Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Royal Kathina' Ceremony

The Admiral has really takin to Tai Chi over at a center in St. Pete : http://stpetersburg.florida.usa.taoist.org/ . So of course she heard about the Royal Kathrina' Ceremony that was going to be at a Buddhist Temple in Tampa. So she wanted to go and check it out. We drove about 20 minutes from our marina to the Wat Mongkolratanaran Tampa Buddhist Temple. This is a  celebration of the end of the rainy season and that is SO Appropriate for this years summer season here in Florida.

Free Food is part of this celebration, and this is the REAL Tai food,

I am guessing there were a couple of thousand here for this event, this is the line into the food tent, there was no way to sample it all.

We needed a guide to explain the shrines.

The campus is located right on the Hillsborough River

The walk along the river is beautiful and serene, every person here was smiling and happy. Lots of children, all happy!

Some arrived by boat

Bits of wisdom

This is a picture of a picture of the Buddhist shrine that is in the Temple. We were unsure if it would be impolite to take pictures in side the Temple.

These are the resident Monks

A little history of this Temple and community

The Monks seemed to be making sure everything was on schedule.

The Temple was not large enough to seat everyone so the tents set up outside had seating in front of a large Flat screen so everyone could participate in the formal ceremony.

Gotta remove your shoes before entering the Temple

This is where the offerings were placed, not sure who the guy is in the Picture but we think we saw him enter the Temple with his wife just before the Ceremony started. We are speculating that he was a founder of this Temple.

The entry to the Temple

We wanted to sit inside for the ceremony but felt like we would be taking up space for some important members of this community so we sat in the tent outside and watched on the TV.

A procession started the Ceremony, they marched around the Temple three times and then the procession entered the Temple.

This Mobile Shrine was built on a pickup truck and led the procession.

This is also when the Monks are presented with there new Robes. So a lot of the participants are carrying the Orange Robes.

Other gifts and contributions are presented in the procession.

We spent most of the day here and was a wonderful cultural experience for us as we immersed ourselves in this communities serenity, peace and love. I have been in a lot of different churches in my 61 years but it never felt like this. The entire event was about love, giving and peace. Did not notice anything about sinning or guilt!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Manatee Story

The Manatee Story

There are signs around the marina warning about Manatee’s in the area and how to go dead slow to keep them safe. Well we were here for several months and even though we had driven to the south edge of Tampa Bay to see Manatees where they congregate in the warm outflow of a energy plant, we never saw any, anywhere else. Of course they would make the local evening news like when a group of them got stranded in a fresh water lake near the coast after Debbie when the Gulf waters receded. Then there was a bit of local hysteria when a tourist woman over on the beach at Ft. DeSoto was seen swimming on the back of a Manatee and several people video tapped her and turned it over to the news stations and the Police. The Police soon found out who it was and she got a big fine. Where we are from it is Don’t Mess With Texas, but here it is Don’t Mess with our Manatee’s! It’s ok to mess with there Burmese pythons; in fact you can take them home. And I don’t think they care if you mess with the Gators either, You could probably take a pick load home if you wanted.

This is where she fell in
The Best Manatee Story though happened just a stones throw from Wand’rin Star. There is a small dock that several people use to launch their Kayak’s from. Also you usually see one or two people fishing from this dock even though fishing is not supposed to be allowed in the marina. There is a couple that have this blue double Kayak and they often store it on this dock, I have seen them go out often in the evenings to fish coming back in after dark. Well the story goes that the sister of the woman who owns the blue kayak was visiting from out of town. They decided to come down and just go kayaking. The sister had never been in a Kayak before. She was also a bit on the heavy side. As she attempted to board the Kayak the kayak flipped over and she went into the Bay. After she got here head up she stretched out her legs and discovered she was actually in very shallow water. The water was just above her knees. Her sister realized she may need some help to get her little bit heavy sister out of the water and back up onto the dock, she noticed a couple of guys down the dock and went to ask for their assistance. The woman in the water began to realize she was not standing on the bottom, in fact she was standing on a Manatee. The two men came quickly and carefully pulled her back up onto the dock. The big Manatee just patiently waited until she was up on the dock safe then swam slowly away.
Eventually as more and more people around the Marina talked about seeing Manatee’s here we started keeping a sharper lookout. Finally one morning I saw a mom and pup swimming parallel to a long dock and I just walked along side and observed, they swam away. A week later we were returning from the store and the Admiral sighted them and she got some pics but they were farther away and you could just see parts of them.

