Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's the Pittmans, Again! -- Saturday, July 30, 2016 -- Part II

Our Aunt Helen Gagneux's family is represented in the talent show today at the Pittman Family Reunion held in Pitkin LA.  Emcee Dwight introduces Helen's son Charles, who plays, "How Great Thou Art" on his harmonica.  My impression of this instrument has always been that it is a difficult one to play, and I am amazed when I recognize his song.  Thank you, Charles.

Hubert's descendants display awesome talent today.  Daughters attending are Anita, Barbara, Glenda and Judy.  First on the stage is Barbara's daughter Jay with friend, Byrd, and their guitars.  They play and sing, "City of New Orleans."  It must be ESP -- I have had that song on my mind for days!  I love it!  And I love the way they do a great job of their rendition.  Such nice smiles on their faces, too.

Truly amazing is Judy's daughter, Dawn, who sings "Crazy," and sounds just like Patsy Cline.  She is so talented!  It would be nice to have more time so she could sing several songs.  I am told she does many performances at events in her town and for her church.  We are spellbound as we listen.  To add to our enjoyment is seeing that Dawn loves to sing.

Hubert's son, Frank, and wife Leta Faye sing a duet, with him leading out on the first verse, then Leta sings a verse, and next joins him with her harmony.  We could listen to them for hours.  At previous reunions before a planned 'talent show,' they played their guitars, the piano, and sang many, many songs.  It became an afternoon tradition.  Wonderful music.  

Demonstrating the family music scene is Frank with his guitar and son Paul on the banjo.

Dwight, did you take a break at all?  

Dwight calls next for Paul and his guitar to sing a song he wrote and titled, "Just for Fun."  Dwight says, "Take us out, Paul."  I hang onto every word as the song tells us how to let go, relax and do something just for fun -- in the midst of kids' homework, jobs, and other chores. Do I recall one verse suggests we walk a trail in the woods just to see where it goes?   What a life lesson we need to hear.  And this reunion today is certainly FUN!  Well, done, Paul.

Jay and Byrd -- "City of New Orleans"
Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, July 30, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

Day Two, What a Day! -- Thursday, August 25, 2016

Looking again at today's WX, the captains see a fast moving storm at Vermilion Bay to the east and think it may catch up to us. So, do we go or do we stay?   Herb warns me that if we go, we may make a quick decision and I should be ready.   By daybreak the system falls apart and we say, "Go."  I begin to batten things down and hear the engines warming.   As I bring our gear topside, I see we have already left the dock and Herb is backing out of our slip, while Denny brings in the fenders.

I get into my work mode by taking photos of the morning and looking forward to a great day of cruising.  Denny's phone rings for the umpteenth time -- I wonder if he gets more calls than Pearl -- and someone wishes us a safe journey.  His ring is the same as Herb's and every time he gets a call, he and Herb both reach for their phones.  "Is that you or it is me?"

Uh, oh!  An alarm sounds and it is DX'd to be a non-working port engine.  Denny says, "Sounds like we threw a belt."  He takes the helm, spins around to head back to Bow Tie Marina, while Herb goes below to check the engine.  Yep, the belt is in shreds.

I turn off the tracking feature of the SPOT, which would have shown our track out of the harbor, then the turn and track back into our slip.  We had activated it for fun to show Joe where we are at all times.  (Similar to Find My Friend on iPhone.)

OK, we have a spare belt, so will try to get the marina's mechanic to change it for us.  They open at 9 and this will give the engine time to cool down.

So much for an early start!

Happiness is getting 'Fluffy' from Olmsted Shipyard and Prop Shop in Lake Charles to make On Your Mark well.  Herb and Denny find the front hatch, Fluffy removes the shroud, and goes to work.  He shows me where he reaches down into the opening to remove the shredded belt and install the new one.

The captains are proud of their souvenir.

So now we think it prudent as long as we have the mechanic here, we should get him to replace the starboard engine belt.  I am so impressed with the size of the engine, and very thankful for the guys who know how to work on them.  

With the work finished, we thank Fluffy for all his help, and promise to call him again if we are ever back in the area needing repairs.  We would definitely recommend him. I get a sense that all the nautical businesses in the area take care of each other.

