Friday, August 21, 2015

One Year Anniversary

 We have lived on board for one year as of August 1, 2015.  I can honestly say that we have not had much difficulty adjusting to any part of living on board, but thinking back, it just may be that we prepared ourselves thoroughly for nearly 5 years before making the transition.

My Michael had previously owned a sailboat and we chartered in the Caribbean on a couple of occasions so we had some experience, but that didn't satisfy M
y Michael's hunger for knowledge   He began researching the lifestyle in earnest back in 2009, and in 2010 we developed a five year plan. In the beginning he read everything he could get his hands on about sailboats, including blogs and forums written by sailors.  Gradually he began to form his opinions on boats he thought would suit our purpose, and eventually he developed a short list of boats he liked.  

After searching for boats on the net 
for nearly 3 years, the adventure for us two started with a whirlwind, 36 hour trip to Annapolis, Maryland to look at, and consider two Morgans.  We crawled all over both boats for most of the day and at night we cracked many a crab at the world famous Cantlers for dinner.  On Sunday morning we strolled the quaint city of Annapolis on foot and eventually ended up at a local tavern on the wharf for Bloody Marys, oysters, and some hob-nobbling with the Sunday morning locals.











All photos by JLee

Back in Texas we discussed the pros and cons of both boats and eventually made a low ball offer on the boat we liked the least, just to see what would happen.  Boy are we glad they didn't accept our offer.  We quickly moved on to the next Morgan, which we thought to be in better shape. After a few weeks of easy wrangling with the owner and broker, we settled on a price and finalized the paper work. 

Now, how do we get  "The Contessa" from Annapolis MD to Seabrook TX?  Obviously there are only two options:  Sail her, or truck her.  I had fears of putting her on a trailer and getting in an accident, so we chose to hire an experienced captain to sail her.  If you have been reading our blog, you will remember that we ran into a huge cluster mess in having her sailed here by the 'good captain Bill'.... who I might add, came highly recommended. (You may want to read  " How the of US Met The Contessa'  here. )

Once Contessa made it to K-Dock in Seabrook, via the assistance of a different delivery captain, the fun began.  We tackled so many projects, I get dizzy just thinking about them.   Some were required as maintenance issues, a few were deficiencies brought up in the survey, and some were aesthetic issues necessary to beautify our new home.  We re- bedded all the hatches and some of the port lights, put in a new teak and holly floor, had custom teak cabinets built in the salon and v-birth, had a custom "little bit of Texas" mesquite cockpit table built, oiled all the wood inside, fought for months trying to get the refrigeration system to work consistently, removed the forward head, holding tank and all the pooh pipes in favor of a Nature's Head composting toilet.   We had world famous Jackie Garrett make insulated hatch covers, an insulated companion way cover, cockpit seating, line bags, custom sheets for the V-berth, new salon cushions, and covers with accent pillows. Sundowner Canvas created a new enclosure incorporating some of My Michael's ideas. (They are now in the process of making chaps for our dinghy and motor.)


                                                                    Before
                                                                  Choosing Fabric




After
  Mesquite Cockpit Table (closed)
open
       We 3's new chaps              
                        
One of the most important things we did was to have K-Dock's High Priestess, Angela Henry, perform a smudging to rid the boat of any angry spirits, and officiate a name changing ceremony to officially change Contessa's name to Adventure US 2.


                                                           High Priestess, Angela

                                                                Ceremony Damage

I have heard it said that the artist's job is not to surrender to despair, but to find an antidote to the hopelessness and emptiness of an ordinary life filled with dullness.  I don't know If that is true, for everyone, nor do I wish to get into any discussions on the accuracy of such a statement. All I know is that since we have moved on board; life has been anything but dull. I can not wait to see what the next year living with Adventure Us 2 has in store for us two.  












Monday, June 8, 2015

And Still, It Didn't Get Done

Projects on Adventure Us Two are an ongoing, never ending saga.  Sometimes they are straightforward, and sometimes they are very detailed, regardless they are never dull.  

