Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I took the plunge.  For years I have been talking about getting my SCUBA certification and last week I finally did something about it.  

The main reason I wanted to do this was so I wouldn't have to pay a diver to clean the bottom of our boat every month or so.  Lots of barnacles and 'junk' accumulate on your bottom and if you don't get them off, it can affect your boat's performance.  The cost of the course was equal to about two cleanings, so I thought this experience would pay for itself in a few months.

The dive shop where I would be taking the classes sent me a very large package in the mail with all the course materials inside.  It also contained several DVD's and workbooks we were to complete before the training began.  All in all, I spent about a week going over everything.  The course itself was a three day classroom/pool event.  We went over the course material one more time and then headed to the pool for some hands on training.

There were five of us in the course:  three 20 something year olds from south Florida and two fifty-ish guys from Ohio.  

We met on a Friday afternoon, the first of three days of 'scuba' immersion.  The first thing the instructor asked was whether we had watched the videos and completed the materials.  The two senior citizens of course had done everything.  The young turks hadn't even taken the plastic off the books yet. Sipping his Red Bull, youth #1 asked if the test at the end was a 'take-home'.  It was.

The ads for the course highlighted that everything was included.  Instructors, pool time and open water certification were all part of the price.  What wasn't included was any equipment needed to actually dive after you completed the course.  For that, I found out, one would pay dearly.  The dive shop did provide some rental gear if you wanted, however I didn't relish the thought of putting a regulator in my mouth that had been previously used by another customer.  

Of course, you could buy all you needed right there. It was all on sale.  I had no idea you needed so much stuff just to go underwater.  Here is a what a basic diver needs to have before he jumps in.

These are just the basics, mind you.  When it comes to the water, the sky is the limit.

I bought the bare minimum I needed to complete the course and get my certification.  I figured I could always add things later on after I had a feel for what was really necessary.  Even so, I was going to have to clean the bottom of Maya many many times in order to break even.

The in-water portion of the training was a real blast.  We started off with the fitness test which consisted of swimming 16 laps of the pool and then treading water for 5 minutes.  Old guys smoked the young guys (who probably smoke too much).  After that, we practiced using our equipment, getting used to the fit and feel.  It was all very cool.

The next three days consisted of practicing emergency procedures, equipment malfunctions and diving techniques.  At the end, I really did feel confident and prepared to tackle this new hobby.  Our instructor constantly reminded us that our certification was only a 'license to learn' and that we only knew enough now to not kill ourselves in the water.  As Clint Eastwood would say, "a man has to know his limitations."

The last day as we were packing up our gear, one of the young turks asked me if I wanted to race him and his buddies in a few laps of the pool (apparently they were hung-over the first day and were a little embarrassed at their performances).

In my best 'Clint' voice I responded....  "sure".   "Are you feeling lucky?   .... punk."

They didn't get it.  I am not sure that they even know who Clint Eastwood is and I would bet that they have never seen a Dirty Harry movie (and hence didn't recognize his famous quote or my wonderful impersonation).   What they do know however is that the second thrashing I gave them, "Made my day."


Sunday, July 25, 2010

When I was in college, I did my fair share of bar hopping.  It wasn't unusual to go to three or four bars in one night, taking in the 'ambiance' of spilled beer and sloppy drunks.  To make the evening a success, all I needed was a pitcher (or two) of beer and a good supply of quarters.   Happily those days are behind me now as I would much rather spend the evening in one spot, quietly contemplating the finer points of the local cuisine while sharing a bottle of wine with 'The Admiral.'

Okay, so I will admit it right off the bat.  I am boring.  There.  I said it.  Give me a comfortable place to sit for the evening and I am happy as a clam.  I don't need to work the room anymore.  I hate being in a place where you have to shout to be heard and where everyone there is so much younger that you look like you are visiting your college kids during Parents Weekend.  Its quality over quantity for me.  I can nurse a 10 year old Pinot all night long and never get up once.

That being said, a significant amount of our 'on shore' boating experiences have either begun or ended at a local establishment.  I am not sure why that is so.  I would like to think that when we first arrive on the scene, a quick drink gives us a chance to chat up the bartender a little so we can find out if anything is happening in town.  Maybe we are just thirsty from all the work of dinghying ashore.  Who knows?

Anyway, we go to a few bars now and then.  Who cares right?  We are old enough.

