Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

For quite a few years, when we've been in Texas for New Years, our tradition has been to anchor out and watch the fireworks on South Padre Island. The forecast is calling for low clouds and/or fog, so we may just spend a quiet evening around the house. The last time we tried to watch fireworks in the fog, we heard 'em, but only saw an occasional fuzzy flash. Kinda anti-climatic.

I may put on some romantic music and slip into a smoking jacket to see about getting some "fireworks" going... ummm, anyone have a smoking jacket I can borrow? ;-)

Happy New Year! Hope 2012 is good to y'all!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A foggy start...

Quite foggy this morning, even after the wind came up. We talked about loading the kayaks on Wild Blue and heading out for some time on both conveyances... the wind continued to build, so we were "all dressed up," but decided to hang around the home front... er, the boat front.

We spent a couple hours at anchor - Joan made great phillies for lunch, then some lounging and game playing. Another pretty day after the fog lifted, so lots of people out on boats.

Coming back in...

And, a try at uploading a short video of the same thing...

If it doesn't work, it's no big loss - just an attempt to post something with the new small waterproof video Steph and Dan gave us.

And, little Izzy by the boat at the dock - she's ready to go!

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night...

No, that's not the weather forecast for the Tropical Tip, just a little quote often attributed to the Postal system. We teased our daughter because we didn't get their Christmas card until the 28th... even though she swore she sent it the Monday before Christmas. And when we did finally get the card, the postmark showed that was, indeed, when she sent it.

Picking up mail yesterday, there was only one envelope in our box... an invitation to our friends', Steve and Jan, 40th anniversary party. The party date was Labor Day... yeah, last Labor Day. The postmark on the envelope: July 18, 2011... only a bit more than 5 months to get here!

And their solution to the red ink of the Postal system operation is to "slow down delivery and eliminate services"??? Sheesh!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yes, Commissioner?

Anyone remember the old Batman TV series? How 'bout the BatPhone? Well, I now have my own BatPhone... kinda. A couple months ago when we were in Branson, we walked through a Brookstone store - they have all kinds of fun stuff. One of the things I thought would be very practical was an old-timey looking phone handset, with a very modern twist: a bluetooth connection for a cell phone.

Our situation may be different from most, but here at the edge of the United States, in the Tropical Tip, our cell phone coverage is kinda crappy (technical term, hope I'm not getting over anyone's head here). Through trial and error, we have found the best positioning in our house for a signal... which is near a window in the living room. If you move away from there, the signal strength drops. My phone is also our wifi hotspot... so, if you move the phone, that signal gets worse, too. A bluetooth earbud has been OK... especially for me, 'cause I tend to move around when I talk on the phone. I don't know how anyone else feels about this, but the old days of rotary phones had the best feeling (and functioning) handsets. Well, except for that coil cord.

Joan is a good listener: I said something about that handset when we were in Brookstone. And, it was in my stocking for Christmas (assuming Joan told Santa, of course, 'cause I usually figure I'm on the "Naughty List", but I digress). It works great! When the phone rings, press one button (there's only one) on the phone handset and you are talking... no running to the "best reception place"... and the sound is WAY better than the phone. Anyone else have trouble lining up that one little hole that serves as a speaker in these cell phones with your ear? Yeah, me, too. But, those old handsets? No problem - there's a cup kinda thing that fits your ear.

Everything old is new again!

While we were out on the boat today, I was expecting a call from Steph to let us know that they arrived safely home. When my phone rang, Joan handed me the handset - she had brought it along with us on the boat! Way easy to hear, and I don't give a rat's rear how it looks...

Oh, I won't be using it in the truck (unless I'm the passenger), but the boat does have an autopilot. Yep, I am liking it!

Another absolutely glorious day, we spent some time at anchor. Very relaxing. Lots of boats again, everyone wanting to be out and about after the crappy weather around Christmas. We watched this ship go by, and the small boats scattering out of his way...

Ended the day with this view of the sky after the sun set...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yeah, it's nice out...

