Sunday, March 24, 2013

And It Wasn't Even a Carnival Cruise...

I snapped this picture last fall when a Carnival Cruise ship passed us at dusk. Little did any of us know what was to come and how much we would have in common.

We had canceled our planned offshore overnight from Jacksonville to Charleston a week ago as the weather predictions fell apart. We decided to stay at the Marina at Ortega Landing and continued to enjoy ourselves until the next weather window came along. We started watching the end of the week as things started to line up very nicely and decided to head to Jacksonville Landing Thursday afternoon and take off early Friday. As most of these things go, it all started off perfectly.

We left the Landing after taking the kids for a nice walk and getting the whole crew breakfast. Our trip down the St Johns River was uneventful. We knew we'd have some bouncing coming out of the St Johns Inlet as there would be wind against the current as we passed through. It was bumpier than expected but we pushed on. We twice considered to bail out, once at Fernandina and then again at Brunswick, but conditions were improving so we decided to put our faith in NOAA and keep going. Little did we know that the weather was about to be the least of our problems.

When we were past the three mile line offshore we decided to dump our holding tank as is legal to do. Our indicator showed we still had plenty of capacity but we decided to take advantage of being offshore. If you are unfamiliar with what a holding tank is on a boat, well, we have no connection to a sewer line so must "hold things" until the tank can be pumped out or dumped overboard.

The first attempt failed to produce an outflow. Not a big deal - sometimes the odor filter on the air vent clogs stopping air from getting in and letting the tank drain. We made a note to replace it when we got in and opened the pump out access on the deck to allow air in. This is something we've done many times before. Jeff went below to start the process. A strong odor made me open the pilothouse door which reveled "stuff" flowing out the access like a beautiful fountain with the wrong colored water landing and flowing down the side of the boat. We used the onboard water to clean it up and because it was getting dark, decided to figure it all out in the morning.

Conditions did continue to improve and the night was uneventful. With daylight at morning and still well offshore, we decided to go to plan B and disconnect the filter from the vent hose completely to remove the clogged filter from the equation. Jeff emptied everything from the stateroom closet which has the access door then decided it would be easiest to remove the false wall to offer even better access. Just in case, he took up the carpet in the stateroom. That turned out to be a very good decision.

I flipped the switch for the pump from the pilothouse and within moments Jeff was yelling, "Shut it off! Shut it off!" You guessed it. Into the closet, the bilge, and the stateroom came our happy fountain again. Towels stopped the spread into the stateroom (thankfully without the carpet now). With the boat in idle we spent the next hour cleaning as best we could.

Upon our arrival in Charleston inlet, the wind whipped up, the current flowed, and it was an all around nasty time. Did I mention the rain? And who dropped the temperatures by 10 degrees into the 50's?

Jeff discovered that we had two equipment failures. First, the holding tank indicator had failed so we didn't realize our holding tank was actually overfull. Second, the macerator pump wasn't working properly. He replaced some parts on the macerator and verified it was working again. We then spent the better part of the afternoon into the evening scrubbing and disinfecting everything. A hot shower, a couple of loads of laundry, a warm dinner, and we could almost forget the past 24 hours.

Sunday we awoke to high wind, driving rain, and thunder and lightening. We didn't mind. We were inside, warm and dry. Then late morning there was a boom and flash of light. I thought, wow, that was close. Then Jeff yells, "Call the office! The power pedestal and dock is on fire!"

Jeff put the fire out and we are safe. We now have a bit more sympathy for the foibles of Carnival. The power will be back on again soon and the rain will eventually stop. We've been through hell and high (brown?) water on this passage. There's surely only blue skies to come.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What About Me????

Don't get me wrong. I love my grandmother. She's watched over me for almost 6 years now, protecting me from other dogs when I was just a pup, showing me how to do my business on the bow which makes Mom and Dad real happy, and even letting me cuddle with her when Mom and Dad leave the boat. (I still can't figure out why they would go without us - sometimes they come back smelling just like food, hmmmm.)

I kept all these things in mind when the inequities started in the fall of 2011.  Dyna had some kind of special "surgery" and everybody made such a fuss. She got lots of special attention and special puppy chow and even had Daddy sleep with her in a special place at night. What did Dylan get? Bupkis!! I didn't complain, well hardly. But then things got back to normal.

A few months ago they started fussing over her again. Seems she was turning her nose up at her food and having some other kinds of problems. So once again they pull out that special puppy chow. You know the kind. It comes in a round cylinder and not a bag. But it doesn't stop there. Next thing I know they're giving her something called Green Tripe which is about the best smelling thing I ever saw and little cans that say "sardines" which also smell really good and Mommy is cooking her eggs twice a day. It's all about, "Here Dyna, do you want this? No? How about this?" I'm sitting there happy to eat all of it but do I even get offered?

