Monday, December 20, 2010

Vero Deep Freeze 2010

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Vero Beach & Lake Worth, FL 2010

12/15/2010: Vero Beach to Hobe Sound – 47 nm

12/16/2010: Hobe Sound to Lake Worth Anchorage (West Palm Beach) – 15 nm

Total Miles This Trip: 736 nm

Thanksgiving Revisited: 11/21/2010

After a hoot of an evening at the Irish pub with Gigi's cousins Tom and Bill. G and I returned to the motel to crash and store up some energy for the 550 mile trip the next day to my Brother's house in Birmingham. Not long after we settled in I got a call. It was my son Noel with probably the most unexpected news I've had in the last 10 years. I'm going to be a “Grandfather!” Noel kept saying, “but it's early Dad, it's early so don't tell everyone just yet.” After he repeated it about a dozen times, Old Vic asked, “Just how early is it Noel - months, days ,or hours?” “Aw Dad, around a month,” was his response. Am I excited? – I slept little that night.

I don't know about you folk that are already grandparents but the possibility of being one brought on a sea of unexpected emotions. I can't quite explain the feeling. It is not just excitement but it is excitement surely. Not love. But it is that. Not a deep calm like a slick calm sea. But it is that too. I've not ever experienced a feeling like it even when Noel was born.

Richard Bode in one of his books said (or words to this affect), " Being a parent is like straddling the stream of life. You can see the future on the other bank but you are not across. When you become a grandparent you step completely across that stream to the other bank and you know you will continue into the future for one more generation.” Cool thought.

Due date: July 18th, 2011

Vero Beach Deep Freeze: A Christmas Story

We spent 12 freezing days on a mooring ball in Vero Beach rafted to Buck and Vicki Dawkins. Freezing? Maybe not by your standards but for us it was cold – nights in the upper 20s to low 30s, days in the high 40s to 50s, winds 15 to 30 mph sucking what little heat we had out of the boat. Burrrr! And we had only 2 clay flower pots turned up side down on the propane cook stove for heat (thanks for reminding me of that old sailor's trick John). Actually it worked quite well, temperatures in the cabin would stay in the low 60s until bed time. But let me tell you typing is really a chore with gloves on.

One morning the “coffee alarm” in my brain went off as usual at 7ish and we were greeted by one of those “see your breath mornings.” I rolled out of bed and slid into my smart wool socks, long johns, 2-T shirts, under armor shirt, hooded sweat shirt, thick sweat pants, jacket and... a “bunny hat” in an attempt to stay warm . Then staggered into the galley and lit the stove for coffee water (flower pot on the spare burner for heat.. of course). I retired to the “reading room” to freeze my butt off when Gigi called from the galley. “Vic I think we are out of propane in tank No.1.”

I finished my “business” (no need to put on a jacket since it was already on) and eased out the companion way to the propane locker to switch tanks. When I pulled the male pigtail out the O ring that had been on the end was missing. “Gigi,” I said, “We got a problem and if we don't get it fixed there will be no heat and no way to cook. The tank and pigtail are now going to need a trip to a“Propane Store” - either for parts or to be fixed. I can't do this aboard.

Jobs that normally take “dirt-dwellers” half an hour to complete take on different proportions to us “carless” cruisers. First, Vero has the best bus service anywhere on the East coast and it's free. The problem is buses are “public transportation” and no propane tank can be transported in “public transportation.” Taxis? Nope, same deal, “public transportation.” The tank, pigtail and I dinked into the Marina office and threw ourselves on the mercy of the court. The Dockmaster said, “Como Oil and Propane could fix it” and looked up the phone number for me. Curtis at Como Oil said, “If you can get here by noon I can get the part you may need and fix it this afternoon.” First problem solved. One of the guys at the marina said, “Hell, I'll drive you over to Como, no problem.” Second problem solved.

