Saturday, December 17, 2005
I hope all of you are well this CHRISMAS SEASON! Rocky.
From Johnny B: Dec. 11, 2005 to Jan. 5, 2006.
I took an extended vacation to my parent's house in Illinois- Dec. 11 to Jan. 5. My dad was supposed to have knee surgery so I was going to help out at the house since my mom doesn't drive. This was also a chance to get my parent's on ebay and start selling some of my mom's little treasures like lead crystal items and handmade porcelain dolls. The ebay venture went well and my dad picked up the process like a champ. My mom was very excited about the whole thing and constantly checked the bids and watchers for the items we listed.
I had come up with the perfect Christmas present that I would give to both my sisters' families and my brother and his wife- astronomical telescopes. It was a gift that all of their families could enjoy- fun, cool and educational. So I picked up three 4.5 inch main mirror telescopes.
My sister, Patty and her 3 kids stopped off at my parent's house on their way from Georgia to the upper northeast where they would be spending Christmas Day with her husband Dave's family. Dave had some business to attend to at that particular time so I didn't get to see him. But I had a great time with Patty and the kids, Taylor, Kendall and Tanner. They're great kids, very smart and polite. With so many dysfunctional families these days, it's great to know that my brother and sisters have such good kids.
My parents and I drove into Chicago to spend Christmas Day with my oldest sister, Sue, her husband Edek%2
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Natalie cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for us on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was awesome. I had a total of 8 full plates of turkey with all the fixin's between Saturday and Monday. Michael picked up Rocky and I from Cortez on Friday. We arrived in Ft. Pierce shortly after dark. Rocky and Michael went online and we decided to try the "Sake Japanese and Thai Restaurant" in nearby Vero Beach. One of the dinner specials was Lobster Roll for $12.95. Michael and I ordered that. Rocky and Natalie ordered the Tempura Chicken. Natalie also ordered the Japanese Tempura Roll. We added Tempura Shrimp and Sushi to top it off along with some Sake. The presentation was Superb, as was the food. Truly a top notch dinner experience at a reasonable price for the quality and detail that was put into it. That was Friday. Saturday was the awesome Thanksgiving Dinner with Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Rolles, etc. On Monday, we went to our favorite local All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet. I gorged on Crab Legs and Claws. We always have a great time when we visit Ft. Pierce and this was no exception. Laughter is good for the soul and we enjoy plenty of it when we're here.
Monday, November 07, 2005
7 November, 2005. Jason bought another boat from Shell Point Marina. On Sunday, Nov.6, we scavenged some parts and pieces from the four boats beside his. They were slated to be crushed and hauled away but we didn'tnow when. We returned on Monday just as the track hoe operator was preparing to dig into the first boat. We began scavenging some more as the operator began munching the boats with the track hoes jaws of death. He even tore up some sections of deck so we could get to a few stanchion plates.
Monday, October 31, 2005
(Below) Win, Kristy and Jimmy
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
11 September, 2005 to Unknown. Well, here we are, back at Cortez Cove Marina. Now we've got our 27 foot Bayliner Buccaneer sailboat in a slip with power (AND AIR CONDITIONING), our 38 foot Pearson Alberg Invicta II sailboat in the yard, and a huge semi trailer box for storage. Many of the same people are here from before but the Seahorse Bar and Grill is now Pelican Pete's. I haven't been in there yet and and have little desire to go there. The Seahorse was great because of the owners but they're gone. We've been working on the new boat here as well as preparing Buccaneer so we can sell it. Our friend, Joe, from Davis Island comes down on Tuesdays to hang out and help us work on the boat. He works with his dad in Bradenton (nearby) on Tuesdays so he's already in town for the visit. He was able to do some surfing as Hurricane Rita passed offshore, despite his neck and back injuries.