There is just one small problem.... and its with me.  I have started this slightly strange habit of photographing our food and drink.  I know its weird.  I know its embarrassing.  Kim doesn't particularly like it either as flashbulbs going off inside a quiet and darkened bar seems to draw attention to us.  But, I like it anyway.


I think this all started when I was flying the international routes at Delta Air Lines.  We went to a lot of pubs/bars/cantinas/beer-gardens back then and I wanted to share the experience with those back home.  Every bar had its own personality.  Unlike the places we have in the States, European bars have a lot of character.  Visitors can get away with almost anything over there.  You can do the dorkiest things and the locals will just look the other way and mutter to themselves, "toursits!"  I routinely would take a few shots (photos) at every place we visited and now have a pretty good collection of my favorite hot spots.

So, we are in Saint Augustine and we stumbled upon the neatest place.  It was styled as a Spanish Tapas bar but decorated in early Ernest Hemingway.  Sort of Antonio Banderas meets Old Florida.  I thought it was really neat, as did Kim.  On top of that, it was 100 degrees outside and they had the a/c on full blast.  It was heaven to be inside.

We could sit anywhere we like as the place was deserted.  It had just opened for the evening and we were the first to arrive.  I immediately saw these huge overstuffed couches that ringed the lounge area.  Those soft cushions had my name all over them.  I was going to settle in for the long haul at this place.

They had a terrific wine list, lots of imported and local brews and a menu that was out of this world.  On top of that, they had live music scheduled for later in the evening.  It doesn't get any better than that.  So we worked our way down the menu ordering a little of this and a little of that.  Being a tapas bar, it was set up for little portions meant to be shared.  Perfect.

So the server starts bringing out all this wonderful stuff and I can't help myself but whip out my camera and take a few shots with every new dish.  Each plate was more interesting than the last.  The colors were vibrant.  The presentation was a work of art and the taste... well you'll have to take my word for that.  I am not sure what they were thinking back in the kitchen.  Was I a food critic?  .... an author researching his next cook book?  ... a chef, scoping out the local competition?  They didn't know.  All they could tell was that there was a strange person out there, taking lots of photos of the food. 

We spent three or four hours there that night and I must have rolled off about 30 pictures.  I was like 'Rainman' with that camera.  No crouton got off digitally uncaptured.  Finally Kim told me to knock it off as I was becoming a pest.  Enough was enough.

"One more picture," I said.

"Tourists!".... must have thought the waiter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There is the old adage that says there are "those who have and those who will".  Now I know that saying can apply to a lot of circumstances however in the boating world, it concerns running your boat aground.

Up until last week, we were part of the group that "will".  Unfortunately now, we are part of the group that 'have'.  Yes, I am here to say that we ran our boat up onto a sand bar in Saint Augustine harbor.

We were having a wonderful day cruising from Palm Coast northbound towards Saint Augustine.  The plan was to spend a day or so there, taking in the sights and enjoying the oldest city in America.  We made it to the anchorage that is just off the city's sea wall and were looking for a place to drop anchor.  There are a lot of boats parked here as it is a popular place to go.

We found what seemed like a good spot:  not too close to the other boats, but close in enough to the dinghy dock that we didn't have to trek a mile or so to get there.  Anyway, we were getting set to drop the anchor when at the last minute, we had a small problem with the chain tackle.  (one of the bridles was stuck).  I ran down to the engine room to get a tool to fix it and by the time I got back up on deck, the current had moved us a little closer to the boat parked next to us.

Not wanting to be elbow to elbow with our neighbor, we put the boat in gear and swung around to get back to where we were.  Now the navigation instruments told us we were in 13 feet of water, and that is a lot for us.  We have two of these gizmos and they both said the same thing.   However, in the short time we were moving the boat, the depth went from 13 feet to 3 feet and the next thing I knew, we were not moving anymore.

Astonished, I checked out the depth finders and they confirmed my worst fear.  We were stuck.

I am not really sure how we went from 13 feet to 3 in such a short distance, but we did.  Apparently the harbor has a lot of bars hidden here and there and we caught one.  Okay, so it is no big deal.  Besides our pride, there wasn't any damage done.  The key was not to make a bad situation any worse.  How do you do that?  Well, many boat pilots might try to power their way off the sand bar.  Not knowing exactly what you are caught on or how far forward it extends makes this a bad idea.  Other pilots will try and go backwards (from whence they came) and while this is a plausible game plan, you really don't know how far up on the bar you are and you certainly don't want to damage the props or rudders.

