Jacks over Fives

October 27, 2013 Posted by Deb

Fifty two people, seven marinas, and a bunch of dinghies. That was the theme for dinghy poker day starting at Marina Rio Vista and including Marios, NanaUana, Ram, BackPackers, Xcellala, Tijax, and El Progresso Marinas.

Each marina had a deck of cards, food, drinks, and a tour if you were inclined. To cut down on cheating, we had to initial the back of our card when we received it; and marina staff signed off on the card and a visit sheet. The top ten poker hands got the money.

We didn’t hear what first was (four 7’s) but second (9’s over kings full house) got $1,700 quetzels (over $220 and he donated it to local charities). Jacks and fives came in 20th and we got skunked in the raffle. Good time, though.

VistaRioDock

NanaJuanaDockDeb

Deb used to teach fitness classes here 19 years ago -- had to commute 45 minutes with a trolling motor from Suzanna's

Deb used to teach fitness classes here 19 years ago — had to commute 45 minutes with a trolling motor from Suzanna’s

PokerResults

Our Back Yard: Cayo Quemado or Texan Bay

October 21, 2013 Posted by Deb

It was a long, hard week just to get to where we could move the boat even though it was handed over to us in excellent shape.

The folks at SeaKist were/are great. We were running out of water and did not want to fire up the watermaker, the internet was non-existent, and only one of our phones would reach civilization. So we left for Fronteras and Ram Marina for at least a few days.

We also need to practice getting under the bridge with a 65-foot mast. The bridge is not a problem but the power lines about 30 feet beyond the bridge require an immediate 90-degree turn to the left, a run parallel to the bridge, and then a sharp right. Oh … and there is current.

The SeaKist Crow's Nest Summer Home for Neytiri

The SeaKist Crow’s Nest Summer Home for Neytiri

Dinghy Ride to Check Out the Neighborhood

Dinghy Ride to Check Out the Neighborhood

Water Lillies Along the Way

Water Lillies Along the Way

Swirly Wake

Swirly Wake

Neighbors Down the Way

Neighbors

Living On the Water in the Mangroves, No Land

Living On the Water in the Mangroves

Jet Pack Expo At Backpackers, Sunday Afternoon in Fronteras on the Rio

Jet Pack Expo At Backpackers, Sunday Afternoon in Fronteras on the Rio

Four Hundred Pounds

October 11, 2013 Posted by Deb

We decommissioned our U.S. visit which included putting away two cars, winterizing the Sea Ray, mouse poison everywhere, and stashing all the toys we got out. The trailer and old Sanity dinghy found a new home over the summer; and we built a second floor in the pole barn in Iowa so for the first time, we had room.

We planned on shipping several hundred pounds via ocean freight to Guatemala but Deb decided to try and fit everything on the plane. After two trips to Wal*Mart for new bags and shuffling stuff around to make five 49.5 lb. bags, we were packed with, including very heavy carry-ons, a total approaching 400 pounds. Of course we had to pay at the airport but it was cheaper than shipping. The only problem was that we had to carry it through airports and bus terminals and fit it all into the odd cab. It is quite doable in the U.S. where you can rent large carts but imagine a scenario where five or ten guys are trying to grab everything to “help” or get you to go to their cab, all in a foreign language. It was too much luggage for two people so we were planning on the old Venezuelan caterpillar approach of advancing about 20 feet at a time moving quickly between piles and yelling NO a lot.

All That and Three People in One Cab for 5 Hours

All That and Three People in One Cab for 5 Hours

Waiting at Bruno’s for the Final Boat Run to Texan Bay and Neytiri

Waiting at Bruno’s for the Final Boat Run to Texan Bay and Neytiri

Decommisioning - How Many Boats in This Picture?

Decommisioning – How Many Boats in This Picture?

Wrapping up a U.S. Summer

October 5, 2013 Posted by Deb

We had a U.S. wish list when we arrived from Guatemala for a cold Memorial Day Cast Iron Canoe trip. We thought we had the summer under control until September snuck up on us. We had to shift into a whole different gear with no more than a few days between final medical, dental, and end of season functions. Oh … and some of the boat part orders had 23-day shipping estimates on them and we cut that a bit thin. Our biggest regret was missing friends that we had promised to visit and we’ve been taking some jabs for that.

