Monthly Archives: April 2020

FREE Books (Mine)

Recently a dear friend wrote and asked how I was progressing with my proposed book tentatively titled, “Four Feet of Less: A Gunkholer’s Guide to Florida’s West Coast.” Shamefacedly I had to confess, “Not very well.”

There are a number of reasons, and it’s hard to say which one carries most of the onus. So I’ll just say…I haven’t visited a lot of places I wanted to include in the a guide (Yet?). Last year I went to Cayo Costa, about 100 miles south. I was there for a couple of days and the water was taking on a strange, pinkish hue and my eyes started to burn as well as my lungs which isn’t good when you have serious COPD issues. It was Red Tide. So I pulled anchor and returned to Bradenton Beach. The tide followed me. In fact, at its worst it covered nearly 150 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast and littered the littoral with thousands of dead fish.

I thought it would at least be a good time to get started with the writing. Then my beloved MacBook Air died! I’m an old guy living on a tiny 22-foot sailboat and subsisting entirely on Social Security. I didn’t have an extra $1,300 lying around to buy a replacement Mac. I thought about how I mainly used the Mac and it boiled down to emails and getting into arguments over politics with strangers online…So I sprung for an Acer Chromebook for less than $300. For the most part it does what I need it to do. The big BUT, though, is that instead of Microsoft Word, that I used to write my book “Adversity’s Wake,” I have to use Google Docs. Not nearly as good. And there has been a learning curve. It’s not easy to assemble and edit chapters. Move one thing and everything gets discombobulated resulting in extreme frustration so I move on to doing something else.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do since the gunkhole book is quite a ways from complete. This will take a little effort on your part, though.

I am offering my book “Adversity’s Wake” and the short story “Sailing Alone to Isla” FREE to anyone who wants them. BUT, you have to go and sign up with the site “SMASHWORDS.COM.” Don’t worry, they WON’T spam you or give your name to anyone else.

When you’ve registered, go to my page and select the two books. When you go to “check out” there is a space for entering a coupon number. Do that and when you complete your checkout you will NOT BE CHARGED for the books. This is a LIMITED TIME OFFER. After August 1 the price will go back to $4.99 for Adversity’s wake and 99¢ for Sailing Alone to Isla.

For Adversity’s Wake the Coupon Code is: QH93D (NOT case sensitive)
For Sailing Alone to Isla the code is: BB62U (NOT case sensitive)

There are different formats to choose from to read them. If you like them an HONEST review would be appreciated.

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Filed under adventure, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, FL, digital books, digital publishing, Dual-Language Books, Dual-language books: English/Spanish, e-publishing, ebook, indie authors, indie writers, self publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Sunshine State My Aging White Pooper!

Gonna be a wet, nasty day anchored here at the south end of Anna Maria Island, FL. But that’s life on the hook in Florida. The MyRadar site is predicting 1 to 2 inches of rain today and 1-2 inches overnight. The challenge isn’t to stay safe. It’s to stay DRY and keep the dinghy bailed out.

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Yuck

I absolutely HATE days like this as I sit anchored at the south end of Anna Maria Island, Florida. Wind is out of the NNE gusting into the upper teens and low twenties. Heavily overcast. Overall there’s a 60% chance of rain and it’s been sixty percenting off and on so far this morning. But what I REALLY hate is that I’ve been up for a couple of hours (It’s now 9:30) and I just put on a sweat shirt. A bit earlier I donned the bottoms of my long johns. It’s the MIDDLE OF APRIL, DAMNIT!!!

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Outside Comfort Zone

For the first time in a couple of weeks the winds are picking up. It was dead calm four hours ago but now it’s up to a point from the NNE here anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island, FL, where I’d start to struggle against it to get back the 125 yards from the dock to the boat. The forecast for tomorrow is calling for winds gusting up to 30 mph, Been there, survived that…

But I’m ready. Had to leave my comfort zone a couple of times this week. On Wednesday, since the weather was clear and calm, I took the #6 bus over to The Dark Side (mainland) and went to Wally World. I needed to buy a pair of slacks since I can’t wear jeans to my upcoming court date to fight the “No visible anchor light” extortion summons I received.

