Sunday, October 31, 2010

Out and about...

Saturday, October 30.

The nicest day since we've been back. Great temps, low humidity, very little wind, and the best part: out on the water. On leaving our canal, we turned east to go through the swingbridge. There was a tug with 2 long barges hauling fuel coming the other direction. On the radio, I said, "Tug Chesapeake, this is Wild Blue eastbound. We'll be well out of your way at the bridge."

His response, "If y'all are at the bridge, there ain't gonna be much room, and we're a comin' through."

"Roger that, Captain, we'll be to the north on your port side and will hold until you're through the bridge."

Rule of Displacement: big boat eats little boat.

Once out into the Laguna, we went south through the jetties, poked out into the Gulf, then back north in the Laguna, and into the small boat channel along South Padre Island. Two years since Hurricane Dolly kicked butt around here, and no big storms this season - the island looks good. Well, this place could use some new palm branches on the roof...

Still, plenty of folks enjoying the ambiance. Those tall metal structures you see in the background aren't construction equipment; that is part of the "entertainment" at Louie's next door: bungee jumps, things to "launch" you into the air, and all manner of puke/thrill things.

Heading north along that channel, we saw this guy just a few feet outside the channel...

Which calls to mind some advice I was given when we first came down here with a boat: "Watch for the birds. If they're long legged birds and they're standing, you might get in there. If they're short legged birds and they're standing, you're gonna stick it in." Turns out, that was good advice.

A waterside look at one of our favorite lunch places here...

Palm Street Pier. After Hurricane Dolly two years ago, they were one of the few places that reopened immediately... serving lunch for the workers, even though they had no power. It's not fancy, but it's right on the Laguna and the burgers are good.

This guy was watching over the boat movements, just in case someone dropped a fish...

South under the causeway and into the ship channel. There is shallow water just outside this channel, as well...

Yes, that guy is walking off the boat; and that boat is going to be there a while. You could see the "trench" where they stuck it in and the tide won't be up for about 6 or 7 hours. On the bright side, it's a beautiful day.

And of course, there were dolphins...

Just a great day to be out and about in the Tropical Tip.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

What a spectacular day in the Tropical Tip! After the "cold front" moved through yesterday, today was in the upper 70s and low humidity. NICE! I took Wild Blue out on a sunrise cruise and came back to find a young man trimming the palm tree out front. He has done work for us before and does a great job... and I don't have to go up that ladder.

Lunch over on South Padre Island, then back to our place for a relaxing afternoon out on the deck. Little Izzy got to be outside, not on a leash... she wasn't sure about that.

The book sales have been going well. One of the guys on the TSBB posted about loading the book on his Droid phone. A quick download of the Kindle app on there, and I was checking that out, too... it works surprisingly well. You don't get the different fonts or sizing that the regular eReaders offer, but it is comfortable reading. I'll be loading more reading material on there.

We were able to leave the door and windows open today - a first since we've been back here.

Oh, and today's sunrise...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Slow news (and weather) day...

Lest you think the book was all I've been spending time on (and it feels like that some days), we're still getting some water time in. Today is one of those "hunker down" days... my tongue is in my cheek, but that's what one of our local weather weasels called it. There is a cold front moving through the area currently. There is a gust front associated with it that has kicked the wind up to around 20 mph (our typical wind is 17 mph). There may be 20 minutes of light precipitation associated with that front. After the frontal passage, the temp is supposed to drop... it may get down to 80 degrees, from the mid-80s we've had the past 10 days.

I guess it was a slow news (and weather day) locally. Wink


Yesterday, we had a fine Tropical Tip kinda day: a nice long walk on the beach, then out for lunch with the boat. A nap while anchored topped it off nicely... with about a 2 foot swell in the cove, with a long period, meaning a slow rolling motion. Perfect for being rocked to sleep!

We saw our friend, Herb, out there in his Ranger Tug...

Looks like he was needing some out and about time, too.

It's been nice having "another summer" after leaving the mountains.


And some good news regarding the book: it has been accepted in Smashwords "Premium List", meaning it will be distributed through the other big on-line eBook retailers. It may take up to 8 weeks to get on Barnes and Nobel, less than that for most of the others, including the iBookstore at Apple.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Record heat...

There has been quite a bit of interest in the book, for which I am appreciative. It has been an interesting process so far. I can track the sales, sample downloads, and page views, but have no idea who is making the purchases. At the suggestion of the ePublisher, I did sign on to Facebook... it's a lot of stuff going on, all at the same time there. Another learning curve.

