Sunday, December 21, 2008

White for Christmas?

I can't believe you other locals haven't blogged onto this yet...
Ok- so maybe it's not a big deal to those of you up North, or to those of you in the hills down South... but for us here in the OC (at least to me) it's still kinda neat.

Last week we got into quite a cold snap. It also rained quite a bit too. Science agreed with nature this time around and placed a nice coat of snow on Mt. Baldy and (even more rare) covered Saddleback quite a bit too. The temps have been cold enough all week so the snow is still quite low today.

Last I looked more rain is expected here tomorrow (Monday) and as an added bonus another system possibly in for Christmas. That should make a neat holiday for those with reservations in a remote mountain cabin (might not be good to be locked up too long with the inlaws tho). This is great news for the mountain communities that are reliant on the tourist industry and I could only imagine how happy the ski resorts are about this.

I just appreciate the view and I hope others can slow down a bit to take it in too.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Wayback Machine

The holidays make everyone appreciate family and friends. This last August most of us were fortunate to reconnect once again and re-live some of those stories and great moments growing up. I managed to dig out a bunch of photos for a quick visual trip back to those days.

I just got done posting them to a gallery so you can step through them again, and also share them with the ones that did not make the reunion. I figured it was safe now that we cant be prosecuted for most of the things we got into back then.

Gang Archives

Apologies for the quick and sloppy upload. For now they are in no particular order, not cropped neatly, not color adjusted, not particularly clean or void of scratches, and I also noted that apparently we had much more hair back then too.

It was neat going through them again. Those were fun times.
I am bummed that I a missing alot of pics. Hopefully I will find them and put them up with the these.

Enjoy, comment, share, continue the adventures.

Monday, December 1, 2008

T-Giving 08

Thanksgiving at our house is different than most others. It's not even at our house. This year it was out at a dusty little corner of the desert just a bit north of Joshua Tree and south of Johnson Valley. We had WAY too much food (as usual) deep fried a couple of turkeys, tossed some shoes, some watched football on the portable dish, but mostly enjoyed good friends and company.

The riding was a wide range between soft sand, rolling whoops on dirt trails, jagged granite shards that loved to bash skidplates (did not have any tire issues tho) and moon boulders that loved to get lodged under our bikes and lift all wheels off the ground so you have to get off and lift the bike over. It played minor havoc with the 3 wheelers and quads, and made the guys on bikes wish they were on something else.

It was good getting out again. The sweet air right after it rains is something you must breathe for yourself. We saw some neat stuff, played hard, got lost a few times, stayed up late around smoky fires, and nobody got hurt.

Can't complain about that at all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Someting from nothing

I think most people get great sense of satisfaction when creating things. While it might be a minor event to some, when finished product gets pushed out the door it's a good day.

Monday we wrapped up boat 39, handed it off to our dealer and it is most likely in Texas by now(straight run is ~20 hours). I didn't get a chance to get a pic before it was shrink wrapped. I think it might even be delivered to the buyer for the holiday.

Its neat seeing something in all stages of creation and especially rewarding if you have a hand in much of the the process (tho not quite as grand as Steve's projects). My hands touch the whole boat, but are also directly responsible for components like casting the prop and other parts from big rubber molds, machining raw aluminum castings into final assemblies, installing many of these components(like driveline and steering), but also jump around into other duties when behind schedule- like electrical, plumbing, and hydraulics, and finally detailing the boat before delivery.

One downside to working around fiberglass is that many days I come home itchy with glass dust.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dockside and tied

Hey, that was fun. As you may have assumed, I am home and safe. The remainder of the trip went almost exactly as we thought it would. NOT that we preferred our outcome, but in review we couldn't have done any better.

We managed to get out of Newport but it wasn't without quite a bit of stress. Right away we were questioning our decision as we were trouncing through some pretty big seas. The boat was not having a problem, but if we weren't assured that it would get better in a couple of hours, we would have turned back and waited it out. That would have meant at least another week sitting in Newport with only a slim chance the weather window was only equally as big. Our weather router said we had 24 hours to move 30 hours of distance. It was going to be messy on both ends.

