Friday, May 12, 2017

Well, Poopie!

Remember the video of the hailstorm that I posted? The hailstorm that broke our skylights? The hailstorm that we were afraid was ushering in the apocalypse? We thought that only the skylights needed to be replaced. Their damage was obvious. We took the step of moving our departure to Florida from 5/15 to 5/23. We thought we could get those repairs taken care of on cruise control. Well, today the insurance adjuster showed up, and we were shocked at the extent of the damage that occurred. Our untrained eyes missed most of it.

The broken skylights were the tip of the iceberg. The entire roof needs to be replaced, both air conditioner units, chimneys, ducts, drywall in our covered porch, lights, and lots of other small detail pieces had the characteristic ding in their surfaces. But the biggest surprise were the windows. Almost all of the aluminum windows were damaged along the lower edge of the frames. And not just a few divots here and there. There are dozens and dozens of pips in them as if someone with a ball peen hammer had come along and meticulously popped the frames' surfaces. It was amazing.

The disappointing bottom-line is that the repairs are so involved, we have to cancel our summer cruising plans to oversee their completion. We have to postpone The Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour for 2017. It sucks big-time, and we're very disappointed about it, but it's what we must do. Lisa and I have never hesitated to invest time and resources into things of value so that we may enjoy the returns on those investments in the future. And so, again, we shall make such an investment.

But all is not lost! We are not going to be landbound. No, sirree. Jacksonville is only a 3½ hour plane ride from Denver. And there's still plenty of places to take short and fun cruises for a week or so. We can still easily jaunt up to Jekyll Island and Brunswick, GA. And maybe we'll even head down the St. Johns River and see what all the fuss about it is. Who knows!?


Anyway, we'll let ourselves be disappointed for a day or two. It will be sad to file this summer's float plan away until next year. But it's only for a year. I don't think the entire Eastern Seaboard is going anywhere.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour Float Plan

Sometimes you have to take baby steps. For us, recently, those baby steps included not going all out and spouting off about our upcoming plans. Truth is, we have had a situation (medical) hanging over our heads that could have put an immediate stop to everything. Fortunately, all is well. The doctors have given us the green light to forget about all that and GOBOAT.

Okie-dokie! We'll do that.

Now, it's no secret we are heading north to the Great Lakes for a four or five-year exhaustive exploration of this wonderful region. After all, this whole thing is called the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. It's right there in black and white. But Why Knot is currently in Jacksonville, FL. We have to get there first.

Our planned departure from the Marina at Ortega Landing in beautiful Jacksonville is on June 1. Here's the rough details by destination.