While I was there I stocked up on a half dozen Hormel “Compleats” dinners. I’m not much into prepared foods but with this mandated “Stay at Home” deal that cuts down on trips to the grocery store for fresh stuff. The Compleats aren’t too bad and they don’t have too many ingredients listed that are impossible to pronounce. Shelf life exceeds that of Twinkies which is something like four years after the sun is scheduled to go supernova and eliminate the solar system.

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Nearly all processed food manufacturers believe that everyone in the known universe owns a microwave oven. Well, news item, people that live anchored on 22-foot sailboats DON’T! But the meals are packaged in plastic trays with a thick plastic lining on top. Put an inch or two of water in a pot big enough to take the package, bring the water to a boil, plop in the tray and let it boil away for eight to ten minutes. Another long life sorta food  are Ready Meals. They come in plastic bags and I do rather like the fiesta steak.

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Quite spice. Just drop into boiling water for awhile and same results. Synthetic food…Soylent Green is People!

I then did some involuntary sightseeing. I’m waiting at the DeSoto Station which is one of the termini for many of Manatee County Area Transportation’s bus lines, and reading a story on my iPad. I sense a bus entering the terminal and I glance up and see a green “6” on the sign. I get on. When the bus takes off it goes in an unexpected direction.

At first I think nothing of it because down at the intersection of Cortez where the bus would normally turn there’s a ton of construction going on. So I think perhaps the driver’s taking a different route to avoid that. Then, though, when she passes the logical place to join Cortez Road she keeps on going.

“Isn’t this the #6 bus?” I ask.
“No,” it’s the SixTEEN.”
Rats. I’m going to have to ride the whole route, and I wish I’d brought a sweater because it’s FREEZING on the bus…Fortunately with the virus situation they aren’t charging for the rides these days.

Now I’m looking at my “My Stop” app on my phone. The buses have transponders so you can follow a bus on its travels. It’s a race to see who gets to the terminal first…the bus I’m on or the #6 that I need to take me back out to the island. It’s neck-and-neck. The buses are only running once every hour and if I miss this one I have to hang around the terminal for another hour. Well, we beat the number six in by no more than three minutes so my sagging, aging ass was saved!

On Thursday I got a text message from CVS that my blood pressure med prescription was ready. So off I went. The usual trolley schedule of 20 minutes has been reduced for an hour. No big deal. My stop app says it starts off from the South Coquina stop below me on the hour. Went and got my meds then slipped over to Publix next door and really loaded up on groceries. Got some more prepared foods but also a whole fresh chicken which is in the pressure cooker right now. A couple of pork chops that will become sweet and sour stir fry and some ground beef that will be transformed into hamburger stroganoff. Weill be boat bound until Monday or Tuesday. That’s when my Enya carbon fibre ukulele is scheduled for delivery. I’ll go pick it up, make a quick dash into the Dollar Store and stock up on junk food and then I’ll be dug in for a couple or three weeks.

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Filed under Anna Maria Island, boats, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coquina Beach, Corona virus, Cruising Food, Uncategorized

Staying Sane While Quarantined

Since mentioning that I have taken up trying to learn how to play the ukulele and how it helps while away the time here at anchor off of Anna Maria Island, FL, a member of one of the Facebook boating groups I run keeps pestering me about not posting uke videos. There are a few reasons for that: primarily because my voice SUCKS. I can’t carry a note with a co-signer. Also, I don’t have decent equipment to do a recording, but, never the less, being in self quarantine and needing something to do, I used my iPad to record this. Volume for the voice is low, but I’m not going to go our and buy a mike.

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Staying Fed At Anchor

One of the questions I’m sometimes asked is, “Do you cook out there on your boat?” My answer is, “Do you see any empty pizza boxes floating around?”

Actually, I’m a pretty good cook. Not as good as my first French girlfriend who was the chef on a 180-foot mega yacht over in Antibes, France, but I rarely cook something up and have to say, “Well, THAT, sucked!”

My dad was a chef and while he only taught me and my brothers how to cook the world’s best fried foods, watching him and my mother, no slouch in the kitchen in her own right, some of what he did was sort of absorbed almost by osmosis. I can’t tell you how often we’d have a supper and say, “Wow! That was great. Can we have that again?” and his answer would be, “No. You can have something LIKE that again, but you can’t have that.” The reason was that as a chef he was constantly creative. A little of THIS, a pinch of THAT, eye of newt, etc. Whatever inspired him at that instant went into the meal so it was impossible to duplicate it. There was no recipe.

