Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Crap, it's Christmas!

...and I'm simply not ready.

Back in the day when I had two jobs and no personal time I had an excuse for not being prepared.

So I guess this year I'll blame my procrastination on the weather. Today we found ourselves sweating by 9 AM with unseasonably warm temperatures and just how Christmasy is that? I mean how does one get into the holiday spirit while one is sweating one's butt off??

But I finally paid attention to the calender and got busy.

I only hope my Baby Girl understands that her nicest mail order gift from me will most definitely be delayed as I inadvertently transposed the numbers of my new address (and I was sober for God's sake!) and her gift is now most likely sitting in limbo in some U.S. Postal hell hole! The presents I did manage to buy will be packed in my checked baggage and hopefully cushioning a case of beer and a bottle of bourbon since we will be arriving in our old home town long after the local distilleries are closed.

So anyway, I'm not wrapping presents until we get to our hotel room on Christmas Eve since I think if I tried to ram a bunch of wrapped presents into our luggage they would all get torn.

Wilbur will be spending the holiday at his Doggy Day Care and it just won't be the same without him. But don't worry about the little pistol, today he managed to scarf down a raw steak that I had sitting out and marinating. Wilbur seems to have a built in sonar for the holidays and he will not be left out. So far during his nearly two years on this earth he's inhaled a pumpkin pie, a butterscotch cream pie, an entire pan of brownies, two bowls of shrimp, and now a steak.

So please don't pity this pitty!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving in Florida.

I love Thanksgiving and I believe it may be my favorite holiday of all since the only thing that's ever been expected of me during this time is a healthy appetite. This will be the first Thanksgiving in over 50 years that will not be spent at my parents' home in western Pennsylvania.

I have to admit that if I'd been given the option of living anywhere in the US, Florida would have been at the very bottom of my list. And arriving here during a horribly sweltering August only reinforced my opinion.

But now that we've been here for a few months I've found my opinion has changed. I really don't need six months of lead gray skies, endlessly cold dreary dark days, and worrying about whether I'm going to have to dig my car out from under three feet of snow that playfully fell during the night.

Instead, I wake up to sunny blue skies, take Wilbur to the dog park nearly every day during the week where we've met tons of wonderful people and playful poochies, go on bike rides with Hans to the beach on the weekend, sit barefoot in my cockpit every evening reading a book until it's dark, and then grill our dinner.

Now, I'm not bragging here, it's just that I've found myself adjusting very well to our new surroundings and for that I'm very grateful. However that could very well change when hurricane season rolls around again.

And I think I've figured out something very interesting. I've always associated Thanksgiving and Christmas with wintry type weather (like I said, over 50 years! Really?!) and perhaps if we'd moved to a different city in the north, I'd be feeling homesick, but since I'm so far removed from all that, reality just hasn't kicked in.

It doesn't feel like Thanksgiving here at all and in my opinion it could very well be July right now.

After having my Halloween display vandalized I was unsure of what to do for Thanksgiving.

I still haven't bought any new plants but I did cover our dock box with a fall themed plastic table cloth and adorned my tacky pink flamingo with an Indian headdress.

I found some feathers at Michael's and fused them to a scrap of fabric with Wonder Under. I then hand sewed it to Pinky's head.

A bit of a closeup.

Maybe I'll be more creative at Christmas but only if I can figure out a vandal proof idea for my decorations.

I'm very happy to announce that this year Hans and I received an invitation to a Thanksgiving get together with a friend of Hans' from his college days at CMU in Pittsburgh. It's been several years (and possibly decades) since Hans has seen Mark but we're very much looking forward to celebrating this holiday with an old friend and his family, and tons of their friends.

Poor Wilbur. Visions of Sugar Plums may be dancing in his head but he will not be stealing and eating pumpkin pie, shrimp, or butterscotch creme pie this Thanksgiving.

But don't worry about the little man, I have a feeling he'll be treated to a big peanut butter and biscuit stuffed kong.

And as always we'll leave the NFL station on for him so he can keep track of the games while we're gone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More liveaboard stuff

It's kind of funny how when people find out we live on a boat in a marina, you just know they get the impression that we're living a glamorous kind of life style, when in reality, we basically live in a trailer park.

For the most part almost everyone in our marina is middle aged or older and God only knows how truly seaworthy a lot of these vessels are, but for now they are home. A lot of the men have jobs and head off to work everyday and those who don't have jobs, tinker. There's an outside workshop area and I have no idea what they're doing but I've never seen or heard so much sawing and sanding and hammering in my life. Some men work on their cars for hours at a time, and some seem obsessed with keeping their boats clean.

I appear to be a bit of an oddity as I'm one of the only people here who actually walks all the way from our boat to the main office for our mail, ice, and to do laundry.
Everyone else drives.

Needless to say Wilbur always accompanies me on these jaunts and even though he's a pistol in that he needs to sniff every blade of grass and prove to all that he's a big boy now by marking everything in his way, he stoically ignores all the yappers that live on the other boats.
Wilbur is the only pit bull in the marina. And also the quietest dog.

On one side of us is a disabled veteran who adores his cats and parrots (who sleep in the same big cage by the way!). When he cleans his birds' cages they sit in the cockpit and cheerfully call out hello when they aren't wolf whistling at everyone who walks by.
On our other side is a charter fishing boat and I met the original owner shortly after we arrived here. Bob (also a veteran) was dying of cancer and knew he only had a couple of months to live. I was struck by how pleasant and cheerful Bob was despite his prognosis and his brother would bring him to his boat daily so he could sit in the cockpit and enjoy the day. When he found out I liked to read he gave me an old paperback book (actually a Pulitzer Prize winner) from his home and I was moved that he would even think to do this.
Bob died a couple of weeks ago but his boat is still in operation. He gave it to a friend and it's now back in business.
A couple of days ago I awoke to a loud engine, diesel smoke, and shouts of laughter right outside my berth hatch. Did the fact that it was 7AM bother me?
Not at all. Hearing people having a good time just can't upset me.
Before they set out, I managed to get a look at the charter group which consisted of four well over 7o something men. They had to be friends of long standing because they were so easy with each other, talking, laughing, interrupting, and even though they were in no way spring chickens I felt like I was watching a bunch of little boys lined up on a bench and getting ready for a big day at sea.
I have a feeling that if they hadn't been able to go out, they still would have had a blast just sitting in the slip all day.
In the end they came back with some good sized fish and over 60 snapper.

I told Hans I was having a hard time finding a retractable clothes line and he told me to just use Wilbur's retractable leash.