- Sister's Creek – can't pass up a free dock.
- The anchorage at Dungenese, just north of Cumberland Sound
- Jekyll Island – we'll stay there a couple of days. Lisa insists.
-Brunswick Landing Marina in Brunswick GA – Haven't been there yet. Besides, it's only 10 miles from Jekyll Island.
-Anchorage at Buttermilk Sound
-Anchorage at Wahlberg Creek
-Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah – We're going to stay here a few days and rent a car. We need to do some exploring.
-Shelter Cove Marina at Hilton Head – Haven't been to HH. Three days ought to do it.
-Anchorage at Patriot Lucy – this appears to be a somewhat dicey anchorage: strong current, kind of exposed. I'll be very flexible with this one.
-Charleston – We'll anchor the first night on the Stono River the first night, then go to Ashley Marina for two nights. This is a restaurant stop: SNOB – Slightly North On Broad. Their Shrimp and Grits is outstanding.
-Georgetown – at the marina
-Barefoot Marina – Myrtle Beach
-Bald Head Island – One of our favorite destinations. Gotta stay a couple of days.
-Wilmington NC – This is a new destination for us. Looking forward to it.
-Anchorage at Wrightsville Beach
-Anchorage at Mile Hammock
-Morehead City Yacht Basin – This is a big objective. Not to get to the marina, per se – been there, done that. But we're going to rent a car and head out for several days and explore the area. First, we'll head to the ferries that go to Ocracoke, head up the Outer Banks, take the ferry to Hatteras, then head up to Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Manteo. (And for all of you familiar with the marina at Alligator River, we'll go there too, just to say we have.) We'll then swing back down to Bellhaven, Washington and New Bern, then back to Morehead City.
-Whitaker Pointe Marina in Oriental – as we've said many times, our favorite marina.
-Anchorage at Slade River.
-Then all the usual stops up to Annapolis: Alligator River, Coinjock, free dock at Dismal Swamp (at the ICW), Lynn Haven, Deltaville, Solomons, then Annapolis. We'll stay in Annapolis for a week.
-From Annapolis, we'll head up the bay to Delaware City, then down Delaware Bay to Cape May.
-From Cape May, we are going up through New Jersey on the ICW instead of going outside. Why? Because it will be a new challenge. There will be a mix of marinas and anchorages.
- Perhaps one of our biggest objectives is to get to New York City. From Mannesquan, NJ we'll anchor behind the Statue of Liberty for a night. From there—and we are stoked about this—we will go to the 015 Marina near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, directly across from Manhattan. Five days in NYC.
-The next major stop is up the Hudson River at Troy, NY. We will be renting a car again so we can accomplish two goals. The first is to drive down to Albany and find the grave of Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the U.S. He's a fascinating historical figure and is buried in Albany. The second is to go the movies. I know that sounds dull, but this is a special movie. It's a live broadcast of a Rifftrax performance where they skewer one of the classic Doctor Who episodes from the classic series: The Five Doctors. Holy Crap!
-From Troy we will head west on the Erie Canal until we get to Sylvan Beach on the eastern end of Oneida Lake. We'll hang out there for the Labor Day weekend.
-Our last stop is on the western end of Lake Oneida: Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton, NY. There the boat will be put up on the hard in one of their heated mega-sheds for the winter.

And what about the summer season in 2018? We'll head up to Lake Ontario, explore the Thousand Islands and Canadian Canals of Quebec.

And that is our On Board Life for the summer of 2017! We can't wait.

Would you like to come along? You can, indirectly. Just like last season, I'll be producing videos of all of our routes and reaches. I'll post them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and here on the blog. I'll also make more of an effort to write more blog entries. Apparently I have a fan base for them, and they want more.


It's going to be a great season!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Boater's New Best Friend

Sometimes one thing leads to another.

We have some modest stock investments, and one of the companies we have recently purchased stock in is West Marine. (WMAR -- Good evaluations. Probably not long term, but there is some money to be made.)

I exchanged some comments with another potential investor about WM in the comments section of an article about the investment opportunity. He asked if there were store locations near every marina. I told him that they did not. As a matter of fact, their intention is to consolidate stores into fewer, bigger stores that cater to not only boaters for parts, etc. but also the marine lifestyle market. (ex. I am currently wearing shoes I bought at WM.)

During this exchange, something occurred to me. It's this: Is it possible that the biggest advance in convenience for cruising boaters in years is Uber and Lyft?

As far as getting around to places like West Marine, or grocery stores, or to hardware stores, or doctors, or whatever, hasn't ride sharing really freed us from many of the constraints we've had?

There is growing criticism about Uber and Lyft about the financial aspects of being a driver for them, and all that is a conversation for another time and place. But, boy, doesn't it make our lives easier when we are a thousand miles from home and got to get somewhere.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Scam Afloat?

Perhaps you know this story already.

Like every good boat owner, we always keep our United States Coast Guard documentation up to date, and we always take care of it while we are back in Denver for our tax season shore leave. This year was no different. Or so we thought.

After searching Google for 'coast', 'guard', and 'documentation', we were directed to a new website: uscgdocumentation.us. Here's a screen shot.

Looks official, doesn't it?

It's not. Not in the slightest.

We thought this was the USCG website with a new interface, or at least someone they hired to process requests. It is neither of those things. This website is a processor that can, somehow, process requests for a boat owner, and their fee is $75.00 per request instead of the $26.00 we were used to paying. We figured they had to up the cost to cover increased costs and decreased budgets. Turns out that not only is this not in any way endorsed by the Coast Guard, it is, according to a representative from the real Coast Guard Documentation Center, not something they can do anything about.