Our refrigeration system has been working wonderfully except recently the digital readout for the box temperature decided to abandon the role it plays in keeping us informed of the temperature inside.  Okay, the thing quit on us.  Without it functioning correctly it is difficult to find the desired temperature so foods won't freeze, or get too warm.  Frozen lettuce, unlike a frozen margarita, is not a good thing.  To find a solution to the problem, Michael called the manufacturer and ultimately sent the controller to Sea Frost for an inspection and re-calibration.  They sent a box temperature probe back with the controller because most likely it was bad. 



Eight o'clock Sunday morning was the time slot we set aside to pull the old probe out and install the new probe.  The first challenge Michael faced was to contort his body into a boat yoga position kinda like this...  
                          
internet photo

...but with his head inside a twelve inch opening in the counter.  Our fridge doesn't have a light in it like land based refrigerators so I had to shine a flashlight just right so it would reflect off his mirror.  Not only was he in an awkward position, but he had to clip a tie wrap with clippers by looking into the mirror and twisting his brain to work backwards.  Talk about getting dizzy! 
 
Internet Photo

Even after freeing up the probe on the inside he could not push it through the wall of the fridge, so he tried to access it from behind. He could see the damn thing from inside the engine room, but he could not reach it. He went into the bathtub/shower and opened the access door, but the opening was too low. Next he took the upper part of the shower wall apart and tried to reach the freak-en probe from above. Nope. He could see where it came down from the back of the controller, but of course he couldn't see where it went into the fridge. Okay, things are not looking too promising at this point, but my Michael is persistent, so as a last ditch effort he went into the cockpit and began removing part of a lazarette. He drilled out half a dozen bungs to get to screws holding teak trim in place. With the trim removed he could now remove even more screws holding a nifty tray in place and carefully pry it up. "WOW! Would you look at that? What a cool hiding hole for valuables we might want to keep hidden." But as for the stupid, freakin, pain in the ass probe? Not so good.


It was now two in the afternoon and we were barely beyond where we were at eight in the morning. We sat in silence for a moment and I said to Michael, "Wouldn't it be easier to just leave the old probe, drill a small hole and connect the new one?"
internet photo

More silence.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Tows and Towboat US (Part Two)

Sunday around noon we finally reached the waters of the ICW protected by land.  The ICW is basically an inland waterway consisting of natural inlets, saltwater and freshwater rivers, bays, sounds, and some artificial canals.  It provides an east west route from Brownsville, Texas to Carrabelle, Florida without the hazards of travel on the open sea.



The waterway, designed primarily for barge transportation, provides a channel of varying widths with a controlling depth of 12 feet in the center.  There are shallow areas near the banks on both sides, but there is plenty of room for tows to pass each other, with room sometimes left over for recreational boaters.  Sailboats with keels need to take extra precautions to stay off the shoulders so they don't run aground.   Ask me how I know.  Fortunately we were able to rock the boat side to side and pump the tiller enough to get us out of the mud in all but one instance.  More on that shortly.

Tows push barges loaded with petroleum products, foodstuffs, building materials, and manufactured goods.
Tows passing 

Our original plan, before we spent two and a half days in Matagorda Bay, was to make it into the protected water of the ICW and stop for the night at Matagorda Harbor.  However, our revised plan, since we were at Matagorda Harbor around 1400 hours, was to try for Freeport before we stopped.  We were well aware that we would have to travel at night, but our running lights,  VHF radio, AIS, and chart plotter were working well, and we both felt we could spot and avoid danger before we got in too much trouble.

Readers familiar with the first chapter of this voyage recall we could not get our SOG up higher than about 3.2 knots.  Even sheltered from waves and wind in the ICW we still were struggling to get more than 3.2 out of Avery Christine.  Tows travel around 6 knots.  Given the numbers it's easy to understand that we were constantly being overtaken by tows heading in our direction (east), only to pass them later when they stopped for a shift change, to eat, rest, or whatever else they do when they pullover.  Tows ease there barges into the shallows, effectively grounding them; put one, or both, of their big 1800 horse power diesel engine in idle; and they can stay put until they reverse direction and pull the barge out of the mud.  

The same group of tows ran up on us time and time again.  We would pass them when they pulled into the bank for a rest; they would catch, and pass us once they resumed navigation.  We would pass them as they staged for the Colorado flood gates; they would pass us when they got through.  The west bound side of the Brazos River flood gate was under construction and closed to tow traffic until 1800 hours, but there was just enough room for us to squeeze through; they caught us later that night. Talking to the same tows as much as we did; we both felt we were developing a kindred spirit with them.  Little did we know we were about to test our relationship theory in earnest.

