Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stan Rogers

Stan Rogers was a Canadian folksinger who died in 1983. His songs are among the best of the folksingers who sang about sailors and the sea. He also sang about ordinary people and his music is both authentic and honest. There is a great documentary about his all-too-short life and his music. You can find it and view it here:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

International Space Station

Thanks to friend and fellow blogger Chuck Stone (http://wheres-chuck.blogspot.com/) watch the parts of the International Space Station (ISS) come together as they are sent up from Earth. This is the ISS Assembly diagram, piece by piece.

As part time dirt dwellers, Sarah and I like to gaze up at the sky whenever the ISS passes overhead and is illuminated by the setting or rising sun...just after sunset or just after sunrise. We can check the sighting schedule by entering our zip code into the NASA web site (http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/JavaSSOP/JavaSSOP.html) and printing out all the sightings for the ISS and other objects in space visible from our Ohio home.

It's really more exciting and interesting than it may sound...give it a try!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Honor Flight

On July 25th, I was privileged to escort three World War II veterans on a visit to Washington, DC. Honor Flight is a volunteer-staffed organization whose mission is to safely provide an escorted visit for World War II veterans to visit the memorials in our Nation's Capitol. These veterans are the reason the United States continues to be a free country. The memorials were earned by the valor and blood of these men and women and it was a moving experience to be with them on their visit.

Read about Honor Flight at: http://www.honorflight.org/.

After breakfast at the airport, we left Columbus, OH and arrived at Baltimore-Washington airport in Maryland where we were met by soldiers and volunteers who assisted us from the arrival gate to our bus.

Our bus driver, Campbell "Soup" volunteers to drive the chartered bus each time Honor Flight veterans travel to Washington. Campbell does his best to make the trip from BWI to Washington, DC a pleasant experience for veterans and volunteers.
The first stop on each visit is always the World War II National Memorial on the Mall. It was the first time I had visited the Memorial and it's every bit as impressive as I'd heard. We were met by more volunteers who are always there when the Honor Flight veterans arrive. Senator Bob Dole is always there to meet the Honor Flight veterans. However, since he was recovering from surgery and unable to be there, Elizabeth Dole came in his place. It was an unexpected pleasure to meet her and she was gracious and warm to each of the veterans, spending most of the time we were at the memorial with the veterans.

Mlore to follow...........................

Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival

Each year we make a pilgrimage to Mystic Seaport, Mystic CT. This year was no exception and we spent a great weekend (June 11-14) at the museum with friends we don't see often enough. The main event that attracts us is "sea music." What's "sea music" you rightly ask? If you Google it, here's where you go: http://www.mysticseaport.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=C9BE0FCF-D86E-382C-FA65352B6393646D. We don't think that link really gives a complete picture of the event, so here's another link where you can find photos of the performers and much more about the museum: http://www.flickr.com/groups/mysticseaportseamusicfestival2008/. We were going to include some of our own photos here, but there are so many on the last link and so much better than ours, we don't need to add any of our own.

Each day there are scheduled performances and after that day's scheduled events, there is a "Pub Sing" that sometimes goes on into the early hours of the following morning with "open microphones" (figuratively speaking since real sea shantymen (and women) don't need microphones!). The formal events end on Sunday evening and the survivors end up in Groton, CT at the Griswold Inn for a "Survivor's Night" of one last round of shantying before we all depart for the eight points of the compass.

Next year we'll be back for more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where Has the Year Gone?

Our last post was almost ten months ago and we don't blame you for losing interest! So let me try to arouse enough interest in you to read on and come back. I will be posting updates to our web log again as we get ready for another adventure. However, as I am writing this update in Ohio, the snow is falling, the sun has set, and the temperature is heading for the single digits. And once again, we are thinking of "hauling for better weather!"

Since March 2008, we've been pretty much full time "dirt dwellers" with the exception of a few, all-too-brief visits to maintain Windreka. The boatowners rule is...if you're not fixing at least two things a day, you're falling behind! By that standard, we are way behind.
The only nautical activity we've been involved in this past year was to prepare for Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna which appeared to be aiming directly at Beaufort, SC. Since the marina implemented a new policy that required all boats to be moved prior to the arrival of a hurricane, Joe spent much of the week before the storm made landfall preparing Windreka and planning to move her. Friends, Frank and Adam had already scouted out some excellent "hurricane holes" nearby and Joe moved Windreka along with Wander (Frank's boat) and Journey (Adam's boat) to Edding Creek located on the right side of the overhead photo on the right. The Creek is a 30 minute ride (at 6 knots) from the marina located on the left side of the photo. We anchored the boats within 15 feet of the west side of the island in about 25' of water and we each put out three anchors...one to the north, west and south with between 100' and 250' of either chain or chain and nylon rode. At this anchorage, we were convinced we could ride any storm surge or tidal current that Hanna could throw at us.

Frank's boat (on the left) is a sturdy 43' Endeavour and Adam's boat (on the right) is a trim 34' Pacific Seacraft. Windreka is on the left below. We were lined up from north to south along the sandy banks of the island and could have deployed more lines to shore if we thought they were needed.
After all our preparatory work, the storm decided to pass us by. Since it was clear Hanna would remain offshore, we decided to remain on board. We did have a rainy, windy morning as the storm moved past us on its way toward the North Carolina-South Carolin state line where it came ashore. After the rain ended, we spent a pleasant weekend at anchor reviewing our preparations and learning from our mistakes. Of course, without refrigeration, our beer supply was getting warm; so we were forced to make it a priority to attend to that problem. With the storm offshore, the sunsets were spectacular and the shrimp fishermen didn't even pause in their work. From our secure anchorage, we watched several boats come and go followed by hundreds of birds...and the shrimp catch was obviously bountiful!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day 112-116 - 27-31 March

We left the Herb River Anchorage in time to arrive at the Ladies Island Bridge after the morning rush hour...yes, under certain circumstances, the rush hour still has a negative impact on retired folks. However, we don't mind the impact since the traffic delays that occur when we ask a bridge to open for us probably are worse than the inconvenience of having to wait for the rush hour to be over...after all, we don't have a schedule to keep!

