The 4th of July

Ms Maggie is loaded with comestibles for the day, bathing suits, towels and a change of clothes.  Hosed down, wiped down and ready to go.  We’re in no rush so we leave the dock around 11:30am.  We brought the cat and forgot the cat food.  Which turned out to be ok, since he was in no mood to eat.  He stayed hidden in the V-berth most of the time, completely forgetting how much fun he had in the boat 6 months ago.

Its overcast and I’m wearing a light zippered sweatshirt…at 11:30am in July, what?!?  There is a lot of boat traffic, wake-boarders, tubers, fishing boats, pontoon boats, go-fast boats, boats of all kinds are out to enjoy the mid-week holiday.

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Just a couple items I didn’t get to use.

Normally, we’d have a bunch of Rick’s family out for a few days but the kitchen remodel isn’t going as quickly as we’d like.  The counter top people are taking a month to do what should take 2 weeks because they have bigger fish to fry.  We contemplated having everyone over anyway, but trying to figure out how to do that with no sink or stove and we’ve stored everything in the other bedrooms, so sleeping over is out of the question.

And then, lo and behold!  The counter top people call on Monday saying they can come later this week (THIS WEEK) to install the counters!!  But, back to the 4th of July on Ms. Maggie.

We head out, all is well.  We are, naturally, at the upper steering station, looking out over the dykes.  Down below all we can see is the rocky banks, so it gets boring.

We’re just at the end of Frank’s Tract – a fabulous bass fishing tournament place and heading up the east side, when we see someone waving a red flag.  Not like there’s-a-skier-in-the-water waving, but COME OVER HERE PLEASE waving.  We get closer and I see its not a flag, but a red life vest being waved and the young man waving it is motioning us closer.  Rick and I are talking…help them…how?…Maggie doesn’t have a towing ring…what’s this going to do to our trip?…where will they need to be towed? …we’re so pokey, anyway…

The kids are in a old, old Formula ski boat, 2 guys and a girl, the one with glasses says the head gasket is blown can we please, please, pretty please get a tow.  Fortunately, they need a tow up to Pirate’s Lair area, which is, at least, in the right direction.

Rick maneuvers the Mags around and backs up a little so they can toss over a towing line and I tie it off to a cleat…next time we’ll tie it off to two side cleats and create a sort of bridle, instead – OR Rick will install a towing ring, since this will probably happen again.  If you haven’t been towed yet, you will be.

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Gotta be a mechanic if you want to keep an old boat alive – or have deep pockets.

I stay down at the back, the only part of the day when I sit in our Adirondack chairs, where I can watch things and we begin the journey to Pirate’s Lair.  Its on the other side of the San Joaquin River.  Crossing that river made me nervous as there were a lot of waves and I could see the transom of the boat pulling a bit with the waves…not a good thing.  Once on the other side, it was more calm but the bottom of the channel was deep and shallow, then deep, then shallow!  Which can drive you crazy if you are trying to keep from running aground, which is kind of at the top of our list of things NOT to do.

They ask to be taken to the gas dock on the other side of the Lair.  Its situated perfectly!  Rick aims in, slowly, slowly and the ski boat behind comes in at a slightly outward angle.  I uncleat the towing line and lasso the dock cleat (proud of myself, thank you very much), then hand off the line to the kid who’s come onto our swim step to keep his boat from bumping ours.  They are so thankful and offer us money, poor things.  But no, we tell them to repay us by doing someone else the favor one day.  I think we’ve been towed 8 times since we bought our first boat when in college.  Old Chris Craft?  Check.  Old ski boat?  Check, times two.  Pontoon boat?  Check.  Ms Maggie?  Check.  It happens…we have insurance so we don’t normally need to find a Good Samaritan, anymore.

Back on the road, OH, I never said where we were going!  We’re headed to Mandeville Tip County Park.  Fireworks are shot off from a barge and tons of people come by boat to experience them close up.  The fireworks are provided by the Barron Hilton Trust (maybe not the correct name) but its a Hilton family Trust for this express purpose.  Apparently, they own a home in the area.  Its a magnificent display!  Totally pro.

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That’s what the area looks like on our nav system.  Water is blue, land is tan.

Saving those kids’ day (a lot of boats HAVE to go that way to go out to the river and no one stopped before we did, hmmm)  cost us only an hour of time.  We get to Mandeville Tip and look for a place to anchor.  It is much more crowded than last year.  Or maybe we’re just arriving later than last year?   There are boats of all shapes and sizes, small and large, from jet skis to yachts.

Finding a likely anchoring spot, Rick goes to the front of the boat to work the winch and I’m at the lower steering station to work the throttle and such (up = forward, its the red, no, the black doohicky…red = speed).  Yeah, that’s how good I am at it…  Dropping the anchor, we then back up slowly to let the anchor catch and let out a lot of ‘rode’, aka rope.  Then we wait to see if we’re set.  No, we are dragging the anchor.

I put the boat into forward, with no throttle, so there’s just a little coasting going on, really.  Turn on the winch and Rick manhandles the rope, pulling up the anchor and let’s try again.

Well, here’s why the anchor wasn’t holding!  Look at all the weeds on the darn thing.

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IS there an anchor under all that?