Around 21:00 hours the following radio communication took place.

"William J Klunk this is Avery Christine."

"Avery Christine go ahead."

William J Klunk we are the little sailboat approaching on the east bound side. 

"I've got you Avery Christine, see you on the one whistle."

"Roger William J Klunk, see you on the one."

The above verbal exchange meant we would pass each other port to port.  Getting closer to each other I mentioned to captain Ken that I thought William J was taking his half of the channel out of the middle.  "Holy shit.  He's going to hit us."  About that time Ken said "we are stuck on the bottom".  William J Klunk just kept coming and hit us with the last 15 feet of his second barge, midway down our port side.  The first bump pushed us 3 feet to starboard and deeper into the mud.  The second bump sent us even farther into the mud and heeled us over to starboard at a twenty-five degree angle.

"William J Klunk you hit us"


"Avery Christine, I couldn't see you,"  and with that he kept on truck'en west bound down the ICW.  

Heading towards the William J Klunk we noticed the east bound Mia Kelly pulled over on the west bound shoulder.  We were about 60 yards past the Mia Kelly when we were hit.  Mia Kelly having heard the whole exchange, between us and William J, on the VHS radio; hailed the captain of William J and urged him to pull over, which he did.  Mia Kelly then contacted us and asked if we were okay.  He said he would put his skiff in the water and dispatch his crew to inspect the damage and see if they could help us.

We sometimes associate class with knowing the correct club to pull out of a bag on the golf course, or perhaps knowing how to select the right color of belt to wear with your shoes of the day.  Any trained monkey can be taught to make those kind of selections and be right some of the time, but you can't train a monkey to show character in times of peril, to be selfless, to be kind when there's is no percentage in it for him.  

Class is more about self discipline and integrity.  It's about  empathy and kindness.  It's about exercising pride without arrogance, it's about accountability without blame.  It's all about the kind of self confidence that develops after getting so close to life that you can smell your own fear, but not turning away with apprehension or panic.  It's about standing tall when it counts.

Luckily the Avery Christine was not severely damaged.  Just a few scratches, and a small section of rub rail was pulled off.  The young men that were dispatched by the captain were extremely polite and considerate.  I tried to get them to use their skiff to pull us out of the mud, but because of the nature of the event, and after contacting the Coast Guard, the captain of the Mia Kelly said he was sorry, but he could not.  The captain of the Mia Kelly said he would stay on the scene until we could get Avery Christine out of the mud.  Unfortunately after calling the emergency number for Towboat US, and dealing with the local skipper, we could not get them to respond to our predicament until the next day at 08:00 hours.  It was 21:00 hours at the time of the accident.  Towboat US gave "low tide" as an excuse for not coming out to help us, however the app on my phone clearly showed it was high tide.  Incidentally, as the tide went out Avery Christine heeled over more and more until her starboard side was resting on the bottom, leaving us with a world askew at 45 degrees.   

We stayed healed over, stuck in the mud, for 11 hours until Towboat US arrived at 08:30.  It took them less than 15 minutes to get us out of the mud and on our way.  True to their word  Mia Kelly stood on the side all night long, and shined a spot light on us each time a tow approached.   The coast guard had issued a slow bell for our co-ordinance to all concerned traffic which in actuality released Mia Kelly from any obligation, but she stayed anyway.  Like I mentioned earlier: class is more than knowing which fork to use at a banquet.  Thank you Mia Kelly.  

Monday morning at 09:00 we were once again underway headed for Freeport.  We arrived at the new Freeport Marina around 16:30 in the afternoon.  We didn't want to risk spending another night stuck in the mud, so we decided to fill up our diesel tank, hang out at the Marina, take a shower, get a hot meal, and maybe get a cold drink or two at the local pub.  Our plan was to leave at 06:00 hours the next day, which given our blistering, record setting  speed would put our arrival in Seabrook around night fall.  But guess what?  It was so foggy at 06:00 we couldn't see the end of the slip we were tied to.  We finally pushed off at 11:00.  We both are familiar with the approach to our final destination, Seabrook Marina, and felt we would be okay if we arrived at night.