That night it did get better, but only for a while as the next front was coming in. The wind was picking up quite a bit as we made the turn into Straits of Juan De Fuca the next afternoon and pointed us directly into the short windy chop. Every 5th wave sprayed over the whole boat. We really had to watch for logs when it got dark and when we finally made Pt Angeles it was plenty dark. There we stopped for the night and cooked up a couple of nice steaks on the bbq. This boat does feed us well.

The boat owner, Ken, met up with us the next morning and we started right off. Again we had a very sloppy day ahead of us, and at one point we were in sustained winds of 45 and it gusted up to 58! In between the downbursts we did enjoy the beautiful coastline of the Puget Sound. We reached the locks as it was getting dark and it started raining again. Our dock was just up on the other side a bit further but we were soaked by the time we got the lines and fenders out and finally tied up to the dock.

We had our bad weather days, and our good. There were a couple of days of fog where we could hardly tell the boat was moving. The entire crew was a gag to be around. We all worked well together. The boat performed very well with only a few hiccups that were easily managed. In case you couldn't figure it out...

I had a great time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yup, This must be it

Up until today the weather has been patchy rain and gusty winds but that was because a storm was coming. It never got as bad as predicted and that is fortunate for me, but reports up and down the coast were quite different. Today I have a steady annoying drizzle, and it's cold out there. Yuppers, this is Oregon.
The rest of the crew is in transit back this way and I guess that means it's time to go. The seas are down to an 8ft swell today and supposed to be down to 5-6 by tomorrow. It's not great, but since there is another front headed this way it's as good as we get. We might be out tonight, or early am tomorrow. Then it's another 28hrs. Our window should be *just* big enough that we might make it up to our turn into the Sound as the seas build again. It won't be pretty.

So I have been down in the engine room prepping for getting under way again. I remounted a poorly mounted sump pump, cleaning out some of the raw water strainers, and poking around looking for other things that are just not right. There's always something that needs fixing on a boat.

Yes, Steve, I am in my element!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hanging out in Newport, OR

In case you haven't been following Ken's blogs, we did not make it all the way up to Seattle before our weather window closed up on us. Ironically, we pulled into the closest port of Newport. No, (I know what you are thinking) this one is in Oregon. It's a neat little fishing port that is also supported by Rogue brewery, a tasty little microbrewery that has an inspiring success story. I remember this stop from my last trip up the coast and when I get a sec I'll have to walk over there for a visit and ummm... maybe a few samples. If I remember right they have a small eatery with a killer cheeseburger.

The weather reports from several sources have the conditions outside pretty bad(combined seas to 22 ft swells and winds to 35kts), but it has been really nice here at the dock. Reports above and below my position aren't nearly as pretty so I think we did good when we pulled in here when we did. I have been seeing a few more of the larger fishing charters come in today and chatting with them reinforces the idea of hiding out for a while. As I type tho- the skies are darkening and my onboard weather station registered a 22 kt gust just slammed the boat. Winds are predicted to go to 50kts tonight. I better go out and double up the lines. This storm could go out to Tuesday with another one right behind it so I might be here for a while.

The rest of the crew rented a brand new Impala and drove home to Seattle yesterday morning and left me minding the boat. No worries... I have food, water, power, the ability to stay dry(unless I have to do something outside), sat tv, a library of about 500 dvd's, xm, and finally managed internet, and the pilothouse will provide a real good view of the approaching storm. The coasties have a base right across the channel and they have been quite the source of entertainment today running some drills(those boats are kinda cool). I should go pop some popcorn.

I'd post some pics, but I left my usb adapter on the desk at home. I'll see If I can scrounge up a cable but for now you just get the text.

More later.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Off to WA

Egads- where has the time gone? Time to update the blog. Not that there hasn't been anything worthy of updating about... just too damn busy.

Then it just gets busier.

I am off again for the open waters. It's a new boat this time but also one that I know. I met the boat and skipper Jeff while down in Costa Rica. Sans Souci was in the next slip over from Astor and was the one that was supposed to be brought back via transport ship but couldn't be loaded for various reasons. The boat waited out the season sitting idle and just now is making it's way back home. I hooked up a ride and we leave tomorrow.

I'm not sure how much I will be able to update the blog because we are not planning to stop and will not have too much wifi that far out, but the owner in Seattle does a real good job of keeping track of his boat and keeps a good log. If that is the case I will keep notes and post them when I get home.