We aim back toward where we dropped the anchor and we can see the weeds just beneath the surface.  They are EVerywhere!  Forget it, this area won’t work, so we head over to another area.  We try to set the anchor once, twice.  The second time, some guys on rafted-together sailboats are yelling instructions at us, which is very irritating since we can’t really hear them and they are making undecipherable motions (you’ve tried that, right?  It makes perfect sense to you, what you are saying with your gesticulations, but makes none to anyone else).   Plus we’re feeling like everyone is staring at us *failures* who can’t anchor their boat and should just get off the water.  There might even be a ‘how not to anchor’ video on YouTube somewhere.  Like there’s probably one for ‘how not to climb over the rail of a trawler in a dress’.

This time the anchor seems to hold and Rick has a minute to go to the head.  But, dang it, we are drifting backwards barely before he can finish the job AND at a worrisome pace AND very much in danger of hitting a trawler behind us.  The kids on that boat’s deck are yelling ‘Grandpa!’ and he comes down to let his anchor line go slack so we can start out engine without cutting his line.  He’s ALMOST giving us the stink-eye, why oh why does it feel like we are the only ones to ever have this problem?

CrapCrapCrap.  Rick is uber-tired from pulling up that stupid rope and then the chain is getting jammed in the winch and Rick has to hammer it free.  Replacing the winch immediately jumps to the top of his list of THINGS TO DO!

We motor over in the sailboats’ direction and they yell that there is a sand bar and we have to get the anchor to grab on the other side of it.  OK, we follow their directions but third time is NOT the charm.  Rick’s arms are pooped and the sailboat guys are offering again to let us raft up with them.  Pushing pride aside, we say screw it and take them up on their offer.

They are 3 couples in sailboats of varying lengths and styles.  I put out fenders and lines and toss the forward line to one of the guys, oops, Rick had unhooked it when dealing with the anchor and I didn’t check it.  Fortunately, we were so close the guy was able to reach over and hook the line onto it…note to self, always double-check the lines beFORE you need them…

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Rafted alongside these sailboats

One of the men, Orrin, has a little zippy Sea Rayder and he takes our anchor and tosses it overboard up around where the sailboats’ anchors have been set.  It holds!  Yippee.  Introductions all around, but we aren’t expected to hang out with them, which is good, cuz we need to regroup and refresh.  This would have been the perfect time to have that Mike’s Hard Watermelon cooler, but the weather is cold.  Rick may or may not have had a beer.

A little later a large sailing catamaran comes by and rafts up to our little rag-tag group of boats.  He was having trouble anchoring, too, and so we don’t feel QUITE so idiotic.   Orrin is in his zippy Sea Rayder (which is so adorbs I want one!), hanging onto the side of Ms Maggie, letting the cat finish tying up before taking their anchor out and we talk awhile.  Honestly, you do meet the nicest people boating.

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Here’s Orrin trying to help the Jane’O slip into place but the little Sea Rayder is no match for the size of the cat.  I have a funny video of Orrin yelling at the peanut gallery throwing out many ‘helpful’ instructions, “What the hell do you think I’m trying to DO?!?”

Joe from the boat next to us comes by and we chat, sharing stories of fixing up our boats.  He and his wife live aboard a 42′ trawler.  The group is having a potluck later and we are welcome to come over, if we’d like.  So kind of them.  This is one of the few times I brought, like, only 2 servings of everything so I’m racking my brain what we could bring – grapes and cherries we have in abundance, so that sounds like a plan.

A ski boat comes up around dusk and ties onto the back of one of the sailboats.  I don’t know for sure if they knew anyone but it sounded like they didn’t.  So we have a trawler, sailboat, sailboat, sailboat, ski boat and big catamaran all tied together.  A bit of a hodgepodge…the best kind…

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They’ve got a hammock!  I want one!

There hasn’t been any of the shenanigans we’ve been warned about.  Last year some guys in jet skis were doing acrobatics (literally doing flips!) which was fun to watch.  This year there was one jerk on a jet ski that was going too fast and causing a wake to jostle all of us around.  Completely unbecoming behavior, jerk…  Other than that, it was pretty quiet.  Maybe because it was very cool, not even warm.

I fix dinner because its been a long time since snacks for lunch and the others don’t seem to be having the potluck anytime soon.  Cheese filled ravioli and sweet Italian sausage, big salad – oh, I have plenty of that, too, if we do go over there….which we didn’t…timing didn’t work out, after all.

Dishes washed, we go up top to wait for the fireworks.  People are playing competing patriotic music – country over here, John Phillips Sousa over there, karaoke.  Sirens, megaphones with people singing and shouting.  Boats are covered with flags, banners, bunting (we have 3 of those) and lights!  Strings of lights, disco balls, flashy firework lights, these people are really into the decorating!  Red, white and blue everywhere.

There are Sheriff boats, now, surrounding the fireworks barge keeping boats at a safe distance. The fireworks are fantastic!  What a wonderful show, and it had to cost a bundle.  I heard that the Hilton family had funded the trust for 20 years but no one remembers when that began and we’re hearing that its near the end of its life.  The Hilton folks have been so generous to share them with us – you may say that we just benefit from their money but I think its great that they do this and we get to see them, too!  Anyway, the family has to decide if they’ll continue the fireworks…I, and many, many others certainly hope so.

The fireworks are over – it was freezing!  I had on 2 coats and a quilt…I should have brought the stove coffee pot, I wish I had some hot coffee/chocolate to keep me warm.

We wait about a half hour or so before getting on our way.  We untie and begin the tedious process of pulling up the anchor.  Basically, the boat is in neutral or forward, depending on what Rick wants, and at idle speed or just a little throttle to keep the nose of the boat in the direction of the anchor.  Finally, its up.  Rick washes his hands of the mud and weeds for what feels like the 20th time today and we head up to the fly bridge because the visibility is better from that vantage point.