When I was outfitting this boat I bought a two-burner Coleman propane camp stove. stove

It uses those little 1 lb green cans.

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The bottles last a couple of weeks when you cook every day and they power my Little Buddy heater for those occasional cold snaps we get here on Anna Maria Island, Florida in the winter months.

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I’d make a trip over to the Walmart on mainland Bradenton where a pair of those tanks could be purchased for $3.60. I’d buy three or four pairs at a time so I’d have a couple months worth stored away. The biggest drawback to these things is that if I’d been cooking for a while and wanted to make something that required a long time to prepare, like turkey thighs, I’d have to take off whatever bottle was attached to the stove and put on a brand new one because there’s nothing worse than having the gas run out in the middle of cooking.

Eventually, of course, I learned, via YouTube, how to refill those little cans despite the warning NOT to do it printed on their labels. So I went out and bought a 20 lb tank. This cut the cost per tank down by about 2/3rds. It’s awkward to do this, especially working in the cockpit of a 22-foot boat, and I was rarely able to get the tanks more than 3/4 full. But that’s okay if you’ve got plenty of them.

The major downside of the two burner stove, besides all the room it took up, was keeping it clean. And it was a hassle dragging it topside for a complete scrubbing down.

After nearly three years it slowly dawned on me that I rarely used both burners at the same time. So I bought a top-quality, single-burner stove the GasOne dual fuel stove. And got all the extra hoses to hook it up to the 20 lb tank…

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I liked making one-pot meals such as “Unstuffed cabbage rolls,” Unstuffed green peppers,” stovetop tuna casserole, etc. When I make my stir fry chicken or pork I’d generally cook the rice, first and set it aside to steam then do the stir fry. I love using sweet chili sauce to make a sweet and sour type meal.

Not every meal has to be gourmet. I happen to like this: Cook up some pasta. Shells, elbows, bow ties, etc. add a small can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilis (if you like hot) or small can of diced tomatoes. Add a can of tuna or some diced ham, and then pour some cheese dip out of a jar until everything’s coated and yummy.

On the other hand I recently braised some sea scallops in olive oil and butter, at the last minute added some freshly minced garlic and oregano until fragrant and splashed with lime juice. Served over yellow rice with a small salad on the side. Honestly, you couldn’t have gotten anything more delicious at a restaurant.

So, how does it work when you NEED two burners? You need to use some ingenuity. For instance, last night I had spaghetti with meat balls. Now, I don’t use much prepared foods but sometimes it’s the easiest way to go. I bought some ready-made meatballs at the grocery and some spaghetti sauces that were on BOGO. I can make excellent spaghetti sauce but there are times I don’t want to do all the prep work and use a ready-made sauce whose label isn’t filled with words of chemicals I can’t pronounce in the ingredients list. Why not, huh?

Now, bring your pasta water to a boil then cover and set aside. Put the meatballs and sauce in a pan and heat until the meatballs are done. Cover and set aside. Put the pasta water back on the burner. It’s stayed hot and won’t take but a couple of minutes to get back to a boil. Cook your pasta. Now, when that’s done put the sauce back on the burner while you drain the pasta. It, too, will still be hot. Top the pasta with the sauce et Voilà as we used to say over in Antibes.

One thing I DO MISS on the boat, though, is the lack of an oven. There are some casseroles that can be adapted to stove tops, like tuna noodle, stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls, but some can’t be duplicated and I miss them.

I experiment a lot with my meals and most of the time their fair to excellent, but I’ll admit, a couple of times a year I have to say, “Well, THAT really sucked!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Staying Fit On A Small Boat

Multi-billionaire, David Geffen, recently stirred up a shit storm of outrage when he posted about self-isolating himself and the 45 members of the crew of his $519 million, 453 foot mega yacht in the Caribbean. Seems most of the world view him as an enormous jerk!

I bet that somewhere on his yacht he has a full-equipped gymnasium so he can stay in shape. But what about us folks that are self-isolating on a 22 foot boat anchored off of Anna Maria Island, FL? How do we keep our muscles from atrophying because of inactivity?

Up on deck if the boat’s not bouncing around too badly I can do pushups to keep the upper body toned. I DON’T, but I COULD if I wasn’t such a lazy SOB.

