Thursday, April 25, 2013

How the 2 of US Met The Contessa
By Janet Lee Knizner-Enders

After a few years of serious searching for a boat, Michael came across a couple of 44 ft. Morgans in Annapolis, Md.  He suggested we take a whirlwind weekend trip to check them out.  Houston to Annapolis and back in two days.  Being the AdventureUS person that I am, I booked US an early morning flight in November, 2011 and we were off, hopefully to find our floating retirement island!

We visited both ships and spent the rest of the day browsing Annaplois' quaint shops and sipping on adult beverages of our choice at a local pub.  Sometimes one needs fortification to aid in the decision making process. The Chesapeake Bay crabs at Cantler's and wonderful conversations with locals also helped!  The next day we lunched on $1 Bloody Mary's and oysters before returning to H-Town.


For the next few days all we could talk about was Contessa.  We decided to make an offer!

After several weeks of long-distance negotiations, our bid was accepted.  We were now the owners of our very own retirement island!  It was time to make arrangements to bring her home to US.  It was time for an Adventure with the 2 of US!

As we dreamed of christening AdventureUS2, we researched the means by which we would bring her home.  We hired a captain who came highly recommended.

We longed to move Contessa out of the shipyard and into the water so the good, or NOT so good captain, could bring her to US.  He set sail on February 23, 2012.  Within a few hours he returned to the dock.  The Contessa was overheating.  The problem proved to be nothing serious so she was back out in the delta heading south the very next day.

Due to the inclement weather from all the tornadoes sweeping the country, the good captain was forced to take the Intercoastal Waterway.  I requested that he check in with US every few days.  At one point the weather allowed him to escape the ICW for a day or so but mostly the weather continued to be bad.  By the time he arrived in Miami, he was days past his projected arrival on the third coast, the Texas coast.

Then the drama began.

The good captain and I had planned on touching base Sunday morning.  Monday rolled around... nothing.  Late Monday afternoon Michael called me at my office to see if I had heard from him.  I told him that I did not.  He wasn't even responding to my texts to him.  Michael proceeded to tell me this heartbreaking story.

The owner of a shipyard in Miami phoned and said that Contessa was brought in late the night before, de-masted.  The dinghy motor was missing.  The pit of my stomach cratered.

For the next four months, our Contessa, soon to be our AdventureUS2, lay broken in a faraway shipyard on the South Miami River while we were in Houston trying desperately to deal with the good and the bad news that followed.

The good news, the company who manufactured her mast was still doing business. The bad news, there were 3 masts to be manufactured before ours. The good news, our insurance covered approximately $80,000 for a new mast, standing and running rigging, framing for solar panels and new solar panels, new Bimini and framing, and a few other things.The bad news, while she lay broken, she was burglarized... again. 

Just when does the last Adventure end and a new one begin?

Back up a few sentences.  At this point we were not aware we had been robbed until the Coast Guard tried reaching US in the middle of the night.  When I missed the call they sent one of Seabrook's finest to our door at 2am.  Apparently the thieves dropped the Epirb into the water and it was sending out distress signals.  The police gave me a number to call to verify Contessa was our ship.  The Coast Guard told US that the coordinates the Epirb was sending out gave the location of being somewhere off the coast of Miami or Spain.  

Thoughts were racing through my head. Was our retirement island lost at sea, never to be seen again?

"Handle this in the morning," they said.  "I THINK NOT!"  I thought.

Immediately I called the shipyard and woke the night watchman.  After convincing him to get out of bed, get dressed, and venture out into the rainy night to check on Contessa, I promised to 'hold'.  He returned in a few minutes to assue US that she was docked.

Early the next morning the owner of the shipyard called Michael to let US know that our Contessa had been burglarized.

Next item on our list, find the NOT-so-good captain.  Finally, after numerous texts and phone calls he informed me that he was composing an email with the details of what happened.  He preferred to speak to me AFTER I heard the entire story.  In all the words he intimidated me with, all he really said was, "I became complacent and broke your boat."