The kids left early this morning. As always, as soon as they leave, the weather turns beautiful... and, it did. Sunshine, glorious sunshine... and no wind... as in: no freakin' wind. I had thoughts of getting out in the boat; Joan told me I have thoughts of getting the Christmas decorations put away... after I get the cargo trailer moved. Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

The lights came down much faster than they went up. Of course, it took about a hundred times longer to get the lights back INTO the boxes they came out of.

Watching the clock tick away much of the afternoon, it was finally... boat time! We headed towards the Gulf - the water was nearly calm and a beautiful shade of blue. Along the way, we saw plenty of people out on boats - small boats, excursion boats, fishing boats, dolphin watch boats, head boats...

Out into the Gulf, the water was as calm as I've seen in a very long time. We got the chance to try out the small waterproof video camera Steph and Dan gave us... fun. I think I'll have to work on my hand-holding skills before it's ready for prime time.

Coming back in, the high rises on South Padre Island...

Set your watch back 200 years - the pirates are out and about, too...

And a nice sunset on the way home...

Yes, I did shoot some video of the sunset; it's going to take a faster internet connection than we have here before I can post it.

And for those who think it always goes smoothly...

Talking about taking the photos with a timer. Yes, I was a professional photographer for over 30 years... but, I didn't use a timer to take all those images. This small Canon camera we use has a setting for the timer that really works great for this type of situation: 10 seconds to get back into the photo, then it takes 3 shots. Well, apparently I found another setting where it went about 30 seconds, then stopped, then took 3 shots...

And, another finished image with Steph and Dan...

We said our good-byes this morning, and they headed out. No tears this time, 'cause we'll see them again soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Family portrait day...

It's been a while since we've done a family portrait - it used to be an annual ritual. This year, we did plan for it before Steph and Dan came to visit, mostly so we could have a "theme." Casual, like our lifestyle, was the plan. We originally had it scheduled for Friday, but Mother Nature had other ideas with the rain and wind. Saturday - more drizzly rain and wind. Sunday - not much drizzle, but plenty of wind. So, today was it... we had to work with the wind, but we were blessed with beautiful overcast light.

Here are a few of the images from the session...

As you might expect, the family was done with a timer. I photographed Steph and Dan, she took the images for Joan and me.

With the session done, we went out for a nice lunch, did a bit of after-Christmas shopping, a tour around the businesses in the lighthouse square, then back home so they could get packed for the trip back to Arizona.

The time has passed quickly for their visit.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Played out...

What a wonderful Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, and the whole day. We played a slew of games, laughing, trading prizes, more laughing while reading the "directives." In between it all, Joan made some wonderful meals... and just a fun-filled couple of days...

As we settle in for the evening, Dan gets to watch the Packers on TV, Steph (stretched out on the couch) wonders if Packer fans will ever get "a holiday off," and Joan and Izzy are turning in early. It takes a lot out of you being this jolly. :-D

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let the games begin...

It's a Christmas tradition we established a few years ago, when we became involved with the Angel Tree program at Steph and Dan's school. We have always played some sort of games on Christmas... as well as the usual gift exchange.

The decision was made to go easy on gifts for each other, and put the money and effort into the Angel Tree. Of course, I suggested that in the spirit of "it is better to give than receive," they could all still give me a bunch of stuff. ;-) Yes, I'm kidding - we divide our time amongst a small home, a boat, and an RV, none of which has an abundance of excess space. We try to go by the "something in - something out" rule.

So, what we do for the games: the winner gets to pick a number, the number corresponds to a small gift. Then there are the directives (Joan's idea)... such as: give the gift to the person on your right. Or: you may steal one gift (I really don't like that one). Or: you may trade this gift with one already opened. I suggested that we go with "give your gift to Jim"... yeah, that got shot down, too.

There will be board games, dice games, card games. Each person has a dollar limit to work with and a set number of gifts, so that the exchange works out. By drawing for numbers, you may get your own gift (yes, I picked out stuff I like).

Merry Christmas one and all.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Yes, as a family, we are connected. And it's great to have the kids here.

But, wait - there's more!

The plan: family photos in the early morning light. The reality: the wind was blowing out of the north at about a million miles per hour... besides the obvious problem with blowing hair, there is that "sand blasting" situation with photos on the sand dunes at the beach. Yeah, we may try that another day.

