Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Report

It was a a weekend, alright... Barco departed the home berth at 0650 in fairly dense fog. The visibility was about an eighth of a mile at times but mostly there was no horizon for us to navigate to. Good thing we had paper charts, depth finder, an electronic plotter and radar. Once we passed the Buckman Bridge we were mostly looking downward at our various nav-aids.

The trip was really kind of nice  because we did have to pay attention and not hit anyone or thing, which gave us a bit of the pleasure of a job-well-done.

After about two hours we turned to the Southwest and watched the depth sounder closely as we approached what should be the channel for passing under the highway 17 bridge. It was at two hundred yards when the bridge came into view (we were watching the display on radar during the moments before visual contact, we were doing fine) and we made no further adjustment to the steering, since we were exactly where we should be. Alone, we ghosted under the bridge at five knots and proceeded to the Ira Farm, which we arrived at about fifteen minutes later.

We rafted off of a Bertram 33 sport fishing boat and tidied up the Barco for the arrival of the many others who would be coming when the fog lifted.

Friday evening was a time for a fish-fry hosted by Dry Pirate Offshore Fishing Charters, (boat based on Florida's West Coast). Randy cooked up an amazing pile-o'-fish he had personally caught in the Gulf.

Of course, I had drank my share of beer that evening and was hiding from the majority of the crowd while I frittered about with a few other over served skippers on the edges of the party. I returned to the Barco for night-night soon afterwards, maybe about ten-ish o'clock. No harm/no foul, since I had minimal contact with the rest of the party and was not acting like an idiot in public. At least that is what observers told me the next day...

Saturday morning, I cooked up bacon and sourdough french toast as a peace offering to She Who Will Be Obeyed. One of the really nice things about being a 'Murican is precooked bacon that does not have to be stored in the fridge. I placed six slices of this bacon in a pan and only had to crisp it for a few moments before serving. No mess, no smelly galley for us! Plus, brekkies was served in a jiffy because how hard is it to dip a thickly sliced bit of Panera sourdough bread in egg and fry in a skillet? Takes longer to describe, that's how long!

Saturday was a beautifully sunny and warm day. We had guests come by in their Key West 17 sport boat, which we tied to our swim platform. There were two twelve year old girls as crew visiting so I kept the sodas flowing to them while they baked on our upper sun-deck, all the while texting their buddies back home about how much it sucked to be with adults on a boat.

I guess.

The big steak cookout was scheduled for the evening and we moved ashore for the dinner. We had a fascinating table with us; One member is a retired Commander who flew A-7's during the 80's and 90's along with his Russian date who was named Olga. Another friend there was Bill, a retired Commander who flew in P-3's for his twenty years. (Bill was an Academy classmate of Lex's) Bill's sister Susan was sitting with us, too. Susan was the one who drove her Key West 17 with the all female crew that was tied to the Barco.  Finally, we had another couple whom we had just met sitting to our left who were equally fascinating and fun to chat with. We all dined on the great food cooked up by the club members and soon were ready for dessert. Bill brought a bottle of Tawny Port and I brought some cheeses to go with this fine port. There was plenty for the entire table and I think the dessert was a very pleasant surprise for all sitting that evening.

The weather changed very quickly at nine p.m.;  A sudden wind blew in bringing a strong downpour which broke the party up and caused us all to return to our boats. It was ok, we had just cleared the table and the cigar smokers had been by the fire when the deluge had begun.

Back at the Barco, we hid from the rain and sat in the dry Fly Bridge watching the lights go out on the boats, one by one. We decided to call it a night at ten o'clock, it had been a full and sober day. A good time, for sure!

Sunday morning was a bit cloudy but none of the rain we had previously enjoyed was forecast. The remaining boaters came up to the fire pit for coffee, sticky buns and for the promise of a full breakfast which was being cooked by the volunteers. The interesting part for the Spousal Unit and myself was meeting a lady named 'N****'. N**** had helmed a 65 foot Hatteras to the big raft on Saturday evening, just in time for dinner. N**** introduced her self and we chatted about sailing and boating. Our London experience was mentioned and the fact that I had been in the service while there hit a tone for our new friend. She asked specifically if I had been working for the British MOD... Anyway, I said that I had been with NavEur and she mentioned that she was very familiar that operation. I got a bit nervous when I gleaned out that she worked for the (forgive the acronym, I want to be intentionally vague) N C A.

I told our friend that I basically was a floor sweeper in London (As soon as the slow-moving wheels in my mind began to realize who the f#@% this person was and who she had been really working for back then!) and I changed our conversation back to boating immediately. N**** was very charming and interesting, she never mentioned her party affiliation and job title. But I made some fast assumptions and I was surprised to meet a person with a big (D) after her name in a crowd of (R)'s. I was more than happy when her attention went elsewhere and the Barco crew met up with our fellow diners from the night before.