I was pulling all 300' of anchor chain out here on the dock when I saw a mom and pup manatee

Had to get all the stuff out of the locker, Crawl in, disconnect the chain from the strong point and replace the connection with a 3/4" line long enough so I could cut it free if I had to.

It was time for me to clean out the anchor locker and make sure our two anchors were ready to go again. I recently read an account of a West Coast Sailor who had to cut loose his anchor rode fast to save his boat. He had all chain rode but he was smart enough to have connected the bitter end of the chain with a piece of line to the strong point in his anchor locker so all he had to do to get free of his anchor in increasing dangerous conditions was to cut the line and just dump his anchor and rode. He was again smart enough to connect a fender to the chain so he could come back later and retrieve his anchor and rode. This left enough of an impression on me that I wanted to modify my chain to do the same thing as my chain was connected to the strong point in the anchor locker and It would be very difficult to get free of the anchor if a situation developed that conditions were bad and it would be dangerous or impossible to retrieve all the chain and anchor. See the story at:

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2012/october/A-Swell-Story.asp .

I took the time to take out all the chain and line, remark it at intervals making it easy to know how much you have out when anchoring. I ran the wash down pump, and the windless to make sure everything was good to go.

It was a 5 hour job all in all, but when I was pulling the 300” of chain out on the dock the mom and pup Manatee were right there by our boat barely moving, I ran to get the camera and was able to get some neat shots of them just a few feet away. Darn the Admiral was back in Ft. Worth visiting her parents for a week.

The very next morning I popped out of the boat and there they were again. This time they stayed right there for over 30 minutes just floating near the bow of the boat. Here are just a few of the pics I took:

This 60' Azimut was all white before we left for Austin.
When I got back to the Marina from our trip to Austin I noticed this new boat docked out at the end of our dock. The next day I went down to see my friend John who is in the slip right next and realized this was "Hiatus" A boat that was all white when I left. There was a two man crew down there still painting the Hull. I asked several in the Marina why did he decide to paint the hull red? No one liked it. It was sort of unsettling why would someone take a beautiful boat and do this to it? Well the following day I found out he was a Razorback Fan. Mystery solved, all is fair when it comes to supporting your Alma Mater. While I am not at all about to repaint Wand'rin Star Burnt Orange, I have a Texas sized Horns flag to fly when I'm feelin it!. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A few details before returning to the Motherland

It was time to return to the Motherland and take care of business, annual Dr. visit’s and Fun with family before we start the 2nd portion of our trip. A couple of things popped up on the to do list to get the boat ready to be alone a few weeks. One item was to convert all the deck level navigation lights to LED. All other mast, deck  and navigation lights were already replaced with LED fixtures. Now replacement LED bulbs are available for the old incandescent type fixtures. We already replaced all the interior lights with LED replacement bulbs so this little project completes the vessel and thereby reduces the power demands for any type of lighting to minimal consumption. The folks at JSI in St. Pete were very helpful in helping me pick out the right  LED replacement bulbs, each of the three bulbs were $50 each but that was easy when most complete LED fixtures are in the $400-$600 range. 

I replaced the two white stern lights (we have two since when the dingy is on the Davits one is blocked by the dingy),  so these are the two on the left, the old incandescent is stored in the center. I was just getting the bow combination red/green on the right ready to install.
 Dingy Duty
 The next item was to get the dingy down put the outboard on and run it around a bit to make sure all is good there. The dingy will get a workout when we get to Marathon. The morning was spent just cleaning the dingy and after it dried out the motor was on and two pulls and I was off, it ran smoothly all the way out the channel nearly to Gandy bridge, then it started sputtering a bit. I began to get back near shore since I did not want to row this dingy to far. I made sure not to slow down to much since I did not want the engine to quit till I got closer to the mother ship and sure enough as soon as I backed off on the throttle it died, I glided to the dock. I am assuming it was bad gas. The fuel has been in the 3 gallon tank for a year now and I am sure it just needs replacing. I took the fuel tank to my truck and poured it in, this is the only quick way to recycle bad gas. I will get a fresh tank of Ethanol free fuel and try again to make sure before we depart for St. Augustine.

The Osprey take over every mast head in the marina where they carry their catch and eat. They then drop a egg sized mess of fish bones on the deck.

This 68' Irwin is right across from us on our dock. I have counted 11 Cormorants roosting on the spreaders at night. That boat gets pelted.

