Friday, August 31, 2012

My Thoughts about Hurricane Isaac

Picture of Isaac courtesy of Washington Post

Bruce was raised in Kansas where they have Tornados. I am haunted by childhood memories of The Wizard of OZ, with the threat of being whisked off to a far off land by whirling winds where flying monkeys get in my hair...

I was raised here in South Texas where my family "rode out" Hurricane Celia when I was six years old.  My shadowy memories consist of my brother and I being deposited underneath our dining room table in the center of our home piled atop a bed of pillows and blankets.  We groused about being stuck there while my Dad watched out the window.  I remember walking up the fallen palm tree in our yard during the eye and riding in the back seat of our car after it was all over.  Yes, we are those dummies who drive around gawking at the storm damage.  I have no memory of living out of ice chests or going without electricity for days.  No "healthy fear".

Now... boat ownership has changed that a bit.  I do fear the possible loss of our recently purchased perfect Cruising Home.  Part of my mental preparation for our planned future life, has me watching blogs and Facebook pages of others in the various stages, from planning, to execution, to newly cruising, to cruising veterans...  I have been soaking up information about "all things Cruising" and have several online "friends" who were in Isaacs path.

I am thankful that none of them have suffered much other than having a somewhat harrowing experience... all have reported little or no damage.

My thoughts:  No matter where we are on the Gulf Coast during hurricane season, there is the chance that we could be threatened by a hurricane at some point.  Staying here at home does not protect us, other than the fact that we have a designated slip for our boat.  Actually... our slip is probably not a great one should a hurricane come our way.  (heads up Port A Marina) 

I would give little resistance to tying our boat up as best we can and evacuating to the Kids' house in San Antonio shoud a big one threaten.  I might be inclined to stay and ride it out in a situation like Isaac... 

No matter what the size of the storm, I guess mentally I will continue to remind myself that we have insurance... and trust in our Guardian Angel to keep us safe.  We will do everthing we can to be smart and protect Dos Libras and ourselves, but there is only so much one can do... 

Fear:  I am still blissfully unafraid, at least to the point that it would cause us to re-think our plans to cruise.  I know there are some out there who may stumble upon my insignificant little blog, that might knowingly shake their heads and think "just wait until she experiences a real storm aboard her tiny little boat... she'll change her tune then!".  And I'm sure I've got a lot to learn... To those people who have experienced it and given up, I am sorry.  But to those who have experienced it and come through it stronger and more experienced... I hope that I would join your ranks by learning and growing from it.

But for now... I will continue to absorb all you Cruising Facebook Page-ers and Bloggers have to share and take from it what I can should the Eye of the Storm ever turn it's wrath upon Dos Libras, wherever she may be.  Thanks for sharing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cruise to the End of the Dock 2012

We were invited as members of BYC to join CCYC's annual Cruise to the end of the Dock. Years ago we attended this event aboard Lady Jane/Whitepepper with Karl and Jan. We thought it would be fun to invite them along for the weekend and they accepted!

Melissa and Michael were good sports as we braved winds in the mid 20s across Corpus Christi Bay. Dos Libras provided us with quite the cushy ride.

We got docked with time to spare for some visiting with other BYCers in the CCYC Pool. It was blissfully cool after a long hot afternoon sail.

We didn't get back to the boat to prepare our hors d' oeuvres and rum drink until after the 5pm start time but things were getting started slowly so it didn't matter. We were well prepared by the time our the first dock crawlers arrived.

Thanks Teri Samo for the Pic!
I made way too much food as usual so we'll be eating leftovers for a week. But... the little deviled sailboats I found on Facebook were the perfect appetizer for this event. The Bahama Mammas turned out delicious as well.

We enjoyed the offerings of other boats and met some very nice people too. We were too late arriving at CCYC for the voting but the boat I would have voted for won the appetizer contest without our votes.

BYC and PIYC boats made up the majority here and a good time was had by all.

Sunday morning Karl and Jan treated us to his infamous boat eggs.  They were way more healthy than I remember... We had a relaxing sail back across CC Bay to Port A and once again managed to land the boat in our slip with minimal drama. Thanks to our guests for a great weekend and for sharing memories of days past from our time sailing with you on Whitepepper.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BYC Cruise to Island Moorings... Fun PLUS!

