Saturday, November 12, 2016

Our 2016 Winter Cruising Season In All Its Glory! At Least until Just South Of Miami ... Or Until We Change It.

Yay! All my float planning is complete for our 2016 Winter Cruising Season. And its a great plan! It took me hours and hours to come up with this baby, and I know it's a winner. It's all about getting to the Florida Keys for awhile.

Here it is.

We'll cast off from Turtle Cove Marina on Monday, November 14th. Weather looks good to go outside south down to Tampa Bay and back to St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.

We're going to stay there for two days, then start the push south to the Keys, making landfall at Marathon.

Out stops along the way are ...
Blackburn Bay anchorage, between Sarasota and Venice Inlet

Cape Haze anchorage, north of Gasparilla and Charlotte Harbor

Salty Sam's Marina at Fort Myers Beach. We'll stay there three nights.

Rose Marina at Marco Island

West Pass Anchorage

Shark River anchorage. (The exact anchorage coordinates are not set in stone here.)

And finally, to Marathon for a week.

To Key West, but for only a couple of days.

Then, if the weather cooperates, The Dry Tortugas

From there we backtrack to Key West and Marathon. From there we go to ....
Well, I fill you in on that later.

And by the way, before you all chide me along the lines of not being able to get
reservations this late in my planning, I had no problems at all.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Planning The Winter Season

As boaters Lisa and I have met some of the nicest, sweetest, funniest, and all-around swell-est people anywhere, that is other boaters. One such couple is Dick and Deanna of the vessel Sareanna. We've been fortunate to have spent some golden moments with them. Dick is also one of the funniest people we've met, with a dry sense of humor and a genuine sense of enjoyment for their on board life. We go out of our way to visit with them.

However, there is a problem with Dick's and my friendship; we are totally opposite types of skippers. He and Deanna are the types of cruising boaters who set out on a day with an idea of where they want to go, but no real details to the mission in place. If they make it, fine, if not, they figure it all out as they go along. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. We've known lots of boaters like that. However, that's not how we (or should I say, I) do things.

I am a planner. I thoroughly enjoy the detail work of our life. Even for a simple, short motoring down the ICW, my planning is extreme. I know the exact distance to be traveled, the speeds, the fuel consumption, the possible obstacles, all the bridges' names, everything; there is no detail too small for me not to have dissected it down to the molecular level. For me, getting into the minutia of the experience is half the fun. (You should see my log. It's an Excel spreadsheet monstrosity that is, for me, a joy to behold.)

Dick thinks my, as he once described it, "anal" tendencies about float planning is too much. It amuses him to no end. I'm glad that I can be a source of entertainment for him. But I am what I am. I'm going to go on and plan, plan, plan to my little heart's content. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

All that brings me to this -- I'm planning our winter cruising season and I need HELP!!!!!! We're going to the Florida Keys and I'm stumped about certain aspects of the route there.

Why Knot is currently at Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs, and since we took our time getting up to there over the summer (short days, longer stays at each locale) we are going to go ahead and hustle down the coast to get to the keys. Here's the float plan so far.

Click images to enlarge.

Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg - 58 sm, marina, outside route
St. Petersburg to Blackburn Bay - 50 miles, anchorage, inside route
Blackburn Bay to Cape Haze - 26 miles, anchorage, inside route
Cape Haze to Snook Bite Marina (Ft. Myers Beach) - 44 miles, marina, inside route
Blackburn to Tween Waters - 51 miles, marina, inside route
Tween Waters to Snook Bite - 24 miles, marina, inside route
Snook Bite to Rose Marina (Marco Island) - 43 miles, marina
Here's where it starts to get tricky.
Rose Marina to West Pass - 36 miles, an anchorage near Everglades City. (below)

West Pass to Shark River - 46 miles, anchorage

From Shark River, as I see it, I chart a course that first heads west some around Cape Sable, then back east a little until I meet up with the  ICW line on the north side of Marathon. I then have to motor west along the magenta line to be able to cross under Seven Mile Bridge at Moser Channel. Once I've done that we cruise to Boot Key.

I'm planning a route to Key West on the south side of the Keys. Once we've drunk too much for a week or two in Key West, we'll motor around the peninsula up the East Coast and try to make it up to some place like Titusville or Ortega (Jacksonville) to leave the boat for our required Winter Tax Shore Leave (Feb. and March).