After the workday, the cooks are too tired to prepare a hot meal and Doug at Bow Tie Marina suggests a nearby restaurant we should visit.   He says to ask for Nick and tell them I sent you.   The Harlequin Steaks and Seafood proves to be a good choice.

Find Willie's salad....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day One, Journey to On Your Mark -- Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Herb's phone rings, breaking the silence of the morning, and I hear him say, "Hey Buddy, good morning to you."  Then he says, "Sure, I can go at any time.  I'll just need someone to help me with the driving and Willie with line handling."    So I know I should start packing my luggage that I just unpacked.  Herb fills me in with the information that Joe and Pearl have commitments and would like us to bring On Your Mark back to Port Aransas from Lake Charles.

He checks WX and conditions in the rivers draining into the ICW, drawing upon all the resources he can.  He tells me that some storms are brewing in the Atlantic, and a good WX window is now.  Joe calls a man who has actually worked on the boat in the past and finds that he can be available to travel with us.  Captain Denny, from Port Isabel, is working in Port Aransas right now, so we arrange to pick him up after getting a rental car in Corpus and leaving our car at Island Moorings Marina.  We know the drill -- do just the reverse of what we did last week.

Out early in the morning, we head north from Port Isabel and as we get near Robstown, we delight to see the golden sun peering from behind the lovely shades of dark clouds we see always forming on the coast.

Shortly thereafter she rises above the horizon to appear as a starburst.  I quickly catch a photo before the moment passes. Soon she will burn these clouds away, and I see no rain in sight.

Around 9A Herb, Denny and I continue our drive from Port A eastward, and I get so emotional passing through Houston.  Memories of fun times come to my mind when I see the Williams Tower standing regally in front of the clouds that float below the cerulean blue sky.

Lunch at Buc-ees delays us about an hour, but we have our favorite sandwiches.  Cap'n Denny gets a treat checking out the store, as he has never been to a Buc'ees.  When we arrive to Bow Tie Marina south of Lake Charles, I tell Herb I need to get a photo of the trunk before it is unloaded, because it is not nearly as loaded with a few days gear versus the many totes we had with Joe and Pearl for the intended Bahama cruise.  I can actually see through to the rear view mirror.

 On Your Mark is happy to have her crew arrive.

Happy Hour rewards us after a long day's drive and I see smiles from Denny as he enjoys the evening.

Find Willie's sunset at Bow Tie Marina....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eight is Enough - Day Eight, Port Isabel TX - Monday, August 15, 2016

Eight is NOT enough, but WX conditions and flooding to the east tell us that we should discontinue our cruising for now, and eight days is all we do for this leg of the trip.  Herb and Joe check the lines to be sure we are secured to the dock, and can withstand any WX that may come our way as the thunderstorms move westward.  Pearl and I pack what we should remove from the boat and take home.

Oh, I have way too much stuff on this boat; some of which I did not use.

Rule 1:  If you don't use it, don't bring it back.

A dilemma is that Captain Doug, owner and dock master of Bow Tie Marina, is closed on Mondays and we really should get permission to leave On Your Mark in his marina.  At some point he will come out to feed his dog, so Joe and Herb watch carefully and catch him at the office.   He is happy to let the boat stay for the time we need her there.   He understands why our plans have to change.  

At this moment the sun chases the clouds away and we enjoy clearing skies.  Hmmm...do we go or do we stay?

We go!

Because we know it is not safe to continue east, and it may be three weeks before it will be.

Herb calls a car rental company for transportation to take us back to our cars at Island Moorings Marina at Port A TX.  He tells them we need a car large enough for four people to be comfortable on a five hour drive, plus a trunk large enough to hold our electronics, luggage, and ice chests that contain all the food we bought to last us a few weeks.

When the car is delivered to us, we spend a few minutes loading it, and begin our drive west at 8:39A.

Herb had noticed a low tire, and we expect it to be even lower with all our stuff in it.  First stop is a service station where we put four quarters in to get air for the tire.

During the drive we have intermittent showers and actually in Houston we catch up with the storm which is moving westward.  Four o'clock in the afternoon finds us at Island Moorings, where we quickly transfer our loads to our respective cars, hug goodbye, and resume the travel for the long drives home.  We have only a few sprinkles here.