In the middle of all that, we are still getting out on Wild Blue. The last few days have been hot and windy. Predicted record heat today; it may reach 100ยบ further up the Valley, but will likely be in the upper 80s here at the coast... and a south wind at 25-30 with higher gusts.

Fortunately, Wild Blue keeps us dry, even in the wind. Here's a look at the last couple outings...

Shrimper in the dark...

And a sunrise series...

The Blonde out in the cockpit...

The Coast Guard blasting by...

A windsurfer blasting by...

A pelican bl... flying by...

Not a lot of recreational boats out there with the wind the last couple days, but the excursion boats are out and about. It's a pretty quiet time here in October. With work on the book and making time for the boat, we didn't make it to Sand Castle Days this past weekend. It's an annual event with some very impressive sand sculptures. Last year, the red tide put a damper on the activities, this year it was the wind.

Oh, and a look at my new water resistant bag for the iPad...
Yeah, it's a one gallon zip lock bag. Pretty good fit and it keeps any salt spray off the iPad. And the price was right. ;-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

That's it - I'm DONE!

It's been a long labor of love...

My book, Cat On A Leash, was published today as a multi-format ebook at Smashwords. As many of you know, the book is about our travels with Molly the Boat Cat. I hope you'll take time to check it out at Smashwords, where you can sample the first 30% of the book for free.

Here's the link to my book page, where you can sample or purchase the book:

Feel free to spread the word!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blowing like stink...

I've been sitting at the computer for most of the past couple days... I think Joan could tell that I needed a break: "Would you take me for a boat ride?"

Let's see... temp is in the 80s, hazy sunshine, oh, and the wind is out of the south and blowing like stink! Yeah, that sounds like a good day for some C-Dory cruising. ;-)

It is reasonably protected from this direction in our canal. I say "reasonably", because the boat has a layer of blown dirt on it, and it sprinkled for about 30 seconds in the middle of the night. It was spotless two days ago... now, more spotted.

I got the boat ready while she poured some sodas; we untied, rotated, and headed down the canal. I knew it was going to be an interesting ride when I had to give the boat more throttle to keep the nose from blowing to the side as we came around the first turn. Out in the ICW, there was 2' chop, closely spaced. Whitecaps in the turning basin. Oh well, the boat was dirty anyway, so it was going to get a bath today regardless... at least we'll have some fun with it first. Lumpy, but still nice to be out and about.

A few excursion boats were out, but not much recreational traffic. Understandable. With the window on the downwind side open, the cabin was very comfortable... and dry. The windshield wipers got a workout, though. Joan sat out in the cockpit for a while, perfectly protected by the cabin.

Not a bad way to spend a windy afternoon.

Friday, October 22, 2010


It has been two years now since we lost our sweet Molly. Some of you know that I have been working on a book about her travel adventures. Well, the book only took me a month to write... up to the last couple chapters. Then, it took another year to come back to it. Then, the long arduous process of trying to find a publisher or literary agent. The publishing world is in much of the same financial situation as many other industries; I found that most publishers and agents weren't receptive to a new (unproven) author. And, Molly's story is, as many of them described, "a small story." I considered rewriting it, where she would have an affair with a high-ranking public official or perhaps getting her caught in some other flashy scandal. Roll Eyes While it may sell books, it's not was Molly was all about.

Even with all the electronic media, it seems that many agents and publishers prefer to get a paper manuscript. Sending that back and forth takes time, and you just know it sits in a pile somewhere. After getting many "thank you, but it doesn't fit our current needs" letters, and a few very nice encouraging "thanks, but no thanks" responses, I let this project sit on the back burner. Well, completely off the stove. I considered the self-publishing route, but one has to really get out there an promote, as in: going to every little bookstore with books under your arm to try to get it on the shelf... and then guarantee that you'll take back any that don't sell. While I enjoy driving a boat for fun and profit, I don't see myself going store to store to peddle books. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not my style.

My lovely wife suggested that I should add some photos to the book, to really show what Molly was like. I spent quite a bit of time going through the (literally) thousands of images. And about the time I was wrapping that up, I got an e-mail from one of the big book sellers, announcing their e-Publishing division. Self-publishing, but without the self-marketing. When I started to upload the manuscript to them, I discovered the one BIG glaring fault with all the e-Readers except the iPad/iPhone: no provision for photos. Yeah, just when I had put lots more hours into adding photos. Huh

Formatting is different for eReaders - page numbers are irrelevant, text flows according to the font and size the reader selects. All the work I've done to this point is formatted for the printed page. So, as time permits, I think I will delve into the world of ePublishing and learn about formatting for that media.