What a smart guy.

I was a bit concerned that I might get in trouble for airing our laundry in public and looking like we live in a tenement (some snobby subdivisions forbid clothes lines you know) but I soon realized we were probably safe when I noticed that a newly arrived live aboard couple were airing out their port a potty on their foredeck (I would have taken a picture, but remember? we live here!).

I made a huge mistake today when I left the boat to go shopping and forgot to remove our garbage.
I arrived home to find chewed up foil, coffee grounds, filthy paper towels, and a very guilty pitty. What bothered me the most is that I've been doing a tremendous amount of sewing these days and in that very same garbage was discarded needles and a rotary cutting blade.

Bad Dog!! I told Wilbur it's time he started pulling his own weight on this boat and he can just start planning some menus.

"Awe!! C'mon Mom! Do I have to?"

"Wow! I had no idea there were so many tasty recipes out there!"

"Mmmmm, bird poop, smelly clam shell, and rotten conch broth!! I love it! May I please have the keys to the car? I need to go shopping at the beach."

I think I need to come up with a better form of punishment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Who would want to live on a boat?

And I don't mean some kind of mega yacht, I'm talking about your average sail boat (or trawler). It's not like there's all kinds of room or a lot of floor space with tantalizing promises of chances to redecorate with different styles of furniture over the coming years. Because let's face it, on a boat everything is very stationary. We have our galley area and I'm sorry but no matter how 'in' stainless steel appliances are right now (and have you ever tried to keep those big stinkers clean?), you'll have to remain happy with your chest type refrigerator/freezer, and happy indeed you'll be to even have refrigeration.

Our propane stove consists of two burners and an oven (which is actually more than we had in our old apartment), and sorry, we won't be replacing yards of pine cupboards with cherry cupboards or installing acres of corian counter tops in hopes that this will enable me to suddenly conjour up gourmet dinners (otherwise known as pizza delivery) ala todays suburban housewives.

Our salon area consists of a small 'L' shaped stationary 'sofa' that can be converted into another sleeping area if need be. This area is where we do most of our living while on our boat and I decided early on to make slip covers in order to preserve the cushions. I used some old king sized sheets that are already showing wear and since we are now truly live aboards I plan on making some new covers that are more durable and attractive.

Even though we're on a boat, we are very lucky to have two full heads (bathrooms) complete with separate stand up showers. We also have a hot water tank and for us this is a big plus.

Our berth is queen size (as is the guest berth) and I thank God for this as Wilbur is a very restless pitty and isn't happy unless he's stomping all over us all night long!

But anyway, Hans and I were talking about living aboard the other day and I reminded him about a family reunion trip we took to Trier, Germany a couple of years ago.

We had gone for a walk and I was curious about what lie behind a long line of hedges we were walking beside. And just like that a gate appeared. Of course we couldn't resist and walked right in. I immediately got goose bumps and felt an incredible thrill of excitement when I found ourselves in the midst of Munchkinland.

Check out this tiny little house. A child's dream come true.

At least mine!

Compared to Hans, do you see what I mean when I say tiny?

I was fascinated to find that in Germany, if you live in an apartment or condo but would still like to garden, you can rent/own/sublet a small piece of property and do just this.

Some of these lots have been handed down from generation to generation. There are boards who can decide if your family may inherit or not, and if you don't keep up with the Jones' you stand a chance to lose your very coveted plot of land.

Stumbling onto these properties was one of the bright spots of this particular trip (right up there with finding out some of Hans' distant relatives own a vineyard), and even though I don't live in one of these adorable little cottages, I live in the next best thing.

A boat.

And the nice thing is, we can pick up and move any time we want.

That's who would want to live on a boat.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Last weekend we finally used our boat in the way it was intended to be used.
We went sailing.
The weather was perfect with a bit of wind and we managed to spend a few pleasant hours putting around in the bay. I'm also thrilled that we exited and entered our slip without any problems.

Along for the ride was Annie.
Is she sweet or what?!
A very dear friend of Hans' from his 'paying his way through college book selling days' passed away last summer and his friend's wife (who also sold books door to door) lives down here and was able to go out with us. Yvonne brought their daughter Tessa and the lovely Annie with her. Wilbur was fascinated with Annie and was actually on his best behavior. One time Wilbur approached Annie while she was taking a sun bath and all she did was lift a warning lip (with nary a sound) and Wilbur immediately scooted over to the other side of the cockpit and left her alone.
We all had to laugh at the end of the evening though when Annie fled the parking lot in a very dramatic manner and ran back to the boat where her long lost love Wilbur was anxiously awaiting her return.

Check out my solar powered clothes dryer. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised that after hanging our laundry out like we live in a tenement, we'd receive a visit from the police that very night.
We were fast asleep and still can't quite remember what woke us up but we immediately knew it was the police. I pushed and shoved my way past Hans (not an easy task in a very narrow area let me tell you!), who was struggling to make himself decent, and advised our visitors that I was letting our dog into the cockpit first. They stayed on the dock and shortly thereafter Wilbur (who'd gone from barking like a madman to wiggling with glee like a madman) and I (in my blue flannel nighty sporting cute little penguins) were ensconced in the cockpit while Hans (who never did get decent) stayed inside and talked to all of us via the cockpit door.
It would appear that a 911 call was placed from our slip and we swore it hadn't come from us.
No, we didn't roll over on our phone while we were sleeping.
No, Wilbur doesn't have opposable thumbs.
No, we were absolutely certain we did not call 911 and I invited them two times to come aboard and check things out, and both times they refused.
After asking for our phone numbers (which they immediately dismissed with a waving of hands) they said the only thing that came over the line had been static.
After they left (and I have a feeling they didn't believe us) Hans asked me what time it was assuming it was something like 3 AM. It was 11:20 PM. Talk about feeling like a couple of old farts.
The next morning I felt obliged to tell the owner of the marina what had gone on and instead of feeling like we might get kicked out I was very happy to find out that this was nothing new. It would appear that one of the boats in the marina used to have a land line on his boat (how bizarre is that?) and it just happened to be in our slip. Somehow or other the line used to short out and send emergency calls to 911. That particular boat is now several slips down and uninhabited but it's obvious that the problem has yet to be solved.
The phone company and the police were notified.
Yesterday, Wilbur was the only disappointed body when I happily hung out our wash and didn't receive a visit from our boys in blue.

Life with Wilbur on the Knotty Cat. He's a cuddle-butt!

