Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy new year, and all that!

We took the Barco out for the afternoon, yesterday. Just anchored in that same place as a week ago, it was even quieter. No other boats on the river and we enjoyed the peace and sunshine in solitude.

Online in our peaceful anchorage.


Sunset at Kyser Point, on the way home.

Rounding the bend to our home port.
 Tonight is the big dinner, I will have to wear the tux and shiny shoes.

Have a happy new year to you and yours, and may the politicians in D.C. suffer for their past inadequacies!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wicked head cold!

Hello Sports fans. The Spousal Unit and myself are enduring one of the toughest head cold/fevers in many years. It has been absolutely ugly here with all the coughing sneezing and nose blowing. Completely wrecked our long weekend, oh yes! The last two nights have been unrestful and I hope we have seen the worst go by.

Cruising around the internet, I noticed that the "Immaculate Reception" is being remembered today. Forty years ago, my favorite football team had the Pittsburg Steelers practically beaten. My father and I were cheering on the Raiders and with five seconds to go...

I remember feeling stunned. The camera work back then was not in the same caliber as today, so I felt the Raiders had been ripped off by bad officiating. I still feel that the ball had touched Frenchy Fuqua's shoulder pad making the ball dead, and I didn't need to hear that from the second video.  I sat in the living room watching replay after replay on our brand new Admiral 19 inch color tv! (Man, was that luxury!) finally, just accepting the loss I went outside to play football with my friends down the block. Who were equally shocked about the results. We were some hard core Raider fans, oh yes we were! Hard to believe forty years has passed, I still feel like I'm eleven years old.

There was frost on the lawn when I went out to get the morning paper. Just like forty years ago.

We will continue taking our cold pills and hope to be ready for the Christmas celebration. Mom J Cat has a couple of presents and so does our Cat Sitter Phil. Peking Duck will be the guest of honor at the Christmas Dinner, as it has for the past eight years.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another boating report

Wednesday on the water, eh?

Because we can.

It was a busy morning, I had to run some errands and drop off Christmas cookies at a couple places, spreading the holiday cheer, and all that. Well, I went to Walgreens first, to pick up a prescription. Darn it! It turns out Walgreens is not accepting Tricare as insurance, so I had to pay the full dime. After all, I am a loser who is not on the saintly obamacare. So pony up the dough, frustrated millionaire!

If I had Obama's money, I would throw mine away.

This pretty much ruined my morning because I hate paying full price for anything, especially if it is through my own negligence.

I stopped by the boat and impulsively decided to take the Barco out and go boating somewhere, away from society and people in particular. Maybe it's the stress of having to be nice to everyone because it's the time of Kwanzaa, I don't know. Perhaps I need to get a Festivus pole, and air out the grievances.

I was underway on diesel power by 1110, heading slowly into the river with no idea where to go. For a moment, I could imagine myself running away from home and doing a Tom and Huck on the St Johns River. I have plenty of supplies, a couple cases of beer, a champagne (the good stuff, Piper!), couple bottles of chilled white wine and finally three or four jugs o' rum. In the food department, pasta, sauces, canned meat products, long life bacon, pancakes, eggs, frozen sausage and a cardboard tin of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls.

At least five days of victuals, and I  have fishing poles, too! We shan't starve.

So anyway, I'm heading out at max conservation speed which burns about three gallons of diesel per hour. How much fuel? We have about 180 gallons of diesel in the tanks, which would allow us to move for almost sixty hours, at 6 knots. Why, I could make it past Deland and well on the way to Orlando with this cargo!

I turn to a course of 180 degrees, which is South for all the rest of you reading. Set the Otto to drive and I went below to grab a couple of cold Henry Weinhart's Private Reserve to accompany me in the flybridge as I watched the shore go by in the warm Florida sunshine. It was so nice I had to shift to the boating uniform of the day (shorts and t-shirt!) while the Perkins diesels rumbled in monotone ease, pushing the Barco further up river to a unknown destination. Just like life itself.

There were a number of SH-60's flying about in the NAS Jax pattern, and they made sure to buzz me at every opportunity. I think they were envying my solitude on the river on such a beautiful day. What they did not know was that I happened to be a bit jealous that they could move about in total freedom at speeds up to 160 knots all at someone else's expense. They were probably looking for the topless chick (There was always the sea story about buzzing a boat full of hot topless chicks...) that was hiding from their peeping eyes, unfortunately I was alone. No eye candy for the Navy, today!