Find Ken's home page - here
(click on What's New for the latest)

and a way to track our position - here
Or click on "where is my boat now" from his logs.

and another way to track but only works if we are around busy ports - here
Once loading in the approximate area from the worldmap you can go find Sans Souci from the little pull down menu on the left. This only works if we are beaconing.

We should be heading out Sunday before noon and be up in Seattle by the end of the week. I've done this run before and it might not be a picnic. It should be good for a few stories.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Closer to home than you'd think

Wow, time flew since the last post. Activity has shifted into double-overdrive this last week and coupled with our usual round of chores it left me with NO time to sit(I know- hard to believe).

We now have a few new boats in the anchorage and with it comes the happy hour introductions, more random nights out, a few pizza parties, gut busting rounds of stories and possibly/maybe a few tequila shooters in there somewhere.

Welcome to Golfito, Dave and Mary, our friends cruising their Nordhaven named Jenny. We left them way back in El Sal and they just now caught up with us. It is good to run into them again.

Also a grand welcome to new friends Mark and Lyn. When they idled their boat WAHOO up and dropped anchor I noted the familiar BYC(Balboa Yacht Club) burgee he was flying and I HAD to call him on it. They have been motor-cruising their powerboat south since October. Interesting how one can travel 3000 miles and still run into connections from home. If anyone was looking for them I can toss a coconut and hit his boat.

It gets better tho. Also gathered around the table were fellow cruisers Patrick and Patricia (sv Rhapsody). At one point for some reason the topic switched over to geek talk (even out here) and Patrick started telling parallel stories I know I've heard before. I asked "Do you know Mike Friese?" Yep, they all worked together a while back. No kidding! He bought me a shot of Tequila. Thanks Mike.

Not that Astor was in any state other than close to perfect, I still had TONS to do before Richard found his way back. He did just that Yesterday morning, and he said the boat was in better shape than when he left. We did good- I think we can come back (I wasn't really worried tho).

With many of the major projects finished off and put to bed I have taken on more minor PITA chores like practicing my whipping skills on all of the newly replaced lines hanging around. I even gave Paula a very challenging job of stitching up Replacement Deck Doily #4 which has needed to be done for a couple of years since the original #4 failed it's float test. By coincidence and a strange comedy of events, RDD#4 also recently failed it's float test(over the side), but was recovered from it's 40ft drop to the mud by a true salvage legend after about 30 minutes of exploring the depths and muck. For those that are keeping track, I am now 3 for 3.

Yes- this means we are into another phase of our adventure. I spent a good part of the day looking at flight times, prices, seating assignments, booking a hotel stopover in San Jose, clicking on this and printing that. WHEW! That'll burn up a good part of a day. I started all this on my office on mid deck, but it started raining again so I had to move below. It turned out to be a good useless day to do it. Paula spent most of the day gathering all of our things from their little cubby corners and fitting them into our bags. Travel day towards SoCal begins Thursday and ends on Friday so we shall see how it all comes together. In it's infancy, flight travel used to be a fun and enjoyable part of a trip, but now there sure is alot of stress involved.

I'm not sure how fast we will acclimate back into the pace of SoCal. I'm sure much of it is the same, but since we left back in the begin of March you people have whacked out the fuel prices but that's ok because I hear the batteries in my truck are dead-dead, picked your American Idol, no doubt finished out the season for several of my favorite tv shows, made Hillary realize she is not the one for the US, and a few global tragedies have occurred on continents only an ocean away.

We still have a few stories in the writing stages so we will try to sneak them in here just for fun, and we will continue to blog probably in a different phase and perhaps rearranged a bit, but it has been a truly fantastic time.

For those that have enjoyed this, the best thing I can say is that sometime/somehow we will be back aboard and pick up the stories where we left off. This is only a planned side-step in the journey. Stay tuned.