To make it worse, they're sloppy at their job. How do we know this? They sent us the wrong documentation in the first place. We ended up with the docs for a 70 ton commercial boat in North Carolina.

Here's the kicker -- They are very unscrupulous in their behavior. When I communicated with them via their chat function, he/she got very pissy with me for bringing this up to them. They did end up fixing things (they sent me my correct doc via email) but it was a wholly unpleasant experience ... not to mention substantially more expensive.

Here's the gist of the matter.

uscgdocumentation.us is not affiliated with the USCG in any way. If you have a problem the USCG cannot help you. You have to deal with uscgdocumentation.us directly.
Our experience was that they were sloppy and rude.
They are 300% more expensive than going through the real USCG documentation online service:  https://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/. Note: When you do renew through uscg.mil, you are redirected to pay.gov to actually pay for your request. This is legitimate.

So, a word to the wise is enough.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our TOP 5 SONGS FOR OUR ON BOARD LIFE

Nothing goes along with our on board life like having some great music playing along with us. Whether we're piping some rowdy stuff through our flybridge stereo while we're underway, or we're enjoying some quieter music in the salon in the evening, we always like  to fill the air with music. And Lisa and I have very broad and varied musical tastes. We both have a background in musical theater (she, in the chorus, me as a musician) and we both love to sing along with our CDs or digital music. We like classical, operas, folk, sea shanties, international, choirs, rock and roll, funk, R&B, country, techno-dance (That's me mostly), swamp rock, jam rock, top 40 and lots of jazz. I even have a collection of circus music that I like.

But what are our absolute favorites?

Here they are. Our TOP 5 SONGS FOR OUR ON BOARD LIFE.

#5 Strike The Bell  from Steady as She Goes: Songs and Chanties from the Days of Commercial Sail



Who doesn't like a good 'ol sea shanty? We do, and Strike the Bell is our favorite. This is our favorite version.

#4 Erie Canal (traditional folk song)  vers. by Bruce Springsteen


What do you get when you take an old-time folk song written in a major key and turn it over to Bruce Springsteen? You get a new arrangement written in a minor key that is soulful and evocative. And let's face it, if you're cruising on the real Erie Canal and you don't listen to this song at least every other day, you're not getting the full effect of the experience.

#3 Rock and Roll Doctor - Little Feat


I admit that this song has zip to do with anything boat-ish. Busted. But I don't care about that in this instance. This is one of the greatest swamp, boogie rockers ever. And there are times where that is the only vibe you need.

#2 Wagon Wheel - vers. by Darius Rucker


A great song by any measure. And, my God, can Darius Rucker sing. What a great voice. I've got the harmony on the chorus down pat. This is the  version we prefer, but the version (below) from the Live From Daryl's House internet show is very good too. 


Before I reveal the #1 song, here are a few honorable mentions.

Tishomingo Blues (trad. jazz) There are a zillion versions of this. Pick one. We prefer the Prairie Home Companion version with Garrison Keilor from the album "Shake it, Break it, Hang It On The Wall." You're welcome

Sailing To Philadelphia by Marc Knopfler, with Jame Taylor



You Won't Succeed On Broadway from Spamalot, the Broadway musical


You: Eh, Darrell? This really has nothing to do with boating.
Me: Yes it does! Sometimes, after several hours of cruising, when we're bored to tears, we need a change of pace. This does that nicely.

And now, our NUMBER 1 SONG FOR OUR ON BOARD LIFE

Knee Deep, by the Zac Brown Band, with Jimmy Buffett


The reasons that this is our #1 song are as many as beats in the song itself. It really did change our life. More than anything else, it affirmed our decision to set off on this on board life together. It's a great song, very singable, and having Jimmy Buffett in the song is its crowning glory. Of course, it has Jimmy Buffett as a singer. Who else would it be?

So, what do you think of our list? Leave your opinion in the comments below.