The safest and least expensive way to go is to determine if you are at low to mid tide and simply wait for high tide to lift you off the obstruction.  This was certainly an option for us except it was hot out and we wanted to get into town as soon as possible.  Option two is to pick up the radio and call for help.... which is what we did.

In the boating world, there are a couple of "Triple A" type organizations that will come out and help you in these situations.  They are really great to have.  If you run aground, run out of gas or your engines simply quit working, they will come out and tow you back to safety.  One tenth of a boat unit a year is cheap insurance in my mind.  Anyway, we have always subscribed to this service but have never used it.  I thought now might be a good time to cash in on our annual benefit.

So I picked up the radio and gave them a call.  I told them what had happened and where we were located.  They said they would be there in 20 minutes and they were.   After a bit of paperwork and some small talk, the rescue boat operator tied one end of a line to one of Maya's stern cleats and attached the other end to his boat.  A few minutes of soft backwards pulling and we were off the bar.

The guy was very nice and he took great care of our boat and our egos.  Neither was damaged beyond repair.

In some ways this was another rite of passage for us.  No longer newbies, I think we can safely say now that we are part of the ones that 'have'.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

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Well its great to be back after our short hiatus.  Kim and I have been celebrating our 25th Anniversary and haven't been aboard Maya in a month or so.  That is all about to change as we are planning our very first 'fun' cruise next month.

In the past, most of our cruises have been 'work' cruises.  We were either positioning Maya further south or doing some kind of chore while aboard.  Other than a cocktail or two in the evenings, we weren't doing all the fun things that you can do while cruising.

Our itinerary includes a trip up to Cumberland Island, Georgia.  Cumberland Island is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the United States.  It is a National Park as well.  Located just at the boarder of Florida and Georgia, its a one and half day cruise from Palm Coast.

We are looking forward to this trip because for the most part, we will be outside the cozy confines of the Intercoastal Waterway and out on the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. By going this way, we eliminate
much of the hassles of dealing with bridges and 'no wake' zones that dot the inland route. Besides that, on the way down, we saw lots of areas that were pretty shallow (depth wise). We don't want to mess up our perfect record of not hitting the bottom! Anyway, an offshore excursion is an excellent way to miss all of that trouble.

Our boat was designed to cruise out in the open water and this will give us a chance to really give her a workout.
We have only been offshore twice and we want to do it again. No worries though, we will always be in sight of land and if something bad were to happen, Kim could swim to shore and get help.

Last week, my dad and I flew down to Orlando and drove over to visit Maya for two days. I had a project I wanted to complete and dad offered to tag along. While we were there, we took Maya out for a short spin. During that trip, we noticed another vibration coming from below. Like before, it was more pronounced at higher RPM's, indicating that there was some kind of obstruction on the propellers or running gear.

My guess is that we have a major build up of barnacles on the props.  Here is a shot of what I expect to find when I go have a look next month.  Most likely we will hire a diver to go down and clean that stuff off.  My last jelly fish adventure has me a little gun shy right now.  However, this fall I am headed south to the Keys to get my Scuba certification and will be able to keep the bottom clean all by myself.  Woohoo!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I will be upfront with you.  Watching television on the boat flies in the face of what cruising is all about.  Sitting around watching the 'boob tube' is not my idea of having a grand time on the high seas.  That being said, there are times when it is nice to be connected to the outside world.  For instance, I was mildy curious about Tiger's coterie of non-golf friends.  I also took an interest in the NCAA Final Four.

So, for the sake of current events and our ability to converse intelligently with those on the outside world,  I thought it prudent to hook up the long range TV antenna Kim's mom Ginny got us for Christmas.  With it we are able to access TV stations from over 50 miles away.   Made especially for boats, (overpriced) it is guaranteed to greatly enhance your ability to waste time in front of your onboard TVs.

Last week, I conned my dad into flying down with me to the boat.  His last adventure was not that hot (it was very cold) and we didn't get to do much fun stuff.  I told him that I had a few minor projects to complete and that his help would make things much easier.  After that, we would be taking Maya for a spin to shake out some the cobwebs from her systems.  "Sign me up!" he cheerily said.

The antenna project was a real knuckle buster.  We had to run coaxial and electrical lines through narrow conduits inside Maya's structure.  With the help of an electrician's fish tape and a lot of spilled blood, we were able to finish the project in a day.  Here is a picture of Dad enjoying himself on Maya.