What do you think? And yes, I know I need to make our reservations today.

Dick would be proud ... or baffled.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Captain Cutie

Of all the marine memes that I have created (126 to date!) by far, the most popular have been the ones I call Captain Cutie memes. They are a picture of a very cute saluting captain and have a caption of some aspect of the on board life with the tagline, "You're a cruising boater," common traits that we all share. 

Here she is in all her glory, Captain Cutie.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Well . . .

Over the last 18 months, our boat has had, for all intents and purposes, a complete makeover, in and out. New windows, carpentry, bulkheads, you name it, both repairs and upgrades. And you know what, we were okay with all that. We've never skimped when it came to keeping Why Knot in good shape. We like our boat very much. But we reached the point that we started to say, “Please, almighty God, let this be the last of it.”

The last upgrade was to have the electrical panel rebuilt, a long-desired task. Our bud, Phil Jones of First Coast Marine Electrical Systems, did the work. Not only was he able to find a supplier of the old fashioned, aircraft-type, push button breakers (something that had stymied more than a few other technicians) but he did all the work in his usual determined and expedient fashion.

For those of you who have been long time readers, you may remember his name. He replaced our Xantrex Inverter / Charger three years ago while we were at Jekyll Island. At the time we were warned by not only him and another technician, but also by the store manager of the local West Marine store (Brunswick, GA) that the new Xantrex gear had iffy, at best, reputations. They operated fine, but didn't always last very long.

So, we left Jacksonville on Thursday. We stayed in St. Augustine Thursday night and cruised from there to Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona on Friday. No problems. The boat and us were in high spirits, and everything was hunky dory. Then, we unhooked from shore power on Saturday to head to Titusville. Lisa immediately noticed that several of the status and warning lights were wonky. Something was wrong with our 110v electrical system. As a matter of fact, we had a mysterious spike in the amps going through the inverter, which we later found out was a near catastrophic event.

Our first instinct was to call Phil. We know him, we trust him, and he knows our boat's electrical system better than anyone else on the planet. And damned if he didn't drive from St. Marys, GA down to Daytona Beach to check it out. And, as we all were dread to suspect, the Xantrex shot craps. It needed to be replaced. And damned if PHIL JONES (912-674-8312) didn't order a new Magnum Inverter / Charger for us. And damned if PHIL JONES (912-674-8312) isn't going to pick up the new unit in Jacksonville on Tuesday and drive down here and install it that afternoon so we can boogie out of here on Wednesday.

Ah, the joys of owning a boat. But you know what, it's all okay. After the last eighteen months we now have pretty close to a spic and span new-ish boat. And we like that very much.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Are Bax In JAX

Finally! We are back on our boat, Why Knot, in Jacksonville, and we can officially kickoff our 2016 cruising season.  
I know I have many more followers now, so let me take just a paragraph to get you up to speed on our situation. We pulled into Jacksonville in January of 2015 for what we call our Tax Season Shore Leave. Lisa is an accountant and still has a small portfolio of clients for whom she prepares taxes. So, we have to head back to Denver for February and March. So far, so good. We left the boat at the Huckins boatyard with a list of some upgrades and repairs to be done by them while we were gone. Still, so far, so good. While we were in Denver, we both had medical issues. We had to cancel our summer 2015 season. We did get back on board November 2015 to January 2015, but then the Tax Season Shore Leave crept back up. We returned to Denver and got all our business done there (and in St. Louis, our emergency backup hometown). So, we've made it back to Why Knot and moved the boat from Huckins over to The Marina at Ortega Landing.
Let me talk about Huckins.
Overall, we have had a positive experience with Huckins and all the work they performed on Why Knot, (A LOT OF WORK!) almost all of it in our absence. And like what is the normal experience with marine technicians, being on hand to watch over what was being done would have been better than being absent. But we were 1800 miles away.
Not all of it went smoothlt but was eventually completed to our satisfaction. However, I do need to say that we would have been happier with some of the work if we were on-hand at the time it was done.
The one thing that they were extremely good at was how they treated us. Their customer service and contact was second to none. They were attentive, never dismissive, and were always kind and empathetic. (As I said, we had some serious challenges during our time back in Denver, and they were very accommodating.) So, we would recommend Huckins Boatyard on the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida if you need work done on your boat. (One more bit of advice...while they do have quite a few slips, they are not a marina. They do not have bathrooms, showers, or pump out.)
But we're back on our boat again, She's ship shape, ready to roll. 
Here's the plan.
We're going to hang out here at Ortega until June 9th. At that time, we are going to start our trek southward and westward. The first place to go to the south of Jacksonville is St. Augustine. We'll spend a night there. Then it's three more nights on the hook to get to get to Vero Beach on the 12th. We'll spend maybe three nights there and cast of the 15th ish. We'll probably then go into Stuart for a night or two. Then we'll head across the peninsula of Florida to Legacy Marina in Ft. Myers for the month of July. Plans after that include cruising to Naples, Calusa, and a few yet to be determined destinations. Eventually, we'll make our way up to Sarasota where we will hunker down for awhile. By that time, it will be early or mid-September. We'll have to head back to Denver by that time for a month or so. We'll then come back to Florida for a couple of more months.
I can hear some of you now. “Don't you have to be up north by June 1st due to those terrible insurance spoilsports?” Eh, no, we don't. Our insurance doesn't have that kind of requirement. Yay us. However, it does have a requirement that we taunt any northbound boats we come across while we head south.

