon, happy to finally be dry and also that we had been part of a big event for the Wounded Warrior Project.

After mission report; There were about 20 pax on "Moondancer". There was a balloon artist and buffet onboard, the children spent three happy hours being entertained! "Warrior" took onboard about 16 Passengers and there were great reports of the good times had by all. Sailing Vessel "Ruack" had about 8 passengers and they actually put out the sails and SAILED! Outstanding, my congratulations to that crew and my envy for them being able to sail.

The inclement weather made it that half of the Warriors did not make it as planned, and I don't blame them a bit. It was truly a major effort to get the Guests and families both into the boats and back on the shore safely. This happened as a matter of routine and fact due to the huge efforts of the Navy Jax Yacht Club (Lee and Cheryl LeDoux!) and the endurance of the Navy Jax Dock Crew  ( Bob Sharkey CAPT USCGR Ret, Steve Spickelmier SMsgt USAF Ret, Dave Bailey AOC USN Ret, and finally my old HS-85 shipmate Brian Paul AW1 USNR-TAR Ret). Those guys stood in the driving rain for four hours making sure that all the precious cargo was safely handled. That surely was the toughest duty performed that day!

As for kudos due on the Barco Sin Vela; All thanks, respects and praises to Phil (RMC USN Ret), who bravely stood on the bow handling lines while I was warm and relatively dry up in the flybridge during all aspects of docking and undocking. As a partial repayment for his performance, Phil gets to come over for slow cooked Boston Butt this afternoon, served with massive flagons of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
And the Band played on!

A soggy Phil smokes a stogy while basking in the glow of an afternoon near Doctors Lake.

  I was too wet and miserable to document the other boats while we were in the docking phase of the mission. I regret that, but when I drive a boat I try to focus on the job at hand. Besides, the camera was in a bag under the sink and I could not pause from driving to get it!

Saturday turned out just fine and I look forward to trying this all out again, but next time in better weather.

Barco Out.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Big weekend!

I will be hot-footin' around today, preparing for tomorrow's Wounded Warrior Project event. The Barco Sin Vela (Nova Heritage East 40) will be joining "Moondancer" (Hatteras 52) and "Warrior" (Unknown 45' Go-Fast Boat) from the Florida Yacht Club on a trip to NAS Jax, where we will link up with Navy Jax Yacht Club vessels for the Wounded Warriors. There will be at least one hundred riders consisting of actual Wounded Vets and their families, we will make way to downtown Jacksonville and return to a big barbecue presented by the Navy Morale Welfare and Recreation folks.

Barco will be host to at least twelve passengers, and we look forward to being of small service on this worthy cause. Our crew will include our good buddy Phil and of course the lovely Spousal Unit, who will supervise from the flybridge. I guess I better have plenty of potable beverages to keep all aboard properly hydrated.

There has been an inordinate amount of rain lately, around North Florida. All the water levels are extremely high and I'm hoping our multi-year drought is about over. When I say inordinate, I mean several inches a day. The good thing is that the Florida Aquifer should be refilling/restoring to where the water should be. This also keeps the temperatures low which we all can benefit from. Our temps average in the low nineties and the humidity can suck your will to live right out of your body.

Let's hope for sunshine and light breezes for our guests tomorrow!

Barco standing by, One Six...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


0630 was my appointment time today, at St Vincent's hospital for another endoscopy and a search for what ails the innards. Result? Totally clean bill of health! It's as if nothing was there, so now I can carry on with the mission without renewing my prescription of purple pills. A great relief.

A big lesson is to ease back on too much of anything. Food, beer, wine, etc. I will take this as a big wake up call to maintaining health. So now I have another chance to mess up! Not.

There was a phone call earlier, and I was asked by my friend Bob to come by and help get an airplane back in the air on Monday morning. There will be about four other folks and maybe a couple Navy Jax Sailors helping to get that TBM-3 Avenger turned up and ready to fly. Of course, I am glad to help! We will have to pull the propellor around a number of times to get oil pumped into the jugs (cylinders) of the Radial Engine and maybe top up the fluid levels. I have never been this close to a Warbird, so there will be pictures and a description. After we perform the Turn-Around checks, the Avenger will fly to New Smyrna Airport for it's two year stay at a Museum.

