Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fine Dining at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge

I get cards and letters regularly from my public, and many of them ask, "How do ewe keep the Spousal Unit happy (and staying with you!) even though you look like a Milwaukee Bowling Enthusiast drinking a jug of Pabst Blue Ribbon???"

Good Question, Sports Fans.

My method of keeping a tight lid on the matrimonial pressure cooker is through a series of maneuvers designed to keep her thinking good thoughts about yours truly. First, I make sure that I keep kissin' butt like any good sycophantic ne'er do well. Next up I keep the compliments flowing in a shameless manner that would make a politician blush. Finally, I make sure to surprise the Spousal Unit with interesting meals that she can brag to her colleagues about.

Oh, yes. That would mean interesting meals that don't start with defrosting a package that says "Stouffer's" on it. (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

That there is a big one. Bragging about dinner being made by the time she gets home ensures that she does not look too deeply into my gambling/illegal activities that really fill my mornings and afternoons.

Apparently, many American Ladies go off to work and bring home good salaries just to come home to disappointment.


Last week I made up a chicken curry that stunk the house out with Sub-Continental spicy goodness. It was served with rice, chutney and naan bread.

What I didn't tell her was that there was a choice of chicken or lamb. I made up chicken which left the lamb shank feeling lonely and unwanted in the Barco fridge. Until today…

At 1630, local, I started by cutting the meat off a 1.75 pound lamb shank. ($6.00 at the Commissary).

Next I chopped a large yellow onion into bite sized pieces.

I take two heaping teaspoons of chopped red pepper from the shaker and place in separate bowl.

Into a small bowl, I placed two and a half teaspoons of minced, jarred garlic and the same of ginger.

Into another bowl, I placed the dry spices combined together. Here is my recipe;

3 Tsps of garam masala powder

1 Tsp of turmeric

2 Tsps of coriander powder

2 Tsps of cumin powder

2 Tsps of paprika

Salt to taste

  You will need half a small pkg of plain yogurt. I use the pound sized bowls of Fage  0 fat greek yogurt.

28 ounce can of diced tomatoes or three medium tomatoes cubed.

I 'Toast' the powdered spices for a few moments (don't over do!) in a small pan at the number 7 heat on electric stove. This activates the spices in a big way and lets everyone know that Momma's getting' good vittles!

Take a half stick of butter and melt in dutch oven. Snobs may want to use clarified butter (Ghee!) but I don't bother. Melt butter in medium heat.

Add chopped onion to butter and begin to sautee until almost translucent. Add the garlic and ginger mince. Stir constantly.

Add the red pepper flakes. Add more if you want a hotter meal.

Add the meat chunks and keep stirring the pot to mix and prevent burning. When the meat has the outside looking like it is cooking, turn the stove heat down. Don't forget to add some salt!

Now is the time to add the toasted dry spices. Stir well. It should smell luxuriantly of exotic spices.

Now is a good time to add in the tomatoes and a couple of large spoonfuls of the yogurt to mellow the concoction. Stir well.

Turn down the heat to about one and a half and allow the pot to simmer for about 45 minutes.

I know some may find the looks a bit off-putting. Yogurt was piled on!

Serve on basmati rice.

Good sides are Poppodums or Naan bread.

This is how I keeps da wimmin's happy, peppy and bursting with love!

Barco Out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

"The Underway Checklist is available on the Quarterdeck…"

The title was one of the shipboard announcements that would be repeated regularly over the shipboard announcing system (1MC) about eight hours prior to the ship departing the docks.

In honor of the Barco getting underway, I have loaded food aboard, perhaps 70 meals of dehydrated camping stuff, mostly the kind for sale in Utah and Idaho. The nice people in Utah who are devotees of the local faith are required to keep (two years?) a supply of food stored away for when the End Times are upon us. I can report we have about six months at the house, depending on whether we eat a meal in the size they recommend (whomever they are) but I think the two meal size is what most 'Muricans call a single. Like the two servings in a single can of soda? Right.  So I guess we have three months at the crew home and hearth.

I have a few of these containers by Mountain House. There are also MRE's (Meal Rejected for Eating) and other long life foods.

Sooo, back to the story! I placed a serious number of the long life pouches  on the Barco in case we ever needed some good side dishes when the odd guest(s) stop by. The benefit is that we can also bug out on a moments notice, which is a nice sort of plan.

As for today, I have the Barco rigged for departure in the next five hours, needing only some barley pops and aged grape juice to round out the provisioning.

I went looking for a typical Navy 1MC announcement pertaining to the title, but I found this hilarious shipboard video instead. NSFW for language, but it is a couple guys on a ship, expect F bombs.