And so we shall.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chapter 4 To Arms! To Arms! -- a follow up to today's marine meme

Today I posted this marine meme to Facebook.

It has gotten a very positive response. I talked about this subject in my book, Outside the Channel -- Just Hangin' Out, available on Amazon HERE.

Here is the chapter about it.

Chapter 4 To Arms! To Arms!

The enemy is upon us on every side. They are sinister, cunning, relentless, and yucky. And their legions are almost infinite in number. But we must still fight on to the bitter end.
And who is this dark force that is attacking us on every side? Bugs! Lots and lots of bugs!
It’s all out war and they’re in it to win it. Detente and negotiations are not options, so the only thing left for us to do is to arm ourselves and fight back. And what weapons do we all need to stave off our common enemy’s onslaught? Flyswatters! Yes, old fashioned flyswatters! Even in this world of foggers, sprays and grossly scented candles, the best defense against these vermin is a good trusty flyswatter.
There is nothing more assuring than wrapping your fingers around the stout handle of one of these bug-killing bad boys. With just a flick of the wrist or the mighty swing of your forearm, you can execute one of their dastardly legions. How important are these things? I'll tell you. At a boating convention that I attended there was a vendor that gave away flyswatters … and they were all gone by the end of the event. There are also some marinas that will give you free flyswatters when you check in. So I'm not the only one to realize this.
The rule of thumb we use on our boat is to have at least two flyswatters strategically placed in every cabin. We even have one on the fly bridge, though that strategy is dubious at best because of the enemy's obvious ability to call in buggy reinforcements. But don't mock having one up top. I have personally witnessed boaters going off course as they flailed away at the onslaught with anything handy such as a towel, a tee shirt, a chartbook, or their dinghy.
Moreover, it’s a good thing to have a variety of styles of flyswatters. There is the classic wound metal handle and shaft attached to an actual metal net, though they’re hard to come by, and they might scratch your teak. More often, there is that same metal armature with a plastic net— these have great torque, a splendid whipping action and they make a resounding thwack sound that is satisfying even when you miss. And there are now the all plastic models that can be effective in close quarters and they don't hurt as bad when you accidentally whack you wife in the nose.
Yes, in the hands of a Jedi Master, these are all good and they can be quite effective. My record kill was three Buick sized flies sent to hell with one strong swipe. Flyswatters can be fun too. Try gently swatting your wife in the stern and watch the hilarity ensue.
But sometimes you need more firepower. Sometimes the best weapon to bring to a knife fight is an AK-47 assault rifle. And in the world of fly-swatting that would be one of the electric flyswatters. I know you've seen them, and men, I know you secretly crave one. They look like a racquetball racquet, but with a battery compartment. You slip a couple of D cells into this monster, press the button and you have instantly turned the tides of war in your favor. There is a gruesomely satisfying feeling when you hear that "dzzzt" sound as another one of the enemy turns into a tiny fireball as it crashes down. And you don't even have to swing hard. You just have to make contact and the AK-47 does the rest. Flies are easily dispatched. And zapping a mosquito is absolute bliss with the way they shrivel up into a puff of smoke. Poof! No more bugs. So if you don't have one of these babies yet, you absolutely have to get one. But a few words of warning - don't accidentally hit your wife in the nose with it. And for God's sake, stay away from her stern!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Number One Goboat Song!!