No sand blows across the highway in the Bahia Grande area of TX Hwy. 48 taking us to Port Isabel, so we know they have had some rain here.  We are starved by the time we get to Port Isabel at 7P, having only snacked a bit on the way, but Herb fixes a quick bite to eat and we look forward to a good night's sleep.

Find Willie and Pearl's stuff....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Monday, August 14, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day Seven, Bow Tie Marina, Lake Charles LA - Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, Lake Charles LA
Dark Sky alerts me that the rain is stopping.  Wow?  Really?  How wonderful. Dark sky does not tell me how long this WX interruption will last, so those of us who do not bring raincoats or umbrellas get soaking wet.  Pearl gets a bit damp standing outside the taxi while folding up her umbrella.

Fortunately On Your Mark has a clothes dryer and lots of room to hang clothes.

Boat Storage Building at Bow Tie Marina
Do you want your boat ready to go at 9:38 in the morning?  Or 4P?  If your boat is stored with Doug Shearman, just let him know and he will have it fueled, launched, tied to the dock, beer iced down, and ready for you when you arrive from your home in Lake Charles, or wherever you live.  

He gives valet service; hence the name, Bow Tie Marina.  The other good news is that you are not required to arrive wearing a bow tie!

A look out the windows of On Your Mark shows that the skies are truly clearing and we see folks moving around outside.  Herb visits with the Coast Guard official and learns that he is not encouraged about the WX.  We could be in for more rain here in Lake Charles, but the more worrisome news is about the navigational conditions to the east and our intended direction once we begin cruising again.

Cap'n Herb finds a Google News interview on KPLC TV of the threats in Lake Arthur near here, where they expect a crest of ten feet, and the levies are at seven and a half feet.  Residents are being evacuated.

What this means for us is that as rivers rise and flow southward to drain into the Gulf, they will flood the ICW, which will begin to look like a lake.  Navigational aids will be broken from their moorings and we would not be able to see where our channel is.

A word to the wise:  "Go home, young man!"

We have reserved an SUV from Enterprise Rent-a-car for tomorrow morning, and will "Go West, Young Man."

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day Six, Bow Tie Marina, Lake Charles LA - Saturday, August 13, 20106

Do we go, or do we stay? 

We stay.

It rains.  It rains hard from time to time.

Herb goes to the marina office to let Captain Doug, the dock master, know we want to stay another night.  Doug says, "No problem.  In case you haven't noticed, I'm not too busy."  On Your Mark is the only transient boat here.  

So, what shall we do today?  Laundry!  I will open the nail salon, also.  Pearl says it is a good day to watch a movie.  She had grabbed a couple from the condo in Austin for the trip, and today picks "Legally Blonde2" with Reese Witherspoon and Sally Field, but there's no DVD inside.  It must still be in the player back in Austin.

So we watch John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" with Henry Fonda, which won two Academy Awards in  1940.

Willie:  "Pearl, lets talk about the laundry.  I wonder if the dryer is vented, because the clothes are still as damp as when I put them in.  Or maybe we did not push the right buttons?"

Pearl:  "Ok, Willie, I will get the manual.  Everything seems to be in order.  But, wait, maybe it is the lint filter."  

Willie:  "I didn't see one.  Oh, that little square door?"

Filter is small door near bottom of dryer.

Pearl opens the filter and water literally shoots out of the drain.  Problem diagnosed.

Solution to the problem is to put shirts on hangers and do a trial -- phase one of a non-blinded study -- so Pearl puts a few light weight items in the dryer and turns it on. When the items are not dry in a reasonable period of time, she experiments with the temperature controls:  phase two.

She hangs socks on a bar above the dryer and leaves the door ajar so the light will stay on and help to dry the shirts.  A check from time to time indicates that we are making progress.  

During a check of our WX conditions today Joe and Herb go topside and find a previously empty five gallon bucket within about four inches of being full of water.  It is sitting under the roof, but near the edge, so it catches the rain blowing in.  One of the Coast Guard officers says their bucket in the open boat overflowed.

Checking my laptop, I see an eMail transmission from friend Nancy, asking Pearl what's cooking for dinner.  I take a photo of another serving of red snapper given us by Luther of Port A.  And the salad looks so delicious, especially with the mangoes.  Nancy is a good cook, also, and I bet this gives her some ideas for experimentation.