Off to Six Mile Creek and a lunch with the First Coast Cruisers from the Marine Trawlers Owners Association, planned underway time is 1500. Be there or be square!

By the way; Have a great weekend!

That is all, Barco out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Road Trip

Friday was the day we drove the Family Truckster to Tampa in order to have dinner at a little steak house called Bern's. Do not let the modern website fool you; It is a corner joint that looks a bit worn on the outside and more importantly,  looking like a 1950's red light district flophouse inside.

Our hotel generously drove us to the restaurant in the shuttle van. There was much hustle and bustle in the parking lot so I was only able to snap off a quick shot of the sign.

The parking lot is valet only, there were people arguing and not wanting to pay the five bucks for parking. 

Look, I thought, just pay the money and get inside, ok?

The waiting area was crowded. Many people don't know that you should get a reservation in advance. Like a month ago.

We were quickly ushered into one of the dining areas and found ourselves sitting at a little two-top about five feet from the head. I was not feeling the love. In fact, I was getting a bit perturbed that we had expended much effort to be there and it was frustrating to swallowed up by a large steak machine.

There was a loud party of eight across to my left. There were grandparents, parents and chubby ill-dressed twenty something hipster wearing a pink something covering her rolls and topped off by a Levi jacket which barely covered the loud bits. They looked like they were either returning or leaving on a cruise ship.

The dining room was not a quiet place of reflection or staid people enjoying expensive food. Nope, it was like being at Banchero's Italian Family restaurant.
Family Fun. Not my kinda place unless I had a family to go with.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
On to the menu; It is a thick menu, one that should be pondered for a week or so. Seriously. Bern's owners and staff take much pride in the good foods they provide which is why the restaurant is so busy.

We ordered the 14 ounce Chateaubriand, which is like a Filet Mignon only with the grain of the meat horizontal instead of vertical. It is priced at $70. Don't choke on that number! It comes with french onion soup, fresh green salad plate, and baked potato and green beans. The price was for two!
Good value. We normally pay about $28 (each) at the Yacht Club and the food is good, but not Bern's good.

Here is a pro tip for anyone dining at Bern's; Don't try to eat all the food. You won't make it to the dessert room.
We ordered a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape, I think it was a '94 or '96. It set us back about $140. 

Next time, I will bring our aerator for allowing the wine to 'breathe' a bit more aggressively. The Sommelier decanted the bottle but we needed another twenty minutes for the wine to fully relax in a more drinkable way. But dinner was being served and wine must be consumed with the beef, mustn't it? 

The wine started very jammy and sweet it was not until dinner was almost over with that we started to really enjoy the subtle flavors. 

By that time, we were hustled into the kitchen to see the inner works of Bern's. There were signs on every wall that read: "Quiet".

The kitchen area reminded me of the galley at MCRD San Diego. It must have been a hundred people moving about in quiet efficiency; A steak station. The Mixologists. The salad room. Veggie areas. Breads.

A person hoping to work at Bern's will spend a year in back before being allowed to work out front serving customers. Since most dining bills will be in excess of $300, one can see why people want to be part of the tips gettin' staff. (I read our tab closely and noticed the restaurant places a 12% service charge. Our server (Who was excellent, got 11% from me). Pays to be watchful, nowadays.

We were then invited/herded over to the ready wine cellar. Thousands of bottles of fine wines were stored in cool dark temperatures on racks that stretched as far as the eye can see from floor to rafters. I could spend weeks in that place, believe me!

Before we had too much time to ponder in the silence and peace of the wine cave, we were then directed to the dessert room where a cozy booth (At Last! A proper table in private!) awaited us.  And we were given another large menu with dessert and wine choices. The nice young lady who was helping us was not knowledgeable about dessert wines so she brought us the Manager/Sommelier named Nate. 

Nate helped us choose a Port, a 1970 Vintage that was a bit fruity and sweet. This bottle cost at least $150 (I was getting a bit fuzzy on facts by then!) and then Nate brought us a couple of tastes of the most amazing Port I have ever tried.

The Tawny nectar of 1856
It was from a Vintage dating to 1856. We can buy a bottle for about $3400! Yikes. It was the smoothest Port and it was a great treat given that a mere taste would cost us a hundred bucks, each. Very nice of the Manager to comp us on such a memorable drink.

We had some nice cheeses to go with our bottle of Vintage Port and I (of course) did my best to get rid of the evidence before paying the bill.

Dinner ran us about $500 total. It was a little under what I thought it would really cost so I felt we had a good value for the money spent. 

We called the hotel and had them send out the shuttle van to pick us up for the return to our room. Much better than breaking the law or having to deal with a taxi driver who might want to take advantage of us by cruising around downtown to gain a few extra bucks on the padded bill.

