Sunday, March 25, 2018

PACKING AND SHIPPING – IN PREPARATION FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON

Fifty pounds – that's all we get. Southwest Airlines only gives us two free pieces of luggage that can't weigh any more than fifty pounds each. That's one-hundred pounds per person, and that's a lot if you think about it. But that's nowhere close to enough capacity to replenish all our various needs for a cruising season if we want to have any degree of comfort and convenience. Besides, those stupid suitcases are full of clothes. Who needs clothes anyhow?

But the reality is we need stuff, and we need new stuff every season.

There are always new supplies, necessities, and knick-knacks that have to go on board. Cookware, tools, supplies, shoes (there's always a box of shoes), decorations, books, dvds, technology-thingies, pillows, blankets, sheets, toiletries and every kind of sundries we can think of. We find them here in Denver or online, buy them, and have to get them to the boat. So, prior to every season, we pack'em and ship'em to wherever Why Knot is. But why buy them in our hometown, either at a store or online, accumulate them in one place, then ship it all in one, big, grandiose shipping orgasm?
One reason is that when you leave your boat for any length of time, some things need to be shipped home and be replenished for the next season. Things wear out or break and need to be replaced or updated. Things need to be repaired. One example we had was a quilt we use on board. It needed to be patched in several places, and Lisa couldn't do it on the boat. She bodged it together until she could get it home and refurbish it completely. It had to be shipped home and will be shipped back to the boat.

Another reason is that when you're out during a season, your buying options are not as good as when you are on shore leave. At home, you have the time and resources to find the right things for your on board life. Shipping certainly adds to the cost of each item, but sometimes having the right thing is a better choice. This is particularly true of food items.

But the main reason for this huge effort is purely logistical. It's a lot of work, but it's just plain easier to keep track of everything if you bring it all to one place then ship it all out from there.

Here are our packing practices.

Pretty much the moment we get home to Denver, we prepare to leave again. There is a designated shipping staging area. Lisa sets up an empty box and announces that it is box numero-uno to go back. It stays empty for a day or two, but only for that long. We both soon find little things that we say, “Hm, I'd sure like to have that on the boat,” and we drop it in. One box becomes two, then three, four, five, six, however many it takes.

As the time for us to depart to the boat gets nearer, thirty days or so, we move the boxes to a convenient little area in our home we call the piano room. This is where we empty all the boxes and repack them better. It's also where we have little quibbles about the merits of shipping certain things. For instance, this year Lisa wanted to ship a bottle of dish soap. I assured her that dish soap was readily available for purchase in Jacksonville, Florida, and I'd be glad to buy her not one, but two bottles if she so desired. (There is certainly the risk that there will be some massive dish soap shortage when we get there, but I think I'm safe.) The other thing we do during this repacking, and this is important, is to redistribute the weight of all the contents more evenly and into smaller boxes. I've learned my lesson on having boxes that are too big and heavy. A few years ago, moving big, heavy boxes onto the boat at a marina put me in the hospital. Never again.

Every season there are a handful of items to be shipped that are a little bit on the strange side. This season that award goes to my paint stirrer.
This crazy looking thing goes on a 3/8 inch drill and is used to stir paint. I'm going to stir up some shit with it … literally. The idea is that our holding tank has been emptied but just sitting for a year. I have to think that the poo/pee residue in there has settled some. This bleck needs to be cleaned out somehow, and this is where this stirrer comes into play. Ortega Landing marina has pump-out at each slip. What I intend to do is to fill the holding tank about a third the way with water. I'll then attach the stirrer to my drill, stir it up, hopefully getting all the excrement settlement re-emulsified with the water, then suck it all out. Sounds like a good idea to me, but we'll see how it goes in its execution. I may be a genius or full of shit. We'll see. (Sorry for the pun. There are some things I just can't resist.)

Another interesting item is this lantern.
Does it look familiar to you? If it does you might have seen it on an 'As-seen-on-TV' add. It's called the Tac Light and it was available on TV for a time near the end of 2017 – at least that's when I saw it advertised. I usually filter out those kinds of ads. They're usually pretty stupid, but for some reason, the Tac Light seemed like a good idea to me. My thinking was I could certainly use one or two on the boat, especially down in the engine room. I also could think of using it at our house. Against all my skepticism about buying an 'As-seen-on-TV' product, which was sizable, I picked up the phone and called the number. Purchasing the item itself was a bit of trial with their constant add-on and upgrade attempts. But with a little perseverance and stubbornness, I finally bought three Tac Lights. ($39.00 total with free shipping.)

And you know what? It's a damn fine little lantern. It is ruggedly made and bright as hell. One feature I particularly like is that you have to screw the bottom section of the lantern off to access the battery compartment rather than it having a lame, little flap to open. I'm taking two to the boat.

Ukuleles! Ah, music! 
I already have one on the boat. It's a Fluke Flea soprano ukulele, and it's certainly a sweet little thing. But if there is one truth with ukulele players, it's this: You never have enough ukuleles. I'm taking two more. The uke at the top of the picture is my Outdoors Ukulele outdoor ukulele. It's made of polycarbonate and is not susceptible to changes in atmospheric conditions like a wooden uke is. It's a very good all-purpose ukulele. The other is my Fluke banjo ukulele. Lisa particularly likes this one, and so it goes to the boat.

