Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Winter and the 4th of July

Late last week the Whaler went in the water and the kids took a preliminary spin around the harbor. All members past and present of our crew have loved the Whaler. It goes fast, it's close to the water, and it generally means we're going somewhere fun - like swimming!

For the past 12 years we have split our time between our house in Maine and the boat. Typically we spend 9 months on the boat and 3 months in Maine. And of course the 3 months in Maine are in the summer.

We love Maine summers. They are pleasant warm days and cool nights. Well, usually they are. It seems like this summer we are being punished for not having endured this past winter - even the natives are saying it was one of the worst winters they could remember.

So far it has been one long tease. We get one beautiful day followed by cold, wind, and rain. While we were able to get the Whaler in, it has been just too cold to take the kids across to Indian Bar for a swim. The problem isn't Dylan and Dee Dee swimming in cold water - Labs don't care about that. It's that we have to wade ashore and then come back with soaking wet dogs, usually draped across my lap. That just seemed too cold for us to endure. We keep watching the forecast and it looks promising later in the week.

In the meantime, Dylan and Dee Dee are trying out a variety of harnesses that we will be testing in a live swim to determine what will be their next safety harness. If you are new to Dylan and Dee Dee's blog you may not be aware of Dee Dee's "adventure" this past winter. You can read about it here.

There's a saying up here that Maine has two seasons, winter and the 4th of July. We're hoping the 4th will come through...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rainy Day

The crew has been in Maine for two weeks now and still the Whaler sits in the driveway. Their dad has it all ready to go in but the weather just refuses to cooperate. It's been cold and windy most days. Not a good start to the summer...

Today is pouring rain. Dylan and Dee Dee were considering a mutiny as they continue to wait for their promised swim at Indian Bar. But they decided to use the day for a good rainy day snooze instead. Lest you think the crew is loafing, Dee Dee did get up and spin around.

Mid-week is looking promising. We have all our fingers and paws crossed!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Settling In

It will be a week tomorrow that we returned to our land-based house in Maine. Any time we make the transition back to land it takes some time to get settled in. There is so much that is different here. Having a car at the ready, not really caring about the weather... But the biggest change is the space. There's so much space.

Dylan and Dee Dee have to rediscover all of the special spots. Possibly their favorite is the windows in the sunroom. It's a great place to wait for Mom or Dad to return from a walk to the post office or out to the trash can. But even more importantly it is the perfect location to stage their stakeouts for their most infamous of enemies - squirrels! So far the sightings have been meager but the crew is not deterred.

Dee Dee's biggest obstacle was the dreaded spiral staircase. Crew members all the way back to Tucker have had to learn to navigate this fearsome monstrosity. We've always considered it a rite of passage.

While she mastered them last summer, this is only the third time she has been at the house - and that's counting the 2 night stay when we picked her up as a puppy. So while we didn't exactly start from scratch, she still had to work up her nerve.

That meant 2 days of running up the front steps, through the house to the back, down the spiral stairs - for whatever reason down isn't so scary - where she would stand at the bottom and bark. Then... repeat, about 50 times a day. Eventually she saw Dylan ascend enough times to decide that maybe they where safe after all.

After nearly 7 days the kids are settling in to a new routine: walk around the block at 7 am, trip down to the town dock after lunch, romp in the back yard before supper, and cuddling with Mom and Dad in the evening. All that's left is to get the Whaler in the water this weekend so we can add trips to Indian Bar for a swim.

Now that's one hard working crew whether on land or at sea.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Birthday Boy!


Today our sweet boy turned 8. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday Dylan was a puppy winning first place in an online photo contest.

Unfortunately, he spent his special day in the backseat as we zoom back to Maine. He still got a special birthday treat to enjoy - but then so did Dee Dee, so unfair...  Fortunately, our crew has always been terrific in the car.

His day ended with a stay in a La Quinta. Even if he did have to share a bed with Dee Dee. And tomorrow morning? Waffles from La Quinta's Bright Side Breakfast. Nothing is too good for our boy!