This year's annual BYC Cruise to Island Moorings was embellished with a PLUS factor...  the first of which was having Chuck and Bubs along with us for the weekend.  Chuck, if you remember, was the guy who made it possible for Bruce to bring our boat home from Rhode Island... and in whose debt we will be for eternity.  Bubs is his lovely and talented girlfriend. 

I took Friday off work so Bruce and I packed up our stuff and were at the boat by 6 pm on Thursday.  We were up early on Friday morning enjoying coffee on the veranda and reveling in the fact that I didn't have to rush off to work...

We watched the sun come up... as did others on our dock.

...Until we got hungry.  Bruce brought out the folding bikes and we headed for the Donut Palace for pigs-n-blankets. We love taking the bikes in the cool (ish) mornings and having breakfast on the rocks alongside the CC Ship Channel. 

But... time for the next PLUS.  We finished up some minor cleaning and prepared the guest room for company.  Chuck and Bubs arrived right on cue and after settling them in, Bruce took us out for a swim.  He had failed to mention that we would have to trek a while to get to this awesome spot...  but it was good for us!

We found Bruce's new swimming hole and got right in.  We were WARM from our trek but the water was perfect for chillin'.

I found a nice grassy rock to perch upon until a tiny crab took offense and bit me on the tush!  That was the end of that!  So I swam out past the rocks and coaxed Bubs to do the same.  We found it pleasantly sandy with very shallow depths pretty far out from the bank.  It was very nice... a definite PLUS!

We swam until it neared time for us to prepare for the next PLUS on our list.  Chuck and Bubs wanted to take us to the Back Porch to see Davin James perform.  We got cleaned up and had dinner on the boat.  We got to the Back Porch not long after the show began.  We were lucky to get a really good table where we could see everything. I enjoyed the wide range of music from blues to country to Cajun.  Davin James is one I would go see again.  The people watching was also quite entertaining.  We stayed into the second set then went back to the boat for bed.  Another big day ahead...

Saturday morning was a slow starter.  We slept in and sat around for a while... feasted on the yummy banana bread that Bubs brought, then she and I went for provisions while the guys readied the boat for the short hop to Island Moorings.  We were under way by mid day with flags happily flapping in a light and surprisingly cool breeze.

The trip was short so we opted not to raise sails.  This did nothing to keep us from enjoying the ride over, with the usual dolphin show.  I never tire of watching them jump along in front of these massive tankers.

The water was gorgeous as we entered Piper Channel on the final approach to our destination.  Bruce and I suffered a tiny bit as we anxiously watch the depths along the way.  This channel is notorious for silting in.  Our guest suffered no such qualms and in the end, we made it in just fine without incident. 

We settled into our slip easily and got the AC going again.  Island Moorings is nice but they are protected from the winds and it can be really hot in the Marina.  There was a bit of excitement as we were preparing to head to the pool. 

Bubs called me up on deck to watch as Chuck and Bruce ran to the aid of one of our newer Club Members.  He had been prematurely talked into bring his trawler over for the weekend alone and was very new to boating.  The poor guy hit three other boats before he got close enough that Chuck could Spidey up the side and take the helm.  Chuck got the boat under control while the grateful owner collected his wits.

Chuck brought the trawler safely into the slip and everyone around helped to secure her for her very shaken Captain.  We're calling it another PLUS!  Later we learned that this was his first time out and one of the couples in our Club have volunteered to teach him to drive the boat.  We're hoping this happens before he tries another unfamiliar harbor.  Maybe he should stick to anchoring out for the time being... well maybe.

But... all is well that ends well and this only spiced up our afternoon as we headed off happily to the pool!  We spent the afternoon there frolicking with the Club until dinner time.

We retired to the boat to prepare our pot luck offerings of Bruce's Cheesie Potatoes and Bubs Spicy Wheels.

Recent Club deserters... Bill and Jan... joined us as guests to this, the first Club event they've been to in months.  They were warmly received by all and I heard no murmurings otherwise.  Maybe we can lure them back to our clutches with our winning ways...   

The dinner was great and plentiful... The Club provided Brisket and the members brought everything else.  As usual, it was way too much!