The fog is burning off.

Early in our travels on what we hoped would be our last day the fog was making it touch and go until about 13:00.  After 13:00 the sky cleared, the sun came out, and the rhythm of life on the ICW was spectacular.  By far the best day on this trip.
                                     Typical landscape along the ICW near Chocolate Bay.

Tows in front of us, approaching Flamingo Isles.

 Approaching the Galveston causeway bridge we began to hear about two southbound trains that would require the bridge operators to close the waterway for the train to pass.  We lucked out and made it through before the trains came down the track, but our luck was short lived because no sooner had we made it under the causeway bridge than fog began to settled in.    


The causeway bridge is down for a train and the sky is falling.

Tows on the outside of the causeway bridge were reporting clear blue skies, but it was a different story on the inside.  I guess Poseidon enjoyed our company on this trip, so much, that he contacted Mother Nature and had her provide a fog event for the Galveston basin.  Five minutes after the above photo was taken the fog was so think we could not see the bridge, and it became very difficult to see the lateral beacons marking the channel to Pelican Island.  Radio traffic between the tows ahead of us made it clear the fog was even thicker ahead.  There were eleven tows hunkered down in the Pelican Island cut making our passage through, and beyond, almost impossible.    The weather forecast we were able to get from the internet stated the fog would persist until the next morning, so we decided to move out of the channel about one hundred yards, drop anchor, and spend the night.  

Wednesday morning both of us were chomping at the bit to get moving, but it was a no go we couldn't see squat we were still socked in with fog.  We sat around telling each other lies  stories until 11:00 when Mother Nature finally released her strangle hold on our visibility.   The fog lifted so fast that all the tows were in a mad scramble to get moving.  When we passed through Pelican Island's cut, and were making our turn down the Houston Ship Channel, I counted 17 commercial vessels headed in various directions.  

We were in the middle of our sixth day on a two day delivery, and we could finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.  The warm wind was sufficient enough for us to unroll the head sail and let Avery Christine kick up her heels.  She must have liked the action because we screamed down the channel on a broad reach into Seabrook at 6.8 knots. 

We made it into the Seabrook Marina work dock without any trouble, tied up in our assigned slip, and unloaded the boat in record time.  I was surprised at how little food we had left when we finally made it to Seabrook.  Remember when we left Palacious we had enough food for an army.  Way to much for two guys to eat in two days, but when we arrived in Seabrook we only had a half jar of peanut butter, three slices of bread, and two bottles of water.  


The prop was fouled with barnacles and prevented us from reaching SOG higher than 3.5.


Damage from the tow collision.

I ran into captain Ken on our dock yesterday and he asked if I was ready for another delivery.  "Hell yeah!"





Friday, March 20, 2015

Splashes in Palacious (Part One)

It started with an innocent request by a friend to help him deliver a Pacific Seacraft, Dana 24 from Palacious TX, to Seabrook TX.  Under normal circumstances the trip should have taken about two (2) days in the ICW.  It took six (6). 

 Avery Christine on the hard in Seabrook Marina

The broker that sold the boat, and requested the delivery, drove us down to the city of Palacious after work on Thursday.  The plan was to leave early the next morning (Friday) and start back to Seabrook.  Thursday was warm and sunny and the 2 hour drive was uneventful with very casual 
conversation.  I was on the phone most of the way down setting up my reports for the next day because I didn't think I would be available by phone while we crossed Matagorda Bay.  I vaguely remember captain Ken talking to our chauffeur about a mutual friend that had just gone through a twenty-four hour bout with some sort of stomach virus or purging bug.  Poor bastard.  

Upon arrival in Palacious we met the owner of the boat we contracted to move, and he agreed to drive us to the grocery store so we could get some supplies.  I find it interesting to grocery shop with other males when the mission is to provision for a cycle of anywhere from a couple of days to several days.  It reminds me of a pack of wolves gorging on a fresh kill.  Who knows, we may not kill another deer for a while, perhaps we should eat double our needs just in case.  I was a little embarrassed when we walked out of the store with enough food to last us a week.  All I was thinking about was: how will we ever eat all this stuff.

