Saturday, April 26, 2014

Never Leave a Good Harbor on a Bad Day


Today we planned to leave Houston and travel a direct route to Anacortes to be united with the new Willie's Tug. Instead, we are sitting in "Sweet Caroline" watching the winds build up. With gusts of 40 to 65 predicted along our planned route, and tornadoes, hail and thunderstorms predicted, we decided to sit tight for a couple of days and assess changing our route when we do leave.

Our motto: 

"Never leave a good harbor on a bad day."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cat Story

There are a couple of ladies that check on our house when we travel.  Today, as we were enroute toward Anacortes, we received a call from them.  "There is a cat in the garage.  Did you leave a cat in your garage?"  No, I did not leave a cat in the garage.  She explained that the cat was very vocal about trying to come into the house from the garage.  I explained how to open the garage doors.  After opening the doors, she said that the cat now would not come out.  I advised that it may be easier to get around behind him and shoo him out rather than trying to call him out. We left Saturday morning, so the cat had been trapped in the garage for 5 days.  He streaked out and quickly disappeared down the street apparently non the worse for his ordeal.  I am just glad we shut the door to the motorhome.

Walldog, Willie and Jake (Catless in Seattle)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Boat Projects

Our little tug does have a tv in it, but we have not used it for a couple of reasons.  One, our antenna for over the air reception does not work very well.  In the San Juans, the only station it will pick up is a low power station on Orcas Island that only broadcasts black and white reruns of "I Love Lucy" and similar vintage shows.  The other reason is that the boat is small and we do not have a comfortable place for both of us to sit and be able to see a tv at the same time.  For two summers now we have not felt the need to have a tv, we have occupied our end of the day time in other ways mostly by reading.  We read books on our iPads, we get our news from our laptops, keep up with our friends on email and go to bed early most nights.

This winter I (not Willie) decided that I would like to have television on our boat.  After looking at various alternatives, I decided on the Intellian i2.  The i2 has a 13" dish which is a bit larger than the KVH M1 which has marginal reception in the Northwest.  We also added a Samsung 19 inch HD receiver to the berth area.  I am not much for watching tv in bed, but in a R27 you do not have much choice.  An undercounter mount for the tv allowed placement at a great viewing angle for both of us.  Jake does not care.  I fabricated a bracket from stainless angle and flat bar.  A local speciality welding shop stainless welded the bracket for me at no charge.  A very interesting local craftsman that lives in our neighborhood.  Placement of the interior boxes and routing of the cables took a lot of thought and time.  We have two GPS antennas, one for the Chartplotter and one for the AIS.  I relocated them to the grab bars one on each side of the boat behind the navigation lights.  This cleared the mast for better satellite visibility.

A trial of the setup in the choppy bay and 4 foot swells offshore gave solid reception thoughout.  We never expect to have the system running while underway, but it is designed for such use and we wanted to see how it performed.

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More pictures of this job and other modifications can be found in our R27 Modifications photo album here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake


Date Night

We did a bit of puttering around the bay and ship channel in our Ranger Tug today.  We have been working on a couple of projects to get Willie's Tug ready to travel back to the San Juan Islands in May and we wanted to check out our work.

We had a two day window of winds lower than normal for this time year here on the Gulf Coast of South Texas.  We decided to anchor out at favorite boat watching spot off the ship channel called Barracuda Cove.  We tucked as far in as possible and tried to settle down for the late afternoon and evening.  After about an hour, between the swells and the chop from the winds, we decided that we would find a more sheltered spot to spend the night.  After checking out a spot near Pirate's Landing, we made our way to the Port of Port Isabel's turning basin.  I had seen a US Coast Guard ship anchored out here on occasion.  We eased in as close to a barge and drill ship as we thought prudent and set our anchor in about 35 foot of water.  This was a bit deeper than the 7 foot of water in Barracuda Cove, but the Rocna held firm.  The wind was still blowing, but we were a bit more protected from it here and gently bobbed tethered to our anchor.  A perfect rhythm for a great nights sleep.

We are early risers, so about 5 AM we were up and checking email on our iPads, when out of darkness appears a large vessel very close to us.  It appears we were in a favorite spot for the local shrimpers to drag their nets.
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As daylight came, the fog settled down giving visibility of about 200 feet.  Did that stop the shrimpers?  No, even without radar they continued to circle us with their nets.  We turned the radar on and watched them coming.  We were tracking as many as 6 in our range at one time.  With our radar, we could tell their distance from us.

By mid morning as the fog thinned to about 8 or 900 foot visibility, we headed back to our home.  As we passed through the swing bridge, the fog settled back down around us closing the visibility back to around 200 feet.  We continued motoring in the ICW until we passed under the causeway not seeing it until it was directly overhead.