There aren’t too many boats heading out with us – some left already and others are either spending the night or waiting longer before leaving.  Its not easy navigating around all the boats when some of them don’t have their navigation lights on!  But we have a spotlight and headlights and use them sparingly, only when we need, to so we don’t blind other boats.

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This looks like its been hit a couple times, eh?

We been this way many times now, so going home isn’t the terror-inducing event it was the first time when we were in the pontoon boat.  Filled with about 12 people.  That was an adventure.  2 kids in the front of the boat looking for hazards, Rick steering, our son Austin looking at the nav system and giving directions – take the next left, angle more to the right, etc.  We didn’t have the spotlights at that time or we did and it didn’t work or something.  Oh, the fun we’ve had.

Our nav system shows us our previous track so we can follow that home – watching out for other boats, navigational hazards (like logs) and such.  I make it seem scary but it wasn’t, as long as you’re vigilant and careful.  And there were Sheriff’s boats at various points making sure we got home OK.

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Its dark alright…going home by the light of our systems…

Well, they were probably watching for jokers who’d had too much beer, but, in one sense, that’s keeping us safe!

There was no moon for a long time and when it raised, it was a dark orange half-moon.  I took a picture…it looks like a pinprick…

We trundled home, wondering if the lights in the distance were home (no, it was Tracy).  Snugged into the dock at 1:30am, unloaded the perishables, fell into bed at 2am…slept in, nice 😉

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Orrin took a bunch of photos and a couple videos of the motley crue (er, crew).

 

 

 

 

 

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TrawlerFest in Stuart, Florida

When the kids were still at home we’d take off for somewhere warm during their Winter Break…the kids have moved out but we are still heading for warmer climes.  I had an airplane ticket with Southwest that needed to be used before it expired.  We looked at the Southwest map and decided TrawlerFest was the destination.

Nothing exciting about the flights.  We live about 7 minutes from the airport so we Uber’d there at the crack of dawn, checked in our luggage (yay for free bags with Southwest), went through TSA PreCheck like virtually everyone else(!) but, hey, no removing shoes or shirts, I mean jackets, and laptops could stay in their bags.  Then we looked wistfully at the terribly long lines for coffee at Peet’s and Starbucks and got on the plane.  Oh, I have a confession.  When I went through the security line, shh, shh, there was still some water in my bottle!!!

(side note: flying home from Charleston, West (by God) Virginia, I forgot about the water bottle full of (horrors!) water and the security guy got completely bent out of shape!  I’m like, there are about 3 people in the entire terminal and you think I’m a terrorist?  Most of the time, the TSA people just give you the option to drink or toss the fluid but this guy?  I’m, like, stand down, dude!  Prolly the most exciting thing to happen all week.)

Happy days, the flight wasn’t but about 75% full so we had the row to ourselves!  Nice…

During our short layover in Baltimore (brrr!) we had lunch and watched the baggage handlers mistreat luggage.  One woman, in particular, dropped one bag on the ground and stood on it to reach the others in the cart (no, it didn’t have hard sides!).  Then she took another bag and dragged it on the ground over to one of the planes…dragged the cloth bag on the ground, literally.  Lesson = have a hard-sided bag to withstand being stood upon and get a bag with wheels.  You may be macho enough to carry your luggage through the airport but those baggage handlers?  They are saving their backs and shoulders and hating you for having luggage without wheels.  Don’t make the handlers hate you!

Arrived at West Palm Beach, got our rental car and drove about 40 miles north to Stuart, found our AirBnB in the dark.  Addresses were slightly out of order, naturally, so we drove past it a couple times before finding it, tossed our stuff into our comfortable abode and went out to find a restaurant for dinner.

Cody’s Roadhouse…best chicken with cheddar cheese and bacon, oh my!  Sooo good.   And I took 1/2 of it back to the AirBnB!  I love leftovers.

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Had to find a store since I had AGAIN forgotten shampoo and conditioner!  What is wrong with me?  Found a WalMart and even though my blue sandals are stapled and glued together, I refrained from looking at shoes.  I am willing my sandals to not fall apart until we’re back from the trip!  Side note:  I bought 2 pair from Macy’s and I can hardly wait for sunny weather to wear them!!!!!!!!!   I do love shoes…

We also bought coffee, fake sugar, creamer, breakfast stuff and snack’ums.  And maybe ice cream.

First seminar of the day begins at 8:30, yeesh!  The hotel where the TrawlerFest is being held is only about 15 minutes away, so we have an early day but not a long drive.

The seminar is by Dr. Jim Chimiak, MD, with DanBoater.org   Its a (not just for) divers insurance organization that helps get people out of emergency situations all over the world.  Like having EMT’s available when you are boating out of Indonesia or Antarctica.   You can even get one-time trip insurance and call them for advice.  The seminar itself is about safety and emergency situations, how to prepare for a trip, what to research ahead of time, (geology, ecology, sociocultural), what you’ll likely need and such.  So fascinating!

The next seminar was about cruising the Great Loop, which is what they call boating from Florida up to the Great Lakes and down a river to the Gulf of Mexico.  Its a big loop, see?  There’s even a website devoted to Loop cruising.  More info about this popular cruise here

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They have an interactive map and you can click on links to EVERYthing!  

There is information about every marina you’ll come to, past ‘Loopers’ are area Ambassadors helping other cruisers find things to see and do, stores, repair facilities, etc.