So, since we were all up, we started our day off with breakfast at Steph's favorite breakfast tortilla place here... Manuel's, which also happens to be our favorite breakfast tortilla place, as well. Then, a tour of SPI - it's been a couple years since the kids have been here, and the last time was not long after Hurricane Dolly made a mess of things. Yeah, it looks much better these days.

After the "island circle tour," Joan and Steph headed to the store to stock up on stuff to cook... or bake... or whatever it is they do to that stuff. When they came back, there was that moment of family sharing, where we were all on our devices: MacBook Pros for Dan and me, iPads for the ladies. What is that old saying: "The family that's online together, does fine together." Or, something like that.


And then, the really good part: the house is full of wonderful smells, the ladies are immersed in a flurry of pots, pans, recipes and stuff going in and out of the oven.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time to spare...

... go by air. That was a saying that got tossed about by some back in my flying days. Our daughter and son-in-law are due in today to visit for the holidays. With the storm pounding much of the mountain west, they are now 3/4 of the way here... and will be there for at least a couple hours longer than scheduled - their plane for the next route segment is coming out of Denver. Well, is hopefully coming out of Denver.

I know some folks get upset with the airlines, but when it comes to weather, Mother Nature is still the one in charge.

Can't wait to see them! But, I guess I'll be waiting a bit longer.

Orion flare recall...

The flares we have on our boat (and all the boats we've owned) are made by Orion. They have an expiration date on them, and we are required to keep the flares up to date. There was a recall issued recently from Orion for a batch of flares where there may be an issue with them firing. Our 12 gauge flares fell into that recall, so I sent an e-mail to Orion with the information they requested and a photo showing the lot # and expiration date printed on the flares.

I shortly thereafter received a response from Orion, stating that shipments would start going out on the 19th.

Well, I'm impressed! The flares showed up today, via FedEx. It is great to see a company stand behind their product and back it up with prompt resolution.

Thumbs Up Thumbs Up

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm dreaming of a ...

No, it's not going to be a "white" Christmas here in the Tropical Tip... but, it is a pretty sure bet that it's going to be a "wet" Christmas. Of course, that is because our sweet little girl is coming... and the weather always turns crappy when she comes to visit. Really. It's supposed to be overcast and rainy everyday that they're here, turning sunny and beautiful on the day they leave.

No matter, we are very excited to see them.

I took Wild Blue out for some day-tripping today... and the wind didn't blow like stink. Saw some dolphins, some folks out on excursion boats, even parasailing. Reasonably benign in the bay, lumpy as all get out in the Gulf. Still, a nice day to be out and about.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

They call the wind...

Yeah, I've got a few names for the wind.

We woke up this morning to near calm conditions. Temp around 70º and humid. The plan was to take Wild Blue out for a jaunt after lunch out. When we got ready to push away, the wind went from about 8 mph to over 20... yeah, just like that. Rotating in our narrow canal was a lesson in "No, You Don't Do It The Same Way Every Time." As we got close to the end of the canal where it meets the ICW, a guy just pulling in in a 14' Carolina Skiff hollered, "You don't want to be out there - the wind is nasty."

"And that's why we have the cabin on this boat!" I yelled back, smiling.

We could see whitecaps in the Intracoastal. "Well, this should be fun."

It's a short distance to the turning basin, generally protected waters... there were 1 foot rollers. A half dozen small open boats (pretty much the only kind down here) were taking a beating, heading back to their docks.

The sky darkened and the wind really kicked. Checking later, the NWS recorded gusts above 40 mph. The normally calm Port Isabel Channel quickly built to 2 to 3 foot waves, stacked right on each other, with the tops blowing off...

We were heading with the wind and waves, so the ride was actually pretty easy... but, we both knew that we would have to come back against those waves eventually. Staying to the north side in the ship channel, the conditions were pretty benign. But when it was time to come back... well, that cabin did a fine job in keeping us dry, and my windshield wiper got a real workout - the spray was really flying. (Yeah, just the one windshield wiper - I replaced the wiper motor on the port side, but we are still waiting for the new pantographic wiper, to go ON that motor, that is apparently taking the scenic route to get here.)

Wild Blue needed a major washdown when we came in. Our arrival was uneventful thanks to the protection in our canal. Looking her over good, we saw a place where the stitching came apart on one zipper on the camperback; Joan says she can sew that up good as new.