A Day at Our Private R/C Field with Dan and Anca Smith and Our Housemate, Bob Dreyer.

A Day at Our Private R/C Field with Dan and Anca Smith and Our Housemate, Bob Dreyer

After a Year of Training and Anticipation, Rubber Duck Racers Walk to the Starting Line

After a Year of Training and Anticipation, Rubber Duck Racers Walk to the Starting Line

And They’re Off

And They’re Off

The Mighty Mississippi

September 21, 2013 Posted by Deb

Since we dug the old 1973 SeaRay out for the trip to northern Minnesota in August, it seemed like we should use it more before it got buried in storage again. We love the Mississippi River, but one of us had concerns (Chuck). It is an awfully old boat to be taking into sometimes challenging waters. The challenges come from traffic, locks and dams, and debris. We added a few more challenges to the list in our September trip but more on that later.

We would never risk taking company along on this trip due to the high probability of bad things happening and that was a perfect fit for Jeff and Marti (cousins on Deb’s side). We called with about five days notice and they signed on. We met in Muscatine, IA, in the late afternoon, loaded the boat, parked the cars and took off in search of uninhabited sand beaches with lots of firewood.

All That Fom One Boat

All That From One Boat

MississippiCampingSeaRayIsland

Fog Mini-Tornados in the Morning

Fog Mini-Tornadoes in the Morning

Sunrise

Sunrise

Friday the 13th in Lock and Dam Number 13

The challenges started on Friday the 13th. The lock operator asked us if we, “knew what we were getting into.” He successfully got us curious and his concern was that the wind was coming straight out of the northeast across a very large open lake above the lock and it did not look to him like we had the boat for it.

He offered/suggested that we ride the lock back down and turn back south. We said we were going to go for it but most on the boat got a bit freaked as the waves squirted thru the gap in the lock doors about 3 feet above the normal waterline. Lots of noise, too.

The gates opened, the waves crashed in, the water in the lock boiled; and we wrapped a handling line in the prop. Big Oops. Jeff cut his hand trying to free the line, the boat rotated 180, we thought the Mercruiser drive (sail drive to cruisers) would get ripped off, and we had a bit of a time crunch since locks don’t take a timeout for 19 foot runabout issues. There wasn’t a whole lot of choice so I peeled down and jumped into yet another body of water full of air and strong currents. I was reminded of Devi on Arctic Tern in Dominica when she said she could “feel the devil biting at her a…” near that waterfall I tried to drown in.

We freed the line while riding a bucking bronco, fired up the engine, shoved it quickly in gear, and shot a column of water about 15 feet in the air because we forgot to lower the lower unit. We cleared the lock and plowed through the rough lake just off plane and the SeaRay handled it very well.

We Had to Wait for That Guy

We Had to Wait for That Guy

They Let Us in RightTthru There

They Let Us in Right Thru There

Keeping Us Off the Lock Wall: A Slimy Job

Keeping Us Off the Lock Wall: A Slimy Job

Galena

The Galena side trip is something we would not have done with full information. It’s a kayak/canoe river that used to be the home for 16 paddlewheelers before they chopped down all the trees and it silted in. We did some prop damage, slid over sunken trees, dodged downed trees, and churned a lot of mud. Then we heard that you can’t take a boat in there. Anyway, it was wonderful and the highlight of the trip.

We Were Told Later This Hasn't Been Navigable Since the Early 1900s

We Were Told Later This Hasn’t Been Navigable Since the Early 1900s

Galena-Illinois-Poopsies

The Kindness of Strangers

Our challenges were not over. Getting into and out of Galena put us late in the day and it was beach hunting time. We were low on fuel but felt a quarter tank would get us to Savannah, IL, easily; and our preferred campsite was about a mile shy of Savannah. It turned out that the SeaRay is out of gas at 1/8 of a tank on the guage. We were within a mile of a great campsite and the sun was getting low when the engine sucked the last drop. It is not a good idea to be mid-channel with barges lurking about so we paddled directly to shore.

Who would give a complete stranger three gallons of gas and loan out your favorite gas can? I hiked to a couple of houseboats we had passed earlier and interrupted a wonderful steak dinner for four on shore with tablecloths and all the trimmings. They gave me their generator gas and would not take anything for it. After four hikes, they had their can back and we had three gallons. The alternatives to finding those great houseboat folks were all bad and would have cost us at least a day. Now we have to do something for a stranger to adjust our karma.