We aren’t planning that kind of trip, being West Coast boaters, but its interesting, nonetheless.  Even if things don’t particularly apply to us, they do in a general sense.  The Great Loop is on our bucket list, though.  Someday…

The leaders went over the ‘must haves’ for equipment and such, differences in local boating rules, bicycles are helpful since Uber isn’t everywhere (what?!?) and so forth.

After the seminars were over we cruised to a local restaurant called the Dolphin Bar and Shrimphouse, right on the water…of course!  It was cool and windy but we sat outside anyway just on principal.  Yes, they had dolphin on the menu.  I had shrimp and grits!  I mean, who could eat Flipper, anyway.  I didn’t make a note of what Rick had…probably something like shrimp linguini or fettuccine.  Honestly, the guy is pretty predictable.

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Found a pic, there it is, his shrimp alfredo and my grits with shrimp….and my little libation, of which I can’t remember the name

Wednesday seminar = Admirals’ Roundtable.  That’s a slightly insulting term the male boat captains use for their wives, since Admirals outrank a Captain.  Hmmm.  Anyway, 5 ladies of various ages talked about their experience living about boats of various sizes and for various lengths of time – 4 years to 18 years…18 years!

Some of them had worked full-time jobs for a few years, living onboard docked somewhere and driving into work every day.  Two worked out of their boats, mostly online stuff, 1 was semi-retired, 2 others had boat-captain jobs – teaching people how to be boaters and delivering boats all over the world.  Living their dream.

This seminar was filled with ladies, some had boats and some didn’t.  We all had questions about what it’s like to pick up anchor and be so far from friends and family.  How do you do it while still working?  What did you do with all your stuff?  What worked and what didn’t?

1 Admiral – the retired one, probably all of 50 years old – she boats for 9 months of the year and then goes back to Idaho for 3 months, cramming all the family and friends stuff into that 3 months.

1 Admiral – in her 60’s, living aboard for 4 years, is again buying a house ‘on the dirt’ – stupid term for ‘on land’ – because she is a painter and there wasn’t space on the boat for that!

1 Admiral – living onboard for about 8 years, I think, in her 30’s, has 1 kid and dogs and homeschools her son.

The other 2 travel from boat show to boat show although they have a home marina, too.  They are the ones who deliver boats and teach new owners how to handle their boats.  One was in her early 50’s and the other in her 60’s…’ish…

What kitchen gadget couldn’t you live without?  How scary was it travelling overnight?

3 biggest takeaways –

  1. real wineglasses are important!  Forget plastic, you can find a way to store them without breaking – socks work great.  In other words, take what you really don’t think you can do without.
  2. learn your boat, how to do everything – in case of emergency, for one thing – don’t just depend on your hubby to do the hard stuff.
  3. keep a serrated knife in your pocket

Make that 4 things –

4. learn the meanings of whistles – not everyone uses a radio – so you need to know (or have a reference) what the different blasts mean

Oh, make that 5 things!

5. don’t be afraid, just be careful and prepare, prepare, prepare

My next seminar was called Dingy Dynamics.  I was hoping it had something to do with getting in and out of the darn thing without falling head over teacups into the water, but it was really more about how it can be stored, different types of them, common courtesies when docking them at a marina, what you should carry in them (registration, ID, emergency items) and so forth.  So I’ll be continue to be a klutz attempting to get in and out, I suppose – at least until I’ve done it a hunnerd times or so.

The Art of Anchoring –  I really thought I was going to be sleeping through this one, but it was truly interesting.  You’ll think I’m a dork but there are different shapes for different types of bottoms – mud, gravel, rocks…  What makes each one the best at doing what it does – design and structure – and what makes some of them not the best choice and WHY.

We had dinner in Fort Pierce, Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant, a landmark since 1961.  I had a caprese salad – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil – which I loveloveLOVE…drizzled with a reduced balsamic dressing or just a little oil and vinegar.  Buffalo mozzarella is the BEST.  Yes, its from the milk of buffalo’s, specifically Italian buffalo’s.  Creamiest ever.

Rick had…ta-dum!…his other, other favorite Chicken Parmesan…

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We took a walk through the neighborhood, mostly older homes, about 35% were nicely tended and 25% were horribly messy or outright dumps.  Its not that hard to have nice landscaping in Florida!  The rains keep it green and everything grows, grows, grows seemingly effortlessly.

When we first started out on our walk, we saw a wake of vultures around a carcass on the road.  One of them was trying to get it off the road and up over the curb.  There was a kettle of vultures flying in circles waiting their turn. (yes, I looked up the terms for groups of vultures!)

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Different names for sitting in trees, flying, grouped on the ground, etc.

We also saw a really big turtle near a fence, I got a bit excited until we looked closer and saw it was just the shell, which was then sad.  Still, Rick took a pic for me to post.  Not gonna show that photo to Myrtle, that would just be rude.

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About 12″ long, bigger than Myrtle!

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Look at him/her sticking his, or her, legs out to get warm!

Thursday, our first seminar was given by an author, Michael J Tougias.  He was so good, I bought 3 of his books.  The seminar was called Survive and Thrive, lessons from people who survived against all odds.  It was NOT a downer or scary seminar.  He told a tale of one particular ocean-voyage mishap and as he went he explained what was good and what was not so good when it came to emergency situations and making decisions during that time.  He is a great storyteller.  He has access to transcripts from the rescue vessels, meets with the boaters, rescue people (Coast Guard or private boats, too) and puts together riveting books from all of that.

What are the takeaways from that seminar?