Fast forward another four months to the second week of July, 2012.  After working with Heather and the very efficient ourside adjuster from Progressive Insurance, we hired another captain - a local man - who gave US a list of references.  We met him.  We liked him.  We hired him.  He and two friends flew to Miami to bring The Contessa, soon to be AdventureUS2, across the Gulf of Mexico to US and to her new home at the Seabrook Marina!

There you have it!   A lot of detail left out but what a journey Contessa has had on her journey to US!

We took her out into Galveston Bay a few times before starting her 'remodel'.  She is superb!  Just one more can bet your 'bippi' that with all the negative things that happened on her journey to US, we will be christening her, offering gifts to King Neptune, and throwing in a virgin or two, if there are any still around.  We will do whatever we can to start our lives together with her on a positive note - the AdventurUS2 and US!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cowboy capital of Texas
by H. Michael

We felt like we needed a break from boat projects so on Thursday we trailered our iron horses over to Bandera so we could ride the twisted sisters with the outlaw boys from Whiskey River. 

Friday we rode from Bandera to Enchanted rock.

Enchanted Rock is an enormous pink granite rock formation located  approximately 15 miles north of  Fredricksburg, Texas.  It covers approximately 640 acres and rises 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to an elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level.  It is the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States.  Our hike from the bottom to the top (and back) took about an hour and a half, was enjoyable, and the weather was perfect.  I imagine there are times of the year when you fry like an egg in a skillet on top of that rock.  Actually the weather conditions the whole day were magnificent.  It was the kind of day that follows a cold front after it marches through Texas.  It started out a little cool, with leather jacks and gloves, but transitioned into short sleeves around noon with plenty of sun, blue sky, and mild temperatures. 



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting rid of crap.

By: H. Michael
When I first met Janet Lee 5 7 years ago she had a lot of baggage.  A gym bag, a laundry bag, make up bag, hand bag, shoulder bag, carry on bag, and my personal favorite, an overnight bag.  Amazingly all of her bags were neatly packed and fit into the closets, and attic, of her patio home.  Somehow ( I bet it was my huge... um... personality) I convinced her to give up her reasonably peaceful life and run away move in sail away with me. All of her bags have been packed stuffed into, and co-mingled, with mine for the last four years.  We have reached the point in our 5 year plan, where it's time to dump our stuff.

Elimination of stuff after sixty years of buildup (Janet Lee insists she is 28) is not expected to be easy.  It is after all our stuff, and the accrual of our stuff, that has helped define our personalities and help make us who we have become. Just take a look at Janet Lee's cowboy boots for example:


Each pair is full of history, and memories spent busting broncos, mucking stalls, stomping on broken hearts, and twirling around hardwood floors.   Downsizing and simplifying our lives to the degree required to live aboard a 500 square foot boat will not allow us to carry around boot bags.

Personally,  when I think of crap, I conjure up images of useless waste and worthless matter lacking any kind of valuable function.  Maybe that's the whole point.  What positive, effective value is created by the stuff we bring into our lives, or more importantly; what value is created by the stuff we bring to Adventure Us 2?  Shouldn't we concern ourselves with the process of elimination and not what is eliminated?

Someone please pass me a laxative.  Things are about to get hard aching painful stressful simple easy interesting.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sweating to the oldies.

I've started stripping the teak on Adventure Us 2.   Actually, I started last fall but life somehow got in the way for a while. With spring in the air, and higher temperatures on the way, I think it's best to get back in the groove or I'll be sweating to the oldies all summer.    I haven't decided for certain how I will finish it once I get all the old varnish off, but I have some  ideas and time to decide.  I know I don't want to do this again any time soon so whatever I select will have to be durable.

Janet Lee is looking marvelous today, as usual.  I think it's time to spin her around the hardwood.  "Feed my belly, feed my hungry soul, it's Friday night, let the good times roll, hot grease and zydeco."