Some of us (more than others) barely made it through to the end of the formal portion of the dinner.  It had been a long day and we were feeling very heavy about now...  see Chuck there on the right about to fall into the water...

It had been a warm day but as the sun continued on towards the horizon and beyond, it became more and more pleasant.  A bunch of the gang went for a twilight swim. 

I had already taken my shower and decided not to join the fray... in favor of sitting above it all and keeping watch.  If anyone needs watch keeping... it's THIS group!

Soon the crowd began to thin as we all drifted back to our respective boats and beds.

It seems like no matter how late we stay up, Bruce and I can't seem to sleep very late.  We were up with the sun the next morning.  It was still and gorgeous!  Many of our group headed out for home early as usual... We had such a short hop to get back to Port A, we took advantage of the close proximity to Piper Channel.

A lazy morning and breakfast were followed by a dinghy adventure and this brings us to the next PLUS!  This channel is an aquatic nature trail.  There are always birds and other critters to see along the way. 

We buzzed along looking for a place to play castaway... all we needed was a sandy beach somewhere to explore.  And we found one just outside the jetties and to the left.  We hooked around and landed the dinghy on a deserted stretch of sand.  We are so lucky that we can "be" where nobody else is...

We took off exploring.  I found a really nice discarded flip flop... I carried it around for a while looking for the other, but I guess the previous owner doesn't know about the rules for overboard shoes... one goes, throw the other one in for the next guy.  So anyway, I find myself at the base of this sand dune...

Now I'm a child of the 70s.  A time when the dunes were the huge, white donut factories of days gone by...  I realize that dunes should be protected.  But it's been so long since I've played on the dunes.  I just couldn't resist scaling up the side of this one!  The reward was stunning!

I coaxed Bubs up the dune and it wasn't too long before the guys decided to bring the dinghy this way so that they too could join us.  We got some nice pics of that Walt and Judy's boat (there coming out of Piper channel) while we waited for the guys. 

They made climbing up the slope look too easy.  We explored a bit topside of this spoil island.  It kind of had a crater in the center, like being on a sandy moon...
We all enjoyed the view and the breeze before we decided we had better head back down.  The skies looked ominous and it seemed like the clouds were bigger than they had been before...

 Bruce volunteered to go first so that he could backtrack for our abandoned shoes.  Seems much higher from below, right?
Bubs was nervous about how we would get back down.  We found the spot we had come up and strategized. 
I had a plan and decided to go for it!
Chuck was next, then we go Bubs safely down... one foot in front of the other, plant your heel then wait for the slide to stop before the next step.  It was kind of like Nature's escalator.
With darkening skys we loaded ourselves back into the dinghy and shoved off towards the channel entrance.  With any luck we could skip along in front of the squall...
NO SUCH LUCK!  We were Pounded!  First a couple of huge drops... then a deluge!
Bruce got us up to ramming speed but with four people in our little dink, it wasn't going to plane.  Chuck and Bubs were the sacrificial lambs as they took all the stinging raindrops leaving Bruce and I safe behind them with raindrops dripping off our brims and laughter all around.  OK, well maybe it was just me laughing like an idiot.
Well once we got back into the channel and ran for our lives for a while... the deluge became a shower, then dried up altogether.  I'm going out on a limb here but I'm calling this the biggest PLUS of all.  It was a grand adventure and I've not laughed so much in months.
We were nearly dried out by the time we reached the marina.  The boat was dry as a bone.  No rain had reached the marina and we gladly hung out our wet things to dry on the lifelines while we prepared to head for home.  Brittney had invited a couple of friends for a short afternoon sail.  We departed and headed up the CC Ship Channel with the wind on our nose and nice cloud cover. 
The kids lounged on the deck and watched the dolphin show. 
This is all PLUS PLUS PLUS... but the best part was the dolphin show.  Today, for some reason, we were befriended by one really nice sized dolphin who decided to treat us to multiple leaps.  I wasn't quick enough with the camera for the best part... a four jump chain off to our port side.  This big boy jumped higher than I've ever seen outside of Sea World.
Bubs was able to get some good ones while I scrambled to get Bruce to take the helm so I could take pictures.  I'm always after the elusive perfect dolphin pic... The dolphin jumped once off our bow and again here on the port side.  I've never had them jump so close to the boat before.  It was spectacular PLUS!
We left our boy behind and turned up into the ICW for a short sail.  The winds clocked around making pointing difficult and it was looking like we might be in for more showers so we cut our sail short with promises of better sailing days to come.  I somehow managed to land the boat on the first pass with plenty of witnesses!  PLUS...  We ended our weekend not with a mad dash for home, but a leisurely snack on the veranda with good friends.  I left the crowd on deck and snuck off to bed... I had to work in the morning!
This was a great weekend and left me longing for the day when I no longer have to call an end to it.  We love the boat more and more, and even more so as it provides us with so many opportunities for adventure, even here in our own back yard.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wedding Dress Shopping!