I hope you've enjoyed counting down our top ten favorite goboat songs with me. They're all great songs, and we've enjoyed them being the soundtrack of our boating life. But there is one song that far and away has not only brought musical enjoyment to our lives, but was, in fact, the actual impetus for us to cast off from our lubber lives and start our on board lives.

It's difficult to describe why this song had such a big impact on me. I think it's because of the second verse.

Wrote a note said "Be back in a minute"
Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
Don't think anybody's gonna miss me anyway
Mind on a permanent vacation
The ocean is my only medication
Wishing my condition ain't ever gonna go away

That, in some strange way, conveyed exactly how I felt at that time in my life, especially the third line. (Lisa NOT included.)

It was at that moment, when we discovered this song, that Lisa and I decided that THE ON BOARD LIFE was the life for us.

We never looked back, and we have loved every second of it.

Our Number One Goboat Song is KNEE DEEP by The Zac Brown Band.

Here are the links to the first two parts of this list.

Goboat Songs 10 thru 6

Goboat Songs 5 thru 2 with honorable mentions

Here's the entire Youtube playlist.

So, what do you think of our song lists? Leave a comment and tell me.


Mind on a permanent vacation. The ocean is my only medication. Wishing my condition ain't ever gonna go away.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Our Top Ten Goboat Songs - Part 2 - #5 to #2

Welcome back. Here are #5 to #2 of our favorite goboat songs.

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

There are lots of great sea chanties, but this one is our favorite. Strike the Bell is an up-tempo jaunt that we just can't help but to sing along with. With its complicated harmonies in the chorus and fun lyrics, Strike The Bell is a mind-worm of epic proportions. Don't say I didn't warn you.

#4 I Am The Doctor - Murray Gold and the BBC Wales Orchestra

Hmm. How do I explain this one? Doctor Who is a British science fiction fantasy television show, and it's our favorite crazy indulgence. (I'm going to forego trying to explain the premise. You'll thank me later.) This song is the theme for the lead character, a mysterious alien known simply as The Doctor. It's triumphant, ominous and whimsical all at the same time, and it was the perfect song to  use as the musical bed for our video of when we completed our Great Loop adventure.

#3 Erie Canal - (traditional) Bruce Springsteen

I still don't quite know why, but cruising through the Erie Canal during our Great Loop adventure was, for some reason, an emotional event for me. Maybe it was the history or the challenge. Or maybe it was this haunting rendition of the traditional folk song by The Boss. The original song, which was almost chanty-ish in its tone and key, was transformed into a dark, dramatic, almost sad ballad by whoever did this arrangement. The main change was to set it in a minor key, and this mode, along with some changes to the melody, made this song jump to life during our time on the canal.

#2 All You Need Is A Boat - Dave Calhoun

Truth be told, until a couple of weeks ago, I'd never heard of Washington state based, trop rocker, Dave Calhoun. But I know him now and I'm digging what he's laying down! Especially All You Need Is A Boat, which I think needs to be the national anthem for all of us boaters. A great little sing-along song, it has a ton of mind-worm potential. 
Here's the link to his website.


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

Rolling Down To Old Maui

Another chanty. The chorus is terrific. Great story.

Central Time - Pokey Lafarge

My home may be in Denver, but St. Louis is my hometown.

Hula Girl At Heart - Jimmy Buffett

Here's some pics from Lisa's and my wedding on April 10. 2013.

And that's why she's my hula girl at heart.

Next, the #1 goboat song, and the complete story about it.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Our Top Ten Goboat Songs -- #10 to #6

'Goboat' - n. that overpowering feeling that it's time to fire up the CAT 3208, cast off and go somewhere. v. firing up the CAT 3208, casting off and going somewhere.

