Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Night Watch Alone on a Crossing

I did not take the first watch.  We left Key West around 10pm heading for the Dry Tortugas.  The previous two days I had spent driving from Texas.  So after 16 hours of driving the first day and 8 hours the next, I was pretty beat. 

I would love to say that I got a good night’s rest the hotel I stopped to sleep the night through…..but alas I cannot.  I was awoken at 6am by a prank caller by the name of Kevin informing me that I needed to come open up my hotel room door so he could come in and stick his (insert slang term for the male member) into my (insert distasteful word for the female anatomy).  So after that my sleep for the night was ruined. 

I crashed out pretty hard during the first watch and my watch went from 1am to 4am.  Raymond went down pretty soon after his watch was over and his dad about 30 minutes after that.  I was lucky and the seas were pretty gentle and the breeze was such that we were just motoring.  About the only thing “interesting” that I did was notice that our autopilot track took us over an exposed wreck so I altered our course around it.  Besides that I sat and listened to the Blue Collar Comedy station on XM radio. 
At the end of my watch I promptly went back down below and crashed out until morning.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Heaven Sent Chocolate Martini

So occasionally I make a drink that, even for that type of drink, is particularly heavenly.  The Chocolate Martinis I made the night of hubby’s birthday/going away party were such an occasion.

I had bought this small bottle of Chocolate Martini mix at Specs.  It came in a 6-8 oz small tube shaped glass bottle.  I did not follow the directions on the bottle, because I should have been able to make 3-4 drinks and I only made 2.  But after tasting them, we didn’tcare. 

So of course you start with a drink shaker full of ice, next I poured 2 oz of Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka on top of the ice.  3 oz of the martini mix went in next.  Shake in normal martini fashion and pour in a normal martini glass. 

Then, and this part is very important…..  Top with a swirly cone of Caramel flavored alcohol infused whipped cream.  If you are single…..or haven’t been in “good company” for a while, there’s a good chance you may feel the need to thank me for introducing you to something that might take previous activities place. 

Now while I’ve always wanted a parade in my honor, or a statue built in my likeness erected in some small town in Italy…..  I’ll take you clicking on the Ads on my blog page, so your thanks is added as revenue into the cruisin’ kitty J

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Being a Redneck in Destin

After Pensacola, I wasn’t really ready for Destin.  We had been on a beach in Pensacola that was only able to be accessed if you owned a boat.  Destin was the exact opposite…..restaurants, fishing charters, the boardwalk, shops selling flavored popcorn and different flavored soda – my favorite is Peach, then they also had a Bacon flavored one that I was too big of a chicken to try. 

But I did triy Oysters for the first time!  Ok, so they weren’t raw, but they were grilled w/ garlic butter and topped with parmesan cheese.  At some point the hubby looked down and went “Wow, you’re really plowing thru these.”  At that point he decided he might should pick up his pace because there might not be any left at any minute. 

Now many of you may remember the Woozie I bought for my wine glass back in Ocean Springs, MS.  Well in Destin I found a Woozie for my wine bottle!  How cool is that?  We also found some Redneck Wine Glasses - drink glasses that looked like Mason Jars all in this cool shop called The Redneck General Store.  We visited with the owner and her husband for a while, turns out they are from a rather Redneck background (like me). 

It’s funny how Destin seemed a little too touristy until we met people aka good folk that we actually got to chat and connect with.  If you’re wanting to grab a Woozie or some Redneck Wine Glasses shoot her an email at Shauna@RedneckGeneralStore.com or call at 850/797-6574.  And definitely if you’re down there stop by to look at her wares.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It’s the Way Scary Movies Start

Where we were anchored in Pensacola there was an underground fort.  So on one of our ventures off the boat we decided to go exploring. 

What was I thinking?!?!?!

Ok, so I knew what I was thinking.  I was thinking that it was an old fort set up with signs and stuff.  So I made the horrible mistake of assuming that there would be light down there.  And I was extremely wrong.  And I don’t mean a little dark because there’s a little ambient light coming in through the tunnels from the outside.  I mean pitch dark, like the dark you can only find underground with no access to light. 

And did we bring a flashlight?  Nope, the only think we had to use was the flashlight app on Raymond’s iPhone. 