Who needs the stinkin' police when you have pit bull to guard the beer cooler?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Good Intentions

After being dockbound for the past two months, Hans and I decided it was time to do a bit of sailing (and now we don't need to drive 5 hours to get to our boat because sonofagun! we live on it!). So, Saturday morning, even after hearing a pretty questionable weather report and sleeping in way too long we took down the air conditioner, disconnected our power cords and water hose, rearranged the interior of the boat so things wouldn't go flying about and either break or hit Wilbur on his poor pitty head (I'm talking about the objects breaking, not Wilbur's head which is apparently unbreakable and you'd believe me if you ever saw him in action at the dog park. His head is just fine but I'm not sure I can say the same thing for the picnic tables or other pooches he's collided with). And even though we performed this very same song and dance every single day during our nearly two week trip from the east to the west coast of Florida through Lake Okeechobee, it suddenly seemed like a whole lot of work.

We were finally ship shape and then Hans tried to fire up our engines. Only they didn't fire up. They didn't even sputter. Our starting battery, battery number one, was dead. In the end this wasn't such a bad thing because the wind had really picked up and was easily blowing 20-25 within our very protected marina and the current forecast was saying something about eight foot waves and since I don't do much over three foot waves without either puking or complaining, I knew we weren't going anywhere. So, off Hans went to the local hardware store and we now own a new and hopefully strong battery.

Maybe this coming weekend will be better.

Remember my Halloween display? I found out that pumpkins don't last nearly as long here in Florida as they do in Pennsylvania and after two weeks mine were very definitely starting to rot. But before I could get rid of them someone took matters into their own hands.

Hans and I awoke one night when we both heard a lot of splashing around our boat. We agreed it must be the very same fish that have hysterics now and then around the marina and fling themselves about with wild abandon, and we went back to sleep. The next day we woke up to no more pumpkins and both of the beautiful potted plants that I just bought and never had a chance to take a picture of, gone.

I was still puzzling over who the hell would want to steal rotting pumpkins when the mystery was solved. My plants may have been taken but my poor pumpkins had been tossed into the drink and now appeared to be trick or treating as they bobbed their way from boat to boat. They were later fished out and disposed of by a marina employee. Not embarrassing at all!

I'm so loving the cooler temperatures!!! Hans took this picture of me last evening while I was sitting in the cockpit reading.

Yes, I'm wrapped up in a blanket!

I'm still trying to get used to the local creatures. Normally I'm pretty squeamish but I love the lizards that scurry about ever so busily, and I didn't even mind sharing my chaise lounge with one the other day. I wasn't so thrilled though when I spotted a snake sticking its nasty little face out of a hedge (way up at the top no less!) just inches away from where Wilbur was doing his business. And I was horrified the day Wilbur found this crab hiding under our beer cooler. I nearly had a heart attack because I thought it was a spider (and a huge one at that!).

I finally broke down and bought Wilbur a new 'hedgehog'. He'd already performed squeakerectomies on his first two and we actually sailed for months with just the husk of his second one. But I couldn't stand having its slimy little body around any longer and finally disposed of it.

So far Hedgy number 3 has lasted nearly a week and is still fully intact. I'm pretty sure this is a temporary situation.

The weather here has been extremely pleasant and I no longer feel like I'm going to melt every time I leave the boat. As a matter of fact I've actually ridden my bike to the beach the last two days.

And after talking with friends and family back home in Pennsylvania where it's been spitting snow, I asked Hans why the hell he took so long in moving us to Florida!

I love it here!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home Sweet Boat...

...or is it Boat Sweet Home? I'm really not sure.

Anyway, even though the days are still pretty hot here in Florida, I can feel a slight shift as we move into autumn which has always been my favorite time of the year.

I believe Halloween is my all time favorite holiday, and I remember like it was yesterday how excited my sister and I were every year when it came time to carve our pumpkins. I also remember my sister's brainstorm that involved us stealing our mother's tin cookie cutters in order to make intricate and what she thought would be very original designs on our pumpkins. Her brilliant plan failed in a spectacular way and all we did was completely ruin the cookie cutters as they crumpled and collapsed under the pressure of us trying to shove them in to thick and unforgiving pumpkin flesh.

To this day I don't think my mother knows what we did. I think I'll spill the beans when we go back home for Christmas, especially since I can tell Mom it was Cindy's idea and not mine.

I'll take my points any way I can.

When I had kids I just assumed they'd love Halloween as much as I did. However, doing things like carving pumpkins lost a lot of its flavor with the advent of cable TV and video games. Therefore, I ended up doing all the carving myself and after awhile I just gave it up.

The kids never even noticed this small detail but they did appreciate the very detailed costumes I made for them. Someday I'll dig out some pictures and post them.

But now that we're living on a boat and are really restricted as to how much holiday decorating we can do, well, it bothered me. So I bought a pumpkin at Publix and a stencil kit at the Dollar Tree, and got to work.

Here is the stencil attached to my pumpkin with duct tape. Of course the tiny little serrated knife that came with the kit broke immediately so I ended up using one of mine.

I was busy carving ashore, and Wilbur, who was stuck on board, was not impressed.

"Mama, I don't like that big orange thing, and that ugly pink bird is taunting me!"

You see, in addition to the pumpkin, I also lucked upon a pink flamingo (and I absolutely was not going to feel like I was 'home' until I had my own tacky piece of home decor)!

So I now have an evil pumpkin and a flamingo that's artistically decked out in a Halloween themed kerchief and scarf.

Wilbur finally got up close and personal with his taunters.

"You talkin' to me??" He asks the flamingo.

"You talkin' to me??" He asks the pumpkin.

"Mama! Did you hear them? They was talkin' to the pitty and they was mean!"

Poor Wilbur.

Just wait until Thanksgiving. I can't even imagine what a flamingo, dressed as a pilgrim, will say to a poor little pit bull.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When I have time...

... I plan on posting about living aboard a boat in a marina.

But, just when I think I have a minute I realize there's something I forgot to take care of. Like filling our water tanks, and considering that we use the bath house for most of our showers we still manage to go through about 70 gallons of water in less than a week.

I've finally decided to save myself about a half hour of time by just waiting for Hans to get home from work and handing me the hose from the dock while I grab it with a boat hook. This is way more simple than me trying to get it in the boat without dropping it in the water (and dock water is gross!). This week after filling the tanks I couldn't help but notice how dirty our cockpit was and decided to hose it out. I'll give it a good cleaning some other day I told Hans, but then I decided to take advantage of the cooler temps and ended up scrubbing the whole thing. And then I saw grease spots on the outer deck that had dripped from our grill, and what is that stain up at the bow... ? I think I now have scrubbing elbow and sadly this will all have to be done again next week.