Good decision makers:

  1.  don’t like to be trapped
  2.  let information form the plan and are flexible
  3.  are not afraid to bail out
  4.  test the waters – no pun intended
  5.  ask themselves if there are other options
  6.  aren’t afraid of making a u-turn if a decision turns out to be unwise
  7.  choose an option that is reversible
  8.  don’t choose an option based solely on its past effectiveness – pause and think how this situation might be different than past ones.
  9. do the NEXT right thing – don’t dwell on the far future, which could be depressing, i.e. I’m never going to be rescued…
  10. break it down into increments – I’ll do this thing for the next hour, then reassess
  11.  try to resist emotion, think as a 3rd person
  12.  intuition is valuable
  13.  so is humor and positive thinking
  14.  don’t let the relative comfort of the status quo drive the decision – fear of change
  15.  rule followers don’t do as well in emergency situations (oh dear).  Don’t make decisions based on pleasing others.  Don’t let peer pressure make your decision
  16.  we can’t control our situation, but we CAN control our reaction to it.

BAD decision makers:

  1.  I’ve invested this much (emotion, time, money, effort), I can’t stop now
  2.  get stuck in a corner and can’t think their way out
  3.  go along with the crowd, even when their gut is saying to do something else
  4.  are afraid to bail because they don’t want to let someone else down or don’t want others to think badly about them.

 

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View from the balcony outside the seminar room.

The next day we learned about navigation.  Pretty much everyone agrees that its dumb to only rely on electronic devices – gotta have paper charts, too.  A satellite sends out a tiny ‘bit’ of data that says ‘here I am, this is me’ and you need 4 of those to properly locate yourself.  We all know how dependable electronics are, right?  So keep a regular old compass and paper charts so you can fix your position.  AND they note where they are in a log every 15 min or so, especially during night runs and out of sight of land.

Weather.  That’s a biggie.  EVERYone says don’t have a schedule because you shouldn’t make ANY decisions that don’t consider the weather FIRST.  All schedules are thrown out the window tossed overboard when the weather threatens.  So many factors can affect your trip.  Life-changing factors…

Cruisers Roundtable gave us info on favorite apps they use for weather and navigation and more.  You name it, there’s an app for it.

Another interesting thing was that people each had a vote on decisions – like stay another day or push off, for instance.  If one person felt strongly that they should hang around the marina another day and let the iffy weather pass by, then they did.

There were lots of great people there.  Its true, you have an instant connection with boaters.  I’m sure that’s true of most groups like this, though, right?  Bikers, hikers, RVers, radio-controlled plane aficionados, golfers, fisherman (although they won’t share their best fishing holes, I suppose!).

Sitting and having lunch with a few of the couples, I realized I was really enjoying myself.  Huh, waddaya know… Still didn’t want to go to the cocktail party, though…but I had a great time at the dinner!

We’re going to have business cards made up to hand out to people – I noticed some were doing that.  Talk about an easy way to connect.  I noted some of the people we met, where they were from, what Yacht Club they belonged to, but a business card?  Easy-peasy.  Pic of Ms Maggie on the front and our email and blog info on the back!  One couple handed out their card.  I went to the blogsite and its all, except for their picture and a paragraph, literally the boilerplate verbiage that came with the blog site instructions!  One page says “this is the page where you introduce yourselves to your readers”…hahaha, goofballs…

There’s more to the event, but you are amazing for having read this far – or skimmed, perhaps…

We did make it to the beach!  Walked along the shore, feet in the water, collected some shells – where did I put those?

One thing Rick and I like to do everywhere we go is visit homes that are for sale, drive around neighborhoods.  So, on Sunday we went online and noted some Open Houses and off we went…

Only to discover that they don’t keep regular hours nor do they always have the Open House they are advertising…we’d arrive at a house to find no sign…hmmm…oh, well.  We were able to see a few.  Many of the front doors open outwards, not inwards, doesn’t that seem strange to you?  It was hot, so I got a Slurpee, too!

Back at the AirBnB, we, well, I, took a nap outside in our Adirondack chairs, so nice, and then we went to see Black Panther.  I loved the costuming and the music.  It was a very good movie!  We try to see a movie, at least one, on every trip.

The next day, the day we are flying home, we woke up late, I’d set the alarm but the sound was off, dang it.  We raced out the door, drove in squares trying to find the Hertz car return place and just barely made it in time for boarding >whew<

Here’s a lousy pic of these iguanas that people say are practically taking over the area.  Started out as pets that people got tired of and now, they are everywhere!  Vibrant colors that I’d not seen before – yellow, red, blue in big bands.

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Over 14″, and that’s not just what she said 😉

 

 

 

2018 Day One

I’m wondering how people party hearty and then GET UP EARLY!!!  I am NOT that person, there is about a 2 hr window in the middle of the day when I’m at my best.  But the dock has people on it, talking and being sociable.  I think that’s subversive behavior. If medical research is actually working on modifying our genetic makeup, we ought to get rid of the early-riser gene.  Or at the least, the PERKY early-riser gene.

We woke up slow and lazy and went to breakfast on the Delta King, an old paddle boat hotel/restaurant.  Sat in a lovely old dining room with lots of warm wood everywhere.

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Delta King

We take our time and arrive back at Ms Maggie at about 11am.

ALL the boats are still there.  We are royally blocked in and are wondering what we’re gonna do, we really ought to leave by noon in order to make it back home at a decent hour on Tuesday (this is Monday).  We’re muttering to ourselves as we walk toward Christie who’s standing on the dock and, as we walk up, she asks when we’d like to leave assuring us that they’ll make it possible for us to get under way whenever we like.