Next stop was PMR (Palacious Mexican Restaurant) for dinner.  The food wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either.  Just nondescript Texmex.  Leaving the restaurant I noticed the temperature had dropped a bit and inquired about blankets on the boat.  Next stop, the Dollar Store for a couple of blankets.

On the boat we checked all the liquid levels, running and standing rigging, chart plotter and assorted instrumentation.  We fired up the diesel and generator, and generally gave the boat a good state of health.  We put away our food stores and turned in for the night.

About  zero two hundred (2:00 am) I heard Captain Ken hit the head and barf, and then I heard him barf at zero three hundred (3:00 am) , then zero four hundred (4:00 am), zero five hundred  (5:00 am), and again at zero six hundred (6:00 am).  I really thought he may have had some bad Mexican food at PMR.  It never occurred to me he had a stomach virus.  At zero six thirty (6:30 am) I decided to get up and sit in the fully enclosed cockpit and wait to depart while Ken gracefully tried to recover.   We prepared to make way around zero eight thirty (8:30 am) and backed out of the slip around zero nine thirty (9:30 am).  A late start, but considering the night Ken had; I was just happy to be getting underway.  

Being in an unfamiliar marina is always a challenge, and being in an unfamiliar marina with a 11 knot tailwind, at low tide, is even more interesting.  We were dead center in the channel when I noticed we weren't moving.  Yep, the wind had blown just enough water out of the marina that we ran aground.  Stuck in the Texas mud.  We were fortunate the tide was coming in and we only had to wait two hours before we re-floated enough to power up and carry on with our mission.

Some readers may believe in foretelling the future based on events of the past.  True clairvoyants might even say we should have taken the two strikes dealt us in less than twelve hours as a  warning to re-think our departure. But, I can assure you such thoughts never once entered our minds.  How is it possible to forecast the next forty-eight (48) hours based on two unrelated events?   Captain Ken and I, as hard as we tried, were unable to explore the unfamiliar realm of fortune telling based on signs handed down by the cosmos.  It should therefor come as no great surprise that we failed to see the truly rotten can of tomatoes we were about be force fed. 

The weather window for our trip wasn't the greatest, but we only had to travel 
from the marina, 14 miles into Matagorda Bay, via the channel, to the Intercoastal, hang a left, and travel another 9 miles northeast until we would be surrounded by land, and protected from wind and waves, in the ICW.  Simple enough, and although a Pacific Seacraft is a heavy, boat we should be able to make at least four (4) knots.  It was only around ten hundred hours (10:00 am) so we should be able to make it to protected waters by fifteen hundred hour (3:00 pm).


Our intended travel path



The waves as we started out were running about two feet high on our port rear quarter.  With the 11-12 knot wind, the push from the waves, and assistance from the diesel we were only able to get our SOG (speed over ground) up to about 3.2 knots.  Still plenty of time to make our goal.  The Avery Christine had a full enclosure and the traveler was in the cockpit.  In order to utilize the main sail we would have had to unzip the enclosure so we could sheet out the main.  More trouble than it was worth, bedsides it was starting to get cold, and rain was in the forecast.  We broke out the auto pilot and plugged it in only to find it was drifting and would not hold a straight course.  No big deal we would take turns hand steering and still make it to the Intercoastal in good shape.  The radio chatter from the tows pushing barges in the ICW to the tows out in the bay focused primarily on the condition of the water.   Not once did we hear any of the tows say conditions were too rough to attempt a crossing,   It was only when our personal observations noted wind speed, and wave height were increasing did we tune to NOAA radio for a weather forecast.  A small craft warning had been issued and winds from the north, northeast were expected to steadily increase to 30 knots. Less than ideal but no problem for a Pacific Seacraft.

We negotiated the left hand dog leg and reached our red lateral turning beacon, which had been replaced with a nun, later than we expected.  It was already around 1500 (3:00 pm) and the wind, once the turn was completed, was going to be on our nose.  The water was now showing it's angry side and consistently delivering four and sometimes six foot waves running at three to four second intervals.  The first few lateral beacons in the direction we wanted to travel were missing and had also been replaced with nuns making them a lot harder to spot  in the waves.  No problem we could refer to the chart plotter to help us make the correct turn and set the correct heading.  Neither one of us realized at this juncture that the owner had set the chart plotter up with a delay.  That in and by itself would not have been a big deal, but in a twenty-four foot boat bobbing in four to six foot rollers, with the occupants being thrown around the cockpit, it was a very big deal.  We would initiate our turn, look for the nun, confirm on the chart plotter, turn some more, look for the nun, turn some more, look at the chart plotter; shit we're off course.  Then the whole process would start over again.  I am embarrassed to even think about how long we were stuck in the wash tub trying to determine our correct heading.  Take my word, it was way too long. 

