Monday, March 28, 2011

Panty Gram and a Haircut

Lately, we have had a bout of company on the S/V Thin Line.

For Donnie and Janet Chambers, it was a return visit...this wasn't their first sailboat adventure, nor will it be their last.

You may remember them from their last trip... [if not, click here] ...most people seem to remember Janet as "the one who wrote on everything" as she was left unattended on their last night and while everyone else slept, she wrote little notes with a permanent marker everywhere. We found them for weeks after they had departed and even found a previously undiscovered one while unpacking the contents of the boat during our time in the boatyard.

Fortunately for me, Janet accidentally left a pair of her under-lovelies behind and they ended up in my laundry basket, hence giving me a chance at a bit of payback.

I held on to those underwear for almost a year without ever letting her know I had them.

With less than a month to go before their annual visit, the Chambers received a "Panty Gram" in the mail. In it were drink tickets for the flight, a little Keys reading material, and the wayward with a few notes of my own added. The outside of the envelope was decorated with a variety of my artist's rendition of underwear and in great, big letters, "Panty Gram - I see London. I see France. Guess who left their underpants..."

I hope the mailman got a chuckle out of it.

After the long drive from the airport, we finally managed to coax Janet into dropping her jeans and giving us a peak.

This was only the start to the great time we had while they were here.
First off, we headed back to our mooring ball...quite the momentous occasion for Jeff and I after being in the yard for so long. Then we spent most of our time floating around, looking out for dolphins, catching some rays, eating our fill of seafood, concocting new rum cocktails, and watching the sunset. One of the most exciting events that happened was a storm that blew in during the middle of the day bringing with it gale force winds. Jeff and Janet had the misfortune of being out in the dinghy while Donnie and I remained dry inside the sailboat.

The storm didn't last long, but it was quite a blow.
Jeff and Janet made it safely back to the boat, albeit soaking wet.
They got dried off while I made shrimp po' boys for lunch - left-over shrimp sauteed with carrots and celery, topped with a slice of cheddar cheese and a creamy mustard sauce, all on a bakery-fresh bun.
The sun came out and all was well again.
After sunset, we headed across the street to Annette's for dinner.

After another day of floating and sunning, Janet did something rather unexpected: she made an appointment to get her haircut at Salon Blanco with my friend, Jen.
She said she was ready for a change.

Come Friday morning, I thought sedation was going to be necessary to get her through the ordeal, or at the very least, a box of tissues for when she burst into tears. But, she got through it like a champ and loved the results.

I think it's the perfect hairstyle for her and looks fabulous!

With the weekend, came the Seafood Festival - an event I look forward to all year around. Once again, Janet and I volunteered to work the front gate...which gets us free admission and our matching t-shirts. The food is always excellent and there's live music all day long.

And with that, came our second set of company.

Meet fellow Louisvillians, Coley and Karin McDevitt.

Coley had to make a business trip to Fort Lauderdale and made arrangements for his wife, Karin, to meet him so they could drive down and spend a few days in the Keys. In the short time they were here, we were able to go to CastAway's for dinner, the Stuffed Pig for breakfast, and the Seafood Festival for Howard Livingston. Sunday, they planned their own catamaran outing in Key West, complete with snorkeling and kayaking, and Donnie and Janet tagged along.

Monday morning had Karin and Coley headed for the airport.

We all met for another breakfast at the Stuffed Pig and when they headed North, the remaining four of us went South to Bahia Honda where we did a bit of beach combing and exploring.

Next stop was Veteran's Beach located at the far side of the 7 mile bridge.

Then it was back to the boat to grab the dog and the dinghy and do a little exploring of Boot Key.
We pretty much wore ourselves out and ordered pizza for dinner.

This time around, the Chamber's stayed longer than they ever have before, and once again, it was over much too quickly. Tuesday came around and it was time for them to catch a flight. We had one more meal together - breakfast at the Wooden Spoon - and sent them on their way.
We miss you guys and hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We're Back....

D-1 is no longer "Out of Service."

D-1 is no longer unoccupied.