I think this may a preview of what is coming... Steph and Dan are coming here for Christmas, and for some reason, the weather usually turns for the worst when they are here. They payback will come when we head their way next month.

On the bright side, that howling north wind dropped the humidity by about 20%. It was nice having light wind conditions... for a couple hours.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

We had a drizzly rain much of yesterday, when I was working on the car and had to leave the door open with most of my body hanging out. But, the wind wasn't blowing.

This morning, the wind is blowing like stink; partly sunny with fast-moving low scuddy clouds. According to the thermometer, it was 70º when I got up. I pulled up weather to see what the wind speed was, and...

Whoa! It sure didn't feel like 38 below zero when I went out to check on the boat... in a t-shirt and shorts. I'm guessing that's just a bit off. I pulled up the Weather Channel online - it said the temp is 55º. Well, that's only off by about 20º. Maybe this is where the local weather weasels get their forecasts? ;-)

Oh, and the wind? It's currently blowing at 26 with higher gusts. And the real temp is somewhere around 76º.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Being handy...

I've jokingly said that my best tool is a credit card.

The blower on our "grandma car" quit working at the lower speeds. A check of that problem on the internet confirmed that it is rarely the switch, but more often a resistor on the blower motor. There were no definitive step-by-step instructions for replacing that resistor, but another check of where it is located led me to believe that it should be rather straight-forward.

When I started disassembling stuff under the dash, I soon found that the image showing where the resistor is located was actually upside down... I had to remove other stuff just to get at it. And, of course, this was all put in before the car was assembled, so you really need to be ape-like with your arms and one of those contortionists who can fold themselves up into a shoe box. What I thought would be a half hour job turned out to be over two hours... just to get TO the allegedly non-functioning part! The screws holding it in place were just out of reach no matter how much I stretched and twisted - fun.

When I finally got the old part out, it didn't look anything like the replacement part I bought at our local O'Reilley's. Of course. To make it even more fun, it started to drizzle. I took a 20 minute break to allow my body to unfold and make a run back to the auto parts place. They looked it up again, and said, "You've got the right part."

"No, I don't. This is a 4 pin connection and the part in the car is a 5 pin connection."

"Yeah, well the book says it's the right part."

"The book is wrong."

"We can try this one... but, it's $100 more than the part you bought."

"Is that for a car with automatic temperature control? This car doesn't have that."

"Yeah, it says 'ATC'."

"Wrong part. Wrong price. What else do you have?"

We managed to find the right piece by going to a model one year older than what this car is... and, it was $15 cheaper. I like cheaper.

A quick hour and a half later and a bunch of grunting and swearing, I held my breath after starting the car and reaching for the blower control... it works!

These days, I have more time than money. Plus, I was getting a little rusty on frustration and achy neck muscles... all caught up now!

We celebrated this successful endeavor with supper out - had a fine meal with a nice view of the Laguna Madre. We stopped to pick up mail while out; there was a small package in there from the PPA (Professional Photographers of America). I have been retired for 5 1/2 years now... I was given "Life Member" status at that time after 30 years of membership AND being retired. In the package was a "Life Member" pin - kind of the equivalence of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dang, I didn't feel that old. And only 5+ years late.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The sweetness of doing nothing...

From the chick-flick "Eat, Pray, Love"... I was giving some consideration to doing a fix on the car today, but it is cold, drizzly, windy, and generally crappy out there. Joan had "Eat, Pray, Love" on one of the movie channels, and I am all about that "dolce far niente" (the sweetness of doing nothing). So, that's it - I'm not avoiding doing work out in the cold, I am partaking of some of that "sweetness" stuff.

Today is "Super Saturday" (supposed to be as busy as Black Friday)... I said to Joan, "Do you want to go to the mall?" After the brief look of disgust on her face, we both busted out laughing. The only thing I went outside for was to make burgers on the grill for lunch. Three meals cooked in today.

Yeah, that repair will hold off 'till tomorrow.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Holiday Collage...

The front moved in during the middle of the night; it was 70º when I got up around 5:30, rain, a north wind, and dropping temps. Only supposed to be in the 50s this afternoon. It gave me time to work up a collage...