Leaving the ICW at this point, we took up a course for the entrance to the "Fingers" and our home.  Before going too far, the fog lifted a bit and we docked at our dock.  A short trip, but a good Date Night for Willie and I.

Walldog, Willie and Jake stayed home.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Longest Day for Willie's Tug

We made plans to cruise to Port Aransas to visit some friends who have their boats moored at Island Moorings Marina.  We had done this trip before about 120 miles, but broke it up by stopping at Port Mansfield, El Jefe Marina Y Cantina about 40 miles up the ICW from Port Isabel.  El Jefe now closed we made other arrangements to stay at the municipal marina.  We planned to leave on Wednesday afternoon for the short run to Port Mansfield and then have a long but do able leg on into Port Aransas on Thursday.  Well the best laid plans of mice and men.  Weather was really bad on Wednesday, so bad that we did not even make a necessary run over to the fuel dock about 5 miles away by water to top off.  But come Thursday morning we awoke to a beautiful day, so up early and finish loading Willie's Tug.  By 8 am we had pulled away from our slip at home and headed to the fuel dock.  Since we had missed the on the hour opening of the Long Island Swing Bridge for pleasure boaters, we took the long way around to South Point and fuel.  We then missed the next on the hour opening by about 6 minutes.  We took a chance and made a very business like call to the bridge operator on Channel 12.  Commercial boats get an opening at anytime.  The operator is familiar with us, he quickly opened the bridge and we scooted through thanking him profusely.  We saved about 5 water miles by making the bridge opening.

We set a course up the ICW due North....even though at this point the Gulf ICW is considered running Easterly as you travel from Brownsville toward Louisiana.  We decided to run about 12 knots and see how we felt about continuing at the turn off to Port Mansfield.  Arriving at the turn around 1130, we decided to continue East Bound (North).  A very uneventful trip, we met no tows and only past one before we arrived in Corpus Christi Bay.  We hailed him on 16 and he suggested passing him on the 2.  In ICW jargon that means we will overtake him on his Port side leaving him on our Starboard side.  We had plenty of room on that side and never had to adjust our speed.

After passing through the "Land Cut", we saw that we would not make it into Island Moorings until just after sundown.  Not wanting to travel the busy ship channel after dark, we kicked it up a notch to about 16 knots making our arrival time just after 5 pm.

We were met by Skip and Nancy of the Nancy G on the transient docks and escorted to a slip across from theirs.  They have kept there boat here for about two years now.  Coming up from Harlingen every other weekend.  Our friends Joe and Pearl  keep their boat "On Your Mark" here also.  They will arrive today.

Nancy had drinks and supper ready for us when we arrived.  Making a perfect end to a long day.

From the fuel dock at Port Isabel we figure we traveled about 125 Nautical miles (138 statute miles), burning 56.3 gallons of diesel in about 8.5 hours.

Find Willie's Tug


Walldog, Willie and Jake

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Memory Lane

Willie was sorting some old photos B4D (Before Digital) for storage.  I found a couple that I wanted to share so I scanned them.

The first is a picture of Sam and Inez Thornton, and Willie and Herb with their motorcycles.  Last night Sam and I were talking about his Yamaha that he and Inez rode to Durango with us in 1995.  Our bike was a R100RT BMW.  We were on our way the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association Rally in Durango CO.  We were traveling from Sam and Inez's home in Fayetteville AR.  They now live here in Port Isabel near us.

This picture is of Champ.  Friends who know me will think that this Jake, but it is not Jake.  Champ came to live with us in 1987 and went to dog heaven in 2001.  This picture was taken in the early 90s at his favorite place, the back porch of our home in Avinger Texas.  People say that Jake is a large dog, but Jake weighs only around 80 pounds.  Champ weighed 98 pounds his whole adult life and he was not fat.  He was very active living in the woods and farm as we did then.  He ran beside my 4 wheeler anytime I used it.   As he got older I traded the 4 wheeler for a golf cart.  He ran beside the golf cart each and everytime I went around the farm on it.  In his final years, his hips gave out and I had to carry him from the porch to the golf cart.  He did not like riding, he wanted to run, but he still wanted to go with me.  Champ was named for my grandfather, Wimby Stark nicknamed Champ.

Champ was a good dog.



This final picture is of Willie, Champ and Pepe in the back yard of our home at the Blueberry Farm in Avinger Texas.






Walldog, Willie and Jake.



















Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nice Day for a boat ride

Out near the end of jetties going into the Gulf of Mexico at South Padre Island.  Photo by Willie.