Saturday, December 3, 2016

Holiday woes...


Yeah, they lied.  Talking about the weasels, of course.  70% chance of precip today - it was hazy and muggy; no rain.  With the boat in the driveway, my plan for the day was to get some Christmas lights put up.

Hot and humid while putting up lights... yeah, that'll get you in the Christmas spirit.  ;-)  First order of business: checking out all the lights to make sure they work.  We were in Arizona last year for Christmas, so the lights didn't get used.  I plugged in my "centerpiece," a large star... it needs to be assembled, but all the lights work!

I assembled it, and... only 4/5 of the lights lit up.  I put it aside and went to my "next up": a string of stars... only half of them worked.  (Sigh)  Net string of stars, an improvement: 2/3 of them worked.  Put it aside, too.  Garland lights: they all lit (one in a row!).  I tossed all the stuff that didn't work when we last used them.  More garland lights - all lit.  Three sets of icicle lights - yep, the work.  I started hanging them, without a "centerpiece."  Clark Griswold would be disappointed.

Joan went to the store while I was working on the lights; when she came back, she offered to go through the lights in my star... she has more patience that I do.  An hour or so later, she had all the lights in the big star working!  By this point, the mosquitoes had driven us inside (they come out at dusk), so the star will have to go up tomorrow.

Could be worse... could be shoveling snow.  ;-)


Friday, December 2, 2016

Where does the time go?


On this day, a lot of years ago, I watched a pretty Blonde walk down the aisle and commit to marrying me.  I pledged to love, honor, and cherish.  She agreed to love, honor, and obey.  She denies that she said the last one... perhaps grounds for breach of contract?

Like many long-married couples, we arranged something special for this day: break-in service for the pontoon boat.  Tracker Marine took very good care of us - got us in and out in the time they estimated, fixed the couple shake-down items we had, changed the engine and lower unit oil, and looked everything over... good to go, and a very fair price.

While they had the boat, I took my Honey out for breakfast, then we did some more Christmas shopping.  The sign shop had our registration numbers and boat name ready... ahead of schedule.

On the way home, we stopped at a boat place to get the bottom paint scheduled.  Yep, it was pretty much a boat-related anniversary.

Once home, we put the boat in the driveway so I could get our TX numbers and the boat name put on...


Yes, the decision has been made... "Cool Change" in a squeeker of a vote.

The boat goes in Monday for bottom paint.  In the meantime, she will probably sit in the driveway 'till it is time to take her in for paint.  So, no boat/dolphin/scenery photos for a week or so.

The weather weasels were predicting rain, occasionally heavy, for the weekend... it'll probably be gorgeous, since we don't have the boat in.  ;-)


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Morning cruise...


I slept in a bit longer than I had hoped; got little Izzy fed, gave the Blonde a hug, and headed down to the boat.  The goal: a sunrise cruise.  It has been a couple days since I got out on the boat; the wind has been strong and gusty.  Not chilly.  This morning, the wind was down to 10 to 12, 69º.  I grabbed a light jacket.

Heading up our canal...


First glimpse of the sun, already above the horizon...


Birds waking up...



Out of the canal, into the ICW...


A tug pushing 3 barges coming my way...




You get a different perspective on that tug/barges when you see it from the side.

Into the Port Isabel Channel...




A shrimper coming in the ship channel...



A crane-barge heading to the turning basin...




No dolphins this morning, though I didn't spend a lot of time looking.  Heading back in...



A nice start to the day.


-----------------------

On edit:

Got the boat pulled out this afternoon, ready to go for her service in the morning.  The extension we bought for the hitch worked fine - Joan pulled the trailer to the ramp, I drove the boat around.  She had the trailer backed in and ready by the time I got there; no need to tie off at the dock, just pulled it up on the trailer, Joan hooked the winch strap, and we pulled it right out.  It took longer to clean the green slime off the pontoons than it did to drive the boat around to the ramp and pull it out.

First time with the retrieval on this boat - pretty easy.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Getting a bit furry...


No, not talking about my hairy hind-end or any man-scaping.  Go ahead - try to get that out of your head.

We are coming up on the hours where the break-in service is due; haven't been out on the boat in a couple days due to the howling wind here.  It was blowing 20 to 30 with higher gusts this morning, and starting to clock eastward from northwest.  It is going to get down to 55º in the Valley tonight; it will probably be in the upper 60s here at the coast.  Last night, one of the TV weather weasels said, "The low in the Valley will be around 55º tomorrow night."