The Sun came out as we broke up for the return home which was to be a couple hours away. It was a nice cruise home and we were back at the shack at 1500, greeted by three very unhappy cats.

And; No. I shall not mention any more about our buddy. Do your own spelunking. SWWBO looked it up and we were horrified to see exactly who/what we were up against.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Sorry for the long break...

Current affairs makes one's attitude less than rosy and to tend towards whining. I've been busy getting the boat together, cleaning/securing all inside parts for sea. Filled up the tanks with 268 gallons of diesel, the price at the local boatyard was $4.24 last Monday and on Thursday the price had risen to $4.42. Thanks, Washington D.C. for your navel gazing and pettiness. Think about the jobs being lost because of transportation costs...

I managed to get fuel from a wholesaler, $4.05 a gallon which was a huge victory for us.

Underway for Black Creek and two nights of frivolity at the Ira Farm, Established 1863.

Have fun!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday, again!

Up at 0530 for the walk around the neighborhood. Dropped off dry cleaning by 0830 and now I try to come up with a few syllables for your reading pleasure.

Yeah, I know;


Next up for me is an hour of torture on the stair machine and after cool down, I repair to the Barco for cleaning the interior. Tonight we dine and frolic at the Yacht Club. Tomorrow the same, only we will do an early celebration of the anniversary. Vintage Port and fine cheeses to round out the night!

Still looking for crew to join me on the big journey to Marathon. I have one definite and a couple more "maybes". Three more weeks until departure, it will be nice if we can have a full complement onboard. Commitment will be easier as we approach the actual journey, I'm sure.

The Northeast is paying some more weather dues. I had an email from a cousin who mentioned the blizzard and I had to be a wiseass and mention Florida and boating weather. Hope everyone up North is buckled in with plenty of supplies to be safe in the storm. One big benefit to having to be snowed in with your family is that you learn to get along with each other. This has only happened to me once, back in 1993. I was trapped in North New Jersey for an extra three days due to snow and I felt confined. In fact, I followed the snow plows out of the hills down to the Turnpike. The lesson learned was to have alcohol in the windshield cleaning fluid because our fluid was frozen solid and unusable. Not good when the windshield becomes opaque with salty grunge from the road.

I will resist living North of Interstate Ten. Unless the compensation reflects the hardships we would have to endure.

Have a fine weekend and stay warm out there!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday report.

A great weekend was had by the Barco and crew. First up, the Sadler Marine people worked hard to get the maintenance finished by close of business Friday. Only thing not working was our air conditioner system in the aft end... Anyway, I hung in the straps waiting for launch, which happened at five o'clock. I backed the Barco out to the river, turned right and headed for the bridge. The Ortega bridge was opened at my request (and the chagrin of the commuting cars stuck on the North side!) almost instantly, and I crept out to the East. Barco was tied up in her slip 30 minutes later and I head over to the club for a couple beers and dinner.

Hangin' in the straps waiting to launch.

Just outside the Ortega River, ready to turn South.

Downtown J-Ville.

Underway for Mandarin Point.


Skyping Australia.

Saturday, we rose with the chickens and enjoyed a chilly morning with coffee. She Who Will Be Obeyed had a haircut appointment at ten, so I took the time to ride my bike to Sadler Point Marina to retrieve my pick 'em up truck. At eleven, the Spousal Unit was home and we went clothes shopping. I endured about an hour of that and then we decided lunch would be a good thing, so we went to a hipster restaurant for burritos and Fuller's E.S.B. Mmmm, good. Especially the Fullers Beer!

It being a really nice afternoon, I presented the case that we should cruise the Barco for a couple hours and enjoy the warm sunshine. We dropped the shopping debris at the house and arrived at the boat by three o'clock. Underway in minutes, we head Southward to wherever...

Arriving at Mandarin Point, I busied about to drop the hook so we could shut down and enjoy some wine, brie and crackers in the afternoon sun. We had so much fun we thought we would go ahead and spend the night. The prospect of clear skies, starlight and the solitude of our anchorage were strong reasons for doing just that.

Skyped our friends in Coolongolook, Oz. Even talked with J.D. at Great Lakes FM and had her play "Ventura Highway" for the locals. (They had been playing a few John Denver cuts, so I thought America would fit in.) It was fun to hear the song and commentary over the internet stream.

Off to bed early after a cribbage tournament, I naturally won. The wind cranked up form the West somewhere around two am. I checked everything over, we were tightly secured to our anchor and the anchor was buried deep in the St Johns River mud. No worries...

We were finally up at seven-thirty the next morning, it was cold but ok. I made up coffee and blueberry waffles, served with a side of pre-cooked long life bacon. Life was good on the Barco!

Underway at nine-fifteen and we were secure in our home berth about forty minutes later. This meant we were back at the house by ten o'clock where we busied ourselves with preparing a slow cooked boston butt in the Weber Kettle.

Great weekend! Looking forward to next weekend when we can do it all again.

Have a nice week out there!

Secret message.