Happy Birthday you handsome guy! We love you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From the Sea

Even the most casual follower of Dylan and Dee Dee's blog knows how the crew feels about playing in the ocean. During their time in the Bahamas, they quickly discovered the many "treasures" that can be found along the beach. A huge favorite was the dead coral that washed ashore. I think it was a combination of the sea smell and the texture. Coral is amazingly strong yet has a slight give to it making for hours of chewing fun.

During one of our (few) excursions without the kids, their dad picked up a piece of dead coral and brought it back the to boat for onboard playtime. It was a very big hit!

So before we left the Bahamas we found 3 or 4 large pieces of dead coral to bring along as a future treat. We squirreled them away in the lazarette. A few have already been brought out when a reward was due.

The first order is to break it into pieces but then the one only wants the piece that the other has. There is much tussling for position and "stealing" back and forth.

First, Dylan has it.

Then Dee Dee...

We're now down to a single intact dead coral which will be brought back to Maine.

One day this summer we'll bring it out, maybe when it's a rainy  or dreary day. We can all enjoy our treasure from the sea, remember the fun we had, and look forward to our next adventure there.

Everyone loves the smell of the sea!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Changing Plans

Dylan and Dee Dee had a great time at Cumberland Island, one of the crew's favorite stops. It was topped off their final morning with a huge dolphin sendoff. A dozen or more dolphins spent an hour playing around the boat. The kids were thrilled. We are pleased to report that all crew members remained onboard for the duration.

Tropical Storm Anna forced us to modify our plans and skip past Charleston. Charleston is one of Mommy and Daddy's favorite stops, sigh. We decided to push on in good weather and do a two day run from Cumberland Island, GA to Oriental, NC. It turned out to be a smart move.

It was the first double overnight for this crew and they pulled it off with aplomb, which made Dylan think they should each get a plum but they were happy to settle for treats.

After a few days at River Dunes Marina (another crew favorite), we left refreshed and finished our run to the Chesapeake area. We have some projects to complete and hope to be back in Maine in a few weeks. Of course, we're already thinking about where to head next winter. The kids are voting for some more time at Great Harbour Cay. Gotta keep the crew happy...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cumberland Island Revisited

We've said it before and I'll say it again, Cumberland Island, Georgia is one of our most favorite stops along the Eastern Seaboard. We have visited many times with Dyna and Dylan. Dee Dee had her 1st visit to Cumberland Island a year ago. True to form for this little girl there were "issues."

Fortunately, her time on Great Harbour Cay, Bahamas has earned her "untethered" access to the beach.  It may not be the Bahamas with Gracie but Dylan and Dee Dee are taking advantage of every bit!

We leave tomorrow for an overnight to Charleston. But we'll be back...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ortega Landing

Dylan and Dee Dee are about to end their time here at The Marina at Ortega Landing. For Dylan it was like old home week. He's been here many times including a 5 month stint with Dyna back in 2011 when we had all our electronics replaced.  He got together with some of his old buddies, Abby, Myia, and Ty. Their mom, Deb, who works at Huckins Yacht, and their dad, Walt, who loves to hand out treats. That makes him very popular with the group.

It's been a good week with long walks through the pretty streets and romps on the large field at the marina. A highlight was attending the Riverside Arts Market on Saturday morning. It started with a dinghy ride to downtown Jacksonville.

Once we got to the event, Dylan and Dee Dee learned quickly to work the vendors for treats. Sit prettily, cock the head, and bat those big brown eyes - it worked every time. They even got some from a nice lady walking by who had just purchased homemade treats for her dog from Bubba's Bistro. We visited Bubba's, too.

Early tomorrow morning we head to Cumberland Island, GA where the crew hopes to get in some more beach time with swimming. It'll be the first dip since leaving the Bahamas. They're definitely in need of a fix!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Today is Dee Dee's 2nd birthday. Are we the only one's surprised that she made it this far?