The anchor woman said, "Fifty-five degrees?  That's freezing!"

Yes, she really said that.  You could make the argument that 55º is chilly for this area... but: freezing?

But, as usual, I digress - the weather doesn't have much to do with being furry... well, the past couple of hot, windy days may have aggravated the situation.  Like much of the past few weeks, I'm talking about the boat.  We did not bottom paint the boat, yet; I'd like to see how we do with just scrubbing it every couple weeks.  Today was the first day since we got it that I did some scrubbing...




It was late afternoon before the wind died down enough that I wanted to take the cover off.  Timing worked for us, since we went to our storage unit to get the boat trailer out.  We are scheduled for service first thing Friday morning, so we plan to pull the boat tomorrow... after getting a few more hours on it.  And, when the wind is supposed to be less.

In the meantime, the scrubbing went reasonably well - there was a pretty good green "fur" on the aft end of the pontoons; most of it came off with the stiff bristle scrub brush.  Should be easier to get the rest when the boat is out of the water.

We'll see how it plays out. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Don't be late...


Don't be early.

It is Tuesday; hot and humid, with the wind blowing out of the south at about a million miles per hour.  Of course I am exaggerating: it is 82º, but "feels like" 90º.  The wind?  It is blowing around 20, gusting above 35.  The air outside looks "thick"... the dirt/sand in the wind is clinging to the humidity.  Some might call it haze; I am inclined to refer to it as "yuck."  A technical meteorological term.

What does one do when the outside conditions are yuck?  Exactly: go out for lunch.  We called friends Mike and MJ to see if they wanted to get out; they haven't eaten at Russo's, yet.

"What time?"

"12:38.  Don't be late."

"We won't."

"Don't be early."

Darned if they didn't show up right on the dot!  ;-)  The pizza was good; the conversation is never dull with these two.  They would like to be out fishing... but, not in this yuck.

It is surprising that either of us made it there on time - the bridge was open when we got to it.  I carry a handheld VHF in the car.. clicked it on and heard the approaching tug captain say, "We are pushing a double barge, empty, two minutes from the Long Island Swing Bridge, eastbound.  Any concerned traffic..."

Our bridge opens just wide enough for a double barge.  Empty in this wind?  Not my idea of fun.  Joan whipped out her phone to get a video of it, just in case.  This guy was good: he crabbed into the wind just a bit before the bridge, straightened out as the front of the barges came up on the opening, then crabbed again as it passed.  Impressive.


Photo courtesy of Joan's phone, a screenshot from the video.

------------------------

Back to the vote.  No, not that one, the meaningful one - yes, the national debate for the right to name the boat.

What's that?  Does this boat really need a name?  Probably not.  We actually went places with our other boats - when you call into a marina for a slip, they want your boat name.  Odds are pretty good we won't be traveling with this pontoon.  Still, it deserves a name.

Early polling has determined a shift in the numbers: it is now 49% for one name, 48% for the other, 1% undecided, 2% don't give a rat's furry rear.  The fate of the boat name pretty much lies in the hearts and minds of that 1%.  Who could have seen this coming?  If there is no clear majority, the decision will go to the ...  hey, it's my boat; the decision will be mine!  As long as Joan says it's OK.  ;-)

A couple mock-ups:




The name will go in an area that is dark gray; other graphics on the boat are red and white.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Getting in the Christmas Spirit...


We made a trip into the Valley today.  The wind was blowing like stink, so no fun to play with a boat, scooters, or e-bikes.  As we all know: when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

Joan had a specific shopping destination; plus, Tracker Marine let us know that they have our boat and trailer registration paperwork ready.  We will now have an official TX registration number... well, as soon as we get one made up, now that we know what the numbers are.  While picking up the paperwork at Bass Pro/Tracker Marine, we made the appointment for our break-in service.

We arranged the timing so we can bring the boat in first thing that day, then go out for breakfast and any other running we need (like: picking up the new vinyl registration numbers and boat name).  Then, take the boat home that same day.  No "leave the boat and we'll call you in a couple weeks when it's done"... that doesn't work for us... and, their service department was cooperative in working with us.

You may have noticed "boat name" in the previous paragraph.  We have narrowed it down to two choices, both with a music influence: Island Toon (reference to island tunes kinda music), or Cool Change (reference the song by Little River Band, and the fact that this is quite a change for us, boat-wise).  We'll make a decision in the next day or so.  Right now, those choices are running 48% for one name, 48% for the other, 3% undecided, 1% says they'll move to Canada no matter what choice we make.  This is going to be a close race.

