Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Vote!

I suppose I got in the mood for a vote after the most recent democrat debate. I still am not sold on the name Romance for my boat. A single guy sailing a boat named Romance seems a little presumptuous. So, I've been racking my brain coming up with a few ideas. They are on the survey to the left of this post. Let me know which one you like best.

Sundowner: A person who makes his home anywhere the sun sets. I kind of liked this since I am looking at traveling west or following the sun around the world.

Jargo: My great grandfather was Christopher Columbus (Lum) Winters. Talk about a nautical name. Anyway, there is a great story about Lum riding his horse, Jargo, across a river to save a woman and her child from a flood.

Orion: Does anyone else look up at the night sky in the cooler months for this constellation? I don't know why exactly, but seeing him up there is like having an old friend around.

Pitchfork: I've got a great article framed in my office that features my parents when they were chasing a dream of theirs. The title reads, "A dream named Pitchfork". The Pitchfork was a ranch in OK they started for kids.

Sandra Mae: Well, that's my mom. Hi mom.

Romance: Current boat name. Saves the cost of relettering and re-registering the boat. And, there really isn't anything that isn't romantic about this whole scheme.

Rocinante: The noble steed of one Don Quixote. Read it if you haven't. It was also the name given to the truck John Steinbeck took around America in Travels with Charlie. Charlie was his dog. I've got one of those too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bayou life is pretty good.

Sunday Nov. 11th:
I woke up this morning with my boat nosed into the bank of the river. There are beautiful tree lined banks on both sides and the gentle flow of the river keep my stern lines tight. This is a beautiful place. I’d never really considered rivers a part of the cruising ground in TX, but this has changed my view towards the local cruising opportunities. On top of that, the TASS club had a showing of about 18 boats and probably 60 people. They deep fried turkeys and had an amazing Thanksgiving feast. There were guitars and campfires until late in the evening.

Now, as beautiful as the setting is this morning, getting here wasn’t so easy. The sail across the ship channel was idyllic. There was 15 knots out of the south that kept me moving at a steady 6.5 kts. All went really well until I started up the Double Bayou channel. The old Famet headsail furler caught the recently installed spinnaker halyard and wrapped itself up pretty tight. Not too major, but it took some time to get everything unwound and to free the halyard. Moving up the channel, the water went from 8 feet to 3 feet instantly. Yep, I was aground yet again. I spent a half an hour trying to work myself off without success. With the sun just dipping below the horizon I caved in and made a call to TowBoatUS. I love those guys. Amazingly, I floated free of the ground just a few minutes after I placed the call. I was using the prop wash off the rudder to turn the boat and suddenly she went in a full 360. I was floating and able to plow through a bit more mud back into the channel. Save the trip TowBoat. I thought all was well until I got boarded by the authorities about an hour later. Texas parks and wildlife hit almost every boat in the fleet. Since I was the last they certainly weren’t going to let me get by. They brought the patrol boat alongside and put a man aboard to check my vessel documentation. Luckily, I just got it all back about a month ago. No fines this time. I even got a tip, I don’t have to register my dink. If I’ll just put the same number on it as I have on the boat plus -1 it becomes a legal ships boat.

Ok, breakfast is cooking at the campfire. Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Nov. 14th: TASS is made up of an amazing group of people. Like all boaters they tend to watch out for one another, but this is more like a close knit family. This group has seen each other through both the good and bad in their lives and collectively raised each others children. I joined up and am happy to have done so. They take a lot of great trips. Let’s see what’s next.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Things are brewing.....

And no, it’s not my GI tract. I am doing a little river navigation this weekend with a group called TASS. I won’t tell you what that stands for. We are heading across the bay to a place called Double Bayou. I’ve had good luck on bayous so far so I hope this one holds true. Like my fellow Show Me Stater, Mark Twain, I’ll be navigating a few miles up a river. Remember, deep water is on the outside of the turns. Once to the spot, I’ll nose the boat into the bank and tie the stern up to some trees. This should make some good pictures. I am sure four letter words will be plentiful as well as the water gets really shallow. Especially with the low winter tides we’ve been having.

On another note, a good friend of mine is quitting his post doc to get a real job with a petro company. We are looking at taking a few days off in late December early January for a trip. Not sure if we’ll make Brownsville or Port A, but it should be fun. In lazy blog fashion, I’ll share the email I just sent him. Let’s see what he has to say back.

I am thinking of two trips depending on how well the boat holds together, we hold together, and weather. First, we do a two day offshore sail down to Port Aransas. A small little coastal town that might have something going on for new years. This would let us take our time coming back up the intercoastal waterway if the weather is bad. Alternatively, we could go all out for Brownsville, TX which is at best a 48 - 60 hour sail or two to three days at sea. It is also next door to Mexico so jail is a real possibility. The second would be real offshore stuff. Hard part here would be getting back home for work if the winds were not in our favor, but we can always watch the weather forecast and make that call at the time. Hummm.......Time to start repairing things again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Harvest Moon – DNF

DNF = did not finish. That was our official standing in the Harvest Moon Regatta this year. Regardless, we had a great time and I believe made the right decision to call in quit, cut the motor on, and make it to harbor in time for the party. Our crew was mostly inexperienced and we went into the race with one objective, to have a good time. By those standards we were definitely a winner. I also got the experience of my first offshore, overnight passage.

I am working on putting all the pictures and video clips together into one short film I’ll upload when it is ready. Until then, here are my two favorite pictures from the trip. These were taken only a few minutes apart. One is the sun getting low in the sky and is almost eclipsed by a cloud of smoke from some fire burning in the distance. The sun set our course for the last few hours of the day. As that big ball of orange fire set ahead of us the Harvest Moon began to rise behind us. It started out the same color as the sun, but faded to a brilliant white as it climbed higher off the horizon. It was a pretty magical time of day.

Getting back to my own boat, progress has been a little slow. I still haven’t seemed to muster the motivation to finish the autopilot installation and my new radar has turned into a great footrest under the dinette. There has been a lurking fear in the back of my mind about the trip. For some reason I am really having a hard time seeing myself go through with it. Oddly enough though, I’ve made good strides towards getting the site going. I am meeting with the same designer that does on Tuesday. Alex gave him a really good reference and I am excited to learn how to get things going on the site. I still really need help with the design aspect of the site and a logo I can use on the site, for press releases, and potential merchandise through Please let me know if you can help with this aspect of the trip. I need a cool logo.

Speaking of design, I am trying to figure out how to make the interior of the boat more comfortable and a bit more mine. I need to repaint the ceiling and get rid of the wood grain formica that covers too many of the walls. Now if I could just pick a color I think I could dig into this project. I also need to redo the cushions and the mattress as my back is starting to hurt and I think it is how I am sleeping.

Personally, life is pretty interesting these days. I’ve really started dating again which has given me some good new stories. Turns out hobbits are real and they walk among us. I went on a blind date and an honest to god hobbit walked through the door. Fortunately, a few other prospects are looking more promising. Too soon to tell. Less than one year to go. I am moving things up and resetting the counter. Nov. 1st is the date.