We had the BEST weekend in San Antonio shopping for Melissa's wedding dress.  She became engaged in July and it loosed a frenzy of ideas flying about where to have the wedding, how many people to invite, what kind of venue, etc.  Poor Michael had no idea that when he popped that simple question, life would change as he knew it!  There are so many questions still unanswered, it was nice to be doing something definitive.  THIS... we can DO!

Mother, Brittney and I drove up to San Antonio on Friday evening.  Melissa had two appointments for us and we were the first of the day at David's Bridal. 

Now I've got friends who are well off and they might poo pooh at David's Bridal... but with our present plans to take off and be vagabonds at just about the time Melissa plans to get married... we were just fine with what David's had to offer and it was a great place to start. This dress will be worn one time and dragged to Puerto Rico where there could possibly be "trash the dress" photos to be had... GET REAL!

 When we got to Melissa's place on Friday evening, she had the TV tuned to one of the cable channels with shows about, what else?... shopping for bride's dresses.  These people had budgets of "nothing over $5,000"...  Like I said, GET REAL! 
We were up and out the door on Saturday morning.  We arrived at David's and were assigned to Elsa.  She started with a tour around the place and left us to look at dresses on the racks while she went to pull several of the ones Melissa had marked in the catalogue.  There were SO MANY DRESSES!

We were tucked into a dressing area all to ourselves and had Elsa's undivided attention for most of the morning.  Let the fun begin!

We started with a short one.  We thought maybe it would be easy to travel with and since Melissa is thinking "beach wedding", it might be nice.  Cute but I'm thinking no...

From this point on, it was a blur of white fluff:

Tired... hungry... but happy!  We finally put poor Elsa out of her misery and headed off for Lunch at Jason's Deli.  What started out with light hearted abandon, was now becoming quite a chore for Melissa.  Thankfully the store was well air conditioned.  These people really know their business.  I had worried that we would find snooty sales people... c'mon... you're a seller of dresses!  But I was pleasantly proven wrong.  Elsa was a peach and put up with seemingly endless mind changes as we progressed from knowing nothing about this, to knowing what really works and what doesn't.  Few of the ones Melissa had initially chosen were what we finally ended up liking. 

But... we were off to the next place.  We had a very nice attendant at a little boutique, I forgot the name... She showed Melissa several grand dresses...
With complicated lacing...
But in the end, we decided that these were just "too much dress" for a destination wedding.

Melissa's second appointment time had arrived... 4 pm at Alfred Angelo's.  They assigned Shea as our attendant and she whisked Melissa right off to the back after a short interview about what we were looking for...
Brittney messed around a bit... wouldn't this make a LOVELY Bridesmaid's dress?  Hey... change out that red sash for Coral and we may be onto something...  jk

We tried on another half dozen or so dresses...
They were kind of all starting to look alike... and we began to find the tiniest fault with each one... 
Maybe we're about done... but wait, I like this one.  It's simple and elegant and you would be free to accessorize...

Let's see how it moves.  Try the Chicken dance or maybe YMCA! OK, this has just got to STOP!  I think we've become delirious!  At this point we threw in the towel.  We had two dresses that were contenders...  Very different, both with merit and drawbacks.  It was at this point I tried to stop my commentary so that Melissa could make her own choice.  I think in the end, her choice was perfect.  It's the one that makes her feel the best and that's what really counts.  It's her day.  It will be beautiful.  We are so excited about it and I can't wait to see her be married in this, the perfect dress...