When the wind’s not real bad I paddle to shore in my dinghy which gives me some upper body workout and certainly gets my COPD clogged lungs a workout. Then, on shore, I can walk in the boat trailer parking lot for fitness.

Recently, though, when we went through a patch of windy weather where going ashore would have been on an emergency need only, I discovered that walking in place is just as effective as walking on a track; all you need is enough space to march, supportive shoes and comfortable clothing. Every time I stand up after reading or working on the computer for a while I will start my metronome for 5 minutes at a speed of 70 beats per minute. It get’s my breathing up and at the end of that time my right hip is bothering me as much as when I’m walking around on land. I do this EVERY TIME I stand up in the hatchway and that comes to a couple of dozen times a day.

The Y, of which I’m a member so I can use their gym and take hot showers, is closed for the foreseeable future, and while this isn’t as good as the gym David Geffen has access to I’m staying as fit as I can…92128254_819098755268908_1653492121820200960_n90839384_10206979444922657_6275735019537301504_o

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Little difference because of lockdown…

It’s a nice day anchored here at the south end of Anna Maria Island, FL., and the coronavirus is far away. It’s a bit chilly for my taste at 62F at nearly 9:30 a.m. but the sun’s shinning, pelicans skim inches off the surface of the sparkling water and occasionally dive for some fish. I hear the resident osprey’s twitter gliding in the breeze from it’s lookout perch atop a nearby sailboat mast. An anhinga pops up close by with a small hapless fish it snatched out of the school…”Hey, anybody seen Harry lately?” A dolphin’s exhale puff tumbles into my cabin. No motor noises. The boat ramp, 125 yards away, is closed. Nearly everything ashore is shut down on governmental orders but I have well-stocked lockers filled with food for a while and I wouldn’t be doing anything ashore, anyway. Just sitting around playing on my computer and trying to learn the cord melody version of Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train” on my ukulele.

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Just Another Night

Even without the Covfefe19 shelter in place directives this is a “don’t go ashore” morning here at the Coquina Beach North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL.

The last week to 10 days have been unusual. Days on end with barely a ripple on the water and no rain. But that all changed last night just before midnight. The wind did a 180 and started blowing from the Northeast. And blow, indeed. Immediately the intensity of the waves lapping against the hull increased and a few minutes later the first fat drops of rain started rebounding off the cabin top. Where the boat’s motion had been solid, as though planted in the sandy bottom of the bay, now it was rocking up and down in the wavelets and the sound of the rain soon had me sound asleep.

A large, loud BANG on the side of the boat at around 04:30 had me instantly awake. The wind and waves had increased quite a bit. I generally keep the dinghy tied up on the starboard quarter (see pic) but the wave action had caused the fender at the bow to be flipped inside the dinghy and the two bare hulls were now slamming together.

The solution, of course was to turn it loose on its painter so it would bob, unfettered, astern. I took unfastened the painter from the cleat on the cabin top, careful not to let it fly away. Instantly the bow flew off downwind. But the stern didn’t. it looked as though it was caught under the propeller of the Mercury outboard. I pulled the bow back in and it seemed as though the stern came free from the Merc so I let the bow go, again, and the same thing happened. Remember, it’s about 4:30 in the morning and I’ve been roused out of a sound sleep just a couple of minutes ago so it took a third unsuccessful attempt before it dawned on me that the line from the dinghy’s transom was still fastened to the main boat.

Thankfully the rain had stopped but the temperature had plunged. Not winter cold front cold, but chilly. Working in the dark i tried to unfasten the line from the cleat but somehow the fender had gotten tangled up. And it’s my BEST fender, too, and I don’t want to lose it. I managed to get it unfastened and flipped into the dinghy. Back at the cabin top I let the line loose once again and the dinghy slipped back and rode easily astern.

The wind was really piping away. I tried to get a reading with my hand-held anemometer but couldn’t get the screen to light up. Looking at windfinder just now I see that the winds were recorded as gusting up to 28 mph. Now folks, I AM safe. I’ve explained my anchoring system. I’m in NO DANGER. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but SAFE.

It’s about 15 degrees colder now than the last week. Winds are gusting TOWARDS, but not HITTING, 20 mph. But the sun is shining and it’s just a good day to be on the water.91748595_203351307779291_7343569060187078656_n

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