I told you things were going to improve.

Have a nice evening1

Monday, June 4, 2012

Busy weekend

I met up with my friend Bob, Saturday afternoon. We had a great couple of hours catching up after losing touch for the past four years. Seems that Bob wants to sell his Hunter 42 (1999 with low hours on the engine), and it has been hardly used in the past 12 years. Just one trip to the Bahamas is about the furthest it has traveled, and the good deal for me is that he offered to let me run the boat just to keep it exercised while he is off tending to other business. (Bob was selected to be inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame next month.) There are other missions for Bob later on, so I am glad to be of small service.

So now I will be able to get some sailing in, as if I really have the time! Good deals must be accepted with grace and gratitude, and it is a real pleasure to help a friend when they really need you.

Last night was the Trader Vic's party at the Yacht Club, our buddy Mark Zeigler and his band "Freudian Slip" did a great job with the entertainment. Mark is a Yacht Broker during the day, so I passed Bob's information concerning the Hunter 42 sailboat. I'm just a wheelin' and dealin' kind o' cat! 

While enjoying the party, I got a call from my father and he passed along some very tough news about his brother. It was the kind of call that nobody likes to receive but the message gets passed anyway, like it or not. Good thing I was only on my second Mai Tai, so I sat on a bench about twelve feet from the placid water and was able to see downtown in the distance, rising above the smooth river lighting up a darkening sky as we chatted. Or should I say that I was mainly in "Receive Mode".

My Uncle always called me "Admiral!!!" on the phone. I'll miss that, always. Gerry was the most generous man I've ever known, and I hope I can live up to his past kindness for me and my sister. I even told him so on our last phone call, three weeks ago. I mentioned how (among other things...) he had helped us acquire our first sailboat, 21 years back, not to mention all the great Christmas presents and birthdays. He just laughed it all off but did say that he was touched that I had remembered. Just like him to say that.

It's been a reserved and quiet weekend otherwise, full of reflection and a bit of sadness. I hate it we humans are only issued with a finite number of heartbeats.

But the good thing happening is that the Spousal Unit is moving better and taking advantage of her mobility with her new walker. Good times are ahead, I promise!

 Jersey brothers and my sister, "Cookie". Hayward Calif. 1972

Sister, Uncle and me in blue, 1972

My Uncle, his Aunt in 1980. He always dressed stylishly, check out the disco shirt! 

Keep in touch with your loved ones, if you can. They won't always be there to stay in touch with You.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The "Ghetto Navy"

"Hammerin' Hank" USS Elrod FFG-55

My friend Phil spotted this article on the web called, "The Ghetto Navy".

When I spent a few years on board that ship, it was practically brand new. The Skipper had the Deck Division keeping her looking that way by always painting when we pulled into port. Even the interior had that "New Car Smell". Every inch of that ship was spotless, as if her crew cared. We had great liberty ports and interesting missions. We even had bumper stickers that proudly described her as the "Rod and Gun Club". (el-Rod for fishing and Gun for the call sign of our helicopter "Magnum".) We were never the Ghetto Navy and I'm sure the crew of that ship would sorta take offense today.

But we did humorously replace the official motto, "War Ready to Preserve Peace" with "Inspection Ready to Preserve Peace".

We were that sharp.

As for "What have you been doing, lately?" Yesterday, I checked out the running order of an old friend's boat. The air conditioning, anchor windlass and stern gland of a certain Hunter 42 were viewed and everything was 4.0. But I did add about four gallons of distilled water into the batteries, that should keep them working. I hope I can get a close up view of the pictured warbird some time, as I have never been able to look at the inside of one of those beauties! Tomorrow, I will stop back by and get some fenders on the sailboat for Bob and ready the boat for storage.

Have a fine weekend!