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Happy Holidays,
Jim & Joan

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dolphins and sunset...

There is yet another norther predicted to make an appearance in the middle of the night. Time to take advantage of some beautiful weather before it hits.

Not many boats out, we had the dolphin watching all to ourselves...

They were being especially playful, moving from one side of the boat to the other... "There they are!"

I swear they can sense when you are pointing a camera, then pop up where you don't expect them. I got a lot of water splash photos...

There were a couple little ones with this group tonight - baby tail...

I thought we'd get a nice sunset...

But, a cloud layer right at the horizon had other ideas...

Back after dark, we took a stroll through the neighborhood to check out Christmas lights... in shortsleeve shirts and shorts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A hot time...

No, I won't be talking about Joan and I on "date night"... another hot (in the 80s), windy (gusting in the 30s) day in the Tropical Tip. I went out this morning for some boat cruising; the wind had kicked up, ahead of the predicted timing. Still, it was a fine time out on the water.

The only project scheduled for today was a shelf in Wild Blue. Should be easy enough: measure 3 times (it's a boat, there are very few straight lines), cut once. When I went out to the trailer to get my skill saw, I discovered that the motorcycle was leaned WAY over... to the point that gas was leaking out of the tank. Not fun. So, the shelf got put on hold while I dealt with the bike... and aired the gas smell out of the trailer.

Back to the task at hand, I cut some decra-guard for the shelf, put some teak trim on the front and got it mounted into place (after Joan cleaned up the decra-guard... it had some sticky tape that had been on it for years). I glued a block of wood in the boat, mounted it in place for support... and the shelf fit.

Back to the bike - it only seemed fitting to take it for a spin to blow the gas smell off of it. Coming back, there were a bunch of dredge vessels coming through our swing bridge, so I knew it was going to be a while before it would close again. I rode up to a boat salvage place to ask about a boat that has been sitting on the hard for years... an interesting old trawler that didn't look bad from the water. The owner said, "There's a ladder on the other side, go take a look."

The boat was WAY beyond a fixer upper... into the category of major project. Oh well, I had the time... and I did just make a shelf. ;-) On the bright side, I got to play with a boat, a motorcycle, and power tools... in mid December.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My eyes are crossing...

No, not really. I spent much of the day retouching... haven't done that in a long time, either. My buddy from the photo shoot the other day placed his order; 15 poses. In the old days, I could retouch those in about 15 minutes each - these are not the old days. I'm used to my laptop on my lap (or on the dinette in the boat)... Joan set me up at her desk, with a comfortable office chair and a mouse. It all came back pretty fast. I took care of the usual lines and skin "irregularities," brightened up the eyes, knocked off some pounds, added blue to the sky, spruced up the color and contrast, etc, etc.

Ya gotta love Photoshop.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The work...

The trade-out from the photo shoot...

The OSB board that had been on that wall was coming apart; now replaced with treated ply. We were going to take on that project ourselves; I was delighted to avoid that job. Plus, there will be a new electrical connection on the outside of the wall, making it handier to plug in Wild Blue. Win-win.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's been a while...

I was a professional photographer for over 32 years. Since retiring, I haven't had to deal with a deadline, weather on location shoots, clothing and prop consultations, proofing, retouching, etc, etc, etc. A friend of ours is trying to break into the music business - he has recorded a CD and is working with a promoter... and, of course, he needs images for his promotion package. Coincidentally, he is the guy who built our house down here.

When he called to see if I would shoot something for him, Joan reminded me that we have some work in our storage area that needs to be addressed. "Yeah, I'm sure we can work something out."

I have turned down plenty of shooting requests since we retired (other than my brief stint at the arts and entertainment publication), but this meant no money would need to be exchanged. So, today, I was a photographer once again. Complete with a painted background, a tripod (haven't used one of those in years), location work, clothing consult, and all those etcetras above. Five different outfits, with and without hats and glasses, on a Harley... goodness, I had nearly forgotten what all went into a shoot. But, just like riding a bike, all the lighting and posing, along with camera handling, came right back.

So, didja miss it?

I won't be giving up my day job anything soon... oh, yeah, I don't have a day job. ;-)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love this image...