We look at the many boats side-tied together and think, well, THAT will never happen 😉

But, we tell then we’d like to leave around noon and sure enough, they proved us wrong.  The guy next to us motors off and people gather at the swim steps at the sterns of the boats rafted together in front of us so they can walk our boat away from the dock and point us toward the river.  And, you know what, it worked just fine.

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Hard to see but there are lots of bodies lending a hand to push our nose around toward the river.

We are under way just around noon!  Hard to believe.

There are many boaters out today, its a gorgeous sunny day and we see folks in wetsuits and a woman wakesurfing in a light blue tutu.

Passing boats in such disrepair is so sad.  I want to hear their stories.  Are they too expensive to scrap?  Is someone living onboard and has no funds for upkeep?

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Why does this happen?

We had wanted to get a little further down the river before stopping but ended up in Walnut Grove.  Its an old historic town, so naturally we walk around it before it gets dark.

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Sunset from Ms Maggie

Unfortunately, the public dock has no power or water so we are without heat tonight and have to rely on batteries for light.  We bundle up in all our sweaters and coats and hot-spot my phone to the laptop to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.  Its pretty darn cold but our sleeping bags are warm and toasty.

Next morning we turned on the propane stove for coffee (and to warm up the cabin a bit, don’t tell anyone).  We have a hearty breakfast at Alma’s River Cafe, good food and prices.  We are on the road, er, river by 9am!

A good part of that route home was uncharted waters for us.  We’d not been down this way, which was the main reason we stopped in Walnut Grove, rather than motor down an unfamiliar place and get stuck somewhere after dark…so smart of us, right?

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Low bridge ahead!

 

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Look how smooth the water is!  This channel isn’t very wide nor widely traveled so we’re by ourselves most of the time, just letting the landscape pass us by.  Occasionally, we’ll see other life forms.

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And what is it with all the boats half submerged?  Can they just not afford to get the boat out of the water?  Seems like a hazard to me!  Dangerous and stupid.

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It took a long time to get anywhere because we shouldn’t go more than 5mph around these homes and they are more than you’d think scattered along the various rivers and channels

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Swinging open

And these homes right on the river, no levee between them and the water…this green lawn running down to the water’s edge and shade trees, talk about a sweet summer vacation spot!

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That’s a SLIDE!!!

Shortly after that we were on the home stretch , in familiar territory.  And then…20180102_091652.jpgits back to the grind of real life 😉

NEW YEARS EVE!!

Its finally here!  The last day of this crazy 2017.

We have breakfast again at Steamers and I, again, have the best granola/yogurt/fruit combo EVER!

Then we clean up the boat for company and do some people-watching until Rick’s family arrives to spend the day.  We all walk to the boat and sit around for lunch-time snacking and talking for awhile and then we wander around the shops again and I end up buying the first present for next Christmas!  Its for you, Susan!  I also found a lovely and funky scarf for my sis-in-law’s birthday (which already happened so I’m not spilling any secrets here).

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I can hardly believe I found a photo of the scarf on MorgueFile.com!  (hahaha)

Then its back to Ms Maggie for more snacking and chatting.  Some of the family takes off for better parties than we can offer 😉 and the rest of us go to dinner at Fat City.

People have begun to arrive for the fireworks, but it isn’t as crowded as we thought it might be.  Although, we’re headed down to the boat, so maybe it will get more crowded up there in the next hour or so.  We are very glad to find that there is Security keeping riff-raff from going down to the pier.

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Keystone Kops

It could get insane if too many people squeezed onto the docks, they could easily fall into the water.

We set up chairs on the flybridge, where the best view is.  More and more boats have piled in around the docks to watch the show and there are even some boats anchored in the river.  Most of them have party lights!  Playing loud music!  What a fun environment!

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All you can see of Ms Maggie is our mast!  4th row, far left.

Everyone is feeling positive and hopeful and looking forward to a new year…screw that old 2017!  2018 will be entirely fresh and we will all love one another and be kind to one another!

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OK, but we can try, can’t we?

The fireworks were outstanding!  Pictures don’t do them justice, naturally, but this one of the firefall off the bridge is pretty close.

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It was RIGHT THERE!

We were crazy close to them and the ash was falling all over the place.  Big chunks of ash, like a giant was smoking a cigar and tapping the ash onto us.   Fascinating to be so close to where the fireworks were being set off.  Totally cool.

After the show, we go back inside the cabin and warm up a bit before the parental units and Rick’s sister, Ruth, drive home.

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Rick’s Mom, sister Ruth, Dad, me!

After that, its still early – the fireworks go off at 9pm, not midnight, so we could go to the party on the neighboring boats , but…we are fuddyduddies.  We don’t much like making small-talk.  As we say every year, “maybe next year”.  Ha!  I know…we are ridiculous…or are we exactly like you…what did you do for NYE?

On the Eve of NYE

Saturday before New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Eve Eve…we’ve got nothing to do and all day to do it!  Its nice to have no agenda for a change.

Rick is checking the engine fluids, topping off oil and transmission fluids.  We have special absorbent pads down in the bilge to soak up any leaks.  Ms Maggie is leaking transmission fluid but it doesn’t seem to be when we’re under way, only after she’s been sitting.  He’ll be contacting Just In Time again to do some investigating and also to replace some of those little things that break down over time and you don’t want to wait until they do because then its the worst time possible and you’ll find yourself in a pickle, having to squeeze your butt into a tiny crevice, muttering curse words and wielding a crowbar and a hammer to get some rusted-in-place nut off the most important bolt of your life!