Find Willie's dinner....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day Five, Bow Tie Marina, Lake Charles LA - Friday, August 12, 2016

This morning's check of the WX mirrors last night's, in that there IS weather ahead of us to the east, so we will continue to decide our plan for the day.

We take a walk through the casino early in the morning to clarify a confusion over our moorage cost.  Armed with the confirmation number and names of persons I spoke with, we easily get the situation straightened out, and now can enjoy our stroll back to the boat.  We note that at 6:00 in the morning, the dining rooms are empty and lively music flows out of every shop and gambling room.    When I hear Jimmy Buffet sing "Woman to Blame," I remember the Tervis tumbler with that design Herb gave me for Christmas one year.  I claim that notoriety.  Back down the ramp we see On Your Mark asleep.

At the entrance to the marina we see the mileage signs and one in particular gets our attention.

Find Willie's destination....

With 1,141 miles to go, we cast off around 7A and get a photo of the Golden Nugget next door.  A nice casino, but the management does not allow boats to stay at their dock overnight.  Their loss.  Oh, well, I guess they heard we are called transient.

Happy to have made it to Lake Charles on the fuel we have, our first stop will be the fuel dock one and a half miles down Contraband Bayou, just south of Lake Charles.  Herb describes the review on Active Captain as warning about the cypress knees and alligators.  It is a winding little waterway, quite scenic.  But wait!  You want to go through where?  That little opening?  We make it.

Oh, how cute.  A white heron, also known as a great egret sits on a cypress knee, watching to grab a frog for breakfast.  They also eat fish, reptiles and insects and I hope mosquitoes are included.

Just around the corner to the left is the fuel dock and we hope there is space for us to tie up and wait until 9A when they open.  So much for the early start toward Morgan City or Industrial City.  It also looks like a Coast Guard convention, and we learn this is the Lake Charles CG station.

Lucky us!  There is no one at the diesel pump and we can tie up there to be first in line.  Herb backs in to position for fueling on the port side, where the tank opening is.

As he slowly eases back, two Coast Guard officers walk over to offer their assistance in tying us up.  Absolutely!  A nice visit ensues, and we learn it is shift change and they are here to inspect boats.  I expect a boarding, but all they do is accept Joe's invitation to take a look at the inside of On Your Mark.

If it is Louisiana, there are alligators.

No name is visible to where I walk and I can't get closer because of tall grass and marsh, but I suppose this lighthouse is the Bow Tie lighthouse.  The light is shining.

Like good mariners, we gather all the information we can about the local conditions and weather, and it is not what we want to hear.  There are thunderstorms farther east that appear to continue to move westward and are building.   "Do we go, or do we stay?"  "Never leave a safe harbor on a bad day."  We are invited to tie up in the marina adjacent to the fuel dock for the evening for safe harbor.  

Stats:  mileage 1.5, gallons taken on 450, dollars spent $879.

I would think that pays for the moorage.

Dark Sky app and the audible thunder says we are in for a frog strangler.  It rains buckets and On Your Mark gets her second wash down of the day.  Photos through the windshield tell the story.

The rain slacks up, the skies lighten, and we wonder if the storm is dissipating.  No, not really; it is just better here.  My cousins in Louisiana are warning of flooding on land and one of them says, "Baton Rouge is closed."  We see lots of reports and predictions of coastal flooding. 

With no more rain in sight, we begin to think of provisions.  Shopping is about 1.3 miles from the dock, so we make a list and think we can walk there and back with a few items.   We sure do need the Fitbit steps.   The fuel dock attendant suggests we old folks call a taxi, and calls one for us.  As you would expect, the shopping list grows from necessary items to items we simply would like to have on board.

With the cab waiting at the Neighborhood Walmart, we four split up to fill our bags.   Pearl and I quickly grab things off the shelves, and an observer would think we had won the 'all you can put in your shopping cart in 30 minutes' contest.

Rain, rain has gone away, and Herb and Willie come out to play.  We walk the grounds and he gets a great photo of the lighthouse for daughter Roxie.

Pearl prepares make your own tacos for dinner.  Oh, so delicious!  Shown below is her plate, but I add lots more cheese sauce. Dessert is creme brulee topped with fresh blueberries.  Now I know why I accepted the invitation to come along on this cruise.

Find On Your Mark at the Bow Tie Marina awaiting better WX conditions....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Friday, August 12, 2016