I'll think of something that makes our life interesting but remember I need to get to the office for ice and since Wilbur needs to take a walk I'll kill two birds with one stone and take him with me. And with Junior along that little job is guaranteed to take twice as long (I'm pretty sure a lusty blood hound once took unfair advantage of one of Wilbur's ancestors because there's not a blade of grass that goes un-sniffed during these excursions). Our mailbox is also over at the office but do I ever remember to take my key with me? And there goes another trip.

I'll go to sit down at the computer and remember I need to do my daily creative shuffling of our refrigerator's interior. We have a wonderful Adler Barber refrigerator with freezer. But everything on the bottom of the fridge ends up freezing and the stuff on the shelves up and away from the freezer don't get as cold as they probably should. This isn't a defect, it's just the way it is. So everyday I swap thawed out ice packs with frozen ones. I also have a couple of pliable sheets of stuff that look like bubble wrap and I lay our eggs and butter, sour cream etc... on these. I sit our milk and things like potato salad right on top of the freezer, they don't freeze but they stay very cold.

I take our bunk apart and convert it back to a sitting area (something we do everyday since it's too hot to sleep in our berth) and think, today I'll start a post but then notice our carpet is dirty again which is what happens when your carpet is one tone and you have a dog and feather pillows and you live on a boat! Not that sweeping these small areas is so time consuming but in order to get to the sweeper, I have to crawl over the obstacle course that's taken over our port berth to the locker where the sweeper resides.

I decide I don't feel like collecting all my shower stuff and then trek all the way to the bath house so I shower on the boat. Aha! with all the time I saved I'm going to take it easy and upload pictures that have been sitting on my camera for over a week. But then I realize I can't remember the last time I cleaned out the shower filter and after venturing into the engine room to dismantle it I'm completely grossed out over how filthy it is. And while I'm at it I should probably see if I can figure out why the sink is draining so slowly.

I swear I go to the grocery store every day. It's not that I buy tons of stuff but I try to watch for sales and now that we're within a stones throw of a lot of stores I don't need to keep tons of provisions on board and can actually use the cupboards in our berth for our clothes and not ten boxes of tuna helper.

Isn't this lovely?

We had to use tarps to cover the dead lights (or windows) in our cockpit in order to keep out the hot Florida sun. We've also re-purposed our cockpit cushions by covering our hatches with them. This also keeps out the sun and who cares if it seems like we're living in a cave? It's better than living in an oven.

Just try to get some sewing done with a pit bull lying at your feet. I pray he doesn't knock that support out from under my table. And the other day I had a heart stopping moment and nearly sent for a priest when my sewing machine started sewing all by itself. Then I realized Wilbur had flopped down on the foot peddle. He's mommy's little helper.

Now that Hans is gone all day long, someone misses his daddy!

This past Sunday we spent the day at the beach with some very new friends and watched speed boat races. This is the first time we've left Wilbur alone for more than a couple of hours and right before we left the boat we were a bit puzzled about the air conditioner. It didn't seem to be blowing cold air. But the day was very cool and the unit was very new so surely we were imagining things.

When we got home eight hours later we were horrified to realize we could smell our head from the dock and were even more horrified to enter a very stuffy and very warm boat!

Yes, our air conditioner was indeed on the fritz and our holding tank took advantage of the situation and developed a bizarre case of the vapors.

I'm just very thankful that it had to happen on the coolest day we've experienced since we've been here and never again will we leave Wilbur alone for this long unless the promised highs for the day won't go above the 70's!

I spent the next day getting a new unit (covered under warranty), calling our dentist's office in Pittsburgh (for the third time) and asking why they're still sending their bill to our old address, and making sure to buy a bottle of bourbon.

You see, after finally moving the now defunct air conditioner to our vehicle (which required said vehicle to be emptied of our winter stuff and ramming it all into our already overflowing port berth and now I'll never find that damn sweeper!), feeding and walking our neglected and bewildered baby, we sat down (in our very smelly boat) to a crappily thrown together dinner of tortilla chips, nacho cheese, and the tiny amount of salsa I was able to scrape out of the bottom of what I had thought was a full jar! I was looking forward to a well deserved drink, and realized I was out of bourbon! Talk about the straw that broke the camel's back!

So anyway, if and when I get some time, I fully intend to post about what it's like to live on a boat in a marina!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let it go!

First of all I started this blog so our family and friends could keep up with us. Eventually other boat owners started reading it. I try to approach life with a sense of humor because if I didn't I would probably go nuts. But I've been on this earth for over 50 years and this much I've learned; I don't have to associate with anyone I don't like.


I don't owe my readers anything and I especially don't owe anyone an explanation about my financial affairs. My own family would never be so nosy as to inquire or assume anything about my personal life, but one of my reader's has made some very strange assertions that I'm going to address in this post. This is the first and last time I will do this.

My most recent post was about the DVM here in Florida and my reaction at the sticker shock we experienced when we found out our registration and license plate would be nearly $500 for each vehicle. Considering we were used to paying $30.00 a year perhaps you can understand this. We also hadn't planned on hanging out at the DVM office for nearly three hours and then leaving without new licenses and only one of two plates.

This is what Anonymous had to say:

So many today do not want to pay taxes. Of any kind. Democrats say, "I don't want to pay for that tank", and republicans say, "I don't want to pay for that school". Both are needed. The governments are responding to that demand with "user" type fees instead. Toll roads, property taxes on vehicles, higher fees for services provided by government entities such as park entrance fees and camping fees and your DMV fees are examples. Florida has no state income tax. Where did you think they were going to get the money to run the DMV? Imagine the poor soul who does not have the kind of money you do being presented with a bill of that amount.

My response:

Anonymous, what kind of money do you think we have? We live on a boat that depreciates every year, and we own no other property. My incredibly rotten health insurance runs me about $300 a month (which is draining any and all savings I've made over the past 30 YEARS!) and basically covers nothing, and the only reason I have it is because I fear becoming a debt to society. Frankly, I'm leaning toward just dropping it and saying the hell with it! Our vehicles are respectively 16 and 12 years old. The blue book value on each are nil. So why the hell should we pay fees that are more than 1/3 of the value of the vehicle?I've paid my way all my life! I worked two jobs at a time while supporting myself and three kids (with no child support) for more than ten years and the fact that my back never stops aching is a testament to that.I may choose to present a lighter side to life but you don't know me and I don't pretend to know you!