Ladies and Gentlemen…..I do not suggest this.  Unless you like the fear of knowing that you can see NOTHING around you with every single scary movie you’ve ever seen going through your head.  I mean, it was really the perfect way to start a scary movie.  You’ve got the loud, cocky, arrogant male (played by my hubby) who has ventured off somewhere remote with the ditzy blonde (played by yours truly). 

Luckily we were not horribly murdered or violently brutalized (which you probably already guessed because I’ve been writing blogs since then…..or maybe this is really a copycat blogger and a real life horror movie serial killer!!!)  Or you know….probably not because I’ve seen and talked to several of you in person since Pensacola. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Playing Chicken with a Crab

Our eyes locked as we walked across the deserted island.  Neither one of us willing to change our paths.  The showdown had begun...

Ok, well at least that's what it seemed like to me.  We had stopped in Pensacola and were walking the beach near Fort McRee for my first time .  I was having a wonderful time giving myself a natural sea sand pedicure and watching all the sand crabs scurry of our way.  

Then we were walking along and a BIG one didn't scurry when the rest did.

"Awwww, is he dead?" - Me
"I don't think he's dead?" - Hubby
"Well then what is he doing? - Me
"I think he's playing Chicken....Or either he thinks if he stays really still you won't see him." - Hubby
"Well I can do THAT" - Me

Right now we're 10 to 15 ft away.  At this point I got in my best "crab" stance.  Which consisted of me crouching down, knees wide open, fingertips touching the sand, and slowly crawling towards the crab.  God bless my hubby b/c he stood there the entire time just watching me (and only making fun of me on a couple of occasions).

I would like to say right now, that this crab deserved major props.  He was a brave lil guy.  I got to where my feet were about 2 ft from him and then I slowly reached out my hand to see how close he would let me.  (Yes, yes i realize they do have claws and can reach out quite a ways.  I didn't get close enough for him to "get me".  I'm not that stupid.)

I reached my hand out about 6 inches from him and just waited.  Then I slowly and ever so carefully started inching my feet and body the last foot and a half.  He let my entire body get a food away from him, with my hand staying 6 inches away before he finally decided to be the "Chicken".  But Bravo for his fine showing in the game.  He has certainly been my toughest competitor in the crab division.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What a Drag

You always hear about people dragging.  Hell, my good friends on Bettie del Mar turned Key West into one large drag strip.  So with my over sized anchor and 300 foot of chain i shouldn’t ever have a problem, right.
That theory works very well, in Theory.  One of the earlier posts the Princess wrote about her first foul weather experience.  She wouldn’t have had a bad weather experience if she would have left those nasty little rain fairies at home.  But that is another story.
So, as I have transversed the ICW and have covered almost 500 miles and have anchored almost every night.  I never really thought about it.  
Along the ICW I was always in very protected back water areas.  I never put out that much chain because the mud was super stinky and stuck to everything like super glue.  Less chain meant less clean up, and this worked flawlessly UNTIL.
I had left the Princess standing in the company of her rain fairies at the dock in Ocean Springs.  Great place to visit.  I opted to go from Ocean Springs, MS to Dauphin Island, AL.  An easy run of about 40 miles.  Well the weather was still not that great but this was supposed to be one of those anchorages that was great unless the wind comes from the Northwest.  Well, there is no reason for that to happen.  The weather was on its way back to Texas. (with the Princess hehe)
I made the journey and even transversed the skinny channel without as much as a bump.  I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I got into the middle of the lagoon and dropped my anchor.  I used the same amount of chain I had been using. (This is where my error was.)
I am feeling good about myself at this point and decide that now would be a great time to take the carb off of the dingy engine and clean it.  I broke it all apart and placed all of the components in the carb dip.  I had done this before but only left it there for 15 minutes.  This time I was going to leave it there for 4 hours.
All was going well.  I got everything cleaned up and climbed in my bunk.  I am not sure what time all hell broke loose.  I’m pretty sure the Princess knows since it was when she sicked her rain fairies on me.  All I know is that I felt a cool breeze hit my feet.  I instantly came awake.  I went topside just as the leading edge of the squall slammed into me.
To make a long story short, I was hit by 45knot winds from the Northwest, and since I only had out about 25 feet of chain I proceeded to drag all over that anchorage.  I have learned my lesson.  Since then I have been putting out at least 100 feet of chain.  And when the wind pipes up I still go topside just to keep an eye on things.  I am a little drag shy I guess.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tales from the ditch

Well, Lake Charles was more of a bust than the just the raping that occurred at the Casino. Lake Charles is where I lost my crew. I was a little dismayed at first but this is not the first time I have been on my own on a boat.