View from our tenth floor room over looking Davis Island.

The next morning we took a walk around downtown Tampa. There was a Vegan fair going on by the Forum, we were amused by the scrawny and gaunt people who walked about feeling superior to us meat eaters. Funny enough, there was a Taco Truck parked out front and there was some sort of live music being played by people not speaking English. 

Running through my mind at that moment; If God wanted us to not eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?

Whatever. Boring, antiseptic Downtown Tampa. No restaurants with local character. Nothing but concrete buildings and Banks. Downtown looks like every other downtown in America. Millions spent removing the charm and the poor to be replaced by vegan yuppies and their bicycles, all congregating at the stupidf&*^ Starbucks coffee joint.

I can see why people are getting angry with Corporations and Government. There are no people downtown anymore. Only police and empty artificiality.

Time to get back to the hotel!

We got back to the room around lunch time and since there was no place to eat locally (Besides the overpriced hotel restaurant)  we decided to get a ride to the Davis Island Yacht Club.

Oh yes!

We were challenged upon our entrance to the clubhouse and we were immediately welcomed like old family once I displayed my Yacht Club card. There was a nice lunch of hamburgers and we met new friends who were happy to have visitors to chat with. 

After a few adult beverages, we were even lucky enough to be invited for an afternoon sail with our new friends John and Ramon on a Sabre 28!

I sent these cellphone pictures to John with an invitation for them to cruise with the Barco from our home yacht club. I hope they come up soon, since we owe them big for taking us out on Tampa Bay.

John of el-j Productions, Tampa.


Engrossed in conversation

John's Dad was in the Coast Guard in WW2. He sails with John at all times.

Busy cockpit.
Davis Island Yacht Club is an incredibly vibrant sailing club and we enjoyed their company until darn near eight o'clock. The Commodore's Spouse was nice enough to get us back to the hotel. What a weekend, and it was just Saturday night!

Sunday we were up fairly early and packed up for the four hour drive back to the Cats and a return to a normal life. Hotel and Yacht Clubs take a toll on a body and we need to get healthy again.

This week, I will be busy with cleaning up the Barco interior for a weekend trip to Six Mile Creek, we have invited some folks to come with us so I better be ready for guests.

Have a great week!

Barco Out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Pox upon all parasites.

I meant to say Politicians. And their media mouthpiece accomplices.

It is unbelievable how these well to do politicians ( Who seem to be business owners!) can't seem to balance a federal budget, or for that matter offer up a federal budget like the law requires them to. "What does it matter?" Sayeth a well known harpy who has lived luxuriously on the public dime for so many years.


May all who have brought our Country to ruin feel personal pain in their lives. Especially career criminals  Congress and Senator critters. Perhaps a bit of homeless living for these modern day Robber Baron Rascals, cut them off from the public dole and have them live under a freeway overpass like the modern urban outdoorsmen, not knowing if they will be safe or where the next shelter/meal will be coming from. Nah, they will always land on their feet with the help of some undisclosed golden parachute. That is the way of the Ivy League Elites...

We are off and running for a road trip to Tampa. The possibly unbalanced, well armed biker will be at the homestead keeping the kittens fed and petted.

Old business:
The saga of the twelve volt problem has finally been ended on a positive (heh-heh) note. As you already know, we had a new charger put in last week. But on Sunday morning, I found the circuit breaker was switching off on the AC side of the charger.  I had the Boatyard guy come out and trouble shoot and he found the 10 Amp breaker was not sturdy enough for the power draw of our Pronautic 60 amp charger. A 20 amp breaker was installed and now the batteries are being kept at a 13.4 volt level, as it should be.

Now, if I could just get a regular paycheck like Congress does, I could afford to pay for all this maintenance!

I need a boat trip. Next week...

Have a nice weekend and stay safe out there!

Barco out.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fun with electricity

Well, the last post described the frustration with batteries being stone cold dead and the lack of charging capacity. According to the Maintenance GuRu at the yard, the charger does not have poop to pop.

I would think that a forty ampere charger would have enough go in it to make 'trons travel forth and stay in a couple of batteries especially since the charger it replaced only had thirty amps.

The google sent me to various boat electrical sites and I found that Pronautic had products with very good reviews compared to my present Xantrex charger and at prices that were competitive. An order was placed on Saturday with the local West Marine for a 40 Amp Pronautic charger which would set me back $375, with my Port Supply discount. Defender had a similar product that would cost $428. Tuesday morning I went to collect my prize... The attractive Boat Consultant who made my order was not there but another young lady helped me retrieve my order. We went through the usual process of getting my payment in order when I decided to inspect my parcel a bit more closely.

