Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Making preparations... for the New Year and Next Adventure

Crew Istaboa has not put any plans in stone as of yet and we probably won't. We enjoy being a bit fickle about our cruising objectives. Freedom's just another word for not sticking to plans. (sorry Kris)
But, we've been busy making preparations for a move. One reason for going to Fort Myers was to find out what'd stopped working since our return from the islands last year.
There weren't many.
One of our original GPS transducers had finally gone on the blink. Circa 2002
Our VHF antennae seemed to have put on fur coats. So those had to be replaced. Also almost 10yrs old
We've decided we need to finally add that Isolation Transformer we've talked about for years... and If anyone has any thoughts or ideas along those lines, please send us an email or comment.
When we get back, an autopilot calibration is in order. Loaded on new versions of, both, Nobeltec and Coastal Explorer and they aren't speaking the same language as the autopilots.
Been tinkering with the WiFi bridge aboard in hopes of speeding up throughput. Mainly because we've hooked up an Apple TV system for downloading movies... I know, I'm a geek... Mel tells me daily. I want my HDTV!
Also gonna try out MacENC just to see how the Apples handle the navigational tasks... Probably very well.
Going through our inventory to be sure we have the spares required when visiting the islands.
Rule #1: When in the islands, if you don't have it, you probably can't get it. Unless you pay a fortune to fly it in.
Rule #2: Read Rule #1.

Talked with our old buddy Captain Spooner and it looks like he's flying in from Baltimore to spend a few days with us... That's gonna be a lot of fun, so we're looking forward to going home. We miss all our friends at Sunset Bay. (Actually, Jeff and Cathy from C Dock, did come by our house in Memphis for drinks and dinner... That was nice. They were also kind enough to transport my new guitar back to Stuart.)

So plans.... Maybe not the islands and go up to the Northeast instead? Never done that past the Chesapeake. Maybe go to the islands and do some more WiFi work? Maybe both? Who knows?

We'll see...

A Happy New Year Video (you have probably seen) Cute...

better ... Happy New Year



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheetah's death a hoax?

Is everything bullshit?

R.I.P.... Cheetah

I loved watching this guy on Tarzan. My favorite was, "Tarzan goes to New York", when Cheetah uses the telephone.

Cheetah the chimpanzee, who acted in classic Tarzan movies in the early 1930s, died of kidney failure Saturday at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, a sanctuary spokeswoman said.
Cheetah was roughly 80 years old, loved fingerpainting and football and was soothed by nondenominational Christian music, said Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director.
He was an outgoing chimp who was exposed to the public his whole life, Cobb said today.
"He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems," she said.
Cheetah acted in the 1932-34 Tarzan movies, Cobb said. Movies filmed during that timeframe starred Johnny Weissmuller and include "Tarzan and His Mate" and "Tarzan the Ape Man," according to the Internet Movie Database.
Sometime around 1960, Cheetah came to the sanctuary from Weissmuller's estate in Ocala, Cobb said.
In the wild, the average chimp survives 25 to 35 years and at zoos chimps typically live 35 to 45 years, she said.
Cheetah, the most famous of the sanctuary's 15 chimpanzees, liked to see people laugh.
"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."
Ron Priest, a sanctuary volunteer for seven years, said Cheetah stood out because of his ability to stand up – shoulders tall, back straight – and walk like a person.
Cheetah also stood out for another reason, Priest said: "When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them. He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between."
It doesn't appear Cheetah had any children, Cobb said.
Cheetah put a lot of thought into his art, though if he was tired he would give up easily and not play with it much.
He wasn't into watching animal shows on television, but he enjoyed watching all the color and movement when football appeared on screen. Cobb wasn't aware of whether Cheetah had any favorite teams.
"I couldn't ask him that," she said. "I'm not a chimp psychic."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New guitar...