Forty five minutes afterwards, I was passing under the Buckman Bridge (I-295) reducing my speed and wake for the two fishing boats who were in the channel. Once clear I bumped the throttles up to 1400 rpm's and continued along at 7 knots. There was no destination  planned and I was not going to be able to run off for a week as discussed a few paragraphs ago. My responsibility is to be back at the homestead when the Spousal Unit returns. It would be incredibly disloyal if I was to just go off without leaving a note. (I have done that once; That was when I ran away and re-joined the Navy in 1989... that poor past girlfriend of mine is still waiting for me to return to California...) Anyway, I have no real desire to be a jerk.

An idea occurred to me to find a nice anchorage. I could save a few gallons of fuel while still enjoying the peace and quiet of being away on the river. Doctor's Lake came to mind, but it was an hour away. A paper chart had many choices, and I took a turn to the South East, heading to Mandarin Point. Actually, a couple hundred yards to the North and East of the actual point, tucked into a naturally protected bend of the river.

Hit the minus symbol to back away on the map to get perspective on where I was anchored;

View Larger Map

Mandarin Point is a mile or so to the South from the Buckman, with hardly any boating traffic (None, really) and it looked just the place for a Barco to roost for a few hours. I had the hook down in moments and secured the diesels to enjoy the quiet. First up, the Festivus "Airing of Grievances" while all alone, no other boats in the zip code. I opened another barley pop and set up a chair on the foredeck with a Travis McGee novel and settled into the warm, noon time sun. My only visitors being the SH-60 flying directly overhead, at two hundred feet. There were about three of them, each coming by at 45 minute intervals. Still no bikini clad girls, sorry!

 These photos were taken by my Samsung cell phone.

Mandarin Point

I set anchor at the "H",  and for good measure set an anchor alarm to warn me if we drag.

Time for a nice book.

This does not suck.

Buckman Bridge, just before I got back underway.

The afternoon moved along at a slow pace, I read, relaxed and enjoyed a total of four beers from 1130 to 1530. Not enough to get loopy, but enough to make one feel in a vacation mode. Add to that a lack of river traffic, and a general feeling of being miles away takes a real effect. As time passed the sun was beating my face with ultraviolet rays and a bit of reddening was evident. Regretfully, I began putting away stuff in preparation for my inevitable return to the home base before the afternoon commute began. For my Festivus "Feat of Strength", I used the rope windlass to electrically pull up anchor line until I had the anchor free and cleaned of mud. Then I wrapped the chain around the king post and started the diesels for the trip North. A helicopter buzzed me as I did my final tasks and returned to the fly bridge to the boat controls. I like to think they were sorry to see me go.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I miss the old fashioned 35mm Cameras

I mentioned in the comments from yesterday how I missed my manual Petrie Camera. Found an image online of that camera;

Nothing tricky about it. There was a light meter built into the viewing reticle and you either could make the photo bright or dark via the inner ring of the lens. This made up for the lack of built in flash.

But the problem was using 35 mm film. Has to be developed and scanned into computer for use online.

With life and technology, 'It's Always Something...' that confounds us!

Barco out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Updates on shiny stuff

I spent the afternoon preparing a bit for tomorrow's afternoon gig that SWWBO is hosting with her staff.

Click to enlarge!

This is without flash:
Looks better in the natural light. The beer fridge is a temporary roost for the Compass.

With Flash:

Little too much flash and too little color.

The fruits of her labors over the weekend. At least 20 dozen cookies!

This is the barometer that took us across an ocean. Shines up really nice!

Malli and Saffy guard the shiny...

Again, the flash is too much.

Malli and Mao.

All set for fun. see you later...

Back to the grind!

Not a happy weekend in some parts of our country, was it?

Erase all memory of that vile creature.

After waiting a bit and doing a review, I went back and deleted my useless comments concerning recent events in Connecticut. They serve(d) no purpose and added nothing. So I wrapped it up with one sentence.

Better to talk about positivity, right?

As for me, I went out on the Barco yesterday. The Spousal Unit was making up a peck of Christmas cookies and I got antsy, and needed to go out and play.

Wearing my float suspenders, I drive through the afternoon...

The river was super smooth and quiet.

Heading back to base.

Back to your scheduled grind, people!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

So much for yesterday's efforts.

I received a phone call this morning from the Military Sealift Command. Seems that I'm not what they were looking for in third officer or operations chief. If I had been an Operations Specialist or Quartermaster, I would have been well qualified. But since I was an Aviation Warfare Systems Operator, not so much. What disappoints me is that I can do all the things the OS or QM could do, in fact I could do it better. (If you ask me, anyway)

Oh well. They did tell me to keep trying (Right...) and thanked me for my interest. So there are jobs out there for someone. Good thing I was just being nosy and not in financial extremis. This might have been awfully disappointing if I had hungry mouths to feed, not that anything was going to happen in this endeavor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Someone went to a "Job Fair"

Job Fair.