It was touch and go there for a little while as Dad tried to get himself out of the tight space he had crawled into.  I was ready to call the paramedics and their 'jaws of life' to extricate him, but with a little pulling and tugging he made it out of there unscathed.

The next day we took Maya out for a test run.  I had done some work on the engines and transmissions and wanted to give them a workout.  It was the perfect day for boating and Dad enjoyed himself immensely.  I did too.  We were also able to take the dinghy out for a spin.  That little boat is so much fun.  Luckily we joined up with a school of dolphins who were out for a spin as well.  They were close enough for us to literally touch.  After following them for an hour or so, it was time to return to Maya.

We tested out the new antenna that night watching back to back episodes of "24" and the best NCAA 'final two' basketball game I have ever seen.  It all worked great!  What a treat it was spending time with Dad.  I promised him that the next trip would be all fun and no work.  I don't think he cared though.  He's a tough cookie!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Someone told me once that women are not female men.  Truer words have never been spoken.  Having been married one month short of twenty five years, I feel I have earned the right to speak on the issue.  Knowing in advance the consequences of such actions, I nonetheless feel the need to vent.

Since we bought Maya about 18 months ago, we have been spending a fair amount of time cleaning, repairing and outfitting her.  Much of the effort has been focused on the engine room - the heart and soul of the ship.  Lets face it, if we can't get her off the dock, boating isn't going to be very much fun.  With that in mind, my contribution has been mostly mechanical in nature.  I've been down there sweating and bleeding, covered from head to toe with all kinds of fluids.  From hoses to filters,  from batteries to switches and from wiring to pumps, I have contributed a lot of sweat equity to this adventure.  While it has been a labor of love, it also has been a lot of work.  Knock on wood, we are coming down the home stretch on the mechanical rehabilitation of Maya.  It is my hope that in the future there will be more fun and less toil.

In my mind, the mechanical aspect of running the boat is by far the most important issue we have to deal with.  Since that part is just about behind us, I am ready to roll.  Anything else that needs done can wait for awhile.

Not so fast.  Since we have now completed the preliminary phase of boat ownership, it is time, I have been told, to move on to the secondary phase.


I have to be honest with you.  I do not understand a woman's need to decorate, redecorate, update and remodel.  It makes no sense to me.  When we purchased Maya, she was in great shape.  The previous owners had done a marvelous job with 'redecorating' and had just completed their project shortly before we signed the check.  Why we need to redo what they just redid is beyond me.  But after 25 years of wedded bliss,  I should know better than to ask questions like this.

First up is the curtains.... or should I say 'window treatments.'  Kim has had me hang lots of drapes over the years and I still cannot understand why they are now called 'window treatments'.  When did that happen?

So anyway, on my last visit to Maya, I had to remove the old 'treatments', count their pleats,  measure their height and width and then pack a sample from each cabin and bring them back home to Ohio.  I have been told that we need to do this in order to properly match the colors on the walls with the other fabrics throughout the boat.... fabrics which, no doubt are also going to be replaced.

Second up is the bedspread, although it is not called a "bedspread" anymore.  It now goes by one of several updated names such as "Comforter"  ...  "Duvet cover" ...  "Coverlets"  and  "Quilts."  It must be 'accessorized' with one or more "shams" "dust ruffles"  and "decorative pillows".  Coordination with all other aspects of color is the goal.

Kim dragged me a local department store a few weeks ago to look at possible alternatives.  "What do you think about the mauve?"  she asked me.

"The what?"  I asked.

"The mauve one.  Don't you know what that is?"

Just for the record, men can identify six or seven basic colors.  Red, blue, yellow, green, brown, purple, black and white are the colors in my world.  Mauve is not one of them.

So, in the interest of brevity, I said I liked the 'mauve', hoping to end the tortuous shopping trip as soon as humanly possible.  But it was not to be.  After a few seconds, Kim decided she didn't like the mauve either and we moved on.  Up and down the rainbow we went that day.  I learned about colors I didn't know existed.... and I read the newspaper everyday!