Back to that "Christmas Spirit" thing... it was 91º today in the Valley.  Oh, sure, we got our shopping taken care of before the hottest part of the day, so it was only 87º.  Joan was very organized: shopping for gifts, pick up the boat registration stuff, shopping for stuff for us, late lunch, and home.  We talked about going through our Christmas lights to see what we want to put out, but that will have to wait 'till tomorrow morning, when it is cooler... it may cool off to the mid-70s tonight.

For the record, I am NOT dreaming of a white Christmas.  Christmas shopping in shorts and a polo shirt works fine for me.  :-)

Thanksgiving is behind us - let "the season" begin!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Moderate Chop on the Bay...


That was the marine forecast - guess we might as well find out how this boat handles sloppy stuff.

No, I don't go looking for it.  It is nice to pick the time and place, so you have a reasonable out if you need it.  Oh, we could have just stayed in the ship channel, where there is good protection from a south southeast wind.  15 to 20 mph, building to 20 to 30.

I took off the cover while Joan got stuff to bring on the boat.  We shoved off... in a light breeze.  I was less about the sight-seeing this time, and more about seeing how the boat handles the conditions.  But, you might as well look, since it is there...


Pretty sure that Great Blue Heron has two legs, but it is interesting to see them stand on just one.  Seems like they should be off-balance.

Out of our canal, we turned right, heading for the swing bridge...


Lovely flat water on this side of the bridge, but we knew what to expect on the other side.  Light chop in the ICW, turning to about a foot and a half stacked up real close.  Turning kinda into it (well, less direct than I wanted), it was bow up...


And bow down...


We weren't the only ones out there.  Well, the only small pontoon, but the wind and waves didn't keep people from going on on one of the parasail boats...




With our short waterline length, I expected some "porpoising" - no, nothing to do with dolphins.  Keep the speed down and there wasn't a lot of spray.  Not even uncomfortable.  A bit further east, and I could get us directly into the waves - even better.  Closer to the island, the conditions dropped to less than a foot...


Heading towards the ship channel, and downright flat water, there were some jet-skis running...


With a successful "conditions-checking" run done, we turned up the ship channel.  The dredging operation seems to be winding down, but the birds still having figured out the tug with the dredge operation is not a fishing boat...


The sky conditions were good to the east, looking more gray to the south and west.  Sparkly water...


The wind continued to build.  We stayed to the south side of the ship channel and had nearly flat water.  No plan, no destination - hey, we weren't even looking for dolphins.  But, apparently, they were looking to be looked at...



First view, a ways away, but coming towards us.  Joan and I swapped positions - she took the helm so I could get more than a one-handed-point-the-camera kinda shot...


Yeah, that's mo betta...



We hung around for a while, watching them pop up here and there.  We saw Scarlet a ways down the ship channel and waved.  She came to where we were viewing, we visited for a bit, then got out of there so she and her guests had the dolphins to themselves.


I truly enjoy her enthusiasm around the dolphins.

We took our time heading towards home - check out the roseate spoonbill...


Getting into skinnier water, I took the helm and Joan shot - these are all hers.



Nice angle on the bill!  Fun to watch this one feeding in the shallow water; and we were able to get much closer to this one.  This is with a 250mm lens equivalence.


We ran close by the drilling ships to get a view between them...


There is a platform between them right at the water level... and a gang-plank much further up.  Don't think I'd want to be walking that plank.

The wind continued to build.  As we were starting to make the turn towards our canal, when we saw these two excursion boats heading for the slips on the wall at the marina here - it will be more protected for them than their regular slips that have exposure to the Laguna Madre...


The wind was blowing right down our canal as we made our way to our dock.  A 180º rotation, then ease up to the dock, head into the wind.  This little pontoon handles it all with no fuss.

We took some spray on the seats and floor while going into the waves in the Laguna, but nothing bad.  I wiped things down with a wet towel, sprayed off the rest of the boat, and we put some things out on the dock to make sure they are completely dry before putting them away...


After a late lunch on the island, we got rained on while driving home.  Joan pulled up her radar app and said, "I'm guessing we didn't get much at the house - this cell is pretty small."

Yep, a few sprinkles that we dried off before putting the cover on the boat.  Good timing.  It is supposed to be windy the next couple days... I think we'll have some other stuff to keep us busy.

Nice day on the boat today - I have even more confidence in it.