Monday, January 15, 2018

Tucked away...


Not on a schedule, since we have the boat out of the water.  The next norther is supposed to blow in overnight, with tomorrow being cold (relative), windy, and rainy.  A couple people have said to me, "It's a boat - what do you care if it gets rained on?"

When putting it in storage for a while, I'd like it to be clean.  We ran into rain coming back from San Antonio last month with the motorhome, and it had to go in there grubby.  I spent most of yesterday afternoon getting that boat clean - I'd like it to stay that way for a while.

The storage unit is big enough to hold the motorhome and the boat, as long we get the boat in there at a diagonal.  So, there is a bit of "a dance" - the motorhome comes out, the boat goes in, shut-down stuff done with the boat, put the boat at the proper angle, put the motorhome back in.  Snug, but it all fits.

Motorhome out...


Boat in...


I disconnected the battery, put the helm cover and the full boat cover on...


We pushed the boat to the back of the storage unit, and swung it so it is as close to sideways as it will go, then put the coach back in....


A look at the front of the coach and the boat...


Now, we really have no schedule.  It was a pleasant weather day today, in the low 70s while we shopped and had lunch in the city.  That will change as the front comes in overnight... the high tomorrow will be 60º, but that will be early in the morning; the temperature will be dropping throughout the day, with an overnight low tomorrow night in the upper 30s.  Yep, that is cold for here.  After a couple chilly days, back into the 70s for the weekend.

Good boating weather for the weekend?  Yeah...

;-)


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Throwing in the towel...


We don't give up easy.  But, the situation with the dredging has made it frustrating to try to get our boat out.  The only exit we have is a canal two over from ours that has a low bridge... we can fit under that bridge at low tide, but that means you have to also come back in on a low tide.  We talked about going out yesterday, but low tide was early in the day, and it was a bit too chilly for that early of a departure.  Pretty much, the stars have to all align to get: a low tide happening at a time of the day you want to go out, knowing that it will be a short outing so you can get back in before the tide is too high for the boat to fit under that low bridge.

Looking at the tide charts and the hourly weather reports, I said to Joan, "Let's just pull the boat out today - we can stage the trailer in the Welcome Center parking lot, get out of here while the tide is low enough for us to get under that bridge, stay out as long as we want, then go to the ramp, pull the boat, and call it a winter boating season.  We're going to head out sometime in the next couple weeks, and I don't want to get caught with having to pull the boat when the weather isn't cooperative."

She was with me.  It was a lovely day - cool, crisp, not too much wind, and plenty of sunshine.

Heading out our canal...


Getting ready to slide under that bridge...




I was just looking to enjoy some boat time - no destination, no plan.  We turned left, and were surprised at the commercial traffic in the turning basin...





That tug pushing the barges above didn't turn like we anticipated; we moved closer to our island to give him plenty of room and see what he was up to... looks like he was going to raft up to another tug with barges already there.  This big tug was coming in the Port Isabel Channel...


Looking back into the turning basin...



Of course, we always hope to see dolphins, but want to pull the boat at the warmest part of the day since I will be cleaning it in our driveway.  As luck would have it, our first view of dolphins today...



We came across 4 small groups, just two or three moving together, as we cruised down the ship channel.



These two came close to the boat, but were moving steadily east...



None of the groups were playful today, but we were delighted to get to see them one more time.








Knowing that we'd be pulling and cleaning the boat, we only took our pocket camera along - a new challenge for Joan.  We were out there long enough for Joan to put on a jacket.  It made it to the upper 60s, but the water temp is now cooler than that.


One last shot of two dolphins in the sparkly water before heading for the ramp...


Another look at the unusually busy turning basin docks...


We made a plan for retrieving the boat: we'll tie off at the dock at the ramp, Joan will walk up to get the vehicle and trailer. she'll back it in, and I'll drive the boat up onto the trailer.  Coming in to the ramp area...


No one else is there, and the gate is locked.  We have the combination for that lock, so all is good.  As Joan was unlocking the gates, two women pulled up with a boat to launch.  OK, new plan: I'll back off from the ramp dock, let them get launched, when they pull their trailer out, Joan will back ours in, and I'll drive it up on the trailer.


That plan almost worked - if you look close, you will see that the boat in the photo above has their prop out of the water.  She started the engine - couldn't understand why the boat wouldn't back off the trailer.  I hollered to tell her to "Put the motor down!"  She gave it more throttle; yes, with the prop still out of the water.  She tried to put the motor down, but it wouldn't go.  "Turn it off, raise it a bit, and release the the motor rest!"  She was close, she did all of that except turning off the motor.  All told, she ran that thing for about 2 minutes without water getting to the motor... hopefully, she didn't fry the impeller.  I was looking for a pee stream as she went by, but she was hauling ass.  I said to her, "You don't have to hurry - this is a no wake area!"