Present to myself and goodwill for a friend in need...
Check out the fret markers... Gotta play this one at Compass Cay

Carbon Fiber... should be a really good boat guitar. Moisture can't hurt it.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

So this is Christmas

War is over... One, at least... and for that, we thank you Mr. President.
Wishing a Very Merry Christmas for the Troops and their Families

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great pics

I wish they were mine...

Nat Geo's photo contest

But this one is mine and it won photo of the day on Mobli. Ever heard of Mobli? It's kinda like twitter, but you don't say anything... Take a pic with your phone or camera and post it. It's a lot of fun and you see a lot of great photos. Mostly just folks having fun.  Click Mobli

Photo of the day...

Our good friend Richard... There's a long story in those eyes. We'll tell you what we know someday.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sad News...

Just received an email from Ken Williams passing on the bad news.
The Nordhavn 62 Grey Pearl has burned in Phuket, Thailand.

 From Grey Pearl's blog.

It is with such a heavy heart that I write this last and final blog of the good ship Grey Pearl.

Early in December, while we were spending the winter at our home in Virginia away from our boat, we received one of life’s dreaded phone calls. Our beloved ‘Grey Pearl’ N6208 was on fire in her slip at Yacht Haven Marina in Phuket, Thailand. The fire started in the early evening of Dec. 6th, 2011, and was detected shortly thereafter. The fire quickly became uncontrollable and threatened the marina and other boats. The marina staff and some brave yachtsmen scrambled to remove her from the slip, tow her up a nearby river and run her aground where she continued to burn for almost another day. Needless to say we are devastated by this horrible tragedy.

In order to tend to this matter and our responsibilities, Braun & I immediately flew from our home in Virginia to Thailand.
Of course, the hardest and saddest moment was to see her…it is impossible to describe the heartbreak. To see the pilothouse wheel resting on the charred Lugger main engine…we were overcome. The raging fire had consumed her down to the water line. To put her to rest, we had a “viewing” on a Thursday…and her “burial” with flowers and a final good by on Friday.

Although heartbroken, we do understand how lucky we are…no one was injured! And the damage would have been more catastrophic if not for the brave souls that worked quickly to get the boat out of the slip and thereby save the surrounding yachts and dock.

We’ve had 11 ½ years of absolutely wonderful experiences on the Pearl…and happily, we’ve been able to share that on board passion with so many friends & family. Often we’d sit on our aft “Lido” deck and reminisce about where she’s taken us…Gibraltar, Jounieh, Lebanon, Jementos, Bahamas, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Elba, Italy, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Aleutian Islands, Panama Canal, Haifa, Israel, Rome, Petropavlovsk, Russia, Bar Harbor, Me., Singapore, Athens…to name just a few.

I personally have never been more challenged, fulfilled and happier doing anything in my life than the time I’ve spent on my ‘Grey Pearl’. And…more importantly, she was a passion Braun & I enjoyed together. She will live on fondly in our hearts & memories…forever ~

We are still “processing” this calamity so it’s way too soon to say what our future plans will be…but there will be an Act II. The fun is not going to stop.

We’re OK…and, we have the love of family & friends we can count on to get through this painful time…

A special thanks to our dear friends, Carol & Steven Argosy on our buddy boat N62 ‘Seabird’. They remain in Phuket and we deeply regret having to temporarily leave the “Bird and Pearl” cruising team.

Sadly…Grey Pearl…Out –

Tina & Braun

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas

We celebrated ours last weekend. It was a bit hurried, but — as always — a lot of fun.
So...the real Christmas will be a very quiet one for us.
We're looking forward to New Year's Eve when our friends, Jim, Sandy, and Lulu, are coming to Memphis to help us ring in 2012. (Hope those Mayans were wrong) Radar's very excited, he's quite smitten with Lulu.

To all our friends, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays... Be you Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, any other religion or belief, our wishes are the same.  May you and yours be happy, healthy, and safe.
Here's to 2012



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This can only mean one thing...

 This is his, "Now where are we going?", look.