And now Anonymous (and I will break down his comments and reply to his statements):

The kind of money I think you have is the kind of money that allows you to take the months off that you have for cruising.

I wasn't aware that we took 'time off' considering that Hans worked the whole time we were away. You see, there's this really neat thing called Computer and Internet access that allowed him to do this. And gee whiz I don't think he's the only person in the world to 'work from home'.

You yourself have said you were shocked my the amounts you are spending on cruising.

Duh! Now there's a shocker! That's certainly never happened to anyone before has it? Yes, we found our savings disappearing very quickly. Why the hell do you think we got rid of our apartment and are now living on our boat? Because if we hadn't, we would have had to sell the boat. It made sense for Hans to accept this job in Florida so we could live on the boat and therefore keep it.

BTW, it would be rather difficult to live on a boat beside a set of railroad tracks in Pittsburgh.

Most could not dream of buying your boat let alone cruising for months at a time. While you live on a boat without owning property, that is recent. Just a few months ago, you owned two houses (at least one).

Now this is news to me. I sold my house over two years ago after owning it for 10 years with a 30 year mortgage (where do all your payments go the first 10 years? Interest!) and I sold it at a time when housing prices plummeted. I was lucky to unload it when I did and believe me I did not come out ahead on that deal. But don't worry, everyone in my home town could figure that out when the newspaper published the gory details in its legal section.

Hans sold his house five years ago and he didn't even get his down payment back. Not that it's any of your stinking business but his wife was a very sick woman (which is why he had to refinance many years ago) and when she died he was left with tremendous debt.

As for dreaming about buying our boat? They don't all cost a half million dollars you know! Ours certainly didn't.

Somebody has got some money.

Yeah, but it ain't us!

The reason you should pay those fees on your vehicle has nothing to do with the vehicle itself. It has to do with the road on which it drives and the salary of the delightful(!) people who run your DMV. Someone has to pay and since they have no state income tax they have less places to get funding from. That leaves you.

Gasoline taxes also pay for road repairs and Hello!!!! Let's talk about the money that tourists bring in to our great Pink Flamingo State (that's what I call it)!

My comment that you have money is based on your profile and blog entries. While that doesn't give me a full picture, you should not be too surprised when people draw some conclusions about you.Also, I made no comment to suggest that you both do not deserve your money. I understand your (Laura's) background and my understanding is that Hans is well educated and his education allows him to command a higher that usual salary. There's no judgment there so I don't understand what seems like defensivness.

FYI, I had more money in the bank than Hans did when I met him, and just because someone is capable of commanding a higher salary doesn't mean they earn one, now does it? If only it were that easy. As it is we hope that we can hang in here for a while and get our heads above water. Pun intended!

Poor Hans. This is mostly my blog but when I made him read these comments he was baffled. "Who is this person?" he laughed. "And does he have any idea he couldn't be further from the truth?"

I told him not to worry, I'd take care of this little matter myself.

So, here it is Anonymous. I've put up with you because you were basically harmless but you are no longer welcome on MY BLOG. You've made way too many assumptions that have only made an ass out of you, but certainly not me! Just like Christina and Joey from Bright Eye's said to you after you called them fat, you can go haunt someone else's blog.

Actually I have to wonder why you would even bother to visit my lowly little blog since you're so smart. Maybe you should be running for president instead.

Wilbur says, "Dude, don't mess with my mama!"

And he means it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A good hair day completely wasted...

A few days ago Hans and I went to get our new driver's licenses and Florida tags for our vehicles.

Three hours later we emerged with no licenses, only one new license plate, and nearly five hundred dollars poorer.

So how does something like this happen?

Even though we tried to be good citizens and went online to research what would be necessary to get everything done, it was a total waste of time and the fact that the government is involved is all the explanation I need.

We drove separately (Hans from work and me from home) walked in with our passports, PA driver's licenses, and smiles on our stupid naive faces.

We weren't there but a few minutes when we shot out the door, ran to our vehicles and sped back to the boat in order to dig up all the other documents that we apparently needed but were not listed on their web site. I dug through my files to see if I could find anything with my new address on it (and I needed at least two), and my social security card (I also took my birth certificate 'just in case', and of course they didn't want it). Since I'm a pack rat and keep most correspondence I was lucky enough to find two letters with my new address. Hans very nearly didn't as he saves nothing. But he did have a copy of our marina lease and a letter from his new bank.

We waved good bye to a very bewildered Wilbur who thought he was going with us, and zipped back to the center, only now in one car.

I was surprised that they let us go in together but I figure that's just because torturing two people at a time is more fun than one.

I barely passed my eye exam because my left contact is purposely weak (for reading) and my right contact is strong (for distance). Even after explaining this (very nicely and with a big smile I might add!), the employee , who shall be known as The Girl who Lost her Smile (I'm sure the government would be very proud of her) suspiciously asked me if I suffered from mono-vision. I wisely bit my tongue and didn't reply, "No, I'm just a blonde." because for some reason I didn't think it would go over very well.

She adjusted the machine, I passed, and then their link to the Social Security site went down. And just like that the whole world ground to a halt.

So this is what I want to know.

If my passport is good enough to get me through any airport in the world, why isn't it (along with my existing driver's license and two documents with my new address) good enough for me to get a new driver's license. Why is a simple piece of cardboard with nine numbers on it so stinking important. And before you all get in my grille about this, let's face it, if I had a fake passport and driver's license don't you think I'd already have a handle on a fake social security card?

Well, jeepers we said, until the Social Security site comes back up why don't we get those pesky license plates taken care of.

"Did you bring both vehicles?"


"We can't issue new tags unless the vehicle is here."

Oh no!! No! Noooooooo!

We explained that we'd originally shown up with both vehicles but since we had to go back to the boat for documents we had no idea were originally needed, we felt it only reasonable that we return in just one car, and why the hell hadn't someone told us this!!!!!!!???????? When Hans asked if he could just do this by mail the clerk in the next cubicle snorted with laughter, and the Girl who Lost her Smile didn't even look up, kept stapling things, and said, "No."

By now Hans (who thought he was taking an hour or so off from his new job but now realized he'd been given a life sentence), had his head in his hands and said, "Okay then, get the car taken care of now and we'll worry about the SUV later."

"Can I bring the SUV in by myself?" I asked hopefully (and again with a huge smile) in an effort to keep Hans from taking any more time away from work.