Everyone has a soundtrack for their boating life, songs that connect one's heart and mind with a locale or a destination. Or maybe it connects them with other boaters who have left an indelible impression. Or maybe it just gets their blood going, pushing them toward something more exciting.  We call them our goboat songs--songs that get us in the mood to go boating.

Here are our top ten GoBoat songs. Today, #10 down to #6

#10 Rock and Roll Doctor - Little Feat

I'm an unabashed featster, and Feats Don't Fail Me Now is my favorite Little Feat album. It has a swamp-rock, bayou-boogie vibe that fits perfectly with cruising on some backwater channel or just hanging out on deck. The whole album is a collection of one great song after another (the Cold, Cold, Cold / Tripe Face Boogie medley is particularly juicy) but Rock and Roll Doctor is my favorite.
"Two degrees in be-bop, a PHD in swing. He's the master of rhythm, he's a rock and roll king,"
Sounds like me!

#9 Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler (w/ James Taylor)

This is one of Lisa's favorite songs. And for good reason too. Mark Knopfler and James Taylor combine to make this duet about the two surveyors that plotted out the Mason-Dixon line a semi-haunting ballad about their formidable task. For us as boaters its special place for us is that we did, in fact, boat to Philadelphia in the summer of 2014 to see our good friends Dick and Deanna of Sareanna. It was one of the best boating experiences we've had.

#8 You Won't Succeed On Broadway - Spamalot (Broadway Cast Album)

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, we spent a lot of time in Annapolis, MD, one of our most very favorite locales. While we were there in 2014, a local theater group put on a production of Spamalot, the musical version of Monty Python and The Holy Grail. We wanted to go see it live, but the entire run was sold out. Quit innocently, I assure you, we settled on watching a pirated version of the Broadway production on Youtube. To say we enjoyed it would be an understatement. So much so that Lisa bought the piano and vocal selections and we entertain ourselves quite heartily. This song, You Won't Succeed On Broadway, is the second act show-stopper. David Hyde Pierce's performance is hilarious, the music is fun, and the lyrics are just about as irreverent, yet affectionate, as they can be. No one is offended, yet everyone feels a bit of a jab. A very entertaining piece. And how does it fit in as a goboat song? It makes us laugh. We like to laugh.

#7 Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker

We completed our Great Loop in April 2013, and we decided that we wanted to head up to Chesapeake Bay for the summer. During the trip up we diverted ourselves to travel up Pamlico Sound instead of the ICW. One of our stops was at Ocracoke on the Outer Banks. It just so happened that we were there over Father's Day. We went to a nearby patio / tiki bar to spend the afternoon listening to some live music and drinking a few too many beers. The performer's name is Brent Nultemeier, and he was fantastic. He used an amazing multi-track recording and playback piece of gear to build multiple guitar tracks to build fully formed pieces of music. It was quite amazing. Since it was Father's Day, his wife and three daughters were there too, with daddy. His eldest daughter came up and sang Wagon Wheel. We don't know exactly how old she was, but she was young! She nailed the song. What was really funny was that she wore a pair of her mom's sunglasses and looked like quite the diva. Ever since that time, Wagon Wheel has been a favorite of ours. It always takes us back to that sunny Sunday afternoon in Ocracoke.

This video version, with Darius Rucker and Daryl Hall, is terrific. Not as good as Brent and his daughter, but they'll do.

It's also important to note that one of the reasons we like this song so much is the tight harmonies between Darius and Daryl. We like to sing and we harmonize well ourselves. You'll see this trend in other songs in this survey.

#6 Tishomingo Blues - Written by Spencer Williams.

A classic, traditional jazz song from 1917. Now, the song's title is about Tishomingo, MS, but it reminds us of Canada. Huh? We loved the entire experience of cruising on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario, and the album, Shake It, Break It and Hang It On the Wall by Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, featuring Garrison Keillor, with its laid back vibe and gentle rhythms, seemed to capture the adventure perfectly. The link is to our YouTube video where you can transit the Big Chute marine railroad with us. Tishomingo Blues is the first song.  And this rendition of the song may sound familiar. It is used as the theme song to The Prairie Home Companion radio show . Every time we hear the song, we can't help thinking about Canada, not Mississippi.

So, that's 10 to 6 on our list of favorite goboat songs.

What do you think of it so far?