I kicked the princess off and my crew gathered his things and climbed in the car with his parents and headed off. I tossed off the dock lines and headed out. No sooner than when I had turned the corner wham, I ran aground. Great way to start off on my own. All I can say is a big BLAH!!!! After about five minutes I had wiggled out of the soft mud of the swamp and am underway once again. Did I mention that this was a BLAH moment.

Next stop Bayou Lacassine. I have several obstacles to get through, a little over 50 miles to go, but I am ready for this. Next up the Calcasieu Locks. This day turned out to be a hurry up and wait day. I called up the locks and was informed that I would be number four inline and that I was to wait. An hour and a half later I was allowed to approach the locks and lock through. These turned out to be the easiest locks I would go through, since all they do is prevent massive amounts of saltwater into the swamps and marshes. I motored very slowly into them and they closed the doors behind me. I did not have to tie up. All I had to do was go slow and keep my general direction up. By the time I had made it to the other end they had opened the the other side and I was on my way. Life is good, at least that is what I thought.

Over the radio just after going through the locks I hear the Grand Lake Pontoon come on and inform everyone that they are entering curfew until 3:30. It's 11:50 right now. I look at my chart plotter and think well, that's not so bad by the time I get there I will not have to wait that long. How mistaken I was. It only took me thirty minutes to get there. It was a teeth pulling wait, all the while I was doing the ICW waltz. It was hot and sucked, a lot! I called in and got on the list so that when it opened I would be allowed through. At 3:30 I was on the move again.

Remember I am trying to make all of my anchorages so I do not have to travel at night, along the ICW. I would have been fine if I would not have lost hours waiting on these last two items. Now I am forced to go into an unknown anchorage. This is when my greatest fear is realized.

I went into the exact spot that was listed on both ActiveCaptain and Skipper Bobs. Right at the line where you leave the ICW I run aground. To make matters worse, I have a barge with tows coming from both directions an they will converge on the spot that I have run aground. This is becoming a very bad situation, very quickly. This is when I here one of the barge captains come on the radio and tell the other barge captain to avert his eyes cause he is going to light the skiff up that is between them.

He is talking about me. Oh, crap! I immediately get on the radio and let him know who I am and let him know what is going on. He then says ok and asks me to avert my eyes so he can take a look. (Just in case you do not know. The lights on theses barges are capable of giving you a sun tan on the darkest of nights. They make the sun look dim and could easily dry out steak for jerky). I avert my eyes just as he lights up the entire area with his 400 bazillion candlelight powered light. (You avert your eyes so that you won't go blind and so that you will not lose your night vision)  This is when I realize that there is no way I am getting into this anchorage.  I am tired and a little dismayed at this point in time.  I now have to go five more miles to the Mermantu Anchorage.

This anchorage proved to be an easy anchorage to hit in the dark and the next morning I realized why.  It was a broad expanse of deep water and i had anchored in the middle of it.  If I had wanted to spend a few days exploring this would have been the place.  With all of this open water I decided I would try to swing the compass on my autopilot.  It was a wasted hour, because it would not swing no matter how hard I tried.  Onward I must go.

The next two nights were fairly unimpressive.  The days consisted of muddy green, alligator infested water with trees as the never ending scenery.  I stopped at Intercoastal city and Morgan City.  Both of these times I arrived at night and left early the next morning.  All I had on my mind was getting to blue water.

Now, approaching Houma Louisiana all of the barges began pulling over and parking themselves on the bank.  Unbeknownst to me at the time a barge captain had run his barge up on the bank between the twin span bridges.  He did not mean to do this but it happened and it stopped all traffic from going through.  So I did what any prudent sailor would do.  I pulled in and tied up and went and had lunch.  When I got back out there I spoke with the police officers and they said the divers would be taking a break and I could move on through.  I took this as my cue and untied and left.  Next stop mile marker 15 or WHL15.  This is where I would anchor and prepare to goto through the Harvey Locks and Industrial Locks the next day.