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For help on removing rusty bolts/nuts:  Popular Mechanics

We wandered around Old Sac yet again and, this time, went into the Christmas store – which is connected to one of those stores that has cooking utensils and gadgets of all kinds.  Those are fun, aren’t they!  I have to keep saying to myself, no, you don’t need a special plastic fridge-saver for your avocados…no, you don’t need any of those tiny spoons/whisks/whatever-it-happens-to-be.  I have a tomato-saver and a banana saver – have you ever used one?  I’m giving away the banana saver – who doesn’t use an entire banana at a time?

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It clips onto the open end of the banana that, for some peculiar reason, you aren’t able to finish

Side note:  We have a Victorian village and Rick has an old train that we set out under our Christmas tree some years.  Guess what?!?  There exists a Margaritaville village!  How cool is that?!?  Oh, you’ve probably already seen them.  I had no idEa!  I’m gonna have to look for them online, though, check out EBay or something because those were darn exPENsive!

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Have I mentioned that we are completely boxed in by boats now?  The Chris Craft in front of us has THREE boats rafted up next to it all in a row and ALL of them Chris Crafts that pretty much line up height-wise so you can almost easily walk from one to the next.

Another boat has tied up to the BACK of the last boat in front of us, so he is floating beside us now.  This boat has a blow-up HOT TUB on the back!  Ha!

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Back of that boat, under all the bubbles, is a hot tub!  

The owners are all friendly and love talking about boats – theirs and anyone else’s.  They’ve also known each other for years.  Fortunately, even though they keep music on all the time and party until the wee hours of the night, they don’t bother us at all!  They even invite us over for the party!

You can tell from the photo above, that these crazy kids are really, really, really into festive lights!  Disco balls, strobes, LED strings on their boats, such fanciness.  If it weren’t for a little string of lights that we received at Christmas, we’d look pathetic in comparison.  As it is, we’re saying, “Hey, we know how to have fun, too!” in a whiny voice.

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Sort of like these

In anticipation of going to a party(!), we are on the lookout for some wine…alas, except for the restaurants we couldn’t find ANY wine for sale in Old Sac and no shops close by, either.

So we bought a bunch of chocolate to take, instead.

We have dinner at Fat City, formerly owned by a guy whose last name was Fat.  I had an excellent apple salad with thyme vinaigrette dressing…soooo good.

Back to the boat to finish up the blog post about Fleet Week and we watch the movie Daddy’s Home on my HP Laptop, which I love, btw…loveLoveLOVE, and am using right NOW!

The movie ends and the party on the other boats is still not going on yet, they must begin about the time I’m ending…so much for our string of lights saying we know how to have fun!  We do know how to have fun, we DO…just a lot earlier than most people, I guess 😉

Nothin’ much happens

We wake up leisurely and head off to breakfast at Steamers.  We’d thought they were just a coffee and pastry place but they have a good breakfast menu and I had the best yogurt, fruit and granola bowl ever!

Neither Rick nor I remembered to bring shampoo…well, he never remembers so I’m the one who forgot to bring shampoo.  We need to find a store in Old Sac that sells sundries.  And apparently, there aren’t any.  None, not one of the stores sell that sort of thing, so we have to find a hotel and check out their gift shop.  You’d think there would be at least 1 store that sold the sorts of things that travelers find themselves in need of, but no.

At the first hotel the gift shop is closed for either lunch or a bathroom break.  Of course it is.

There’s a museum a block or so away,  Crocker Art Museum .  Part of it is housed in a lovely old mansion but since the interior has been remodeled to house art, Rick isn’t interested in seeing how they ‘messed up’ the original interior…too sad for him to see that…so we’re off to another hotel to see if their gift shop is open.  Although we do first check out their gift shop and I find a little something for my sis-in-law Ruth’s Christmas stocking next year!  Tee-hee

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Part of the Crocker Art Museum

The next hotel’s gift shop is open!  It is!  Yay, we can now wash our hair!  OK, just Rick is washing his hair, I’m not washing my hair.  The marina doesn’t have shower or laundry facilities for boaters, dang it, so we are stuck using our boat’s shower.  Its the first time we’ve used the shower and it works just fine.  We have hot water and EVerything!  But there isn’t the pressure I need to power  through my hair!

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You know what I mean?

Rick has one chore today and that’s to finish getting the mast anchor lines attached.  What are they called…oh, right, ‘stays’.  There are 4 of them, 2 angled back (aft) and 2 angled forward.  Every time we come up to a bridge that’s too low, we have to unhook the front ones and lower the mast.  Its not difficult because they have quick-release fasteners so its not a big deal…especially now that we’ve done it so many times!

Its so different doing things on this boat than on the sailboat.  The sailboat I felt like everything was just this side of panic.  I was always on edge thinking of contingency plans if something happened.  Plus I always had to jump off the sailboat onto the dock and despite the fact that it never ever ever happened, I always worried that I’d trip over cable rail at the bow – which was where I was jumping off from – or trip on the uneven surface of the old docks

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Not QUITE this bad, but almost!

 

or the cleats on the docks,

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These always have my name on them!

or fall into the water and get crushed by the boat as it pulled into the slip!  Seriously, I’m ridiculous.  My husband is McGyver and I need not be in panic mode!

After that little bit of work is done – of course, we got the stays on backwards and had to redo them – we go ashore and wander around the stores.  There’s a fancy theater at the Downtown Commons (DOCO) and we always plan to see a movie when we’re on vacation.  Believe it or not, we still haven’t seen Star Wars…which is rather pathetic cuz when we were first married we’d stand in line for hours to see movies like that.  Now, our time is worth more, I guess, or being among the first to see or do something isn’t all that important…or maybe our priorities are completely wrong and we should again stand in line to see epic movies!