"Only if he gives you power of attorney," replied The Girl who Lost her Smile as she shuffled through a mountain of paperwork, and let me tell you there is no comedian in the world who can outdo this lady with a deadpan delivery.

After a lot of clacking away at her keyboard we were finally presented with a lovely tin plate artistically adorned with oranges that probably cost all of twenty bucks, and she announced, "That'll be four hundred and eighty three dollars."

I thought Hans was going to have a stroke and by now no one was smiling.

You see, here in Florida, new registrations and plates are quite costly (oh yeah, and your car insurance rates double also).

After forking over his credit card (and let me tell you as a direct result of living in Florida, that baby is smoking!), letting everyone know that he'd never heard of anything so ludicrous, so stupid, and as far as he was concerned this was highway robbery, Hans asked if it would be okay if we sat in the waiting room just in case the Social Security web site came back to life before five PM.

We did.

And it didn't.

At ten minutes to five, The Girl who Lost her Smile called us back, once again gathered up all of our paperwork and clacked away some more at her computer. Then without a word she abandoned ship and left us to fend for ourselves.

I knew by then that we were going to leave without new licenses as it was now five o'clock and the government does not work overtime. Period.

Our girl finally came back and this time she had her supervisor with her. A great big supervisor who kindly apologized to us for the inconvenience and wouldn't we love to come back another time for round two? For some reason The Girl Who Lost her Smile hid behind him.

So now our car gets to sashay around with some over priced bling on her rear end and I wasted a perfectly good hair day for nothing!

All we could do was laugh, and here Hans and I drown our sorrows with a couple of Wilbur Wow Wows.

I dread having to go through that nightmare again.
And believe it or not, getting a library card is just as difficult and I still don't have one!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New neighbors

But first an update on our water situation.

And let me tell you, it's weird.

Hans got online, found a site that supported our type of hot water tank, and made a phone call. The very nice lady that answered told him that she thought we had an air lock. She told him to simply shut off the water (already done) turn on the nearest faucet to the tank (our sink in the port side head), drain the hot water tank via its pressure valve, then close the faucet, turn the water pressure back on (a nerve wracking thought), and see what happens.

What happened was, we no longer had a leak.

I refilled our water tank and it appears we lost about 50 gallons of water during our siege of terror (at least that's what Wilbur is calling it and he blames his bout of diarrhea as a direct result of this trauma).

Still no leak.

We made sure to run enough water to fill the hot water tank, turned it on, and I was able to wash dishes!

And BTW, I love to wash dishes, I don't know why but I really do.

All that's left to do now is to replace our bilge pump. And no, I'm sorry but, there will be no reprieve for Little Miss Snotty.

So now, let me introduce our new neighbor, Mr. Boots.

Mr. Boots lives on the boat right beside us and he's very social, and very vocal.

What I mean is, he's very social with Hans and me, and he's very vocal with Wilbur. But I can't repeat what he says to Wilbur as this is pretty much a G rated blog.

Actually, he doesn't even have a name but after noticing that it appeared he was wearing hip waders, I dubbed him, Mr. Boots.

Mr. Boots showed up two years ago in the middle of a cold Florida winter (is there really such a thing?), and after a spell of very nasty weather, he moved aboard the boat that resides in the slip next to us. He has since become a marina fixture.

And like all marina cats we've encountered in our travels, he is one tough dude.

Wilbur so wants to be friends but check out Mr. Boots' expression.

"Go ahead and make my day, Sissy Boy!" Mr. Boots laughed at Wilbur's wagging behind. "I'll kick your Pitty Butt now and ask questions later!"

Wilbur's feelings were quite hurt and he went down below to watch Pit Boss on Animal Planet. At least Shorty appreciates the pitty.

Mr. Boots.

Water Update:

This morning before we left for West Marine and Winn-Dixie (I feel so southern just saying Winn-Dixie!) we decided to turn off the water pressure... just in case. And damn if the hot water tank didn't start leaking again. So for the remainder of the day we were again without water. Tonight after we drained the tank and let it cool down we repeated yesterdays procedure and voila we no longer have a leak. Again.

We're not sure what's going on but for now we're going to leave the pressure on until we get some more information.

The bilge pump is another story.

Friday, September 16, 2011

OMG! Why is there water INSIDE the boat when it belongs OUTSIDE the boat?!

What on earth will they subject me to next?

I guess the fact that we haven't suffered a personal or marine disaster within the last 48 hours was more than the Knotty Cat could handle.

Yesterday, after getting the heads pumped out, I swept, cleaned, dusted, rearranged our belongings (in other words tried to find room for my books, sewing machine, sewing supplies, mini ironing board, and Hans' clothing), filled up our water tanks (not one square inch of my body was free from sweat after that fun endeavor and why I wore my good clothes I'll never know!), took Wilbur for a hot sweaty walk, picked up some more groceries, and finally took a shower at the shower house (wasted effort on my part as a few minutes later after boarding the Knotty Cat to find a disaster, I was once again thoroughly soaked in sweat). And BTW,are you keeping count of how many times I type 'sweat'? Because that's what you do when you live in Florida. You sweat!!!!!!!

My reward for all these good deeds? I came back to the boat to find about 3 inches of water sloshing around on the port side cabin floor, and the bilge pump was snotty about the whole thing and refused to pump. I tossed poor Wilbur into the cockpit where he climbed onto a cushion, shot me accusing looks and sarcastically thanked me for leaving his precious pitty self alone on a sinking boat.

I grabbed the metal rod that's needed to manually pump out the bilge and joined Wilbur in the cockpit. I had a rapt audience in Wilbur, who, with all the excitement of watching me pump like a mad woman and hearing water splash overboard, forgot that he was upset with me.

Then it was time to find out where all this water was coming from. I opened the port side engine room and nearly fainted when I saw water all over the floor and it appeared as though water was coming in through the shaft that connects the propeller to the boat. It was way too much like the time we took on water in Charleston.

Then the water pump kicked on and water started streaming down from a leaking hose over my head. I turned off the water pressure and the hot water tank, prayed that it wasn't the head, and zipped back to the engine room. The flow eventually stopped and the water that had leaked in, settled around the propeller shaft so at least I now knew that we hadn't sprung a leak.

Hans called me on his way home and said he noticed I'd left a message on his voice mail, and what's up? He figured it couldn't be good because I never call him at work so two hours later when he realized I'd left a message he didn't bother to listen to it and just called me. Hmmmm...