Here is a partial list of my new favorites:

Cinnabar     (red)
Fuscous      (brown)
Heliotrope   (purple)
Ochre          (light brown)
Periwinkle    (blue)
Primrose      (yellow)
Umber        (red)

In the end, we did buy something.  I am not sure if it is a coverlet or a duvet though.  I also don't know what color is it, although it looks light brown to me.  What I do know is that I hate shopping for fabrics and would give anything to not do it again.  I feel though that this is just the beginning.  We have many more rooms to go.  I am cyan just thinking about it.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

I should know by now that you get what you pay for.  I have
been burned enough over the years that you would think that lesson would have sunk in.  What must be happening is that when I see a good deal, the dollar signs that are floating around my eyes cloud the judgement part of my brain, thus rendering me unable to think clearly.

Such was the case with our new teak table and chair set..... the one I drove 900 miles one way from Cincinnati down to the boat.

As deals go, this was a goody!  Teak is not cheap.  It is weather proof and lasts forever.  The table and chairs were the perfect complement to the teak floors and cabinetry we have virtually all over Maya.  We bought this set at a local 'close-out' warehouse type store and were able to save nearly one boat unit over the prices on the internet.

When we saw it on display in the store, I became giddy with the prospect of another great deal coming our way.  It wasn't until we began to load our car with our newfound loot that the seeds of remorse were sown.  Two familiar phrases were emblazoned all over the packaging; phrases that put the fear of God into deal chasers like me. 

"Made in China"  ...... and ...... "Some assembly required"

Confucius says to "Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes".  Perhaps they should have printed that on the packaging too. If they had, I probably would have turned around and taken the entire set back into the store for a refund, because as I stood there loading my car, that little voice I tend to ignore with great peril (no, not Kim's..... the other voice) was telling me that this wasn't going to turn out good.  My past experience with imports that needed assembly have without exception, ended in disaster.

So if truth is the first casualty of war it might follow that pride is the first casualty of marriage.  I spent the drive home from the store extolling to Kim,  the virtues of our new furniture.  She, being the smart one, had her radar on from the git-go.  "Let's look at this a little closer before we buy it," was her advice.  

"While you are looking closer" I told her,  "I am going to go look for someone to help us out to the car with this."
With those few spoken words, I had just taken ownership of the table and chairs.  If any problems concerning the purchase came up in the future, it would be on my head.

So flash forward to our current location in Florida.  The moment had arrived when I would take the old worn aluminum table and chairs over to Goodwill and majestically replace them with my 'deal of the century'.  As I sat down to ponder the instructions and sort through the various nuts and bolts, it dawned on me that there was something missing.....namely assembly instructions.

Well, I guess I should correct that by saying there were no instructions that were in English.  There was this sheet of paper that I am guessing described what to do with the 60 odd nuts, bolts and screws that were in a pile at my feet but unfortunately it was printed in Chinese.

I wasn't as concerned about putting the puzzle together as I was seeing the look on Kim's face if this thing didn't piece together just right.  I knew that if I didn't make this work, I would never hear the end of it.  If the legs of the table were wobbly or the chairs were squeaky, it would forever be my baby.  So there I sat for the next three hours, trying different combinations of screws and bolts with chair arms and table feet.  It must have been amusing to watch as the older couple in the next house down came out with their evening cocktails to enjoy the show.  

"How's it going there young fella!" they called down once or twice.  "Fine, just fine," I replied. 

Eventually it all came together and I must say it looks rather nice.  While it took a bit longer to assemble than I had anticipated, I am quite proud of the job.  Whenever you come down to the boat and sit in one of the chairs, make sure you ask me to tell you the story of how we got this great deal on the set.  I would be happy to tell you all about it.   Although Confucius tells us that "real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance" I will probably be right there the next time I hear about a big sale on Chinese imports.  


Thursday, February 18, 2010

I am not big on junk. I hate clutter. A long time ago I read somewhere that if you haven't used something in a year, you should throw it away. I agree with that for the most part except when it comes to clothes. I have some t-shirts that are-no kidding- over twenty years old. There is one in particular that has been through the washer so many times, you can actually see through it.

Next week, I am driving my car from Cincy to Palm Coast, Florida to deliver a bunch of junk to Maya. (Well, not all of it is junk) This is all the stuff that we were unable to get onto the airplane for some reason or another. Too big, too bulky, too heavy. Whatever.

Over the past year or so, all of this junk has been accumulating in our basement, waiting for its chance to make it onboard Maya. Much of it is stuff we really don't need. For instance, we have cold cups. You know what they are. They are those spongy beer holders used to keep the suds from getting too warm before you drink it. We must have two dozen cold cups here in our house right now and I would wager that there are probably a dozen on Maya already. I cannot tell you the last time I even used one. It has to have been years.