Heading South

The Birds are Staging for Their Flight South and So Are We

The Birds are Staging for Their Flight South and So Are We

You Can Never Go Home Again

We tried to drop the boat off at one of the few places left that will deal with ancient boats, Red Rock Marina near Pella, IA. They, however, had shut down most of their operations and emptied their chandlery. That gave us a little time to kill so we went searching for one of the prettiest little beaches on the reservoir.

In the early 70’s we would ski until dark, camp and party on that beach, get up early, drive the boat back to the marina and stick it on shore, change clothes, and go directly to work in Des  Moines only to repeat the cycle that afternoon. We couldn’t find our beach. Years of erosion turned what must have been a small pocket of beautiful white sand into rocks and a coal seam. Bummer. Deb did get poison ivy in the search, though.

RedRockNoBeach

In the News!

September 4, 2013 Posted by Deb

Sail Magazine contacted us by email while we were underway from Honduras to Guatemala. They had read our blog and might want to put a little article in their new special Multihull Sailor issue. I thought that was pretty cool, but by now it seemed like such a long time ago. The magazine came out yesterday and we rushed to Barnes & Nobel to see if we had a mention. Pretty cool article in their “CAT PEOPLE” section.

CAT People

CAT People

The photos were taken by 1) a tour guide on top of a mountain in St. Kitts, 2)  by our friends John and Cyndi on Cynergy from a beautiful sunset in the San Blas islands, and 3) by Mike & Linda on Casa del Mar from Honduras’ best kept secret, Cayos Cochinos.

Multihull Sailor, special edition of Sail Magazine

Multihull Sailor, Special Issue of Sail Magazine

 

Minnesota August “Must Do”

August 30, 2013 Posted by Deb

We did our August duty. We went to the State Fair, rented a cabin on a lake up north, kayak’d, canoed, skied, watched the Perseid shower, did the Mississippi headwaters, and tubed the Apple River.

The trip north came first and we headed for Iowa to break out a few of the toys for a family reunion at a cabin on Long Lake near Park City. We went a week early and it took all of that because the old ski boat had not only been used as a shelf for 3 years but was buried behind years of debris. There were battery, tire, registration, plate, and trailer issues but most importantly, we splashed the boat in Lake Red Rock just to see if it would still run. All 190 horses fired up pretty quickly, actually, and we took a nostalgia lap of the reservoir (our first date was there about 40 years ago).

We greased up the axles, hooked up a 1996 E150 van and headed north to pick up my brother Bill at the airport from Alaska and rendezvous with sister Barb and Michael from Missouri. We discovered/remembered later that this summer marked the 40th birthday of that old Sea Ray. We threw in the ski gear in the foolish hope that late 50- and 60+-year-old people could still pull that off.

Caravan North

Caravan North

Boat House

Boat House

Main House

Main House

The rental cabin was old but nice and had a newer bunk house that had 3 floors and room for more than a dozen. The neighbor was happy there were only five of us since he just survived about twenty 20 somethings. Brother Bill took over the boat house.

Not a Covered Bridge for Cars but for Party Folks

Not a Covered Bridge for Cars but for Party Folks

Nice to See Clean Water Again -- Fish Hook River

Nice to See Clean Water Again

Fish Hook River

Fish Hook River

Over the Wake

Over the Wake

Which Way's The Boat?

Which Way’s The Boat?

Sea Ray Pulled Through

Sea Ray Pulled Through In Fine Shape

Mississippi Headwater Bike Trip

It was nice to return to old stomping grounds. We did a 20-mile loop of Itasca State Park and did the obligatory headwaters shots.

Wilderness Trail Itasca State Park

Wilderness Trail Itasca State Park

Jumping Over the Mississippi

Jumping Over the Mississippi

Road Trip to Walker, Shingobee Bay, and Our Old Cabin

We picked a gorgeous, wind-free day and drove 30 miles to Walker for the highlight nostalgia tour of Leech Lake, Shingobee Bay, and the cabin we had in the family for 50 years. We believe that this summer marks the 50th year since our family bought it and we often regret selling it. We stopped at the Kaldor’s dock but they weren’t home. We did run into our old long term neighbors, the Davis’, and chatted briefly with them. Cruising by the cabin either by car or boat is tough on all of us so we didn’t stay long.