That was the title of the gathering at the local Worksource... Worksource is a combination internet cafe, EBT Card dispenser and place to house gubmint employees who are unemployable at any other real place of work.

I can assure you that Worksource is a place of misery. I have tried to use the services provided on three occasions in the past ten years; Once when I was working for a Defense Contractor, looking for new employees; Another time when I was needing work and finally when I was trying to learn how to get a job at the Post Office.

I NEVER GOT ANYTHING OUT OF THIS WORKSOURCE!!! We couldn't hire any of the applicants they provided, mostly because the potential workers never got back to us! I never heard back from any of the employers when I sent my Worksource Resume's and finally, Worksource had no idea on how to apply for Postal Work. Srsly! This is possibly because Worksource is a Jobs Program of itself, intended to give good jobs to those nice graduates with Social Work Degrees from smaller schools of advanced learning.

Note: It is not my intent to be bad mouthing any CollegesI would enroll myself into Edward Waters College today,  just to enjoy being a minority student who might really do well with the education they offer. Imagine yourself being really noticeable and with most people trying to be nice to you because you are different! I bet it would be a good time going to that college as a 20ish kind of student. Plus, EWC actually has a really cool history.

Please to return to my endurance session at the Worksource.

In review, I should have known that I would be completely wasting an afternoon at the inner city unemployment office. But I had to give it a try, in case I was missing something valuable.

To be fair, I think the Worksource is a great place for some people to learn to use a computer in the hunt for a decent job. And that is really ok with me, since my taxes seem to be wasted everywhere else.

Anyway, rant off.

Soooo, I show up to the Military Sealift Command's Job Fair at the Norwood Worksource office. When I walk in to the office, I was directed to the left and told,

"fillouttheformwithyournameandsocialandhaveaseat." In one breath.

After a pleasant hour's wait (In which I was listening to the current presentation given just behind the wall) along with 25 other interested parties, we soon directed by a nice lady to turn in a form and file into a class room. This is when I notice the additional forms and writing utensils on the open desks. Looking around the classroom at my peers, I noticed that I was relatively well dressed and probably looking a bit over qualified for the Ordinary Seaman billets that the recruiter had gone on-and-on about during the previous session. I tried sitting on the outskirts of the crowd for the go-ahead-quick-getaway spot.

Enter the Matronly Woman of Authority; "Sir, please take that seat over by the wall..." Wedged inside of a few linebackers was a tiny, grade school sized tuffet for which I could rest my larger der·ri·√®re.

This is when I departed quickly and quietly. This was about all the patience that was going to be expended and I was not going to wait any longer just to re-listen to the canned speech and the exhortations of (A very unskilled Recruiter) ..."You need to have a Passport/Transportation Card before applying to any of our Civilian Mariner jobs..."

Ok, I get it. All I hoped for was a moment to ask some questions about job availability and if it was even worth my time to ask. The Dude (Recruiter) was outside having a smoke break while all 25 of us had been waiting for over an hour. Fine with me, pal. I wondered if his alma mater was from a small college, too. Seems like a pretty crappy job to be cruising the inner city unemployment offices pitching good jobs with tough hiring requirements to needy people who may have less than perfect credit histories. (And debt is a hiring disqualifier with the Military Sealift Command!)


After getting back to the cat dwelling,  there happened to be an email which was just received from the Military Sealift Command!  This message tells me pretty much what I wanted to know from my visit, anyway. And so it goes, it seems that I am qualified for something and an application for a number of positions will be sent to me in the next month, or so.


I want to be clear about this business, there is no real need for me to get back to work other than me wanting to see if there is an interesting opportunity out there. Running away to sea sounds like such fun, right? Especially when the pay might be worth while, too.  Prolly help the ol' ego if they offer something and I turn it down. Or not. We'll have to see how it all comes together.

Going back to sea kinda sounds like fun but really, I might suddenly remember how I hated being away from home and putting up with crazy shipboard routines. Perhaps this lesson is the whole point of me going over to Worksource and being annoyed today.

I'm happy. Hope you are, too. Have a nice Wednesday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

All right; The end of the week!

Another week gone as we travel inexorably to our far off destination... Hopefully way off past 21 December, the end of the so called Mayan calendar. I think that the Mayans got a little tired of carving rock into calendars and merely stopped at a certain point of fatigue. Think of the effort expended for a hundred years? Me guess 'em 21 December 2012 seemed as good as any point for quittin' and besides, they weren't hip to Julian or Gregorian calendars, anyway.