At what point in your lives did you stop standing in line like that?  …for the most popular toy for your kids?  …for concert tickets?

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Monopoly Millenium in tin box!

I called all over the place to find this Monopoly game for my kids and, even then, failed and had to buy it after Christmas, instead…oh, the heartbreak…I’m pretty sure the boys were damaged for life.

 

We have dinner on the boat and its superb smoked salmon that a friend of my mom’s gave to us.  Oh, so good!

After that its a quiet evening in the cabin with the blinds pulled down most of the way.  Another bummer about this marina is that its a public dock, so anyone can wander down it.  Usually you can walk on the dock all the way to the other side of the bridge and back up to shore, but for the New Year’s Eve event they’ve removed a piece of the dock so boats can be on both sides of it.  Its a popular dock, too, so people are walking around till 11pm or so.  That’s OK, since we always lock up when we leave Maggie but still, irritating to have people peeking in all the time.  Since Maggie is unique, we get a lot of that.

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On a less crazy weekend…image via Wikipedia

I’m in my jammies loving the lounging around, reading a book, when I feel Maggie lurch a bit like someone’s come onboard.  And, indeed, someone HAS as the back cabin door opens right beside me.

A sweet drunk young man introduces himself – Darren – and asks how we’re doing and we chat for a bit.  He’s looking for a party and there is definitely NOT one going on in this boat!  He wishes us a good night, closes the door and meanders down to the next boat and then the one after that til we lose sight of him.

Ah, another adventurous day on The Maggie!  😉

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Makin’ our way to Old Sac

Our next day headed toward Old Sac, we catch a nice current and we are going 9 knots!  Highly unusual, since our usual rate is about 7.5.  That means the current is pushing us about 1.5 knots faster than usual, whoo-hoo!  At this rate we’ll be there in no time!  And by that I mean before dark, most likely, probably.

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Chuck is laying in the sun on the dashboard in his widdle bed, not quite as skittish today.

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We are seeing hardly any other boats on the water – its like a ghost town around here.  After about 4 hours, we finally see a lone kayaker.  I wave enthusiastically, he’s like, don’t interrupt my stroke, lady, but he waves anyway…

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It is so beautiful in this neck of the woods, er, delta.  The levees, or dykes?, are lovely, not just piled up rocks with some random vegetation like in our area.

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This looks practically abandoned but it has indoor storage for boats, there’s an elevator for putting boats on trailers and hauling them into the building

Random thought, what is the difference between a levee and a dyke…gonna look that up right now…please hold…OK, the two words are interchangeable, they have different provenances.  Levee came to New Orleans when the French created levees there and Americans adopted the word.  The word ‘dyke’ probably came from the Netherlands, although there was a word ‘dic’ in England and perhaps…nevermind…too much about that, right?

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So much debris in the river can cause a lot of damage if you aren’t careful, as attested to by this mangled ladder!

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For most houses you can only see the top story or maybe just the roof, but this one is on its own wide peninsula.

Rick and I are talking and I hear a funny sound, cocking my head I realize someone is honking at us…eek…we’re hydroplaning right though a marina!  There wasn’t a sign but common sense tells us to slow down, even land lubbers know that.  And, we were going all of 7 knots, which is a horrible 8.6 knots!  We immediately slow down.  Oh, there’s a sign, at the other end of the harbor.

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Another sunken boat – we saw 3 of them on this trip.

We have taken down the bimini and the mast so that we can slip under most bridges without asking them to raise for us.  Nervously we (OK, I’m the only nervous one) motor up to one of them.  Many of the bridges have a sign showing the current height of the bridge above the water, but some of those signs are missing.  We also use a Delta Boating website that provides info on bridges, height and high and low water, who to call, hours of operation.  It isn’t always perfect information (for instance, it doesn’t let us know that one of the bridges is virtually-permanently closed for repairs – and the operator, why bother having an operator, anyway!, says in a snarky manner that we should have looked at the Coast Guard’s weekly newsletter for updated info on bridges, hazards and navigation info.  Well, yes, now we know).  The Delta Boating website shows a bridge as having 3 more feet of clearance that is actual, so we are REALLY glad we took down the bimini and mast.

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There’s someone in there at the ready to lift the bridge when necessary.

 

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It looks like we could step off the boat onto the bridge!

 

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Starting to lose our light

Its starting to get to be dusk and we are almost there…almost there, almost there and THERE it is!  What a pretty sight the Tower Bridge is all light up.

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No trouble tying up to the dock, there aren’t numbers for spaces or anything, so we figure we’re to snug up to the boat in front of us to make room for whoever comes in later.  The next morning we’re asked to snug up even more because a large houseboat will be coming in.

As soon as we are tied up and woman in a fancy black cape-coat comes up and says Nice Boat, then starts to attack us for rocketing through her marina down the river.  Yikes, sure we should have slowed down earlier but we didn’t ignore the horn and we aren’t a wake boat, for heavens sake.  But, we hadn’t been paying attention so we let her have her say, apologized profusely and let her feel superior.  On our way back to Discovery Bay, I tried to figure out which boat is hers.  There’s a derelict houseboat and a sharp-looking catamaran.  Hmmm, which one do you think?

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I took this pic to show the big tugboat behind the little one.  Does this wake look bad?  I can’t recall the specific location and speed of this area.  This might be the one where we were, ahem, irresponsible.

 

After settling down the boat, we wander through Old Sac to find a place for dinner.  Yum, Round Table…

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