No one can say it has been a boring time but it has also been filled with amusement and joy watching her grow up with Dylan at her side.

She is beautiful and loving and fun and smart and at times exasperating. She is Dee Dee with a personality all her own.

The time passes so quickly. We're not sure what adventures await us but we know they will not be boring...

We love you, Dee Dee!  Happy Birthday!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Beach Toys Review

The crew visited the beach practically every day in the 8 weeks we were at Great Harbour Cay Marina. It gave them a chance to test a wide variety of beach toys. We think that qualifies them to do a review!

For Christmas they received two new beach toys from Mom and Dad in anticipation of their romps in the Bahamas. They were two floating bumpers that rated highly on Amazon.

The Chuckit Tumble Bumper Toy is brightly colored and floats but was a bit thick for holding while they swam. It really filled Dee Dee's mouth. It was fine but not their first choice.

The Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper was without question the favorite of not only Dylan and Dee Dee but also their buddy Gracie. It has a rope tail that allowed all three dogs to grab and pull. It was used every day, surviving hundreds (thousands?) of tosses until it finally was torn apart. Still given its heavy use it held up well.

With the loss of the favorite Chuckit toy we dug through the dog box and pulled out Dyna's two old training bumpers - an orange one and a white one. When they were new they looked like the picture above.

Both where a bit worse for wear but the team loved retrieving them and were even able to get all three jaws on at once. The orange one started taking on water and partially sinking so it became a boat toy. The white one was lost at sea on Gracie's final beach trip. It never washed ashore...

So we turned back to the Chuckit Tumble Bumper, dug some more through the dog box and pulled out a small ball that floated, a West Paw tug toy that also floated, and an old Wubba water toy.

The ball could only be held by a single dog and didn't allow for tugging so that one was quickly abandoned. The tug toy also was not good for tugging while in the water so was mainly ignored. The Wubba was a hit as the many flapping pieces which floated up on the water allowed for lots of tug-of-war games.

So what is on the list of "must buys" now that we're back in the States? Definitely another Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper (or two). A three pack of the training bumpers to which we'll add some nylon line. We're undecided about the Wubba. Wouldn't want to spoil the crew, would we? Oh, throw one in the cart, they deserve it!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Written in the Sand...

There's a wise mariners saying, "Plans are written in the sand at low tide."

We have certainly altered our plans on many occasions, usually cutting short a long passage or bailing out of an overnight crossing when conditions changed or where not as we expected. However, this time was a bit different.

We left Great Harbour Cay Marina around 2 pm Sunday to catch the high tide. It was a bittersweet send off as we said goodbye to a terrific group of cruisers and marina staff.

Hans and his amazing staff made our time in the Berry Islands even better than we could have imagined. The crew has certainly never been treated better or had more fun.

We headed around the island to anchor off the beach were Dylan and Dee Dee had spent so many terrific hours. Our plan was to leave early Monday morning and head to Eleuthera which we have never visited. Then on to the Abacos which we haven't seen in many years. Sunday night was miserable with the boat rocking and rolling. Even the kids weren't sleeping. We should have taken it as an omen.

The wind and waves weren't great Monday morning but we hoped the seas would settled when we found deeper water. After two hours of banging into head seas, we abandoned our plan and turned around. Instantly we were in blessed following seas right on the stern. It was a perfect ride. The next step was to figure out where to go now.

As Jeff started looking at the possibilities he realized we were heading directly for the US with the current conditions remaining the same and predicted to get better for the next 24 plus hours. We decided to go for it and had a perfect overnight crossing arriving in Cape Canaveral Tuesday afternoon just in time to see a space launch.

It felt a bit jarring after the tranquility of Great Harbour Cay with little time to make the mental adjustment. The crew is still suffering from beach withdrawal but holding up well. We've begun making our way north with some stops along the way.

We've promised Dylan and Dee Dee some time at Cumberland Island where they can get in some beach romping. Of course, that is unless our plans change...