Very long story short, we think a pressure valve on the hot water tank failed. We had a 'discussion' about the fact that I'd left power to the tank on for a few hours but it really shouldn't have caused a problem (so there!)

We are now without water and for some reason the manual pump at the galley sink won't work either.

We have no idea how much water actually leaked out (we'll find out when we're finally able to refill) and I really hope the hot water tank didn't run dry since it's a big no no to operate it while it's empty!

Today Hans will try to find parts and as for the snotty bilge pump?

It's fired, and we're interviewing new ones today. Just like Fritz the GPS, if you refuse to carry your weight and want to act like a prima donna, you're going to go on a little one way trip to the dumpster.

Unfortunately Hans is putting in very long days and instead of enjoying his few free hours relaxing, he's once again tending to the Knotty Cat's selfish needs. And of course to make things even more fun, Wilbur has decided to have another bout of diarrhea!

This is life as we know it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Together again, finally.

I just realized I have no pictures of our Knotty Cat in her new home so you'll just have to suffer with pictures of Wilbur during his two week stay at Doggy Day Care.

King of the mountain.

Wilbur does this at every park.

Finally after two weeks apart, Hans, Wilbur, and I are together again aboard the Knotty Cat.

I picked Wilbur up the day after I arrived back at the boat, and the both of us picked Hans up at the airport on Saturday.

All I can say is, I'm surprised I'm not still frantically circling the airport in search of Delta Blue # 2 Arrivals in search of Hans, and I hate airports! I think I really hate Tampa International Airport the most.

I have no sense of direction and GPS can only help so much. But when one follows the signs to an airport and arrives at a fork in the road, one should be given more choices at said fork than, 'Short Term Parking' (on the left) and 'Car Rental Returns' on the right.

Like how about 'Departures' and 'Arrivals'??? Where the hell are they???

All I knew was, I wasn't looking to park, and I was not returning a rental car.

Of course I took the wrong fork and before I knew it I was exiting the airport and entering the Twilight Zone. Now, normally the voice on my GPS is that of a very calm English lady but even she became a bit hysterical at this turn of events and in addition to shouting 'Recalculating! Recalculating!' she implored me to 'Turn Left' Turn Left' ! even though that would have had me making a sharp turn into the guard rails of a major highway. Unfortunately our GPS is over four years old and it's very apparent that some major road work has been done in the area since then and our old girl couldn't handle it. I also became a bit hysterical and told her to shut the hell up but she wouldn't. We are no longer speaking to each other

I ended up pulling a very iffy U-Turn and zipped off once again toward the airport only this time I approached from the North instead of the South and I prayed the signage from this direction might be better.

It was not and I ended up in a short term parking garage. By now I had Hans on the phone and even though he was the one who'd suffered through an interminable flight across the pond with no knee room whatsoever, a huge line through customs that caused him to be late for a connecting flight, and then a missed flight in Atlanta because he couldn't print his boarding pass in France (where they'd originally tried to send him to Helsinki!), I was the one having a hissy fit. Poor Wilbur wondered why he had to be yanked out of Doggy Care Care where life is 'all about the pitty' only to find himself trapped in the back seat of a vehicle while his mama screamed at an invisible woman.

Thankfully as I shot out of the short term parking garage an attendant assured me I wasn't the first person this has happened to. She then pointed me in the right direction.

I finally found Hans (who by now probably wished he'd taken that damn flight to Helsinki), and for some reason he insisted on taking over the driver's seat. Little Miss Prissy Voice loved this and in a sweet cooing voice, talked him all the way home without a hitch. Bitch!

Hans was supposed to start work yesterday but the owner of the company, after leaving France for the USA, found herself stuck in Rome and would be arriving a day late. Something about a broken windshield wiper on the plane and there was no mechanic available with the proper training to fix it. I personally think that GPS's are trying to take over the world. I bet somewhere out there, a pilot is still wondering how the hell he ended up in Rome when he thought he had the plane pointed towards Atlanta.

I only hope he doesn't tell anyone that a strange voice told him where to go.

This little voice is begging me to take him back to his little friends at Day Care.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Crazy Lives

A couple of weeks ago we no sooner got our Knotty Cat settled in our marina, than Hans and I fled the state for two weeks; Hans flew to France and I flew back home. Wilbur (that lucky dog and I mean that literally) found himself in Doggy Day Care.

Hans' new job is based in France and he will be the U.S. connection so he had to go over there for two very intensive weeks of training. I had to go back home and take care of some family business.

I guarantee you Wilbur had more fun than either of us.

How do I know this? Because the Day Care called me every two days with updates on Wilbur's state of mind, the state of his sensitive tummy, and how much fun he was having with all the other dogs.

I arrived home (the Knotty Cat is now home) yesterday, picked up a much thinner (thanks to many zoomie sessions at Day Care and they sent home the photos to prove it) Wilbur today, and the little man and I will pick Hans up at the airport tomorrow.

Hans and Wilbur are so smug. We were on the very last leg of our journey.

Hmmm, Wilbur is giving our new stomping grounds the sniff test.

He approves.

Wilbur celebrated our arriving safely and on time by sharing with us, his infamous Frog Pose.

After being in Day Care for two weeks, this is what's been on the boat with me today.

I'm not kidding when I say I don't think he's gone to the bathroom once.

He's either in a coma or just too damned tired to care.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Finally home.

We've had a lot going on these past two weeks so I apologize for being so behind on our progress.

After 11 days in the water we finally pulled into our marina...and right on schedule for the first time in our sailing lives! And also for the first time, we had very few technical difficulties. Admittedly we motored in with some smoke blowing out the port engine exhaust but the Knotty Cat enjoys the attention.

It's been a crazy summer for us, cleaning out our apartment, dealing with continuing family issues back home, lining up everything we need in Florida, trying to figure out the complicated mess of changing our driver's licenses, registration and what have you for our vehicles, getting the unpleasant news that our car insurance is now doubling!, finding suitable day care for our Wilbur, and wondering why the hell the post office can't seem to understand that when you ask for your mail to be forwarded, you want it forwarded!!! We have stacks of mail sitting in Pittsburgh that need to be sent to Florida. We are also trying to deal with the heat. It's an odd feeling to be standing still and realize there's not an inch of your body that isn't sweating. I had no idea my ankles had sweat glands!

Wilbur's tummy isn't too happy either so I ended up spending a agonizing afternoon boiling chicken and rice in hopes that he won't wake us up again in the night with an 'emergency'. Even looking at our stove in this heat makes me sick let alone actually using it. Imagine cooking in a sauna and you'll know what I mean.

