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.