We eventually found our correct heading, but we could not make any headway because of the wind and the size of the waves.  Avery Christine apparently new nothing about the little engine that could.  We tried tacking back and forth along our rhumb line and were able to make a small amount of progress, but after 4.5 hours we only advanced .7 miles toward the shelter of land.  The energy and concentration it took to keep the boat heading in the right direction, stay balanced in the cockpit, and hand steer was intense. At one point I looked down at the tiller and noticed it had a 16 inch split down the middle. Oh shit. We used a whole roll of electrical tape on it and made it as secure as possible.  (Believe it or not it held for the entire trip.)  Night was setting in and we were still about 8 miles from the protected water.   We decided to get out of the channel, drop the hook, and try to ride out the weather.  As soon as we dropped the anchor I started barfing, and continued barfing for about an hour.  I think we both experienced a round of the intestinal virus Ken's friend had.  Both Ken and I were unable to do much of anything but lay horizontal or sleep for the next 40 hours.  Finally on Sunday morning the weather began to break and water in the bay started to lay down.  Let's get out of here.  

About four hours later we left the waters of Matagorda Bay and entered the portion of the ICW protected by land.  Little did we know at the time that our adventure was just beginning.  More on that in part two.





Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Last of 2014, The First of 2015

Now that our house has sold and we have recovered from all the holiday insanity, this might be a good time to bring everyone up to speed regarding our first Christmas and New Years while living on our boat, Adventure US 2.

                                                                   JLee's photo

Adventure Us 2 is tied up in a slip on K Dock at a marina on Galveston Bay in Texas. Somehow, probably through some kind of cosmic intervention or similar extraterrestrial mumbo jumbo, we ended up on the same dock with a few equally minded couples who are as crazy as the two of us  mesh well together.  It seems that every time we get together the conversation goes straight into the bilge and we laugh until we cry. The cast of characters is extremely diverse and I would be remiss in any description of our holiday gaiety if I didn't at least qualify our antics by taking up a small portion of your time by offering descriptions as to their character flaws.  Please be advised. The words that follow are my own observations after years and years of therapy practice observing people in the wild frontier.

Introducing the cast:
Angela, Martin, and their dog Chloe drive from our sister state Oklahoma every chance they get, to spend time with me Mystic, their Hunter sailboat.  Angela is a very creative woman and can craft most anything from scratch.  I suspect she can even make her own clothes from cotton bolls she collects from the cotton fields lining the roads of OK.  Martin, her service provider, is a connoisseur of peppermint patties and other fine after dinner mints. 

                                                        Martin, Angela and Chloe


Cheri and Alan are from Dallas and just recently moved on board after accidentally selling their home.  (How does that happen?) Last month Alan was kicked out of retired from the fire department and is preparing their boat, Consort, for adventure.  Cheri is K Dock's wine connoisseur, quick witted red head, and resident judge of local talent including, but not limited to: My Michael and Martin's tongue contest. Don't ask.

                                                              Alan and Cheri

Steve and Deidra are the highest ranking couple on the dock because they have been here the longest. Local legend has identified a possible connection between Deidra and the wine fairy, but that is strictly a rumor. Their trawler, Osprey is the closest boat on the dock to shore and therefore they have been appointed "K Dock's" sentinels, and as such they get the honor of dealing with our late night boat rocking antics. (I swear it was Martin's idea.) Trouble, their dog, is aptly named for her lady like manners and outgoing personality. Close your eyes and imagine the phrase "here comes Trouble" and you'll get the idea.


Steve and Deidra
                                                                  Angela's Photo


Rounding out the group of personalities is the keeper of the golden fleece, marine, and scuba instructor; Gilbert  Gabriel. Gabriel is always quick with a fork and plate joke and keeps us all entertained.   A few vagabonds always seem to find their way into the mix, but the main players seem to remain the same.  