We're back on the ball!

We took the short trip from Marathon Boat Yard to Boot Key Harbor this morning and tied up to our mooring ball.

We've had our celebratory champagne and are having a nice casual day floating around the ball. There's about 15 knots of wind blowing a nice breeze out of the south and it's currently sunny skies and 83 degrees.

Dolphins just swam by the boat - much to our delight.

We also have company...Donnie and Janet are back for a visit...good times are sure to be had.

[Details to follow...]

Life is good.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Memory Lane

On April 1, 2009, I boarded the motor vessel Yachts a' Fun and left Boot Key Harbor. My traveling companions and owners of the boat, Dominick and Valerie Lichioveri, had left their home in Maryland on November 1st [2008] and headed south with the hopes of crossing to the Bahamas. They landed on mooring ball G-1 of the City Marina a few days before Christmas. We waved in passing - we were on mooring G-2 at the time - and promised to meet for cocktails Christmas Eve. We were fast friends from that point on.

We rang in the New Year with Dom, Val, and their dog - Prince, and the rest of the winter months were spent swimming off of their boat, cooking dinners, and exploring the area. We spent my birthday rafted up together at Bahia Honda. We went to the flea market in Big Pine, spent a day in Key West, attended the Pig Races, volunteered at the Seafood Festival, and hosted a St. Patrick's Day get-together complete with corned beef and cabbage and green jello shots...just to name a few of the fun days we had together.

Spring arrived and their talk turned toward heading home. We hated to see them leave and even came up with a plan to "buddy boat" with them up the East Coast.

But then a position became available at the City Marina and the staff coaxed Jeff into applying. Needless to say, he got the job, hence putting an end to our travel plans on the sailboat...but not necessarily an end to mine. I decided to accompany them on their trek back north with plans to fly back to Marathon when the trip was over.

Our first day out of the harbor on the open water got us all the way to John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. It took us the whole day to get there by water. Jeff hopped in the car and met us there in an hour. We stayed at Pennekamp for 3 days due to high winds and when it came time to throw off our anchor lines and head for the mainland on the fourth day, Jeff headed back to Marathon and his new job.

You may ask what brought on this stroll down memory lane?
Valerie and Dominick arrived in Marathon this past Tuesday. An opportunity arose for them to deliver a motor home for a friend and they jumped at the chance to flee from the cold and head south.

We were quite happy to see them and our time together has been spent laughing and reminiscing about our Winter of '08 and the trip of '09. I kept a travel log of our month long journey and got it out to look at it for the first time since I wrote the pages almost 2 years ago. The journal is a fair account of our daily accommodations, the weather, miles traveled per day, but mostly it talks about the food. I can tell you what we ate for almost everyday of our voyage.

In No Name Harbor, we watched the dolphins and had popcorn for dinner.

At Crandon Point, the starboard motor failed and we had to wait for a part. We ate clam linguine while wicked winds picked up blowing white caps across the bay.

Next day we arrived at Los Olas after traveling 48 miles and going under 21 bridges. We did a load of laundry and walked down to the strip for a slice of pizza.

We anchored the next night at Phil Foster Park in N. Palm Beach where we cooked corned beef and potatoes and took a rogue wave at 4:50 am.

The next day was Vero Beach with dinner at the Riverside Cafe. The next day, after a hair-raising bus ride into town, we made alfredo with chicken and broccoli.

From there, we were off to Melbourne to stay put for the Easter weekend. We dyed eggs and checked out a couple of the local eateries.

Our next stop was the 7 Seas Marina in Daytona where we sat out some bad weather. We made the best of it with a walk to the beach and a trip to the liquor store. We had BLT's for dinner.

The next day found us in St. Augustine where we explored the historic city and took in some live music. The next day we headed to the spanish bakery for breakfast then toured a few of the old homes and their gardens and found a quaint little park with a huge jasmine arbor that had just come into bloom. We discovered a little Cuban restaurant right on the water front that had great food and the most excellent margaritas.

