Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. It's a time to take a break and be with the people we love. And of course eat lots of great food. It doesn't have the pressure of buying gifts or weeks of hype. Just quiet time to be together.

We loaded up the rental car last week and drove the 500+ miles from Jacksonville to Tennessee, where inexplicably most of Karen's family has migrated. Dyna and Dylan settled in together on the back seat which we'd encased in sheets to keep the hair at bay. They didn't know where we were going but were just happy to be going.

We stayed with Grandma who graciously puts up with the dog hair. Thanksgiving day was at Aunt Jane and Uncle Chuck's. Dylan's job was to guard the dinning room table, even long after the meal was complete and all it contained was a puzzle.

Most of their cousins are grown but the youngest, 9 year old Marcos, and one grand-cousin (is that a term?), 2 year old Isaac, provided Dylan with some much appreciated crumbs from the table.

They handled the long trip back like the seasoned travelers they are and all were happy to be back onboard.  It's hard to beat an evening on the sofa with Dad.

We look forward to settling in for a few months and getting many projects done. We'll find time to have fun with fellow boaters and we just heard about a dog park nearby.

Life is good and we have much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stuck in Paradise

River Dunes Marina is an ActiveCaptain sponsor. I originally contacted JC, the Marina Manager, about this time last year when we were looking for a place to stop because I had been seeing the amazing reviews they always received. He urged us to come and see for ourselves but the timing just didn't work out for us.

I spoke to JC again this year and again he urged us to come see for ourselves. This year we made it, planning to stay a day and then quickly move on - we'd lost time when we were "stuck" in Portsmouth. The plan was to head to the Beaufort inlet and then offshore so we could be in Florida by mid-month, then to my mom's for Thanksgiving.

We all know about boating and plans.

We pulled into the channel for River Dunes on Wednesday afternoon not expecting the large, beautiful basin that opened up before us. We both went, "Wow" - honest. I don't know what we expected but this is a beautiful place with just the right amount of manicured grounds (lovely to look at but not overdone), magnificent homes, winding streets, a pool surrounded by cabanas, a large clubhouse, and fabulous floating docks.

And it just kept getting better. JC met us at the dock with a knowledgable dockhand. Imagine that, a dockhand who knows how to handle lines. Quite an unusual finding. When we went into the clubhouse to check in I met Louise who handles the front desk and was a constant help during our stay. She was not only competent but she was thoroughly pleasant and fun to talk to. I thought, too bad we can't stay longer.

We signed up for their family style dinner Thursday night with plans to leave early Friday morning. We were pleasantly surprised when Elle and Dick on Summer Wind pulled into the basin and we all joined JC and his wife for a terrific dinner. Talked turned to the weather with predictions of 20 foot seas off of Frying Pan Shoals and gale force winds.

By Friday morning the winds were howling, yet again foiling our plans. By the afternoon a gaggle of Krogen trawlers began coming in out of the weather - it is called a gaggle isn't it? The basin filled up as the weather got worse. We weren't going anywhere. I wasn't complaining. A great dinner at the clubhouse with the Kogren-ites, a couple of trips into Oriental in the courtesy car, numerous walks on the grounds with the kids - I could get used to this.

But we do need to move on. Tomorrow is looking promising, so tonight we're making plans to leave early. Whatever the morning holds I won't complain. We do have places to go but being stuck here for another day wouldn't be so bad either.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

aCappella's anchor light...

The highest fixed item on our boat is the anchor light.  While we can tilt down the VHF and HF radio antennas for bridges, the light on top of the arch only comes down with great effort.  It sits a full 20 feet above the water surface.  We know that any bridge lower than about 20' must be lifted in order for us to proceed through it.

No, we didn't hit a bridge.

In 2005 I changed the bulb in the anchor light.  It's an expensive halogen light that we turn on through all darkened hours at anchor.  It has burned brightly over many nights for us warning other boats that we were anchored.  Because of its technology, it consumes a fair number of amps to provide the required 2 mile range.

A couple of weeks ago there was a wonderful new LED replacement bulb at a great price from Defender (part of our Defender 1st program with them).  We purchased a couple of the bulbs with the intention of using one for the anchor light.  It has the required range but burns less than 30% the amps of the previous bulb.

So I carefully removed the sealed fitting that has guarded the existing bulb from wind, rain, and even hurricanes through the last 6+ years.  When I got the housing off there was an unexpected finding inside.  It was almost filled with dog hair.

Can anyone come up with an explanation of how this sealed container could be filled in this way?

The new bulb is wonderful, bright, and saves a lot of power.

I'm starting to wonder what my lungs look like.