A nice treat this morning when I turned on the computer: this image by a gentleman on the TugNuts forum (a site for Ranger Tug owners)...

Absolutely beautifully done, combining a nice image of Wild Blue and skillfully placing her in a "Winter Wonderland" background. It takes my breath away! I will be printing and mounting this for a prominent place on our wall. With all the images we've taken while cruising, I didn't really have a nice "portrait" of Wild Blue... until now.

Thank you, Slackwater Jack!

Friday, December 9, 2011

What was that???

When I got up this morning, there was an unusual sound outside... silence. The wind wasn't howling. I did a little more work on the boat, then took her out for a short ride. Joan has been visiting her Mother the last few days, so I made it a point to be home before my Honey got there... didn't want her to think all I did was play while she was gone. ;-)

Check out the calm water...

And look close: out the center windshield towards the top of that image - dolphin...

The best part of the day came just after the boat ride - the Blonde is back home. Little Izzy and I missed her... and I think she kinda missed us, too. After all these years, she knows me so well... she brought me home a surprise: a Wienerschnitzel chili-cheese dog. And I didn't eat a bunch of junk food while she was gone. ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parts installed...

It has been a scant 4 years since I had to replace a wiper motor on the boat. As I recall last time, it was a 3 day project with bloody knuckles, and mass usage of swear words. Much easier this time... I knew where to look for the set screws on the wiper arm, and after only a half hour of trying to pull the arm off, I just went after the wiper motor shaft with a Sawzall... much faster than the last time when I tried using a hacksaw and burned up a Dremel getting that shaft cut. My replacement Dremel has the 90º grip and doesn't fit under the brow for a good cut angle. Sawzall good, ugh, ugh.

Copious amounts of WD-40 and working at it with vice grips, and the end of the shaft still won't come out of the wiper arm. So, to complete this little job, I need to order another pantographic wiper arm.

The replacement of the linking arm connecting the hydraulic steering and the autopilot was straightforward. When I took the old parts off, I saw that one of the shoulder washers (plastic) was broken... very likely that the broken section put extra pressure on that linking arm, causing it to flex and break. So, it was a good thing that "the kit" came with that stuff. Still, $50 + shipping + tax seems high for that linking arm, a few nyloc nuts, some other small bits, and a couple hose clamps.

On the bright side, it was a lovely day to work outside on the boat... OK, it would have been an even better day to be out cruising on the boat... upper 60s (a little shy of normal), mostly sunny (until late afternoon) and very little wind (one in a row!).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I have the parts in to repair the bracket connection between the autopilot and the hydraulic steering; a windshield wiper motor to replace one that died. A shelf to build under the dinette. It was 38º when I got up this morning! Forecast: low 50s, partly sunny, with a cold north wind. Translation: I'm not going out in that cold weather!

Joan is up in the Dallas area visiting her Mother. Little Izzy and I stayed inside all day today. Well, I did peek my head out onto the deck to check the lines on the boat. Little Izzy put her nose out the door and said, "Are you kidding me?" She is curled up under a blanket right now, and this is the warmest part of the day. The wind did drop off to single digits for the first time in days, but that only lasted an hour or so - it's back in the mid to upper teens, and cold.

It's supposed to get into the 60s tomorrow - I'll try again, then. Yep, I'm a wuss.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas shopping idea!

It's not too late to give a heart-warming story about a boat cruising cat and her people...

To order books as gifts for friends and family, e-mail me at:

Tell me what you want for inscriptions, and addresses for where the books are to be sent. I'll invoice you via PayPal and the books will be on their way, right away!

Happy Holidays, folks, and thanks for your support this year!

Best wishes,

Click on the "Click here to see more about Jim's book CAT ON A LEASH" at the top of this page to get more details and price.

Lights off, lights on...

I took the lights off Wild Blue today. It took the better part of 6 hours to get her decorated, less than 2 hours to get the lights off. Here's a portion of the lights...

I had someone ask how we did with prizes... with the gift certificates and stuff, the value was over $200. I spent about $80 on new lights (plus what I already had for lights), so I guess you could say we came out ahead on the deal. Well, until you figure in about $300 worth of tie-wraps and twist-ties!