Once she was clear, I headed back towards the ramp as Joan was backing the trailer down.  I drove the boat up, she hooked the bow strap, I hopped off the boat and pulled us up the ramp.  Back to our house to start the clean-up.

It had only been about 3 weeks since we put the boat back in.  During that time, this was only the 4th time we were able to get out; two of those times were on either side of Christmas Day when the dredge operation was shut down.  I used the power-washer, but the hulls were pretty clean.  We took all the "soft goods" off the boat, I flushed the motor, disconnected the fuel line, and ran the remaining fuel out of the motor.  I washed the sides of the boat with soapy water and rinsed it all down - it is looking good.  I siphoned the remaining fuel out of the boat tank and put it in the Honda.


Tomorrow, we'll put it away in our storage unit.

The weather weasels are predicting a chance of rain Tuesday through Thursday, so this is (hopefully) good timing.  I'll miss having the boat at the dock.  The dredge operation should be done (no guarantees of that, since it was supposed to be done 10 months ago) by the time we get back from Arizona.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Izzy and I aren't sure...


Change.  Something about old dogs and new tricks.  Or, middle age cats and any kind of tricks.  Both of us are hesitant about change.

Joan has been a whirling dervish, a true cleaning force.  While I made some music this morning, she steam cleaned our tile floors.  When I came out from a very relaxing soak in the jacuzzi tub, Joan said, "Izzy isn't sure about this..."

"This" turned out to be: she re-arranged the furniture in the living room.  Justifiable, since she had moved all the furniture to steam clean.  I said, "I'm with Izzy."  Spoken like a true old dog.  An old dog who was told to give it a chance.

Izzy gets a pass with her confused look... "She moved my couch.  I look out the window from that couch.  This ain't right."  For those not sure, that was Izzy talking.

I said, "Yes, Ma'am."


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gonna get me a divining rod...


We are pretty much surrounded by water.  Salt water.  I need to find me some fresh water.

Living on an island, we are at the "end of the line" for any type of public utility: electricity, water, sewage, cable TV, internet.  Oh, there are certainly upsides to life here: like normally great access with a boat (when the dredge operation doesn't have you trapped).  It is pretty quiet most of the time.  The homeowners association fees take care of yard work.

On the other side of that equation, you have to expect "break-downs" with all those utilities, from time to time.

There is another front coming in this evening; it will drop our daytime high of 75º to 60º tomorrow.  Not much precip, but the predictions were were gusty winds.  As the winds started to build late this morning, I went out to put the full cover on the boat.  That is a bit of a chore, involving body convolutions and some crawling on hands and knees.  When finished, I was a bit of a sweatball.  That is a technical term that combines perspiring and smelling like sweaty testicles.

Safe to day, I was ready for a shower.  And, back to the info above about the occasional breakdown of services... no water.  Generally, if there is maintenance being done, the resort lets us know via an automated phone message or an e-mail.  Not today.  Joan managed to get about a quart of water out of the faucet before it just became a drip.  No shower or soak in the tub at this time.

I called our maintenance folks to see when we could expect water again... "It is supposed to take a couple hours - it's been out an hour - so, maybe a couple more hours."  That's how things get done around here.

In order to go out and about,  I, at least, had to wash my hair and sponge bathe.  In that quart or so of water than Joan managed to capture before the water went away.  Yep, that was real refreshing.  I think the whole "unshaven" look is pretty in.  Just don't stand too close.

We went out for lunch, ran some errands, and back home at 3:30... and, we have water again.  Really, I won't take that for granted.  For at least another day or two.

Late this afternoon, it is absolutely beautiful out: 75º, sunny, low humidity, and the wind that started building this morning has eased off.  You know what else I won't take for granted?  Yes, you're right: getting out on the boat any ol' time I want.  It would have been a perfect afternoon for that, but the tide is too high for us to get under that low bridge and the dredge is still blocking the exit canal.

But, we've got water!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Git yer motor runnin'...


Head out on the highway.  Looking for adventure, in whatever comes our way.

If you said, "Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf, 1968," you get 25 bonus points.  If you said, "It was used in the movie Easy Rider in 1969," you get an additional 50 bonus points.

Out playing on the scoots today.  Not particularly "Born to be Wild," but just a nice day to get out and pick up a scooter tag.  The last tag was: your scoot by a stadium.  No, in our town of about 5,000, we are a bit stadium-lacking.  But, we do have a high school football field grandstands - I'm calling that close enough.


