Tuesday, June 13, 2017

T-Bone Walker, Linden and Avinger Texas

I Thought you might enjoy this FB post about T-Bone Walker
Linden is the next town up the road 14 miles from Avinger where we had a blueberry farm and lived for 25 or so years.  Linden is the county seat of Cass County Texas and also the home of Don Henley.  When we lived there in the beginning late 1980s, there was an annual talent show that was awesome.  The musical talent in that little community something to be heard and experienced. 
Avinger itself is home to John Early and his nationally renown Bluegrass group, the Hickory Hill band.  Hickory Hill is an early name for the town of Avinger.  John and I sang in the choir of the Avinger United Methodist church, where we sat together in the tenor section.  John tried unsuccessfully to keep me in harmony and on key.  John Early and Richard Bowden, another Linden native are entertaining together on tour this summer.  Much talent from such a small population center.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our Story or How We Got Here

I have been asked to write up a short synopsis of "Our Story" for the Eagle Harbour Yacht Club.  This is our second year with the EHYC.  We joined because of our friends and fellow Ranger Tug owners that vouched for our integrity.  These friends are Allan and Yvonne, Janeane and Lyman, and Maureen and David.  I hope we can live up to their opinions of us.

The short story starts in Port Isabel, Texas.  One of my favorite expressions is from a boat dealer in Friday Harbor, WA.  He says "You live on an island, you need a boat".
Well, Willie and I bought a water front lot in Port Isabel, Texas.  Sometime later we built a home with a boat house on the water.  So my friends said "You have a dock, you need a boat".

We made a couple of exploratory purchases before we determined how we liked to use a boat.  Our first boat for Port Isabel (Not our first boat, but that is another story) was a SeaDoo. It was a great boat, 50 MPH across the bay in front of our home, open to enjoy the elements.  Herein the problem, Willie did not like to get wet while boating.  So the search continued.  We met a neighbor, Jim Bathhurst who owned a C-Dory 25.  He took us on a ride around the bay during rainy weather.   Willie did not get wet and stayed warm.  She said now THIS is a proper boat.  So many searches later we find a Ranger Tug R21 in North Carolina.  We drive out to look at her and bring home the first Willie's Tug.  She was and is a great boat.  A cabin to keep us dry and warm and a very salty look to meet my approval.  We spent many hours playing among the dolphins (the live ones, not the posts). and enjoying the shallow bay waters in front of our home.

After cruising with our local yacht club to a neighboring community for dinner and an overnight, we found that we lacked a bit in creature comforts for anything more than day cruising.  Alaska mosquitos do not hold a candle to South Texas mosquitos on a hot summers night with not a breeze within 200 miles.  So we went to Bremerton for the Ranger Tug Rendezvous and bought a much larger Ranger Tug R27 which we also christened Willie's Tug as our R21 was now "Hercules" and had a new owner.
For a few years, we trailered our R27 from Texas to the PNW in the spring and back to Texas in the fall.

For many years, since taking a motorhome trip to Alaska several years ago, we have wanted to visit Sitka Alaska.  Sitka has so much history and is even part of our Louisiana heritage.  So we traded our R27 for a new Ranger Tug R31 feeling that we would be more comfortable in the larger boat with our golden retreiver Jake.  We planned to make the trip in 2014, however I had to have surgery before we could leave Seattle.  The larger R31 was perfect as we secured moorage at Stimson Marina in Ballard, just a short 40 Bus ride away from Virginia Mason.  After being released from the surgery, we were able to give the R31 a good check ride into the Broughton's and Hood Canal making good use of our shortened cruising season.
Finally in 2015, we were able to take our Willie's Tug all the way to Sitka, Alaska.  For us it was a dream come true, 3 months from Anacortes to Anacortes with over a week spent in Sitka.  The trip itself is another story, and more details can be found on Willie's blog at andwilliesaid.blogspot.com 
Our new friends Diane and Riley stated that they have moved up to a larger boat as they age.  That seems to be our MO as well.  We have downsized our home, but hope to upsize our boat a bit for more comfortable living during the 5 to 6 months a year that we spend in the PNW.  This year we hope to make at least a couple of the outings with the Eagle Harbour Yacht Club.  Thanks for welcoming us to your group.

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