I asked Kim why I am taking cold cups down to Maya. "Well" she said, "the ones down there aren't ours."

"They came with the boat when we bought it, so I think they're ours," I responded.

"They were used by somebody else, and sometimes its just better to start over with new things" she said. "Its like a toilet seat. There are some items you just replace no matter what."

"You just don't get it, do you?"

I guess I don't. But who am I to argue over something as silly as a foam cup holder. (I was going to mention to her that we still have the same toilet seats, but I figured that replacing them would just be another job for me to do so I kept quiet.)

There are still more things that I am taking down that could just have easily been purchased in Florida. For instance, towels. Towels take up a lot of room in your suitcase, that I will give you. It really isn't practical to take them on the airplane when traveling as you can only bring so much luggage. Towels have been piling up, ready for transport to Maya for the better part of a year. I know that if you find a good deal on something its fun to buy it now and think about how much you saved later, but does it make sense to drive 900 miles to deliver towels that you saved 5 dollars a piece on?

I am also delivering garbage bags, a fly swatter, knives, bowls, glasses and tongs among other things. To be fair, I am also taking down a rather large teak table and chair set we bought a month or so ago, so I guess the trip is not for naught.

While I am there, I am going to knock out a few projects that I have been putting off. All in all, I should be gone about a week.

I asked Kim if she was going to miss me while I was gone. "A week is a long time you know...."I said. "What are you going to do with all of your time."

"I am going to buy new toilet seats for the boat" she said.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunsets are a wonderful time on the intercoastal waterway. As if on cue, everything around you begins to wind its way down for the evening. The wave action begins its ebb, the wind starts to settle down and the general mood for most boaters takes on a decidedly mellower tone.

To top it off, mother nature provides spectacular displays of light and color with each setting of the sun.

Since we have been out on the water, we have always made it a point to get out and enjoy the waning moments of the day's sunlight. There is nothing quite like a cool refreshment on a warm evening, watching the final moments of the sun's daily journey from the aft deck of our beloved Maya.

We have enjoyed lots of great sunsets since we have been on the boat. While the camera can capture the awesome beauty of the moment, it is hard to describe the sounds and smells that often accompany the falling light of day.

My favorite sound is that of the gentle waves as they slosh up against the side of the boat. Kim likes the sounds fish make when they suddenly jump out of the water, hoping to catch a quick snack out of an unsuspecting insect. Sometimes you can hear faint music from another boater anchored further downstream, as they listen to the sounds of Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley. The whole thing is a sensory delight.

Unfortunately, this utopian extravaganza brings out the worst of mother nature's annoying imps.

The bugs.

First let me say that I grew up in the woods. We now live in the woods. I am used to bugs. They are mostly an inconvenience up here in Ohio. On the water, they are a menace. Truly.

Here in the midwest, you have a fighting chance at keeping them at bay. For the most part, they are large and and you can see them. They make a noise so you can hear them coming. They are dissuaded from taking a bite out of your flesh with the simplest of repellents and pose no more of a threat than the Cincinnati Bengals in a divisional playoff game.

The bugs on the water are different. They are stealthy and tiny. You can't hear them or see them coming (as a matter of fact, they are referred to as 'no-see-ums'). Your first clue that they have arrived is the sharp pain you feel on an exposed part of your skin as they sink their teeth into your flesh and draw their fill of blood.

There is no escaping their wrath. Trust me, we have tried everything. Every lotion and cream, every spray and insecticide has been employed to deter this invisible menace. We have found nothing that works.

For now though we will have to enjoy our sunsets and then run for the safety of Maya enclosed spaces. Until we find that magic repellent, we will be like the fans at the end of a Bengal's game; looking for something better to do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I don't like being cold. Never have. Never will.

Included in this boat experience was the thought that we would leave frigid temperatures behind once and for all. Sure, there might be a time when we would see maybe, perhaps, some morning lows in the 40's, but that would be the extreme. Our last trip showed me how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago, we had another guest sailor onboard Maya. (Tom begged off on this one as it was going to be even colder than our last trip. Smart man.) So this time, my dad joined me. Dad is really great about trying new things. He is in his 70's now, but still as spry and inquisitive as always. It was going to be cold and uncomfortable, but he didn't care. He just wanted to go.