Como was way across town. When I got there, no Curtis. The receptionist said, he should be back in 45 minutes. I waited. When Curtis arrived he walked straight up to old Vic and said, “Get your stuff and let's go back to the shop.” Curtis was a balding 60ish kind of man with a big toothy smile and a kind countenance. He took one look at the pigtail and tank and said, “Hell, you ain't got no problem. These new tanks are set up to handle a lot of different kinds of pigtails. That one you have will work just as well with or without an O ring. Here, let's put some propane in your tank and make sure it and the pigtail don't leak.” It didn't and he finished filling my tank.

How you gonna get that damn thing back to the Marina?” Curtis asked. “I don't know yet...,” was the best answer I had. “Throw the tank in the back of my truck and I'll take you.” “Let me run in pay them for the propane and I be right with you...and thanks!,” a I turned to go inside. “Hell they don't need that $10. I'm just sorry you had ta wait. Let's go.” Curtis said with a grin and twinkle in his eye. With that he drove me back to the dingy dock. Back at the dock Curtis coated the pigtail with pipe “goop” so it would not leak and went on his way. Needless to say I tipped him well.

You would think the story would end here but it doesn't. Back aboard “Gigi's Island” I put everything back together, leak tested the system and found a leak. When I took the pigtail off with vice-grips pliers I must have put too much pressure on one of the fitting and probably warped it. Now I really do need a new pigtail. I called Curtis back at Como and asked if he had one. “I got one and have to be back over your way this afternoon. I'll bring ya one. I'll give you a call when I leave the shop.” And you know, when he delivered it he was sorry it cost so much, “ Ten dollars is just too much for these damn things.” as he “gooped” up the new pigtail fitting. I thanked him from my heart and again, tipped well. (not that Curtis expected a tip at all. He didn't he was that kind of man.).

I tell you this story for a reason. Little problems in the life of Cruisers can take on huge proportions. We live at the mercy, good will, and grace of others. In our world the “Curtises” are the norm. Time and time again when we are faced with a problems that seem insurmountable by some miracle a “Curtis” appears. We Cruisers are lucky people our “Thanksgivings and Christmases” don't come just once a year. We are reminded of the spirit of the holidays on a regular basis whenever a “Curtis” walks into our lives.

Lake Worth:

We are currently anchored in Lake Worth (West Palm Beach) and will leave tomorrow for Hollywood to spend a Christmas with Mac and Shirley. Buck and Vicki Dawkins will join us in Ft. Lauderdale after Christmas to stage for our crossing to the Bahamas.

Merry Christmas everyone and may the new year bring you many “Curtises.”

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,


PS – Gigi's “Trips” are doing fine.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Palm Coast, Hollywood, Orlando & Birmingham 2010

Fernandian Beach, FL to Vero Beach: 12/10/2010

11/9/2010: Fernandian Beach to Pine Island Anchorage – 42 nm.

11/10/2010: Pine Island to Palm Coast – 36 nm.

12/1/2010: Palm Coast to NASA Causeway Anchorage – 26nm.

12/2/2010: NASA Causeway to Melborne Bridge Anchorage – 29 nm.

12/3/2010: Melborne Bridge to Vero Beach Mooring Field – 30 nm.

Total Miles To Date: 665 nm

It's funny how “cruises” take on a life of their on - a theme if you will. This years seems to be “friends and family.”

The “Island” snaked her way through Matanzas Inlet's notorious shifting shallows and within the hour we were tied up nice and secure in Palm Coast Marina. It didn't take long for a cockpit party to develop. Gigi's cousin Tom Cook and his wife Olga showed up with a bottle of sangria and our friends Steve and Aggie Knox planted themselves in a corner of the cockpit with bread sticks. We added rum and cheese and it was time for a gam and catch up.