                                                Michael's Photo

Having described the cast, on with the story line.

Each year there is a Christmas boat parade in Seabrook that kicks off the holiday season. Our little group decided to have a 'wine and cheese' party on the peninsula of our marina so we could 'oh' and 'ah' at the Christmas lights. It was cold that particular Saturday night with temperatures in the 50's, but as the adult beverages began to flow the temperature seemed to warm until we were all toasted toasty.

                                                                Internet Photo
                                                    
At the close of the parade, we gathered our remaining beverages, food, and lawn chairs and headed to K Dock. No sooner had we all settled into place when Alan appeared with a milk crate full of liqueur bottles ranging from an unopened bottle of Patron, to a mason jar of vodka half full of pulverized habaneros, (this was truly the hottest firewater any of us had ever tasted) only adding to the mix of beer, wine, and Uncle Sneezy's moonshine that we were already passing around. This led our conversations right into the deepest, darkest, recesses of the bilge.  I'm happy to report however, no one fell off the dock, but we probably should have all been sporting some kind of life preserver jacket .             

                                                                 Martin's Photo


The Christmas break found all of us abandoning ship and heading in different directions, but the sentinels were waiting and punched everyone's card upon our return to make sure no one escaped every soul made a safe return.  Once we were all accounted for; Steve suggested we spend new years eve on their trawler, anchor out to watch the fireworks display Kemah puts on each year and then return to port to spend the remainder of the year on their boat.  Good thing we planned a simple menu because the last day of the year decided to go out with a roar. Wind was howling out of the north east at thirty knots, and the ice cold water had two to three foot waves. On the way out our marine took a few full frontal waves over the bow, but quickly recovered and retreated to the safety of the top deck.  Even a soaking wet marine couldn't curb our insanity enthusiasm.  Everyone else held on to each other Osprey's grab rails as she bucked, kicked, and thrashed her way out of the channel into the bay.  The coast guard was standing by at the entrance monitoring vessels crazy enough to attempt a late night expedition into the pitch black, cold waters of Galveston Bay on a night all sane boaters should be tucked away safely in their slips. We only saw two other boats off in the distance when normally there's at least sixty or a hundred.


Internet Photo
Captain Steve did an outstanding job keeping us all on board, and he expertly docked Osprey in her slip with plenty of time to toast to the new year. We all decided to toss together a pot luck morning brunch the next day which consisted of: wholesome steel oats, fresh fruit, nuts, honey and Angela's home made scones. Oh, and lots, and lots of champagne.  Have you ever tried champagne with orange mango juice? It's our new dreaming of the Caribbean sunset Mimango brunch drink. Yum!


                                                                Janet Lee's Photo

Brunch gave way to dinner with a rest period in between for power naps. Dinner was hosted on Adventure US 2 where we enjoyed My Michael's scrumptious New Year's Black Eyed Peas.  Other contributed culinary delights included corn bread and awesome greens.  Desert was several games of Cards Against Humanity and as you might suspect, wine.  Yep, our conversation went straight to the bilge.  How could it not?  The 9 of us, adult beverages, and Cards Against Humanity is a dangerous combination!
  
                                                              Janet Lee's Photo


                                                                        Internet Photo

The start of the new year was so fabulous I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for what shenanigans the remainder of the year has in store for The K-dockers.   

By the way,  K Dock throws great parties!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's a New Year, 2015 to Be Exact

2015 has arrived and as is usual for this time of year, I have a cob stuck in my butt because of something that was said to me.  Last year I wrote about the same kind of incident, and you can read about it here.  

Why this time of year?  Well, maybe it has to do with some unfathomable, unexplored, or undiscovered, physiological flaw in my genome. I was born on the fifth of January and it always seems, at least to me, I get overly sensitive each year around this time.  Perhaps I arrived in this world kicking and screaming to such a degree that I have to deal with the remnants, or fallout from the trauma on an annual cycle, like a form of annual déjà vu. (think Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day) But now it gets translated by my psyche into introspection, rather than physical discomfort.   Whatever the case may be for my rumination; my thoughts cogitate until I find a suitable release. Lucky for me I get to regurgitate my feelings by heaving up my thoughts in text, and you, unfortunate reader, must suffer through, or move on to the next blog.