Sometime next week is the anniversary of someone's debut into this plane of existence. I don't like to celebrate those days since they happen on a fairly regular basis, so we endure. I was asked if there was anything particular that I would like to receive as a gift and my regular answer (No.) came out in the usual manner. There really is nothing I want except for an eighty-five foot long distance, sea worthy vessel with the bucks to maintain it. And maybe the Swedish Blonde Bikini Team to act as crew/entertainment/housekeeping.*

My unexpected Prize:

Kelvin White Danforth Constellation binnacle compass!

Eight inch compass card.

New, these things are priced in excess of $3K. Not including the brass.

The oil has no bubbles or cloudiness. All I need to do is get a12 volt power source and twist the wires properly.
I was looking at the last photo and realized my compass heading is South/Southwest. Typical course for me... Please carry on.

A compass from/for a large vessel! Totally Kick Ass!!!

This is the coolest prize evah!

(I know, I'm easily amused...) 

And this is a total surprise at that. A week or two ago, I mentioned that I had seen this particular compass at the local Sailor's Exchange but that I didn't want to buy it because of the high price. Well that idea got the Spousal Unit thinking and she snuck out yesterday and (Had the staff from the store pick it up) placed the compass in the trunk of her car. The trunk being the last place I would look for anything, of course. 

Last night, to celebrate Thursday I cooked up wine-braised short ribs served with Zinfandel, and baked a dessert of double chocolate brownies. As we were chatting about the fine meal I mentioned that I had a plan to acquire that compass after all... 

A look on her face told me something was not right.

"It's in the trunk of the car," she smiled and quickly said.

I'm sure the look on my face was one of complete surprise.

We had a great laugh and I went out to collect my heavy prize. It weighs over 25 pounds, mostly due to a gallon and a quarter of compass oil and the two compensating iron globes on the binnacle. I looked up some comparable devices online and it seems that the nearest compass is about double the value, so I don't feel as bad about the final costs. This is probably the one gift that I am surprised and pleased by, which would be a rarity. Most little things do not impress me except large denomination beer exchange chits. But I digress...

I may not have a ship, but I do have the compass (And it is in a fully operational condition!), and that's a start; To paraphrase a Beatle song from way back.

Anyway, great fun and I will have to get the Nevr-dull out to get a proper shine on my newest acquisition. Now I need to search for a pedestal, maybe two. One for the compass binnacle and another for my very special Spousal Unit! And I can't wait to get a proper ship to use the compass on.

Someday, right?

Tonight it is off to the club for the raffle of $200 bucks. Tomorrow will be some boating action on the river, maybe an overnight trip anchored in some particular harbor. Have a great weekend!

* I love these tongue in cheek commercials about sorta ok (if you're buying) beer.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Back from Black Creek boating trip

We are back, as far as the reader is concerned...

Busy times, we had family and friends visit the Serenghetti Spa and Veldt Lounge for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. And when the weather was good we naturally took the travelers out on the Barco to enjoy the St Johns River, Doctor's Lake and Black Creek.

The fun in these little trips is that we don't have to go very far to see the natural beauty of the wetlands and in doing so feel many miles away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Thanksgiving weekend had us on a short trip;

Parental Unit and Spousal Unit

Sylvia and Len from Vero Beach

Buckman Bridge (I-295)

Being the weekend of Thanksgiving, we were pretty much alone on the waters of Northeast Florida. Too bad we are responsible older types, we could have been raising all kinds of heck!

The following weekend, the Barco was invited to visit friends who reside in a small camp on Black Creek. We were assured that we could park for the night on a dock in support of the Christmas Party that was planned for this past Saturday;

Somebody is comfortable in the 75 degree sunshine.

About an hour and a half up Black Creek

Another odd sight in the middle of nowhere; A Tiki Bar with a warning that "trespassers will be shot".
Not very welcoming, is it?

For Sale. I wonder, how much?

In the middle of nowhere, a flagpole.

The Campsite with the three docks.

We snuck up on the locals...

We tied up to this dock for the night. I have a feeling it will become a very regular stop for us in the future.

Jerry (in the red) looks at the po' folks going by.

The Camphouse.

A very nice time with completely down to earth folks, and we hope to see everyone soon!

I was listening to some early 60's music. Here are the Pre-Fab Four from Liverpool; Dirk McQuickly, Stig Ohara, Ron Nasty and Barry Wom: The Rutles!

Dirk McQuickly and the Rutles;

Something from the Rutles film, "Tragical History Tour";