Hans is currently training on his new job and he thinks he's going to like it. I sure hope so because I don't feel like moving again anytime soon.

I don't even want to know what he's pondering here!

"Hmmm, now that we've lived on a boat, I wonder how she'd feel if I told her it might be fun to live in a tent?"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Still motoring along the GIWW (Gulf Intracoastal Water Way)

A typical evening aboard the Knotty Cat.

I'm sitting on our settee in the salon area which is also where we sleep each night. Wilbur may appear to be small in this picture but you wouldn't believe how huge he can become during the night. I swear he triples in size, oozes all over the place, and we wake up with him taking over more than half of our sleeping space.

I mentioned yesterday that we planned on zipping through the Franklin Lock at 9 AM so we could get on our way. But we weren't prepared for the poor man who docked next to us to run aground. Kevin is working solo and trying to get his newly acquired boat from Maryland to Texas, and even though he only draws a bit over three feet, he's already run aground too many times. Until yesterday he's been lucky enough to get himself off, but then his luck ran out and the Lockmaster at Franklin told us he'd hold the opening for us if we'd just give this poor guy a tow.

Well, the Knotty Cat tried her best but she just couldn't free him. We tried to pull him off by using both our port and starboard stern cleats but he never budged a bit. I'm pretty sure TowBoat US could do it but we felt like deserters as we entered the lock without him and went on our merry way.

We ended the day at Tarpon Point Marina. It's a beautiful place to stay and the staff is friendly beyond belief. We were pretty far away from the actual marina but it seemed like someone was always on hand with a golf cart to get Hans to and from the office.

We actually left Wilbur on the boat (with our new A/C) and ventured over to the tiki bar just a stones throw away from us.

It's that little gazebo over yonder.

They had $5.00 appetizers, and buck and a half drafts. We ended up enjoying an hour or so there before we came back to a wonderfully cooled down boat.

Our Knotty Cat at the dock.

We motored a good 37 or so miles today and found ourselves at Palm Island Marina, just in time for a typical Florida thunder storm. And once again we were greeted by a fantastic staff who helped us dock.

Poor Wilbur had a hot day today and finally felt like he could relax with the A/C. Keep in mind this is also our sleeping area.

Can you see why I don't get a good nights sleep? Wilbur tends to spread out and take up far too much room with his pitty dreams (paddling feet mixed with gulping and kerfluffeling noices), and I wake up with yet one more odd and unexplained bruise.

We hope to get another 40 or so miles under our belt tomorrow, but the port engine is having some smoking issues and we also have a ton of bridges to get through.

The cruising life is never boring. Believe me!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Updates and pictures.

Wilbur used to have a doggy bed in our apartment and we called it his lair. It's where he would take any contraband he could pilfer from trash baskets and what not. We knew as soon as we saw him slink into his 'lair' that he was most likely being a bad boy.

Here he is in his new lair (under our settee in the salon area) which is where he likes to go when he gets hot or we give him an empty water bottle to torment.

This is the marina we stayed at in LaBelle. It's not really a marina as much as it is a dock that can hold up to eight boats. By looking behind Hans, you can see how much use it's had recently and why we didn't bother to dock Mediterranean style and just pulled up along side.

BTW, those weeds or lillies or whatever they are make a great place for all the crockigators to hang out! They are freaking scary and even though I've tried to get pictures of them, they rarely do much more than break the surface of the water.

The sign we decided to ignore. For a brief moment we thought we were busted when someone on the dock called out an Ahoy to us. Luckily it was just a very nice man who'd spotted us from the LaBelle Bridge and being a boat lover, he had some questions for us.

Part of the fun of cruising is meeting a lot of nice people.

Although this reminds me. When we were at Labelle Marina yesterday and were in the process of docking, a man came out of no where and caught the dock lines I tossed to him. He asked us where we were from and upon hearing 'Pittsburgh', he turned on his heel, and without a word stalked off not even giving me a chance to tell him how cute his yappy little chihuahua was. Hans didn't help matters the next day when he ran into Mr. Happy and his yappy dog and said, "What a handsome boy he is, what's his name?" Mr. Happy snarled, "She's a girl and her name is Cocoa." "Oh my, isn't she pretty!" Hans exclaimed, but Mr. Happy wasn't having any of it and once again stalked away.
He's literally the first southerner I've met who still hates us Yankees!

Do we pay attention to signs?

Of course not!

We had plenty of time this morning so we left Wilbur on the air conditioned (yet starting to heat up already) boat and walked to the Coffee Shop in Labelle for some breakfast. I didn't take any pictures of the interior but I loved it!! All very chic and espresso-ish! We each had a sausage egg and cheese biscuit sandwich with our coffee and they were delicious! It's far too hot to use the galley right now so it was the first real breakfast we've had in a week. Do I dare tell you that I eat a cold Pop-Tart every morning? And since it's so hot I don't even make coffee. And coffee is something I normally can't do without.

We were going to go through the Franklin Lock at its 4 PM opening today but ended up arriving two hours early. However, right at the lock there is cheap dockage at a campground.
A government run campground, and don't get me started on things that are run by the government!
Oh, what the hell, here goes anyway! A couple of days ago we thought we might want to stay here in order to zip through the 9AM lock opening and Skipper Bob had info that said to call three days in advance in order to get one of these wonderful slips. We called the number and were told to call another number, which we did, and son-of-a-gun we were told to call yet one more number, and the rather rude and stupid sounding woman who answered said she had no idea what we were talking about, and hung up on us.

So today when we realized we'd be stuck for two hours waiting for the lock to open, we called the number again. Of course we were told to call another number, and when we did, we lucked on to someone who must be new and naive, and forgot that she worked for the government, because she was very nice and said, "Take any slip you want and pay at the office."
I won't go into the particulars of how adventurous it is to dock in a storm but we finally got tied up and $24.00 later (that includes electric), here we are for the night.

This squirrel was absolutely furious when Wilbur (on his leash) pranced past it. It chattered up a storm and I've never gotten this close to one in my life. It didn't care one bit when I took its picture and I probably could have gotten closer but there's this thing called rabies that was in the back of my mind.

Wilbur wants to know what all the chatter is about.

"Mama, did you hear what that creatchter said to me?"

Poor Pitty.

Hans and Wilbur enjoying the air conditioning this evening.

Tomorrow we hope to zip through the Franklin Lock and work our way toward Tarpon Point. At that time we'll once again be dealing with currents and tides, something I surely haven't missed here in the Okeechobee Water Way.