Byron & Paula
Astor Tenders and Crew - Spring 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sounds at night- Paula

The cemetery across the road from Fish Hook Marina is mostly a quiet place. There is activity that surrounds an occasional check-in or as some might argue, for those checking out. The above ground crypts start with basic rectangle brick boxes and are decorated with leftover tiles, rocks and others show simple trowel tracks designs in sweeps across the surface. Some have basic headstones or simple crosses made with plumbing fixtures, fancy scrolling wrought iron crosses, and the very basic have irregular names scratched in the wet concrete with a nail. Some of these crypts are stacked and empty cells await the rest of the family, others expecting future expansion still have rebar poking out of the tops. Sadly, many have been subject to vandals that just like breaking things and these give the place a run down feeling.

As one would hopefully expect, we don't hear too much from its occupants. However, when twilight sets in, the place takes on a whole different life of its own.

Once in a while, Byron and I will walk over to Banana Bay marina just up the road for dinner. When we exit Fish Hook, the cemetery across the road is practically at our door step. As we take a left and start walking along the edge of the road, we begin to hear strange noises coming from across the street. Our ears strain for any identifiable sounds. We hear a single clink of a wind chime repeating itself from different directions. Yes, kinda weird. We take a few steps farther and another noise becomes clearer. We swear that we hear the sound effects from Pac Man and we suddenly feel like we were in middle of an arcade. As if we needed a topper to our sensory overload, a third sound becomes recognizable. It sounds like one of the weapons used in the movie Star Wars. Wow, time to clean out the old ears! Confounded, we meet up with friends who enlighten us. The animated sounds that we were hearing were originating from the local wild life, commonly known as frogs! These just aren't your every day run of the mill frogs, these are foley artists.

There is no simple croaking in this town, except of course for the dearly departed.

(the attached mp3 file is NOT mixed, multi-tracked or doctored in any way)

Play the arcade frogs:

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Byron has rekindled a previous passion for his salt water aquarium. One morning I poked my sleepy head above deck, hoping that Byron had already retrieved a cup of coffee from the marina restaurant.

Instead he proudly handed me a plastic container full of sea water. Not exactly what I had in mind the first thing in the morning. As I adjusted my focus on the container, things went from blurry to mildly fuzzy. Ok, I'm starting to make out an outline of some sort. I turn the container for a different angle. Thats better, now I can see a pair of eyes and legs moving frantically. It's no wonder I couldn't see anything at first, it was practically invisible. It's a little shrimp and he is almost transparent except for those jet black eyes. What's that behind him? It's a tiny little crab!

Byron was walking up to the restaurant to get a cup of coffee when he caught sight of the shrimp critter high and dry on the dock. He thought it was dead and in true boy fashion, he poked a finger to see. He was surprised to find it's little limbs moving very weakly. He immediately found a container, scooped up some sea water and put his patient into the aquatic ward. Not too far away he found the little crab and added it to the collection. By the time I saw them later, they were well on their way to recovery. Byron said he wanted to keep them a while until he could show them to Robert, our three year old friend staying on the boat next to ours. I think he was secretly enjoying having his own personal aquarium.

We figured out what must have happened to our dehydrated little patients. Floating debris in the bay must have gotten caught up against the dock on one side as the tide was going out. The marina employees, instead of scooping up the stuff and throwing it out, just carried it across the dock and dumped it back into the water on the other side. Clearly, they intend that to let the tide continue to move the debris away. Our little hitchhikers must have been attached to some driftwood and got knocked off onto the dock in mid transit.

The next time I looked in on the patients, I discovered that there were visitors in the recovery ward! Things were looking a bit crowded. There were at least a dozen guppy fish of every shape darting back and forth. I looked at Byron and in that "I'm innocent" tone he says "What? They're friends of the family." I wasn't convinced. The clutching appendages of our patients did not seem to inspire close family contact. Later we discovered a couple of "family members" belly up at the bottom. I'm sure it wasn't helpful that Byron made references to garlic and butter while looking at them. It's definitely time to release the patients and send the visitors home.

Debris is always getting caught in and around things. We had some stuck between two bumpers separating our boat from the dock. The bumpers were loose and Byron lifted one up to let the muck flow past. He set the bumper on the dock and a three inch long crab jumped off, ran to the end of the dock and leaped off like a lemming.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Go with the flow

I enoyed a dockside shower in the rain yesterday.
It's not like I set out and made it a goal for the day (tho some might have thought I needed to), a chain of events took place that just made it happen. At sunrise my day plans had an entirely different direction in mind, but it didn't go that way.