The box read; Xantrex ProCharge2 40amp.
Nice and compact. Served well for three years.


We stopped the purchase process and I let the nice lady know how disappointed I was for them to have switched my order. It seems that while writing up the order part numbers got crossed and the cheapest part was ordered. I whined and complained for a few moments and went home to search online and buy elsewhere.

A call was made and there was a conversation with the boatyard about chargers and the GuRu said that it wouldn't hurt to have a charger with higher capacity and maybe that is what made the current charger fail was my system being a bit more load than 40 amps could bear. Hmmm. When in doubt, go large and over come the obstacle.

Right. I went back to the store and walked to the charger that they had in stock, a sixty 50 amp Pronautic charger which was clearance priced at $522. Only it was a 60 amp charger but priced like the fifty. Take the good deal, quick!

The Barco was brought back to the yard and the charger was installed (It's HUGE!) and I asked the guy's to replace a heater hose while they were at it.

From the official website, 50 amp version shown.

Good thing I asked for the extra work; The heater hose was dry rotted and ready to fail. It is a twelve foot hose with most of the hose being behind bulkheads and floors. Had this hose failed I would not have seen the leaking coolant and would have wondered why the port engine was overheating in a big way, perhaps to failure of an engine component!

The bill will be in for all this latest effort this afternoon.

The Barco was finally finished at 1330, and I happily pulled out and was on the river with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures to be enjoyed while we drove alone.

Please to click and enlarge the cellphone pics:

Ortega River on the way to drawbridge.

Entering St Johns River

Someone glad to be boating. Note the float coat I wear whenever I am alone on the water.

Heading South towards NAS Jax

Messy decks.
Later, I will return to Barco to do some cleaning of the topsides and readying boat for the weekend. Our next trip is scheduled to be an Outback Crabshack run at the end of the month. We will be joining the MTOA (Marine Trawler Owners Association) for a lunch get together.

Just an excuse to go traveling and simulating the cruising condition!

Have a nice weekend!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Barco's twelve volt system is hard down.


Stopped by the boat yesterday afternoon, started the A/C and was putting things away when I noticed the lights wouldn't come on. The DC panel showed no voltage on either house battery which was certainly frustrating.

Well, another ruined evening. Not sure what is malfunctioning but the battery charger is now suspect. I will bring a manual charger out today and do some trouble shooting. The weather is sure nice and some boating would be preferable to the idea of bilge diving/testing. Now I can look forward to spending quality time at the dock doing the chores necessary to make this all better. Or spend some ducats, who knows?

Oh well.

Glad to be healthy and have only minor issues to deal with on a beautiful weekend!

Stay good out there!

Barco out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boat update

The Barco is in the water with a fresh bottom, and neato prop-speed treated shafts and wheels. We be cruizin' with max efficiency, gliding through the di-hydrogen monoxide solution in as well a condition as the designers imagined/planned. BTW It cost two and a half B.O.A.T. units.  psheww! (Imagine a rifle shot sound)

Faux Whining Alert: Seems every time I have work done on The Precious it will cost a couple large. It's the price I pay for helping to keep the local boatyard(s) fluid with full employment which is another way of keeping the economy moving.  Plus I enjoy this hobby, which is nice.

We have been watching the storm situation in the Gulf, looks like a bit of rain is headed towards Nawlins and Pensacola. I guess we might see  moisture in the sky in the form of light rain around here, but I think the real sweat is on the foreheads of the weather guessers who predicted a wilder hurricane season. I'll take the good deals, thanks. We have enough low pressure suction coming from the District of Columbia, we don't need any destructive weather to draw attention away from the frivolity up North. Please to be keeping our coastal regions safe and dry, 'kay?

If I can get some sunshine this weekend, a boat ride may have to happen. Bikini clad ladies may move to the head of the line, iffin' anyone might want to cruise. Perhaps this afternoon, post six mile treadmill torture?

Go play outside, everyone. Enjoy the new season... See you all later!

Waterspout video. 'Murica!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm disgusted with the childish antics coming out of D.C.

President Teenager and his lap dog media co-conspirators make Orwellian illusions come to life.

Anyway, I'm ignoring it all and doing an hour and a half each day on the treadmill. In honor of Hockey season I have watched Slap Shot II and III, Goon and will watch a couple more hockey oriented films. That's six miles a day, gotta bump it up to eight in the next week or so.

I do enjoy the Hanson Bros! Funny as hell!

Their web site describes the "Sensitive Portrayals" of the trio in popular sports films.

Gonna go burn some beef on the grill. See you sooner than later.