I don't buy many paper books or magazines anymore (thus, part of the problem in the publishing business), but I do read them on my iPad. I have this feeling that by the time I learn formatting and restructure my manuscript, there will be a new technology that just "beams" the publication right into your brain. Cool

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Night out with some tuggers...

Some time on Wild Blue this morning, then house chores the rest of the day. Our friends, Herb and Wilma, invited us to happy hour and then supper out with traveling tug friends Russ and Toni (former C-Dory owners). Seems that those Ranger Tug people are just as fun as C-Dory folks. ;-) It was a nice evening of conversation and story-telling, and a tour of Russ and Toni's gorgeous Ranger Tug 27.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunrise part 2...

Another early morning out on the boat. It was 0-dark-30 when I left. I took Wild Blue out our canal, down the ICW, and through the swingbridge. This was the view as I pointed the boat towards the east shore of South Padre Island.

It’s generally calm this time of day, but this morning, the wind was out of the southeast at about 10-12 mph... enough to cause some 3 - 4 foot waves as I headed out into the Gulf.
The photo below shows the horizon just beginning to show the early signs of sunrise... Mother Nature’s promise that she will bring light to another day.

This morning, the pelicans were out enforce as the sun peeked over the horizon, evidence that the fishing was good.

And then, the sun was up

By 8:30, I was already half way home. I put the coals to it to get home by 9:00... we have a schedule today: we’re going shopping in Brownsville... and I get lunch at Carino’s!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gulf sunrise...

We had some spectacular sunrises in the Tetons; not looking towards the east, but looking west and seeing how the sunlight played on the mountain peaks. Now that we are back on the coast, I can look east for the sunrise again. And it's still my favorite time of the day. smiley

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was Joan's birthday. She wanted a boat outing... I needed a boat outing. So, 6 months and 5 days after Wild Blue came out of the water, she went back in. You may have seen the cleaning from the previous post. More loading to get done, but we needed this break.

Gorgeous day: high in the 80s, sunny, light wind, low humidity. We ran out to our favorite cove, dropped the anchor, and set up in the cockpit for lunch... watching the boats come and go.

After lunch, we ran out into the Gulf. The local yacht club was having a race... not a lot to watch with the light wind. The water in the Laguna was a bit green, but a couple miles out into the Gulf, it turned to a beautiful deep blue...

Check out the "line" above.

We came back in, looking for dolphins. That's not a tough search around here, and I really missed these guys...

This was the first test of the iPad as a back-up chartplotter - works great!

Some birthday greetings phone calls along the way...

A leisurely cruise back home, steaks on the grill. Nice day!

Lots more "moving in" to do, but this was a needed break. Great to be back on the salt water.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back where she belongs...

Wild Blue came out of storage today!

Even though we took great care when putting her away (indoor storage, Damp-Rid, dryer sheets all around the cabin, fresh coat of wax, all food and paper products removed, Comet cleanser around everything that touches the ground), after 6 months it always needs work. I evicted several mud-dauber nests (under the windshield cover, in a couple places under the cabin brow... I had covered all the through hull openings), did some hand-to-hand combat with spiders. The boat was put away perfectly clean inside and out; it came out with a layer of dirt, evidence that some birds had gotten into the storage unit, and a bit of mildew in the head and v-berth area. We gots some work to do...

We took all the cushions out of the boat and scrubbed them down with a soap/diluted bleach bath. Every bit of Sunbrella got the same treatment...

Then, the entire cabin (top to bottom, cockpit to v-berth) got a thorough scrubbing...

When the boat first came out of the storage unit, I got inside... it looked pretty darn good to me. Alas, there is a vast difference between "guy clean" and what women will allow. It now passes "woman clean".

The Honda fired up immediately, but wasn't peeing normally. My first thought was that something got into the water intake or exit. I pulled the motor up and ran a wire into the water exit and cleaned the intake. Better. More poking and prodding with a longer/thicker wire, and the Honda made a spitting noise and the pee flow got stronger and back to normal. Another eviction.

More work over the next few days before we can take her out to play. I need to check all the systems - water, pumps, water heater, Wallas, fridge, etc, etc. We'll do some close in day-tripping to check her out thoroughly.

It's been six months. After driving the cruiseboats this past season, the left side helm felt odd... and the boat seemed kinda small. Oh, and pulling the 5th wheel about 10,000 miles. Different perspective.

It was a warm day in the Tropical Tip and felt pretty darn humid. The local weather weasel called it a "cool morning" (in the mid-60s) and unusually dry... that perspective thing again. With the highs the next few days in the mid-80s, this feels like summer to us... yeah, they called it "comfortably cool autumn temps". I thought I might have forgotten how to sweat the past few months... it comes back fast. By the bucket.