Arno, who runs the marina, is currently building a new dock so he can haul boats in and out of the water. It's supposed to be done by November, 15. We still see manatees here and some dolphins have wandred in. On Tuesdays, we have pot luck parties on the big dock. The dock was built for a Denzel Washington movie called "Out of Time" (I believe that's the title). The parties have been great with awesome food. I even secured a load of blue crabs the other day from The Tow Boat U.S. guy here (Finny). He brought the catch in too late for market so he offered them to me. I gladly accepted and brought them out to the dock. Virgil was having a birthday party for one of his friends that night. Win and Christi did most of the cooking work but I ran acros the marina ten times, taking out the garbage, securing cooking pots, propane, and paper towels and running messages. I enjoyed helping out with the party and even cleaned up the whole dock afterwards. Michael, Natalie and Roxanne were mandatorily evacuated from Hutchinson Island in Ft. Pierce for Hurricane Rita so we got two hotel rooms in Tampa and stayed there as the hurricane blazed through South Florida.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Gail's house was about 8 miles away, just off Bayshore Blvd. In July, Gail married her fiancee Marc. The wedding and reception was at the local VFW. We videotaped the whole affair and have since loaded it onto Gail's computer. The VFW offers a Sunday breakfast that is open to the public and is funded by donations only. We have attended many Sunday breakfasts there. You simply fill out the card with your preferences and soon after, a huge plate of well prepared food arrives. You can get beer from the bar or fill up your own Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers from the dispensers- all for donations only. We've always been good tippers and so donated accordingly.
On about the third day, we came back to the basin to find our boat tied up to another sailboat. Our anchor had gotten away. Jason had just sent us the anchor from Maryland and Rocky was devastated that we lost it. Mikey was the one who had secured our boat after it had broken free.
Mikey is an avid master of Aikido (I think that's how you spell it), a martial art based on non-violent self defense. He pretty much takes care of the basin. He's dropped several moorings for people there, including us. He has a sailboat rafted (attached side to side) to a power boat. The sailboat has no engine but he takes it out to drop moorings, etc. with ease and then smoothly returns it to his mooring with the power boat. He has taken possession of a 55 foot power boat whose owner apparently brought it to the basin to die. Both engines work on this boat but the rudder is damaged so there's no steering. Even so, Houseboat Joe managed to steer the boat with the dual engines across the basin for relocation purposes. Mikey is also tending to a 55 foot wooden sailboat that he wants to bring back to life. he's a busy guy. He's a Vietnam veteran. He also led the fight against Tampa, even hiring lawyers, for the rights of the boaters to live in the basin. The boaters won.
Houseboat Joe is another good friend we made in the basin. We spent many days and evenings on his houseboat, jamming tunes and playing on the internet. He has a large generator so we hung out in the air conditioning and had power for the computer. Joe learned how to use the computer and surf the internet quickly. Some days, we couldn't tear him away from the computer. Joe was in a rollover car wreck (the other person's fault) and is currently fighting the system for some benefits. His neck and back were injured pretty bad in the wreck. Rocky took some video of Joe playing his guiter for "The Houseboat Joe Show" that we would like to post online someday. We've even got Mikey tying some nautical knots for the show. Joe's houseboat is like the clubhouse of the basin.
Raymond and his family live on a large power boat in the basin. He came over and secured an additional anchor on our boat when Hurricane Dennis passed nearby. He also sold us an outboard motor that we used to get back to Cortez Cove Marina in September. His wife Lelena is also very cool. She led the latest fight against the Yacht Club for a slanderous article about the people anchored in the basin. She prevailed, closing down the Yacht Club's boat lift (with Houseboat Joe's help) for environmental violations. Because of her, one of the local police officers has to spend off-duty time writing parking tickets for Yacht Club members on Tuesdays during their weekly race. Their kids are cool too.
Red and his brother, Jeff also live in the basin. Red's houseboat has a rebel flag and barking dog. His brother, Jeff survives on a small sailboat. He has since purchased a larger, nicer sailboat for $100 from a local woman who is a member of the yacht club. Sweet deal. Red and Jeff have lived in the basin for several years.