The trip started out in Jacksonville Florida where we were having some work done on Maya. We had new bottom paint applied and addressed several nagging mechanical issues that had popped up over the past few months. It is expensive to haul the boat out of the water so you don't want to do it very often. When you do, you will want to take care of all the maintenance items that require a dry hull all at once. Its best to save up these jobs and do them all at the same time.

The paint they put on the bottom is especially made for boats. That just means that its about 10 times more expensive than regular paint. Anyway, you cannot apply this paint in temperatures below 40 degrees. It won't dry correctly if you do. Because of the coldness in Florida that week, we just had to sit around and wait out the weather. This 5 day job was turning into a 10 day job.

It was neat watching them haul Maya out of the water. Essentially, you maneuver the boat beneath this very large lifting apparatus that has giant canvas straps connected to it. Once everything is in place, they simply lift the boat right out of the water. They then move it to jackstands and blocks where they gently set it down. 44 thousand pounds is a lot to lift and carry, but somehow they made it work.

Eventually the temperatures moderated enough for them to get the paint on and us out. As a business owner, I would think the last thing you would want is to have your customers milling about, pestering your workers all day long. We spent a lot of time asking questions. Unfortunately for them, the questions usually started with the word "When?" The days were tedious. It was like watching paint dry.

Soon enough however, the job was complete and we were on our way. The plan was to take our time and head over to Palm Coast where we had arranged for a slip. We were going to anchor out and enjoy a peaceful and serene two day cruise. When we awoke to temperatures in the teens, we decided to make a one day run for it.

I felt a little bad for Dad as I think he was truly looking forward to spending some time on the boat. It was just too cold though. We spent a marathon day inside the salon helm, taking turns driving and watching the dolphins swim by. By 5 o'clock when we finally reached our destination, we were both ready to be done. Cramming that two day trip into one was a lot of work. I think Dad enjoyed the adventure, nonetheless. On the way home he asked, "when can I go again?" Of course he has a standing invitation to come along anytime he wants.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

We finally made it to the sunshine state. Last week we made the trip from Hilton Head to Jacksonville, Florida where we had Maya pulled from the water for painting. This cruise was a little different because Kim wasn't aboard. She (being the smarter one) had looked at the weather forecasts and had seen that cold temperatures were predicted.

In her place was my old friend Tom. Tom and I used to fly together when I was at Delta Air Lines and have been friends for many years. Since he was a former Navy guy, I figured he would have no problem behind Maya's helm. On top of that, Tom has owned boats in the past and generally knows a lot about everything.

As smart as he is, I don't think he checked the temperature forecasts either because if he had, we never would have left the dock in Hilton Head. It was cold!

Maya has a great heating system which consists primarily of two giant iron diesel engines that when run all day long, produce copious amounts of heat. Just leave the engine room door open and you essentially have two big pot belly stoves throwing out all kinds of warmth. We also have a heat pump system that is designed to take the chill off for short periods of time, but you have to have the generator running for it to work.

The first evening out at anchor wasn't too bad. We were out in the middle of the Georgia marshes, miles from anyone. Sometimes being isolated is good. You get to enjoy the gifts nature has to offer all by yourself. Sometimes isolated is bad. At some point you find yourself asking, "are we the only ones dumb enough to be out here?" This time, isolated was bad.

As the evening wore on, the temperature slowly dropped. The twin diesels were cooling off and the free heat we were getting was waning. The forecasts called (yes, we finally came to the party and checked it out) for lows around 30. This was way too cold to be out boating.

Fortunately for me, Tom is also an expert bartender. I am not sure if his is a hobby or a passion, but he can make some mean drinks. The gallon of dark rum that we had onboard went to good use those nights out on the ICW. I am not sure if it made us any warmer or just numbed us from the cold, but it seemed to make things better.

After three days on our near polar expedition, we arrived in Jacksonville. We pulled up to the city docks where they have free overnight parking and a wealth of restaurants and shoppes to enjoy. We headed straight for the nearest pub where they had warm temperatures and cold beer inside.

I asked Tom what it was like on Navy ships when they had cold snaps like this. He said, "I don't know.... I was never on a ship while I was in the Navy. I was stationed in Hawaii the whole time and flew from the Navy air base there." "Never on a ship, really?" I asked. "How did you get so good at driving boats?"

"Trial and error, I guess" he said. "Hey" he said. "Did I ever show you a picture of my last boat?"

"No, I don't think you ever have" I said.

"Here, have a look" he said with a grin.