The new tag I posted: Your scoot with a pink dolphin wearing a quilted jester's outfit...



Just kidding!  That might be a bit too specific.  The real tag is: your scoot with an animal that represents your city or area (in our case, the dolphins).  In case you're wondering about the "quilted outfit": there is a quilt sale coming up... it pays to advertise.

Mostly, we were just getting out to enjoy the scoots...






The view from the scoots coming back across the bridge to our island...


Sunshine, breezy, temp in the 70s.  It doesn't suck.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We make a break for it...


Before taking Iz to the vet, we had a plan for the afternoon: take the bimini on the boat as low as it can possibly go and see if we can get the boat under the low bridge two canals over.  The dredge is still blocking our normal exit canal.

I coudn't see all the way down the canal from our deck - from the boat, it looks like we can get by the pipe on the port side of it...


Izzy had settled in for a nap while got a few things ready for the boat.  No problem getting by the pipe in our canal - at the narrowest, we had about a foot on either side of the boat.  We could hear the dredge running in the exit canal, so no point in trying to get out that way.  We turned left at the end of our canal (first time this boat has been that direction)...


No question that the opening midway in this canal is too small for us to get through.  The plan is to try it on the next canal over...


The bridge midway on this canal is wider and taller - not sure if it is tall enough, though.  As we slowly approached the bridge, it is going to be close...


With the bows of Cool Change under the bridge, we could see that the bimini still wasn't going to clear.  I backed off and we took the lowest supports on the bimini out - it gave us a few more inches... just enough to clear.  I was laid over at the helm seat, unable to see behind me (where the bimini is folded down) - I relied on Joan to tell me it would clear.  Even bent over, my hat rubbed the underneath side of the bridge.  A few seconds later and... we were in the clear!  First time out in a couple weeks!

A reenactment of what it took at the helm...


The bimini was pinching the vinyl in this position, so the first order of business was to put it up just a bit, on the supports made for it in the trailering position.

We had picked this time of day, when there were two tides - we timed this to get out and have an hour or so before the tide would be on its way back up again... perhaps preventing us from getting back in.  Now, where to go?

We had no agenda, beyond running the boat - getting some gas run through and blowing some of the slime off the hulls.  We turned west and headed into the turning basin.  Of course, there is always the hope that we will see some dolphins, but it was great to be out in the sunshine, still a bit cool (the water temp is down to 60º), but away from the dock!

It wasn't long before we got our first view...


"Dolphins at one o'clock!"


They came up close by the boat...




"Yes, babies, we missed you, too!"

Then, this came around the bend...


A large catamaran, looks to be set up for commercial diving.  In fact, they were flying a dive flag.  I couldn't imagine that they had someone in the water while underway, but I gave them a call on the VHF to ask... "Um, no, no one in the water - we forgot to take that flag down."  I wasn't looking to "out them," just didn't want to get too close until I knew there was no one in the water.

We had the dolphins to ourselves as this boat approached...






A serious looking dive boat...


(Checking later, I found that it is part of Aqueos Corporation, and is doing work for the SubSea Seven underwater pipeline operation here in Port Isabel.)

As they went by, they took some of the dolphins along with them...


Near the PI commercial docks, we knew that boat wasn't going far.  We rotated to keep watching the dolphins by the commercial docks...




Keeping an eye on the time, we moved down the channel a bit to get some speed up.  That didn't last long, because... more dolphins.



Right under the boat...




Down towards the ship channel, we made a U-turn and decided to check out some of the birds on our way back home...




And, dolphins...



We passed by the canal that usually leads to ours - yep, blocked by the dredge.  Besides the seagulls, you can see the low tide in this image...


That is a shoal area between the docks and the ICW.  Years ago, I was given the advice: "Stay out of any water where the short-legged birds are standing - it's too shallow to take a boat."  Yep.

A couple more canals to pass, then up the one with the "low bridge ahead"...


The tide must have been up a couple inches - we just barely cleared.  Turning from that canal towards ours, this pelican sitting on a dredge pipe...


Yes, that dredge pipe isn't connected to anything; the main purpose it serves currently is: being a giant pain in the ass in our canal.  It is just sitting there, being a hazard to navitation, and waiting to be put into place in the exit canal when they move further down that one.

Into our canal...


A squeeze when we rotated at our dock.  Goodness, it felt great to be out on the water!  And... dolphins!

A clean up of the boat, some time editing photos, some kitty time, and my favorite view from our deck to wrap up the day...