Obviously, the end result occurred because it was raining, I was all soapy, and out there getting wet anyway so I went for the shampoo. No, I wasn't just out there because I was not smart enough to get in out of the drenching, but I was out there finishing my washing of the boat. It was time to do the non-parade side of the boat which sometimes gets neglected. The parade side is easy to do because of the dock. I had the foresight of leaving the dink in the water and have been meaning to get to the other side. It's not an easy job, and with only one person it's almost a guaranteed slopfest.

I hadn't planned on washing the boat today either. I was out there because it turned into a good day to do it. It had gone from a blistering scorcher morning into a gray overcast and cooling and I was already in the dink anyway with a couple of rags and some soap in a bucket. It just stemmed off from what I was doing.

I was in the dink anyway and I was already wet and soapy from washing off the fantail. This is not a fun job either but I noticed it needed to be done. I saw a clean spot where the dock line must have rubbed away the grime. Any passers by would never notice that it was a little off color and had a slight layer of oil and soot most likely from running the motor. It is such a deep overhang back there that it usually involves a really long handled brush, but it's really tough to get any leverage on it being that far away AND trying not to float away as I push the wooley pad around. I figured the next easiest way is to go in upside down hang onto the rail and reach as far as I can. It turned out to be a fairly sloppy process but I got almost down to the bootstripe which is really good. I'm not sure who was getting more soaped up- the boat or me. A neighbor made the comment about it being bath day. I quipped back that the boat's pits and mine were overdue due for a scrub.

A short moment earlier I found myself in front of my bucket, very pleased with myself, rinsing out a handful of brand new rags and noted they were making a good solution of some simple green water and remembered my greasy fantail project. Perfect.

I was pleased because of my recent acquisition. I just swiped the rags out of the trash can because my inner scrounge was seduced by their bright white fluffy newness of their condition. The uberfishers that come in here are a great source for stuff like this. Their boats get their daily squeegee and have no time for rinsing out rags and I guess hanging them out to dry is against their code of show. It was a tough call whether I should risk being branded as a scrounge or a thrifty cruiser. These last few weeks aboard Astor we have been polishing demons and have pretty much killed every mini towel on board. I managed to resurrect quite a few with multiple hand washes in the bucket, but they are still pretty shabby and suspect they will not last long. These new ones came at the right time. If they were tainted with unknown nasty chemicals I would have left them right where they were. These were only soaked with simple green. SCORE!

So, scrounging a few towels out of the trash might lead to a dockside shower later. Some days you never can tell what one will get into. You learn to go with the flow.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Trip to the falls - Paula

Saturday we made plans to team up with two friends from the marina office and headed for a quick hike out to a waterfall. We started the walk through town with hearty young Lexi, but her roommate, Serena, was still sleeping. The morning was only getting hotter so we ditched her.

We picked up the trail leading to the waterfall about two miles from where we are staying. The beginning of the jungle started right at the trailhead. There was still a fair amount of sunlight illuminating our way as the trees had not yet closed in above us. Dead leaves blanketed the ground and assisted us on the now soft and sometimes muddy trail, thanks to the recent rains.

We came to a rustic bridge made of logs and bamboo that spanned a stream. This was the first sign of the waterfall to come. From there on the path began to climb and our trail became a bit slippery. Guiding us along the way were hand rails made from tree branches tied together. Yours truly huffed and puffed my way up, wondering if I was really up for this adventure. Thankfully, there were several picture points along the way, which created brief rest stops for me to catch my breath.

We saw all kinds of oddities. The base of many of the huge trees looked like folds of curtains. Little reversed mushrooms that formed cups to catch the rain water. House plants that were of a prehistoric size. Odd flowers that looked like genetic experiments from a lab.

I was beginning to think the trail would never end. We rounded the next corner and it stopped right at the base of the waterfalls. It was soooo worth it! The recent rains had provided an added water supply, so now we had several water falls to admire.

It was about that time that Serena showed up with Eric from the marina. Apparently they had driven to the the beginning of the trail instead of walking (which explained how they caught up with us so quickly). We think the little sneak had this planned all along!