Underway and leaving St. Augustine at 8:18 am, we arrived at our anchorage in the Brickhill River [Georgia] by 4 pm. It was quite the adventure when Dom sheared a pin on the outboard while going to shore and had to row back. We had grilled brie and black forest ham sandwiches with baked apples for dinner and saw wild horses in the morning as we weighed anchor and headed to Savannah.

A boat repair kept us in Savannah for several days, but we didn't mind. We made good use of the marina's courtesy car and explored the waterfront nightlife, shopped for provisions, found the oldest living live oak [over 900 years old!], and sampled the local BBQ.

Charleston was just a hop, skip, and a jump away on the ICW [Intercoastal Waterway] and we spent our first evening sitting at the bar at Hank's drinking dirty martini's and eating rock shrimp, calamari, and shrimp and grits. The following day we explored the city market - where Valerie thought shea butter was something she should eat and found out differently while I giggled hysterically at her faux pas.

Lunchtime found us at Hyman's Seafood where we split a pitcher of Long Island Ice tea and ate fried green tomatoes, she crab soup, and hush-puppies. We toured the Provost Dungeon and had drinks at the Blind Tiger in their beautiful and ancient courtyard.

We left Charlestown and went "outside" - meaning we didn't travel the ICW but went out of the harbor into the open the open water of the Atlantic. We hauled ass to Cape Fear, North Carolina, but it took us over 200 gallons of fuel to get there. Once docked at Southport Marina the journal simply states, "Dominick grumpy." Probably the fuel bill.

So Val and I took our leave, found the Indian Trail Marker Tree -estimated to be over 800 years old, and then the Cape Fear Restaurant where we split a bottle of wine [Pinot Evil as a tribute to Dominick's mood] and ate caesar salads topped with grilled steak.

Next stop was Swansboro where we had steak fajitas for dinner.

Travelling 91 miles the next day, we pulled into a quaint, little marina in Belhaven, NC, and ate dinner at River Forest Manor, a Victorian mansion built in 1899.

The following day found us in Elizabeth City where we were greeted by the famous "Rose Buddies" [i.e. retired old guys with nothing better to do] who promptly alerted the mayor of the arrival of several vessels and threw us a complimentary wine and cheese party.

We spent the next night rafted up with several other boats at the Great Dismal Swamp visitor center and continued on into Virginia and into Chesapeake Bay. The end was near, but the Chesapeake is a big body of water. We called it a night at a small marina on the west side but we were up bright and early the next morning because we knew we could arrive at our final destination by noon if we got an early start.

It was May 1st...exactly one month from our departure from Boot Key Harbor...when we arrived in Whittman, MD. All of Dom and Val's best friend's greeted us at the dock with baskets of goodies and bottles of champagne. A welcome home dinner was planned, and we were left to unpack our things and settle into the house.

I stayed a view more days with Dom and Val. They showed me St. Michael's, drove me out to Tilmon Island, and took me out for a traditional crab dinner.

But it was time for me to go home.
The day of my flight arrived and Val, Dom, and Prince drove me to the airport in Baltimore.

I've missed them greatly since then and we think of them often.

So imagine our surprise and delight when they called to say they were headed our way!

We have had a great time the last couple of days. Dom has been helping Jeff with a few boat projects in the yard and Valerie and I have done the shopping and meal planning...just like old times.

The night of their arrival, one of our favorite local musicians, Dan Sullivan, played at the RV park where they are staying. It was a good time watching the 2 of them tear up the dance floor.

Yesterday, we had breakfast at the Stuffed Pig, and after dropping Dom off with Jeff, Valerie and I drove to the beach and waded in the warm surf. We watched the sunset and threw some horseshoes before grilling some burgers and calling it a night.

Today, the boys are off to the boatyard again and us, girls, are relaxing at the motor home.
Tonight, we'll watch another sunset and share another meal.
Tomorrow I will be sad to see them go.

I can only hope that when I become a septuagenarian I am still following whatever path life maps out for me whether it be waterway or highway and that I am just as spry and spunky, fun and funny, and as ready to roll as these two are.

Love you, Dom & Val!