These are Yellow ballon like commercially available bird defense products. They do not work.

A fine example of bird poop
 Bird Defense
The other item was to construct some bird defense to ward off the Cormorants. As long as we are on the boat they do not land on our spreaders and poop up the place. But the last time we were gone for Isaac we returned to a big mess and so some serious cleaning was in place. The boaters here at Westshore report that this is the worst year ever hear for the bird poop problem and I think it is because it was a bumper crop of baby seabirds around here. Anyway I have watched as other sailboats in the marina tried all sorts of commercially available products and tactics for scaring the birds away from their vessel. The one that works the best is a line of colorful streamers hoisted up the mast. So I walked around the marina to see who seem to have the best design and copied them. We have two sets of spreaders so I strung 3 streamer per spreader on a line measured at the right height and hoisted it all up the mast. Unfortunately the three days of winds here in Tampa from sandy blew my streamers out so when I got back I spent the afternoon cleaning and putting my streamers back together. My dock buddy John reported that the boat stayed clean till after Sandy, then the limp streamers just didn’t fly anymore.

I liked the way this guy rigged up his bird defense streamers so I copied him. 

These are my streamers...they work great when they are flying.

 Visitor From Texas

We got a call from Kevin who flew to Florida from Corpus to take his 30’ Cape Dorey back to Texas. He had just arrived in Gulfport after cruising up the ICW from the Ft. Myers area so we drove over and had dinner with him. We then took him to a local Publix so he could get a load of provisions and helped him get it all in his dingy and bid him Farewell. At the time he hoped he could find a weather window to run across the Gulf to Corpus, or if not that far perhaps to Gulfport Miss., or Venice LA. Well once the fronts start coming every 4-5 days it makes choosing a window a bit of a gamble and then there was Sandy out there closing on Cuba. He eventually decided to just travel the ICW and right now he is in Panama City waiting out the next front that is passing through here today.

Here is Kevins Awesome 30' Cape Dorey all fixed up for long term cruising in Gulfport, FL.

Since some of our family lives in Seattle and another bunch in Austin we all met in Austin for early Thanksgiving. Russell wanted to go to Luling for some real Texas BBQ while in the Heart of Texas so yeah buddy I jumped in the car and loved every taste. We all took the opportunity to go to my brothers production of Rag Time at the new Topfer Theater at Zachary Scott. If you visit Austin make sure you take time to see whatever is on at this theatre, The next closet experience of this quality would be in New York City. We had two full weeks of Super Fine Family Time and we had excellent reports from the Dr’s so ready to get back and get to cruising.

These guys are the real thing, NO ONE can do Texas BBQ better. This is the smoke house at Luling BBQ where you guy choose and buy your meat.

We had an a great evening at the New Topfer Theatre to see Rag Time directed by my brother Dave.

House Sitting at my Brothers home. Taking care of Luna, a Chinese Crested

Sandy will change the immediate future of all East Coast Cruisers. Waters North of the Chesapeake may have changed. Here is an excerpt from the Waterway Guide; just one of the major weekly updates that East Coast Cruisers follow to stay abreast of current conditions on the East coast:

“Waterway Guide Cruisers update:

We all may have witnessed the storm of a generation. The loss of life, livelihood, and property saddens our hearts. For boaters, an entire cruising region has been transformed in a moment -- new inlets have been formed, old channels filled, hundreds of marinas damaged or destroyed, ports of call nearly wiped out.
Mariners are advised that the aids to navigation in all Fifth District waters and coastal areas should be considered unreliable due to Hurricane
Sandy and the associated rainfall, wind driven storm surge and extreme high tides. Aids to navigation may be missing, damaged, off station or displaying improper characteristics. In addition, mariners may encounter shoaling, obstructed waterways, floating and submerged debris and abnormal currents. Report any navigation outages or hazards to navigation to the nearest Coast Guard unit or to the U.S. Coast Guard
Navigation Center website at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov. “
We Left Galveston bound for Corpus Christi by just a few months after Ike. There once was a lot of homes on Bolivar Island, Ike blew them and all their contents into the Gulf and Galveston Bay, we dodged a lot of debris, floating stuff, refrigerators, etc. The debris was still floating around for years after. You can imagine what it might be like as you get close to Jersey Shore. It will be a while before normal navigation returns to those areas. A lot of cruisers will have to make decisions on which way they want to point the bow.