Home for the holidays. A very Memphis Christmas and New Year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Back in Stuart again

We left Moore Haven at first light, heading east. Knowing it was going to be a long day for a slow boat we didn't dawdle. As we pulled into Moore Haven lock it appeared the water hyacinths had taken over the lock chamber, but we're used to that from the Tombigbee, so no big deal. We thought... Somehow we snagged a large clump somewhere under the boat and dragged it with us all the way across Florida. This slowed us down considerably. We're already a slow boat and to take a knot off our speed really screwed up the plan.

We tried every trick to shake it off, short of jumping in with a knife. I just wasn't up for the Jungle Jim maneuver. Then finally at the St. Lucie Lock as I'm talking to the lock operator; he points in the the water and asks, "Did you bring that all the way across with you?".  I look at where he was pointing and sure enough there's a clump of the stuff the size of a large manatee.
Finally it had shaken loose with only 10 miles to go and darkness looming.

As the last ray of light darkened, we pulled into the slip, tired, happy, and wanting a stiff drink.

It was a fun run across the state. Met a lot of new folks and rekindled friendships with others.

Now for the holidays...

And for your listening pleasure, I end this post with... The Decemberist playing their tune, The Mariner's revenge song.



A one ana two ana....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back in the water...

On the way over to Ft. Myers we stopped at River Forest Yachting Center in Moore Haven, FL for the night. While there we were offered a deal on a bottom job we just couldn't turn down. About half the price we normally pay to have it done.
The folks here at River Forest have been great. Not only did we get a great price, they way over delivered on service. Never have we had such a good experience at a boat yard.

They had it back in the water right on schedule. Even went the extra mile and bead blasted the shaft and spurs.

Looks like new...

Just for the fun of it... they painted the thruster shaft to look like an eye. The painters said if we come back, next time they would really get creative.

This is the first time in our boating life that we have left a boatyard happy. No unexpected charges and nothing but superb service. The way it should be done. Here's a link to River Forest Yachting Center.

I did some video, and will post it later, of the boat being placed back in the water that will show off the yard and equipment. Impressive.

It's so good to be home.
Tomorrow we run back across Lake Okeechobee to Stuart then we'll really be back home.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rough day at sea...

Jorge, a good friend we first met at Compass Cay sent this too me. Pretty amazing stuff. To these folks the perfect storm is a common occurance.

Remember the little albino seal that was abandoned?

Alas... It's found a home!!      A happy ending to a story and a new beginning for Nafanya.


Rejected Ginger Seal Pup Finds A Home, Gets Webcam

A ginger-haired seal pup who was rejected from her black seal tribe has a new home at the Akvatoria dolphinarium in Adler, Russia.
Nature photographer Anatoly Strakhov first took pictures of the animal on Russia's Tyuleniy Island in September, according to ABC News. The photographer told the Daily Mail, "the poor seal is almost blind and so was unlikely to survive in the wild."
Since then, images of the rare albino creature -- dubbed Nafanya -- have circulated the globe, spurring an outpouring of sympathy from the public.
"She now has a special enclosure with a pool, and two weeks after her arrival, people are already coming to see her," Yulia Frolova, head of the dolphinarium, told the Daily Mail. "She has a good appetite, and always seems in a happy mood. She is such an unusual seal with very beautiful bright blue eyes."
Though Nafanya is in quarantine for a month and can't play with fellow animals at the center just yet, the pup will be making plenty of virtual friends thanks to a webcam that will document her day to day living.
Other seals have been struggling as well. Hawaiian monk seals are listed as "critically endangered" on the IUCN Red List, possibly due in part to competition with fisheries over food, entanglement in nets, and habitat loss from rising sea levels.
An unknown disease has been killing ringed seals in Alaska, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed last year listing the animal as threatened due to projected losses from climate change.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Railto ~ Redux

We fired off some Iphone pics yesterday that didn't do this place justice. This marina is really pretty and unlike any marina we've ever tied up to before.
So we took a little walkabout to experience Rialto. Many have told us that the place was beautiful and they weren't exagerating.