The air temperature was much cooler with the misting spray falling down around us. There was a
small pool at the base of the falls that we were able to wade through and cool off our feet. Below the the small wading pool, the water dropped continuing down the incline we had climbed up from. We enjoyed our time there, taking pictures with what little light filtered through the trees.

Our trip back was much easier as it was all down hill from the falls. We manage to make it down the slippery slope without any gravity assisted butt landings. Serena and Eric left via car while we opted to walk back. It just didn’t seem right to end our trek riding in a car.

By the time we got back to our boat, my legs were like gumby. Despite the muscle pain I would have to endure for days to come, I was glad I didn’t let a little thing like comfort get in the way of a great adventure.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Good Day for Bad Cruiser Poetry

Wetted footprints on teak decks
Trace her paths of past steps,

As she scurries, collects, attempts to gather,

Odd items needing dryness, like laundry just lathered.

Polished winches beading with water,
Look good now- like crap latter,
Drops exploding off nearby varnish,
Further aid in their liquid tarnish.

A former breeze now winds and gusty
Carry scents of trees all wet and musty
Blowing drops in odd angled falling,
Better close the skylights on this calling.

Drops to dribbles, streaming off covers,
Collecting in pools, then exit deck scuppers,
Falling now in sheets, it won't be long I think,
To time the next lull, then run out- bail the dink.

Listening to drops in waves of tapping,
Like a million tiny hands of random clapping
Something suddenly catches me in wonder,
Hmmm- How close was that thunder?

All are signs of little wonder,
Of one fine day to stay tucked down under
Hatches slid closed, safe down below
A glass of wine, a good book, and watching for mold.


Ok- so it might need a little work.
I'm also trying my hand at a song.
It's titled: "Hey, You, Get Offa My Rail! "
(sung to the little kid leaning against the boat and wildly swinging around a big ugly stick) (Ooo- That could have been bad)

Deck Games - Paula

The morning chores are done and I'm lounging in my deck chair ready for some leisure time. I pick up my book to begin another chapter. I pause... maybe I'll just take a nap. Indecision. I put my book down and opt to do something subtle that doesn't require a whole lot of physical effort.

I've got my sunglasses on and to anyone passing by I could be looking right at them or conducting surveillance, by looking at them out of the corner of my eye. But instead, I'm faking them out and my eyes are closed behind my sunglasses. I'm planning my strategy for the next opportunity that presents itself. I hear a motor of an approaching boat. My turn, my move. I decide to try another plan and take my sunglasses off. If I look like I'm awake and I don't wave they'll think I'm a snob. Astor is proving to be a very popular attraction. This way maybe they'll think I'm asleep and then I wont have to wave. My arm, the one thats been doing the princess wave the past several weeks is getting carpal tunnel. I'm now playing possum and lying perfectly still. I expend as little energy as possible either way. Ah, the game is proving most suitable for my needs at the moment.

On the other hand, you never know what interesting people you could meet if you just say "Hello." Oh the pressures! The approaching motor sounds like one of many fishing boat constantly going by. I think I'll just ignore it this one time.

Busted! I hear a familiar voice calling out and abruptly my game stops short like a boat beached on a sand bar. It's Tim from Land and Sea Marina motoring up in his tender. He's yelling something that I can't quite make out. As he pulls in closer he repeats, "Anyone need a rat catcher?" As I look to the bow, I see his old faithful kitty sitting there facing forward, wind blowing between her ears. The bow scene of "Titanic" suddenly comes to mind. To think I almost missed this too-cute-for-words moment. The boat draws closer and kitty looks as if she is ready to abandon ship and board us as a one cat raiding party. She has her own game she wants to play. Kitty is certain there's a stowaway somewhere on board that needs to walk the plank. But alas, I decline. We are fresh out of stowaways.

I ease back into my deck chair and settle in for the next move to present itself. Just as I'm plotting my new course, Byron calls me over. I hoist myself up out of my chair. I wander over to see what's up and find him in the middle of his own game. He's looking down at two fuel jugs on deck. He picks up one and I see something scurry out from under it over to the jug still on deck. Byron put the first jug down, picks up the other one and it runs back to the jug he just sat down. It's a small crab! Apparently I was mistaken in thinking that we had no stowaways on board. Then Byron picks up both jugs at the same time. The player is revealed and this shell game comes abruptly to an end. The little crab sits tensely awaiting judgment.