Our Old Dock on Shingobee from the Kaldor’s

Our Old Dock on Shingobee from the Kaldor’s

The Apple River, Wisconsin

Now a tame, environmentally sound trip but in the old days the river flowed with mooning teenagers and beer cans not to mention beer byproducts. We celebrated the Commiteymoon with our friends who visited us in Trinidad (Bill and Karen) along with Bill and Nancy Kostur from our former employed life.

KarenAppleRiver

KosturAppleRiver

DebAppleRiverMcteer

Wrapping up August

HorsesStateFair

MNStateFair

All the Toys Had to Go Back to Iowa in 100-Degree A/C

All the Toys Had to Go Back to Iowa in 100-Degree A/C

Our Old Dinghy from Sanity Went On To a New Owner … Sad

Our Old Dinghy from Sanity Went On To a New Owner … Sad

Whiteface Reservoir

July 30, 2013 Posted by Deb

We were invited on an annual tradition camping outing that included four of the Cast Iron Canoe couples.

The weather was bad at the Tall Ships show but by the first night up at Whiteface, the temperature plummeted and it started to rain. The rain pretty much didn’t stop all through Saturday but Forest was ready with two huge tarps and several hundred feet (actually several miles but that’s another story) of quarter inch poly line and we strung up a large canopy, stoked the fire, and most of the campers congregated on our site. Great socializing but a bunch of boats were sitting on trailers and we were definitely on plan B for entertainment. The food was incredible as well as exotic. Bacon wrapped olives grilled over a fire was a hit for some.

Whiteface1

Whiteface2

The final day (for some) started out equally ugly but in true MN fashion, everyone went down to the landing and started rigging their boats. The leap of faith paid off as the weather broke and temps made close to 70 when we hit the water. The eight boat fleet consisted of two Hobie 16’s, a two masted daysailer we don’t know the name of, two power boats, two kayaks and a wind surfer.

Whiteface3

CardinalPuff

 

Whiteface4

HobieCatForrestChuck

Tall Ships

July 26, 2013 Posted by Deb

On the way to a camping trip at Whiteface Reservoir, we stopped in Duluth at the Tall Ships gathering.

It was a great show but what was more impressive was the crowd. The turnout was pretty good on a 50-degree windy and rainy day. Duluth people are tough. We saw everything from winter coats to t-shirts. The boats came from all over the world and there were long waiting lines for rides.

TallShips1

TallShips2

TallShips3

TallShips4

TallShps6

TallShips7

Duluth_tall_ships

600 Miles On a Bike

July 22, 2013 Posted by Deb

In the Believe It or Not category, Iowa has the longest paved biking loop in the country at 72 miles. It’s concrete and it is new and it is wide enough for a car. Who has the money to do that these days? We set out to conquer it and got about 25 miles into it when a very nasty storm front came through. We decided to bail on the trip and I blew a tire on the way back. We also discovered our bike pump seals had dried up so Deb rode to the car while I walked a bit over four miles. The storm fizzled and the day turned out great so we have that loop on the list to try again.

Welded Farm Implements -- Perry, Iowa

Welded Farm Implements — Perry, Iowa

Half Way -- Calhoun Lake, Minneapolis

Half Way — Calhoun Lake, Minneapolis

Overlooking St. Paul Approaching the River Rtrail

Overlooking St. Paul Approaching the River Trail

East Mississippi River Trail and the Paddle Boats: St. Paul, Minnesota

East Mississippi River Trail and the Paddle Boats: St. Paul, Minnesota

Normandale Lake -- Bloomington, Minnesota

Normandale Lake — Bloomington, Minnesota

Lanesboro Trail Beyond Preston, Minnesota

Lanesboro Trail Beyond Preston, Minnesota

Canon River Trail and What's Left of Hidden Valley Campground

Canon River Trail and What’s Left of Hidden Valley Campground

Cannon River Overtaking Campground

Cannon River Overtaking Campground

Battle Creek Park -- St. Paul, Minnesota

Battle Creek Park — St. Paul, Minnesota

Indian Mounds -- St. Paul, Minnesota

Indian Mounds — St. Paul, Minnesota