Everywhere you look could only be described as... picturesque.
Radar was puzzled by all the sounds of birds and the smells of whatever had been there before him.

The marina is not very large. All side ties and maybe enough room for 10 boats, but the magic of this place is not the docks. A fellow named Bear helped us tie up and gave us a golf cart tour of the grounds. Very nice fellow that we later discovered was just a patron like we were. He was just being neighborly.
Then Steve, the fellow in charge, came by to get our info. He offered to send someone by later to build us a fire on the grounds next to our personal dock if we wanted to grill something out. A hickory wood fire grill did sound tempting, but we said no thanks, that wasn't necessary, maybe next time. (If we'd had a good steak... this would've been a different story.)
Folks could not have been any nicer.

 Time has hidden the message, but if you enlarge, it says...

The owner and caretaker keep this place looking perfectly natural, yet manicured. It's truly a work of art. And did I say quiet? After staying a week in downtown Fort Myers (which we like a lot) Rialto was so quiet about the only thing you could hear was fish jumping, birds singing, and ears ringing.
I could go on and on, but I think the pictures will tell the rest of the story.

Pictures on page 2.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tarzan land ~ Rialto

 Marv took a really nice shot of Istaboa leaving Legacy.

Everything will be brief because we're doing it all via iphone.

This place is really unique.

The proprietors have done a wonderful job of making this marina an eco paradise.
If you're ever this way, check it out.
The last pic is from our last night at Legacy Harbour aboard Kasey's Choice.

Pete, Mel, Marilyn, and Donnie holding Cloe... Docktails

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back @ The Veranda

Appears we're heading back east.
Hit the Veranda for one more Happy Hour.
Oysters and Martinis!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Downtown Ft. Myers

We've been here before and like it then... and we like it now. Downtown FM is very cool.
A good grocery store 2 blocks away, a bakery just up the street, plenty of restaurants within walking distance, and the folks around here are very nice. What's not to like?

Bold Pursuit

Last night old friends and the owners of Bold Pursuit, Don and Sharon, drove into town and took us out to dinner. It was good catching up with them. They've bought a new boat and are selling Bold Pursuit.
She's an extraordinary steel hulled Motor Sailer with a galley that rivals any chef's kitchen. This boat could take you around the world in grand style with gourmet meals.
They've decided it's the time in their life to buy a home in Fernandina Beach, FL and have acquired a new boat that will better fit their new requirements. 
Now we have friends in Fernandina to visit... with a dock!

 Definition of flat calm

After leaving Riverforest and slowly motoring along the Caloosahatchee River there wasn't a lot to see, but passing through Labelle, FL we enjoyed the sights of the beautiful old Florida style homes. Palm trees towering above centuries-old oaks that are draped with spainish moss made for a nice frame for some of these old houses.

More on page 2.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

To all our friends and family, we hope you all have a safe, fun, and delicious Turkey Day.
Personally, I want this turkey... Nirvana Thanksgiving! Then call 911.

Can you imagine the crust on this thing... mmmmmm........

Today we're tied up at Legacy Harbor in downtown Ft. Myers. Directly in front of fellow Compass Caysians, Marv and Carol. Good to come back to a marina and see old friends. Everybody here's so nice. 
Our Thanksgiving plans are to walk over to the historical Veranda restaurant for dinner. We've dined here before and it is excellent. 
Cut from the Veranda's website:
Young Manuel Gonzales built two houses at the corner of Second Street and Broadway. The corner house, built in 1902, was occupied by he and his family. The second, was built for his mother, and was located adjacent to the first house, in what is now the Veranda's parking lot.
The two houses were joined by Peter Pulitzer, son of the publisher, in the early 1970's for his long-time fishing buddy, Fingers O'Bannon. The original kitchen building from the second house, along with a secluded garden courtyard, now joins the two houses. Paul Peden bought the two buildings in 1978 and transformed them into the Veranda.
It really is a fine restaurant that's steeped in Ft Myers history. Click here for more history ...Veranda
Got a bunch of pictures while cruising Labelle, FL that will be posted later.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving.



funny pic..  no reason, just weird.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Busted a move...