As I took lights off the boat, I went to work on decorating the back deck on the house. Yeah, another couple hours of hanging lights and more tie-wraps... and no "pay off." ;-) Well, during that time frame, we were also trying to stuff excess lights back into boxes.

No sunset tonight - the anticipated cold front blew in... it barely made it to 60º today, with a raw north wind. Here's a look at the house as darkness fell...

Not everyone has a boat, but there are other Christmas parades - tonight was the Lighted Golf Cart Parade on our island...

Since you can get right up next to these (unlike the boats), I have to say that I think these folks were having more fun than the boat drivers... people are standing outside their homes as the carts go by, and more than a couple are topping off hot-toddies, something you can't do out on the water. Oh, and yes, we are on an island, in a gated community... with our own security.

Big fun!

And just because she hasn't been featured for a while, here's little Izzy on a pillow this morning...

Joan decorated inside the house today while I was taking lights off the boat. Izzy isn't so sure about all this "stuff" in her house.

Happy Holidays!


Not just layers of lights - the expected cold front blew in this morning. Our high temps the past week have been around 80º; today we woke up to 60º, cold north wind, and the temp is dropping. I may have to put on some layers to get the lights off the boat today... or. just maybe, I'll leave the lights on for another day?

Ohhhh, I just watched some local weather - looks like this event is going to last for 4 or 5 days. Yeah, I like the lights on the boat.

We went to the beach yesterday afternoon, and all the commercial boats that were decorated were already light-free and ready for excursions.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The photos...

It's a lot of work, but we had fun. My neck and shoulders are aching this morning, from craning to keep an eye on all the boats swirling around in the small harbor area prior to judging, and then trying to see over the lights on our own bow along the parade route. We've learned to not put white lights on the bow Disgust , and set up the bow lights on a separate circuit that we can unplug from the helm. With all the wind last night, there was a lot of dodging and rotating.

We do use that cooler from a few years ago - not for ice, but it's great storage and another place to sit. When we got first place in the small sailboat division years ago, we received $100 cash and some prizes. There were no "big" prizes this year, but lots of $25 gift certificates, overnight stays in hotels on the beach, etc, booze and champagne, etc.

Here's the winner in our class...

Yes, all the photos we took look like that. Wink We were moving, they were moving, and the shutter speeds had to be kinda slow; definitely easier to get photos when you are on shore and not trying to steer a boat. Cool

A few more images...

And the grand prize winner...

Not easy to see in that image, but the red lighted boat in the front is towing Santa's sleigh behind. I was thinking, "That's going to be a real challenge in this wind," but the boat doing the towing is one of the parasail operators... and, they left Santa's sleigh behind when we went into open water for the parade route. It was really well done. One of the commercial operators set off fireworks as they pulled up in front of the judging area. The large excursion boats were packed with people - smart: take paying passengers IN the parade.

Even the Coast Guard boat leading the parade was decorated. I really appreciated their sense of humor - the gift packages on top of the boat had yellow Caution tape on there as the ribbon. Mr. Green And one of the CG guys had green makeup on and was dressed as the Grinch.

I took that photo before the parade started. Check out the palm trees in the background to give you an idea of the wind. Oh, and look at the white lights on their boat around the windshield... and, they put the Santa on top over their rotating spotlight - good thing they had a handheld spotlight onboard.

Wild Blue found some skinny water just outside the small channel on the way home after the awards. In the true Christmas spirit, there was the exchange of pleasantries, like "Any idea where the channel is, dumas?" Xmas Naughty No harm, no foul, we all survived, one of us said the annual, "I am NOT doing that again - it's too much work!" salutation.

The toughest part of the evening was the 2 1/2 mile slog across the Laguna in a small channel with the wind and waves on the beam. The funniest part of the evening was when the guy leading the crew on the parasail boat went up to get his prizes... you would have thought he won the Academy Award! Xmas LOL

Tomorrow, the lights come off... and I think that may be more work than putting them up - I put a gazillion tie-wraps on there to try to keep everything in place. The star on top of Wild Blue wasn't as tacky as a big ol' inflatable display, but it allowed the wind to blow through it and didn't come apart.

Happy Holidays! Xmas LOL