Steve and Aggie came bearing news. They were going to be “CLODS.” That's Cruisers, Living,

On, Dirt. They had bought a house and would no longer be liveaboard boat dwellers – a sad and glorious time one that will come to us all if we live long enough. It did not take long for Gigi, Olga, & Aggie to cloister themselves in a corner with “designs.” Olga had come with designs to paint the cowling of Gigi's new Yamaha 15 HP outboard to make it mo beautiful and less stealable. Which gave Tom and I the job of removing the Yamaha stickers on the cowling, sanding, and priming it so Olga could work her magic. God she did a beautiful job. Fellow cruisers now have “cowling” envy. I think Olga could go into business if she wanted to. A number of folk have asked us “what she charged?” Beautiful job Olga. Gigi says, “Thanks again!”

From Palm Coast we rented a car and started a life on the run. We headed south to Hollywood, Fl. to be with Mac and Shirley of last years “bitch wings” fame during her operation to remove a cancerous tumor. It did not go as expected. The surgeon decided to leave the tumor when they discovered more cancer on her liver. She is doing OK and will visit her doctors soon to see what the next step is. Keep Miss Shirley in your thoughts and prayers. You will note from the photo that not much keeps Miss Shirley down. Even in the hospital she was displaying “half bitch wings.”

Then Palm Coast to Orlando to attend Gigi's cousin Bill Hazlett's 50th anniversary of his ordination as an Episcopal priest. Gigi treated everyone to dinner at Bill's favorite Irish pub, “Ragland Road.” It was sort of a mini-family reunion with Bill, Gigi, Tom and his wife Olga, and a friend of Bills, Robert (?) down from Vermont. The pub is an actual Irish pub brought over from Ireland and re-built just outside Disney World. The food was superb – ribs with Gennis sauce and killer bread puddin'. The entertainment was Irish to the core complete with Irish dancers and musicians. Bill knew them all and they all came by to congratulate him and meet his family and friends. He even has his own “chair” at the pub with his name on it - all and all a great evening.

We left the motel early the next day headed for an old fashioned family Thanksgiving gathering at my brother Richard's house in Birmingham. At 10:00 AM during the drive up Gigi got “THE CALL.” She was a grandmother times 3 – 2 boys with heads full of black hair and a little blond headed girl, all weighing in at a healthy almost 6 pounds apiece. Landry Hope, Gunner Christian, Dillon Brewester, and their mom, Kristen, are now home with their proud dad, Christian Perry, and are doing fine. There will be little sleep to be had in that family for few years. The “triplets” (now known as “Trips”) are in addition to 2 other children under the age of 4. “Trips?” “Trips!” Kind of appropriate don't you think? God help 'em!

On to Birmingham for a Copelan family gathering. We had not had been together as a family for Thanksgiving in probably 8 or 10 years. Richard and his wife Lynn had a house full with Lynn's daughter Kate and her new husband Tate Windham, her son Michael, Mr. Wiburn Stewart (Lynn's Dad) & his lady friend Pat Smith, Ronald (my middle brother), Noel (my son), and (of course) Gigi. It was a holiday filled with fine food (Richard & Lynn are good cooks), southern football (Auburn / Alabama of course), and the warmth of family. Add Gigi's news and this Thanksgiving will live in my memory for the rest of my life. I love my family and miss them when I'm cruising.

We returned to Palm Coast on Saturday to find our friends Bob and Penny Kingsberry on “Pretty Penny” and Buck,Vicki, and Magic (their pup) Dawkins on “Victoria Gaye.” had arrived. Bob and Penny immediately organized a second Thanksgiving dinner that could not be beat and another gam and catch up.

Victoria Gaye” and “Gigi's Island” will travel in company for the foreseeable future. We left Palm Coast on the first of December and “froze” our way South to Vero Beach. The boats are currently in the mooring field rafted to each other with what feels like icicles hanging from the rigging. It has been in the 30s at night for almost 10 days now. Burrrrr! We are all ready for this cold spell to break. Life with no heat sucks. But we cruisers do what is required and have fun regardless of how much “mother nature” tries to block our path.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,


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