We also got to know Clark. He has a very nice 45 foot "yacht" named Temptress. His boat has a steam room in it. He also builds wind generators. He's been down the island chain and visited some of the paradises we hope to visit. Clark is the only other person in the basin with wireless internet service. He goes on many dates with women he meets online. He is considered one of the live-aboards in the basin but spends much of his time at his house in Mount Dora.
Gideon is also a Vietnam veteran. He's a wild one. I drank many a beer with Gideon. We also met Tom who sold his 27 foot sailboat shortly after we got there. He then moved back to Panama. Tom was an avid rum drinker and had one of Clark's wind generators on his boat. It produced lots of power and Tom played many DVD's with the excess power while entertaining on his boat. We also met Dave who is on a sailboat that Joe plucked off the wall after one of the 2004 hurricanes. The owner let it go cheap. Jay is an australian looney tune (by his own words) who lives on a sailboat there. He finds humor n almost everything. From what I understand, he got stuck in the U.S. and wants to return to Australia. We also met Randy, another Vietnam vet, when we first arrived but didn't see much of him after that.
During our stay in Tampa, Rocky, Jason and I purchased a storm damaged Pearson sailboat located in Ft. Pierce on the other coast. After closing the sale and pumping over 7,000 gallons of rainwater from the boat (it sat in the yard for many months), we received the title. Although we bought the boat as a 35 footer, the title indicated that it was actually a 38 footer with a drop keel. We were pleased. Rocky has since determined that it is a Pearson Invicta II of which there were only 12 produced. We had the boat trucked across the state to Cortez Cove Marina. That is our next destination.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Monday, May 09, 2005
21 April to 9 May, 2005. We dinghyed Mary to the boat and began our multi-bridge journey to Blind Pass Marina just a few miles away. This marina is next to the bridge connecting St. Pete Beach to Treasure Island, where Rocky and I lived in the late 90's. Mary had actually visited us when we lived on Treasure Island so it was pretty cool to have her staying on the boat with us several years later just a few blocks from our old house. We went to Caddy's bar on the beach as we had done before but the Tiki bar that Mary remembered so fondly had closed down. She is one of our very best friends. When Rocky and I first left Southern Illinois after college, we moved to Denver and lived with Mary for a little while before getting a few places of our own. Those were great years with Mary in Denver.
We met Dino and Mikey shortly after we arrived at the marina. Dino works part-time on a boat (you can see it right across from the marina) that takes people out to Egmont Key where there is one of the oldest functioning lighthouses in America. It was also a military fort during the Spanish-American War. He comped the three of us a trip the following day and we took him up on it. It's normally $30 / person. He asked that we tip $20 since the trip was free for us so we tipped $30. It was fun. We hung out on the island (Egmont Key) for 2 hours where there are lots of turtles (or tortoises). Rocky found a big shark tooth and gave it to Mary. On the way back, we had dolphins, including a baby, putting on a show in our wake. We had a great time during Mary's visit and it was great to see her.
Mikey has been at the marina for fifteen years. He has a Skipper key dog named Skippy. Skipper Keys are bred to live on boats. They helped to take care of the rats that plagued 18th and 19th century ships. He's a great little dog and I told Mikey that I would work a Skipper Key named Skippy into my screenplay. Mikey is great. He's a "tough guy" and so is Skippy. His latest boat is a 30 foot homebuilt sailboat from the 1930's with Ketch rigging (two masts) that he bought for $1,000 at the marina. This boat is solid and could take a beating. The interior is mostly empty but it's in very good shape. Mikey let us plug into his electric (and cable that was suposedly cut off) for a 12 pack of Heinekin. Electricity at this marina requires opening an account with the electric company (same for cable). We also met Kevin who had a beautiful aft-cabin / center-cockpit sailboat. The aft cabin is great because it provides a completely separate cabin for some get-away privacy when necessary.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
When Rocky and I first arrived in Tampa on Christmas Day, 1997, from Denver, it was raining. Either January or February, 1998, the rainfall totaled something like 27 inches for that month, breaking the record set in the 1880's by something like 10 inches. That was our introduction to Florida after driving from Denver (including a fierce Oklahoma ice storm). Shortly after we arrived in Tampa, we met Bob and Billy, who threw these great pool parties. We also met Gail, Jay, Rich, Hippie Don, Timmy and a lot of other great people.