We try to do our part by contacting the bridge tender just before we arrive so he or she knows we are arriving. Normally, the bridge tenders work closely with us to time the opening just as we are about to go into a panic as we approach the bridge. Some bridges are slow to open due to the mechanical design and these are particularly interesting since we have to adjust our speed...sometimes when the current is pushing us toward the bridge...to make certain we have enough clearance for our mast to get past the steel and concrete without causing anything to hit and result in metal fragments dropping onto the deck. So far...so good!

As soon as we are clear, we call the bridge tender to let him/her know just about the same time as the horn sounds announcing the bridge is closing right behind us. The sequence is something like this...

"Ladies Island Bridge...Ladies Island Bridge, this is the northbound sailing vessel Windreka." To which the bridge tender responds, "Vessel calling the Ladies Island Bridge, this is the Ladies Island Bridge." To which we respond, "Ladies Island Bridge, this is Windreka...request an opening at your convenience." To which the bridge tender responds, "Windreka, I will open the bridge as soon as you get close...keep coming." To which we respond, "Roger...we will keep approaching."

The next thing that usually happens is a bell or horn on the bridge will sound and shortly afterwards the traffic control gates will drop, stopping traffic. Shortly after that, the bridge will begin to slowly open for our passage and we will put the boat into high gear to time our arrival and passage when the bridge is fully open. All this sounds very easy, but imagine several boats competing for space in a narrow channel all waiting for the bridge to open. Imagine also a bunch of other boats on the opposite side of the bridge waiting to come through too. The rule is the boats being pushed through with the current have the right of way, but not everyone knows and observes this rule. Imagine also, powerboats trying to get through ahead of the sailboats because they will pass them anyway after they get through the bridge. Imagine also a few small powerboats that can get under the bridge without waiting for it to open and trying to work their way through the flock of boats waiting on either side. Imagine all this and you have some idea of what happens when we have to request a bridge to open for us.

Sometimes interesting things can happen. For example, a bridge tender may reply, "Windreka, there is a little old man in a wheelchair trying to cross the bridge and I can't ask him to hurry. I'll have to wait until he gets to the opposite side before I can open the bridge." To which we can only respond, "Ladies Island Bridge, Windreka is standing by," while we both wait for the senior citizen to make his way safely across the bridge.

Just before we arrived at the bridge this morning, the wind piped up and increased in velocity as we approached Parrot Creek leading into the Morgan River. The wind was really blowing and the waves were crashing over the deck as we approached the turn toward the marina. In addition it was blowing from the south and would be pushing us away from the dock as we approached.

We contacted Dataw Island Marina to let them know we would be arriving about the time they would normally be closing operations for the day. We offered to anchor near the marina and come in the next morning, but they insisted we should come to the dock and they would meet us to take our lines. With the assistance of Ben and Willie, the marina dock crew, and friends Frank and Debbie, we arrived and secured our lines on the marina face dock for the night. We planned to top off our fuel tanks and move into our slip the next morning when the tidal currents were slack and the wind lighter.

After 112 days our first long distance cruising adventure was at an end and all that remained was to square Windreka away for a month or so and return home to face the IRS and our groundwater drainage challenges. The easy part was over and we have a lot of memories and stories to share with friends and neighbors.

In between cleaning and squaring Windreka away, we did take some time to relax with our friends who live at Dataw Island. Joe and Frank and Frank's grandson, Michael took an afternoon to explore a couple of the nearby creeks off the Morgan River. We found a couple of likely locations for Frank to explore on his search for the ultimate shark's tooth and we found the back side of the island where the US Government keeps monkeys that are used in research.

We celebrated Sarah's birthday at the Johnson Creek restaurant with friends Frank and Adam and the next day we celebrated again by doing seven loads of laundry.

On Monday, we had a real treat. The Spirit of South Carolina arrived to spend the next ten days at Dataw Island. The Spirit is a training vessel designed as a replica of a pilot schooner and roughly the same size as the Pride of Baltimore II...although the Pride is designed as a replica of a Baltimore Clipper. Read more about the Spirit at: http://www.scmaritime.org/. And while you're at it, read more about the Pride at: http://www.pride2.org/.

We will leave Windreka in Beaufort in the able hands of the Dataw Island Marina staff and start our trip home on 1 April. Actually, there is a lot more going on than stated in this last sentence and if you check back, you may read more about it!

Day 111 - 26 March

We awoke to a light breeze from the NNE and decided it was time to move further north. We cast off our lines and left Jekyll Harbor Marina bound for the dreaded Georgia skinny water on the ICW. To our surprise and probably due to leaving with the rising tide, we had absolutely no difficulty finding more than enough water beneath Windreka's keel to keep us afloat with room to spare. We had a pleasant day cruising through the isolated ICW creeks and channels and only met a handful of other boats during the day.

We arrived at the same New Teakettle Creek anchorage we stopped at on our way south. It was a pleasant place then and this time we had the anchorage to ourselves...just the way we like it. It was early in the afternoon and it was pleasantly warm, so we watched the pelicans fishing for their dinner before we went below to prepare our own dinner.