Now, the gun; what's up with that? 
It's a Bug-A-Salt bug shooter, and it's cool as all get out. It shoots a burst of table salt to zap a bug, and I can't wait to see how it does this summer. It was sort of an 'As-seen-on-TV' thing except I saw it on Facebook.

It's going to be a great boating season, and our Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour is one of the most exciting things we've done during our On Board Life. In the end, it's not the stuff that makes it exciting. It's the people and places we get to visit. And, of course, it's Lisa and I being together. That's the best. But you have to admit that a Bug-A-Salt insect zapper is worth the shipping charges to get it to the boat.   

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Social Media Update

Social Media is digital exhibitionism. But, at least, you don't have to lug around a heavy, smelly overcoat.” – Darrell T. Grob

Yes, it's a two-edged sword. Social media has opened channels of communication to degrees heretofore unseen in human history. We can reach out and touch every corner of the planet. Why just a week ago I had an interesting conversation with someone in New Zealand. Amazing!

For the most part, I believe social media is a good thing. We could all do without the crackpots and the screamers and the trolls, but if we use a good measure of common sense to filter them out, social media has benefits.

And that brings me to the reason for this post. I want to update you on my social media presence. I'd like it if you would follow me, send comments and questions to me, criticism me (politely, please), enjoy the content I create, and otherwise, interact with me. I have always been a creative sort. I'm a writer and musician, and I've done broadcasting work. Expressing myself, whether I have an audience or not, is one of my favorite pastimes. So, social media is very attractive to me. Let's take them one at a time.

The Blogs
The current blog about our upcoming adventures in the Great Lakes is at
Fyi, my blog about our Great Loop adventure is there also as past content. Click on the year links in the right column to access all that.
The blog for the On Board Life (liveaboard boating how-tos, news, and reviews) is here:
If you'd like to subscribe to my email list and receive notifications whenever I post something new to the blogs, in the right column is an opt-in button. Click it and fill in the short form.

YouTube
Over the past couple of years, I have produced almost fifty different videos and posted them on YouTube. Some of them have been video records of where we've been, sort of a video scrapbook for our own enjoyment. Other people who stumbled on them seemed to like them too. That motivated me to create an entire channel of liveaboard boating how-to videos I call The On Board Life. They've been well received too, and I'm trying to build a bigger audience for them. But starting in 2018, as part of the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour, I'm producing a series of videos just about that. It's still technically part of The On Board Life channel but will exist as a separate brand.
Here's the direct link to the channel:
If you need to search for the channel on YouTube enter 'The On Board Life Darrell Grob'.

And now, some of the basics:
Facebook - Skipper Darrell https://goo.gl/5D2cqu
Twitter - @skipperdarrell https://twitter.com/SkipperDarrell
Instagram - @skipper_darrell https://goo.gl/SqLsx7
A note about Instragram – if you need to search for my Instagram profile DO NOT search my name, Darrell Grob. That may take you to an old, obsolete Instagram profile that was hacked and turned into a porn sight. The new profile is skipper_darrell or @skipper_darrell.

Well, I can't think of any others.

Oh, if you find my phone number and want to call, fine, but don't leave a message on my voicemail. As I say in the outgoing message, I don't pay attention to voicemail at all, ever, under any condition. Don't do it. Texting is okay.

Thanks a bunch in advance for paying attention to me and my ramblings. I put a lot of work into the content I produce, and I hope you're edified and entertained by it all.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks,

Skipper Darrell



Thursday, March 8, 2018

Our Top 6 Favorite Marinas

This is an accompanying piece to my latest On Board Life YouTube channel video, Cruise Planning (part 2): How To Pick The Perfect Marina 2018

See it here!

In reverse order …


See the source image

#6 Charlevoix City Marina – Charlevoix, Michigan

Beautiful, modern, clean marina. Beautiful shoreside facility. Fixed docks. The town of Charlevoix is fun and interesting and right there! Grocery store is a block away. It's a great stop. The only downside is no pump out, but it is available at the marina next door.

See the source image

#5 Bald Head Island Marina – Bald Head Island, South Carolina

Nice, first class marina. Pump out at fuel dock. Big slips. Plenty of easy ins and outs. But the main attraction is the island. Gorgeous.


#4 Vero Beach Municipal Marina – Vero Beach, Florida

Like a lot of municipal marinas, it's rustic in need of a facelift. The big selling point is its accessibility to the city of Vero Beach. They have a FREE city bus system that will take you almost anywhere, including a Publix and West Marine. It also takes you to the beach.

See the source image

#3 Annapolis Landing Marina – Annapolis, Maryland

It's a great marina. It's in Annapolis! That's a winning combination. Clean, modern restrooms and showers. Pump out at fuel dock. Loaner car. Swimming pool. Water taxis to take you to downtown Annapolis. So much to see and do. Gotta love A.L.M.

See the source image

#2 Whitaker Point Marina – Orieintal, North Carolina

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Beautiful clubhouse with super-clean showers. Loaner car to get you into Oriental. No pump out. Very interesting fixed docks. First class all the way. Peaceful and restful.

See the source image

#1 Ortega Landing Marina – Jacksonville, Florida

Everything is perfect at Ortega Landing from the exquisite clubhouse and facilities, to big slips with wide thoroughfares, to nearby shopping (Publix, West Marine) to being in the cool city of Jacksonville. And the price is right too. Luxury amenities (pool) at a very reasonable price. The marina value meter is pinned all the way to 'awesome'.