We are currently in constant touch with Gail, who was living in a house that Bob owned in Zephyrhills (yes, the spring water). We were at a hurricane party at the house in Zephyrhills when we won the first 24 foot sailboat on ebay. We had evacuated Michael, Natalie and Roxanne from Ft. Pierce (on the Atlantic coast) and Timmy was with us also. We even called Hippie Don but he was on his way to Michigan for a month so we didn't get to see him. It was nice to be back among so many good friends after our journey from Chesapeake City, MD. Of course, we had a great time visiting Michael, Natalie and Roxanne in Ft. Pierce before going through the Okeechobee Cut to the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
15 February to 15 April, 2005. Our longtime friend, Gail came down to Anna Maria Island so we could seek out a marina to stay at for awhile. We found Cortez Cove Marina on the other side of the bridge from the anchorage. $10 / foot / month with electricity. We call our boat 26 feet (actually 26'8") so for about $550, we spent 2 months here with electricity, showers and free laundry facilities. Actually, I jumped ship for one of those months to stay at our friend Rich's house. I was hoping to get some work done on my manuscript. I actually experienced a little culture shock at the apartment on the corner of Himes and Waters in Tampa. Endless traffic, constant sirens and millions of people scrambling around with stress in the air. I did manage to get some work done. But mostly, I just needed a break from the small boat we've been living on for several months. Rocky and I are best friends but sometimes, you just gotta get away.
Gail made us promise to be in the area by 20 February because she had a surprise for us. We had no idea what it was. When we arrived at her house, she produced Jason, the salesman from Harbour North Marina in Maryland where we bought the boat. We had become good friends with Jason and we finally knew why his plans to visit us had sizzled out. It was a great surprise and, in my opinion, one of Gail's greatest moments. She had another great moment when some guy was standing in the median shading his eyes from the sun. Gail drove right next to him and popped him a hard salute. Embarrased, he pulled his hand down and Gail did the same as if the salute was returned. We were laughing so hard we almost had to pull over.
Cortez is a great little town near Bradenton. We crossed the bridge on our new fold up bicycles many time to return to Anna Maria Island and rode the bus into downtown Cortez for Wal-Mart and all you can eat Chinese food on many occasions. Michael even came over from Ft. Pierce to visit. I particularly enjoyed the Sea Horse Oyster Bar and Grill just outside the marina. $1 drafts and good people. The first few times I went there, I spent less than $10 a night and had a blast. The last time I went there, I brought $5 and when I ran out of money, Dave, the owner, shoved a $20 bill in my hand so I would stay. Now that's service! I even did 'Help' by the Beatles and 'Satisfaction' by The Rolling Stones during Karaoke one night. If you're ever in Cortez, Florida, go to the Sea Horse. They've even got all you can eat King Crab Legs for $24.95.
Arno, the owner of the marina was a great guy, as were the other boaters living there. Many of them were musicians doing gigs in the area. There were several manatees living in the marina. We met Win and Christy who made the cover and centerfold of Motorboating magazine recently. They deliver yachts for a living and have sailed extensively throughout the region, including Central America. Rocky helped get Win's laptop up and running. Win then let Rocky copy NOAA charts for the entire world. To purchase these charts individually would cost somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. Once we get a good GPS system to tie them into, we've got the entire planet covered. We can use them as is, but a GPS system would produce real time results for any trip across the globe.