The captain says no stowaways are allowed on board, so the little guy gets scooped up and tossed over the side of the boat. It's undecided whether the crab walked the plank or got a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Making an entrance

We heard the boats haling the marina via radio but no one in the office responded. Not unusual, that happened to us as well. After a few unanswered hails, Byron took the call as acting ambassador of the facility and told the incoming boats that he would advise the office that they were on approach. He grabbed the handheld radio and strolled up the dock to go find the dock boys. I follow him out and greet the first one of the boats as they tied up in the slip right next to ours. Their lines were quickly secured and Byron continued down the dock to help the other boat. I learn our new neighbors are Dan and Lorraine on Zephyrus. they have been cruising Mexico for three and a half years. In our chat I asked them what their plans were. Dan says they are staying here for a couple of days and then plan to head for Ecuador. Another transient cruiser lost to the Ecuadorian climate. It seems to be a popular destination from here.

The other boat that pulled in with them are their friends Ralph & Cheryl on Fortuitous. As they were coming in close to the dock, Cheryl was obviously having troubles trying to untangle her dock lines. She tossed the bow line off to dock manger Julio in a tangled mess, but it made it- barely. Then she tossed the tangled stern line to Byron and it fell short. She must have known it wasn't going to work and tossed the line with such conviction that she followed it right off the boat and splashed into the water next to the dock. The humorous nature aside, this was in reality a dangerous situation. The boat is not secure and drifting oddly with a the current and breeze, the motor is on and the propeller is turning, and there is only one other guy aboard the boat and he can't leave the helm. In this case, docking was finished up nicely and without further trauma. We were in luck the boat was drifting away from the dock and not towards.

After Cheryl was hauled out of the water onto the dock (in a effort to minimize her humiliation) Byron said, "How refreshing, I think I'll try that! Welcome to Fish Hook Marina!"

It's good for us to see that even seasoned cruisers trip up every now and then.
(clockwise from bottom L: Cheryl, Ralph, Dan, Lorraine)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wayward Dinghy

It’s early morning and Byron is on deck wiping down varnished areas from the previous nights rain. He waves a good morning to cruisers Jen & George in their dinghy as they leave the shore and head back to their boat anchored out several boat lengths away. He watches as they disembark. Byron continues his wipe down process.

Moments later he glances up and notices the dinghy drifting back. He thinks to himself, “Wow, they must have a really long painter (line that attaches dinghy to boat).” As he watches, the distance continues to grow and it become clear that someone forgot to tie the dinghy off. Oops!

George is right there but looking down appearing to be working on something else and has not yet noticed the wayward dinghy yet. Byron yells at him to get his attention, but he doesn’t hear. He must have music on or something. He calls several more times and when George finally looks up, Byron points. In the stillness of early morning, “Oh god!” comes floating over the water. In the next few seconds a third voice says with some feeling, “Not me!!”. This was most likely their new guest and deckhand Matt.

There is a splash, and George is in the water making like an olympic swimmer after the dinghy. He eventually catches up, climbs aboard, starts the outboard motor and putters back to the boat. When he arrives he ties off the tender(hopefully with a better knot this time). Silence follows and a stern tone of voice that easily carries across the water to our boat, “Bad dinghy.... Baaaad dinghy!”

There is an unwritten rule that the captain is never wrong. That might be the case but we hear later it does not prevent the crew from awarding him the nickname, “No Tie.” I don't think they are describing his lack of business attire.

We have fine quality entertainment always happening out here(and it’s on our big screen in Hi-def).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ah- That's good Wifi!

Most of the big Uber Fishers that pull in here for a few days are loaded with all sorts of toys. They are usually networked, sat-linked, flat screened, and wired for 12 channel surround. The Nordhaven 68 sitting next to me is a fine example of trying to take it all with you. The owners came in about the same time as we did and flew home. There is so much stuff in there they left the air conditioning running until the transport crew comes to pick it up and take it home. It has a digital server that holds thousands of hours of music as well as countless movies that can be individually directed to any of the 3 staterooms, main salon, or up to the bridgedeck for the night watch. That is only if there isn't anything to watch coming in on the SkyNet Sat dish. Hopefully the guy on watch is also watching the feeds from at least a few of the 6 joystick operated cameras placed around the boat or the gyro stabilized nightvision(IR or Starlight selectable) eyeball up front. The Nordie is so smart, that when the AC quit the other day, somehow it phoned home to Seattle and told the service company. The local boys here didn't EVEN want to touch it, so a couple of days later our new neighbor Tyson shows up to get things back online.