We're not moved back in to the house, yet, but it sure looks better with the boat at the dock. The HitchHiker will stay set up. I was surprised when we were able to fit Wild Blue's trailer on the same lot...

Really looking forward to some time on Wild Blue before we head out again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Tropical Tip...

The Eagle has landed... umm, make that: the Love Shack has arrived. We are safely down in the Tropical Tip. Not planning to move out of the Love Shack, but we did check out the house after getting set up... house is OK, the dock needed a couple planks replaced. Apparently the surge from that last hurricane came up further than we heard. A quick trip to the lumber yard, then got out the skill saw and drill... now, the dock is OK, too. I'll go over the exterior closer and Joan will get the inside thoroughly looked over in the next day or so. One must establish priorities... and Wild Blue needs to come out of her indoor storage.

After our cool summer and low humidity in the Tetons, I was beginning to think I forgot how to sweat... I was wrong. embarrassed Like riding a bike, it comes back to you. In buckets. It was late afternoon and our dock faces west; leaving me to get that repair done in the blazing sun. They were calling for "low humidity" here today, I guess that's a relative thing. Wink Get it? Relative humidity. grin Joking aside, I was sweating like a farm animal. Thank goodness for air conditioning! cheesy

One of us already has some "projects" in mind for around the house. The other of us has boating on his mind. And I'm guessing the boat is going to need some "projects" after sitting on the hard for nearly 6 months. Yep, priorities.

Another tailwind most of the day today; double digit MPGs again. Palm trees (ours need to be trimmed lipsrsealed) and a sea breeze greeted us as we pulled in. No fall colors, this place is green year 'round. It's summer time again!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy to be wandering...

Rolling, and no schedule. smiley The "Mom visits" are behind us; it's great to see family, and nice to move on. We are down for the night about 5 hours from home, in a very nice Passport America park (Lazy Longhorn in Victoria, TX).

Some observations...
We drove by RV lots that are selling former FEMA trailers; we saw $4,000 on them in Oklahoma City, $2,999 on them in the Dallas area, and $6,000 on them on the road today. There were a couple of them in the RV park where we stayed to visit Joan's Mother. They had a hard sewer pipe going to the sewer connection, leading me to believe that there were no "conversions" to holding tanks, making them "legit" RVs. No doubt there are people living in them. This is the first we've seen that. In fact, there appeared to be quite a few "permanent" residents in that particular park.

Parked near us was a newish Cardinal (Forest River) with full body paint. Yes, I know it isn't built like our HitchHikers, but it was certainly pretty... looked like a big dollar unit with that paint. Full body paint is going to be a necessary option to compete in the marketplace.

We drove for an hour and a half... and were still in the Dallas area. Even though we planned our departure around avoiding "rush hour", we still got into plenty of traffic that wasn't rushing. I don't know how people are able to make that commute on a daily basis.

Flying Js have really changed since Pilot took over. Pay-at-the-pump doesn't currently exist at the RV lanes... run your Flying J card and you then have to go inside to give them your Rewards Card, your credit card, and a best guess at how much fuel you will use. They put that on the card, then you head back out to the pump, pump your fuel, then go back inside to wait in line again, where you get another receipt for the fuel you actually pumped. So, for your "loyality", you get to make two trips and wait in line twice. We have generally used Flying Js when they're on our route, but I think that will be changing... not worth the extra time.

Picnic Areas... at least the ones in Texas; they make a good place to pull in to use the potty or fix a bite to eat. Would it kill them to put a note on the sign to tell you which side of the road they're on? We saw that at one area... and NOT at all the others.

Autumn turned back into summer as we progressed south. October is beautiful in south Texas, and that covers a LOT of territory. It made it to 84 degrees today... AND, we had a tailwind! lipsrsealed That makes a nearly 4 mpg difference from a headwind (which we usually seem to attract).

Little Izzy is an amazing travel cat. No fuss, she occasionally goes from Joan's lap to laying beside me while we are rolling. She doesn't make a peep, and goes right into her carrier when we stop. Even though we take her back to the HH when we stop, her bladder has greater endurance than mine. Rubbing a cat's belly is a great stress reducer... beats the heck out of a worry-stone. grin

We ran beyond our 2/2/2 today, by choice. Not feeling any get-home-itis, we just knew where we wanted to stop for the night and there was no need to pull off any earlier. While it's not a "schedule," the timing will work for stopping at my favorite fast food place tomorrow: the Schnitz (Weinerschnitzel). Planning is important. Roll Eyes

Happy to be wandering.