Great the Harvey Locks are shut down.  Algiers locks are known to be bad for cruisers because hazardous cargo barges take priority above anyone else and it has been known for cruisers to wait up to 12 hours to get through.  I ended up waiting 2 hours.  Jumped out into the mighty Mississippi for a 3 mile upriver trudge.  JusCrewZen performed flawlessly.  As I pulled into the Industrial Locks I was told that curfew had just begun and I would have to wait until 5:30 to go through. (Curfew is where they will not open bridges because of rush hour traffic)  Another 2 hour wait, the only bonus was that this time I had a place to tie up and wait, stretch my legs and eat dinner.

Onward to rabbit island.

This is what it looked like the entire time.  Pretty to some, boring to others.

More of the boring

This is the Barge that ran onto the bank in Houma

JusCrewZen tied up in Houma

Inside of the Algiers locks

If you saw the movie Deja Vu then you recognize this car ferry

JusCrewZen tied up at the Industrial locks.

- Posted from aboard S/V Jus CrewZen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Whole New Meaning

That's what grocery shopping takes on when you live on your boat.

I am one of those girls who comes from a family where the pantry is stocked with junk food, cans of Cream of (fill in the blank), at least 7 boxes of cereal, 5 big bags of chips, and tons of things that you may never eat.  At least 3 square feet of the bottom of the pantry is filled with ingredients for Fruit Cake that my mother makes around the holidays.  Growing up we had 2 extra large deep freezers in the garage, an extra refrigerator in the garage, and a normal refrigerator in the kitchen.  My father hunts, fishes, and we raised animals that kept all of the freezers full of fresh meat.

Well that just isn't going to work on a boat.  Our canned goods storage space is behind one of the settee backs.  My hubby has an entire storage space behind another settee filled with Ramen and Mac n Cheese.  Kraft Original only, he won't do with any of that fancy Velveeta Shells n Cheese stuff.  Another is filled with box dinner fixins.....without the boxes because our diligent prevention of a roach invasion cardboard is not allowed on board.  Our cupboard with plastic glasses is halfway full of spices and our cupboards above the galley sink are filled with dry goods - pounds upon pounds of rice because the hubby has a slight addiction.  Yes.....to rice.

Our freezer is a couple of square feet and we pack in the meat as tight as we can near the cold plate so we can use the far side as a refrigerator.  So that addresses space.

Now the actual process of shopping and getting the groceries on board......  Before making a grocery list, I made a "meal" list.  Enough meals to cover us until we be "provisioning" again.  Then my grocery list is made to specifically and only buy the ingredients needed to make the meals.  Ok, ok, sometimes I'm nice and will buy crackers, chips, or even some salsa.  But most of the time it's very bare bones due to the aforementioned space issue.

Groceries are bought.  Before any groceries even make it to the dinghy, all cardboard boxes are thrown away.  Being careful to snip away the instructions, and what the dish is actually supposed to be, before placing it in a plastic container.  Any items that are contained in paper like containers, such as koolaid, are double bagged in Ziplock baggies.  I make sure to only buy the instant mashed potatoes in the plastic like bag.  All rices, beans, bread crumbs, pancake mix, etc are also poured and stored into larger plastic containers.

I've had to get in the habit of buying boxed milk that doesn't require refrigeration until storage.  And I've learned a very, very important lesson.  Almond Milk is tasty.  Vanilla in particular and I have a soft spot for chocolate.  But do not ever, ever try the unsweetened.  The Almond Milk/Coconut Milk mixture is nice.  But I repeat DO NOT try the unsweetened Almond Milk.  I "may" have thought that my breakfast powder had gone bad because the taste was so gross.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summertime, Family, and Weddings

Summertime is always wedding season, and this summer has been no different.  One of the blogs I follow has recently had a wedding - Congratulations to them!

My lil brother also got married.  Last year I told him if he got married before me that I would possibly throttle him.  And he would have gotten a near death sentence if he had proposed to his girlfriend at my wedding last September.  But he did neither, so he lived to get married this summer.

I think my favorite thing about weddings, besides the dancing and free drinks, is family.  It's no secret that I love mine.  And all of the wedding activities are always full of family members.  

Family members like my mother, who is perpetually late to everywhere she goes.  Even the couple's shower for my lil brother. 

And my nieces, who are adorable 

and can drag even the most stubborn of men out on the dance floor (like my father and oldest brother).

At the rehearsal dinner I got to sit by my grandma, aunt, and uncle (who just wrote a fabulous 12 Step Pigaholic Program for my father).

And I can't help but mentioning that my lil brother got seasick while he was parasailing :)  Notice the facial expression.