So in previous posts I mentioned the terrible internet connection down here. Some days it works ok, then on others, simple tasks like checking mail just can't be done. Being around here so long, I noted some interesting observations and ran some diagnostics. The flaky internet problem seemed to come and go with certain boats. Give me a Duh!

I don't claim to be an sort of a network guru, so I throw it out to you guys to see if I was going in the right direction. Taking a look at my wifi sniffer shows a bit of the problem. This screenshot was taken just after a couple of big boats left, and after a couple of changes were made here, but it gives you an idea. It was worse a couple of days ago.

Basically all of these boats are screaming a wifi signal on the default channel 6. That USED to be the same as our marina link but I finally got them to change it as an experiment. There are two other access points that show up from time to time also on 6 that are not on today. Egads! No wonder I keep dropping packets.

When I went up to mention this to the manager, she said the internet guys were due in a couple of days to install some new equipment. It's going to make things much better she says.

Sure enough there were a couple of guys poking around a few days later. I saw them wandering down the dock with a laptop and measuring the signal. They came over to me and asked a few Q's. In a combination of broken english and even more broken spani I told them of my findings and must have impressed them enough to gain some credi.

The good news is that the new network is up and running great. The bad news is that I became the new local tech. The installers kept running into problems and asking me to help out. I spend the good part of a couple of days working out some bugs with them. They kept handing me the phone and chatting with some expert. He was constantly steering me in the wrong direction and once I figured that out (and ignoring him), we got things clicked in.

There are still a few bugs, but everyone seems happy. I am finally done running around getting all of the other computers logged in. The new speeds support Skype at crystal clear quality, I can get youtube vids faster than I can view them, and rarely have to reload an incomplete page.

Sometimes you just can't get away. Not sure where to send the bill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Right through my back yard

Had I known about this, I would have been there for the first few boats and taken notes. We were feasting at Banana Bay last night and watched two of the first boats come through. Alas I was without camera at that time.

Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 08

Apparently these boats are midway through their race of yet another lap around the world and they had miserable sailing these last few days and had to cancel this leg from Santa Cruz to Panama. They have been burning way too much of their fuel and are making an unscheduled stop here in Gulfito.

Team Nova Scotia came in at first light this morning and took on their load of fuel and provisions. Hull & Humber came in right after that. The well worked crews were in great spirits, but were really disappointed they could not step off the boat even to walk up for a visit to the bar at Banana Bay Marina, let alone have a good look at Gulfito.

From what I understand that there are about 4 pros aboard for the whole race, but the rest are strictly amateurs. Some are going all the way, but others are called "leggers". They hop on and off at planned stops along the way. Crew compliments ranged from a minimum of ten to a full boat of seventeen. They all were quite friendly and it was neat hearing of their adventures which are quite different than ours.

Some official paperwork process is completed faster than the time it takes to fuel. Bags of fresh mangoes, papayas, pineapples, and apples are handed over to the crew as well as a fresh brewed pot of Costa Rican coffee, cases of cold beer, and the bonus surprise of ice cream cones are dished out as long as the supply holds. Marina Manager- Bruce hosted them right. A quick check of internet was appreciated by a few then in an all too short of visit time, lines were cast off again to get back under way.

As the morning boats head out I hear Western Australia on the radio. They arrive early afternoon with another team Durban 2010. Again the marina crew goes to work with the same routine. As the work was finishing up the last boat Liverpool came in but had to circle around until the two boats did final checks and untied off the fuel dock.

I had the grandest time socializing with all of the boats and teams as they came in. They all had different, but somewhat the same stories of how they came to be aboard.

I wished them all fair winds for the rest of the trip. I handed out some of my freshly minted boat cards, so maybe some will even write.

They looked like they were having way too much fun.