So what has caused me to bury my conscious mind in thought?  It's not all that heavy; I was simply asked if I had made any "new year's resolutions".  I know right?  That should not translate into a stumbling block of sorts, and it wasn't at the time.  I answered the simple question with a straight forward response and said I was going to drink less, or eat less red meat, or give up some other pleasure that isn't good for me.  (When I told Janet Lee about this incident she called my resolutions dim-witted because: "A.) you can only give up pleasurable vices at Lent, and B.) you don't even follow iconic western religious doctrine because your not Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, or evangelical".  (She has such a great way with words.)  That should have been the end of the whole shebang, but because it is still January, and not Easter, I am sitting at my desk trying to get my thoughts transcribed before I find myself perpetually stuck in the labyrinth. 

I am not a Buddhist but I find the Buddhist concept of viewing reality as it is, and not as it appears to be, very alluring.  In other words being truly present in life.   To do so one must give up all notions of the past and future.  The past is irrelevant, except as a source of experience, and the future has yet to unfold. Frankly it will never unfold because it is always yet to occur.  The future is for all practical purposes make believe, or as a friend of mine would argue, useful fiction.  The only usefulness of the future (and the past for that matter) comes when we start to measure time.   The very second future becomes reality; it no longer exists, because it can't exist in any other form (other than the future).  Preparation for the future by western standards however, is not necessarily a bad thing as long as one doesn't use the future to escape the present.  The goal is to stay focused on the present.  Here is an example.  

It is winter in Texas.    Although not as cold as some parts of the country, winter still means colder temperatures.    Being focused on the present, in this case, means recognizing the environmental change and living with the change. Wearing clothes suitable for colder temperatures and not pretending we can still wear clothes we wore at other times of the year.  Focus on the present and understand what the present represents.


So what does this prologue have to do with New Years Resolutions?  Simply this: A resolution made at New Years, or for New Years, no longer exists.  It symbolizes an escape from the present because to change that which we wish to change requires future action, and that can't happen.   It's a prescription for disaster unless you do it now.  Right now, this very second now. Now, now, now.  You get the idea.  So dear reader, time to show up and be present, stay in the present, because that is all there is.


Thanks for listening.  Peace out.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Been Awhile, By H. Michael

                                                                      Internet Photo

Occasionally time gets all fuddled up and Adventure Us 2 seems to always come out on the short end.  In part, attribution can be ascribed to our complicated lifestyles.  It seems forever a challenge to carve out enough personal time to get it all accomplished.  The month of November alone found us getting re-acquainted with the Twisted Sisters motorcycle ride on hunter's weekend in Bandera, diving in Cozumel for a long weekend, and hosting the mother of all garage sales to liquidate our possessions prior to closing on our house.  Not to mention three (3) birthdays and Thanksgiving thrown in for texture.  By the way, we closed on our house the very next Friday after our garage sale.  (Yea that’s right, we are officially homeless.) We did this all while still feeding the job monster for, what is normally, a forty (40) hour work week.  If truth be told, on average, we actually spend over fifty (50) hours with commute times added.  JL invests closer to sixty hours taking care of her work habit.  Please understand I’m not offering this as an excuse, or even, as Janet Lee believes, a cheap attempt to get some sympathy, and compassion flowing in my direction. 





                                     Janet Lees photos of Bandera
The truth of the matter is I have always admired people with the ability to work a full time job, spend time hunting and gathering, work on their boat, play with the kids, tend to the livestock, paint the house, go to the moon, and still find time to write a blog.  I occasionally read a blog and the author does all of the above and has twins under one (1) year old, and another young daughter under four (4).  Jeez. Where does she get the time?  

Previously I mentioned that we sold our house and we are now officially one crucial step closer to living the dream.  Janet Lee and I have been working toward this moment for the last five years, so don’t wake me yet.  I want to bask triumphantly in the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, oh I don’t know, for at least the next five years.  We still have an eight (8) by eight (8) storage locker and an SUV that is functioning more like a closet than a car, but at least we have cleared the major hurdle.  Now if I can just get JL to realize she doesn't need thirty pairs of shoes; we’ll be on our way.
This is only JL's  boot collection.