Yup, we finally threw off the lines and went for a boat ride. It feels good. We've been at dock for way too long.

Woke at 5:00AM and got an early start. It's a beautiful day and Istaboa is running well. The plan is to cross Okeechobee and spend the night at Riverforest Marina on the other side of the lake.

 The Lucie Canal is a lot like the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Just banks lined with palm trees instead of rocks.

Port Myaca Lock is on the eastern side of Okeechobee. Once you pass through here, you're in the lake for miles and miles. On this day the lake is very calm. Our last crossing a few years ago was incredibly nasty. Okeechobee is a muddy lake and after that run we looked as if we had taken Istaboa down a muddy row in a cotton field. Totally covered in muck from bow to stern.

Tourism, Okeechobee style.
This is what they were looking for. 

Large aligators are as common around here as squirrels in a park.
This guy was quite large. Probably 8' long.

Tonight we stay at Riverforest and get a head start for Ft. Myers tomorrow. We plan to have our Thanksgiving there then spend a few days before heading back to Stuart.

It's good to be moving again, even the boat looks happy.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Capt. Will wins big

Very cool... Capt. Will and his wife Tara have won the 1st Annual Martin County BBQ Contest. He's worked hard for it and we've been lucky enough to be his test judges for a couple of years. (hence we're both constantly in the gym) He's always cooked excellent BBQ and now the official FBA judges wholeheartedly agree.

Cut from the TCPalm Newpaper:

— Will and Tara Finlay had entered about 15 barbecue contests on the Florida BBQ Association circuit in the past two years without winning in a single category.The Port St. Lucie residents, competing under the name Smoky Dog, not only won the ribs competition, they placed second in chicken and fifth in brisket Saturday to claim the title of grand champion of the first-ever Martin County Fair BBQ Festival at the Fairgrounds.
Despite steady rainfall that held down attendance on Friday night, fair officials estimated they drew about 7,000 people for the two-day barbecue festival that drew 22 entrants, 18 of them in the professional competition.
Bill Barrett, lead organizer for the fair board, said expenses totaled about $40,000. He said he hoped to recoup most of that from gate receipts and ticket sales.
The Finlays won $2,300.
"By far and away the most we've ever won," Will Finlay said. "You don't even break even 99 percent of the time."
He said he bought a smoker specifically for barbecue competitions, but now the private yacht captain is thinking about starting a barbecue business.
Will Finlay said that behind every great barbecue cook is a great woman.
"I would cook at home and about two years ago my wife started bugging me to enter a contest," he said.
A bunch of us folks from Sunset Bay were the cheering squad and Will and Tara shared some of their special competition stash with us all. It was incredible. They did well and deservedly won Grand Champion. The trophy was a large Pig that was carved outta wood. Better than the usual metal trophy.

Congratulations to Team Smoky Dog!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marcel the Shell




Anyway... Last night we made a really good Crab Stew.
Mel had procured a few Blue Claws and though they were excellent, they were a bit small, which makes for a tedious job extracting the tasty morsels of crab meat. But...  those that know Mel understand, that won't stop her. She spent 3 hours picking crabs and the only thing we could come up with to do with the yield was a Crab Stew.
The loose recipe goes like this...
I made a nice dark roux, then pitched in 1 cup of onion, 3/4 cup of bell pepper, 3/4 cup of celery, and 4 cloves of garlic. Cooked that down and pitched in salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, bouquet of fresh thyme, a few drops of Worcestershire, and cayenne to taste. Then deglazed the pan with 5 cups of chicken stock and simmered for an hour. With all that done, I waited until just before eating to pitch in the fresh crab and voila.  Served over rice.
Kinda like a gumbo/Bahamian stew fish, but not quite.
Ah Yee!!!!   Irie!!!
Crab Stew Istaboa