Then today, today it just went too far. Mommy has been talking on the phone almost everyday to this Dr. Cox about, you guessed it, Dyna. This morning he tells her to start adding liver to her food. Liver! Do you know how good that smells? So now she's cooking liver, cooking eggs, scooping Green Tripe and sardines and putting it all in Dyna's dish. I run to my dish - bupkis!

So maybe I'm not "old" and maybe I have a bit of a "weight issue" and maybe I'd eat myself into oblivion if given the chance. But would it kill anyone to cook just one egg for me? Oh, and a little liver and tripe and those sardine things. Just say'n.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mellow Yellow

So we're both sitting in our "offices" here at Ortega Landing - Jeff in the pilothouse and me in the salon, when our mobile phones ring. I hear Jeff answer it in his usual rather distracted way, when suddenly his voice brightens, "Really! Oh my gosh, I'll be right down." My interest is peaked. "Mellow's here! I'm going to open the gate." And he's gone.

Now the whole boat is up, even Dyna. You see Mellow is Dyna's great-great-great-great granddaughter - plus or minus a great. Ken and Trudy saw our post last year when Sophie had her litter of 4 girls and 3 boys, How Great is Dyna? They contacted us interested in having their own tiny piece of Dyna. Actually there are two tiny pieces as both of Mellow's parents, Sophie and Sarge, are from the lineage of Dyna.

So we've kept up with them via email and blogs and watched pictures of Mellow as she grew, always hoping to meet up and now it finally happened.

They say dogs don't really know their kin, just who's in their pack. Well, I don't know about that. Dylan and Mellow had an instant bond and could not stay away from each other the entire time. I was sure one or both were going right over the edge of the dock. The two look like identical twins except Mellow is a touch smaller.

We finally got Mellow onboard to meet Dyna who gave her a long and serious going over. She then gave us a look that said, "You don't think you're bringing another one of these onboard, do you?"

It was a wonderful afternoon. Everyone enjoyed themselves very much but eventually our visitors had to head out to get to their boat in Stuart before nightfall. They will set off shortly and we look forward to crossing paths again.

A quick update on Dyna as so many of you have been checking on her. The medications seem to have handled the pain she was experiencing and settled down her irritated colon. She is once again eating very well. She is now served meals in courses to ensure she is getting her meds and a good balance of nutrients. By far her favorite course is the scrambled eggs one. She obviously takes after her mom as breakfast has always been my favorite meal. She continues to be our very sweet girl.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

We Have Documentation

We have known for years that our Dyna was a very sweet girl. Now we have irrefutable proof and in writing no less. Monday Dyna went off in the latest rental car to visit Dr. Tom Cox of Timuquana Animal Hospital here in Jacksonville. We loved everything about this place, starting with Dr. Cox. He offered to print out his notes for us so we could have them if needed.

They do a SOAP assessment something we were taught as EMT's. Well right there under the Objective portion of the assessment under Attitude, do you see it? Sweet. Our girl has been objectively certified by a licensed professional as sweet. Told ya!

So many of you have wanted to know how she's doing and we appreciate your very kind thoughts. Dyna's primary problem is "age" and there's not too much that can be done about that. Our goal is to treat the symptoms we can and make her as happy as possible for as long as possible. So we're working with Dr. Cox to find the right combination of drugs, supplements, and food that will help her painful back end, not irritate her digestive system, and not create any new problems.

Dyna has always been a picky eater (unheard of for a Lab but Dyna has never followed the official script) and has gotten even more so recently. So meal times are stretching out as we try to coax her with one yummy thing after another. True to her nature what works today may not work tomorrow. Last night it was raw hamburger, this morning some smelly canned fish. Have you heard of Green Cow Tripe? Yes, it smells as gross at it sounds. Well, that works, sometimes. Dr. Cox prescribed 2 scrambled eggs twice a day and she loves that. I've pretty much become her personal chef.

Of course, she's always up for treats and has taken to begging shamelessly at our meals. At this point, she gets whatever she wants and her daddy has been even more generous than usual. Dylan thinks it is all most unfair.

We discuss her treatment in light of her being at the end of life. Dr. Cox has been very kind, understanding, helpful, and respectful when he makes his recommendations.

For now she still wants her daily walk and still engages when Dylan sounds the alarm. There is no doubt that she is still our very sweet girl and we will cherish her for as long as we can.

Friday, March 1, 2013

They're Back...

We've well established Dylan's love of watching the wildlife. His favorite are the d-o-l-p-h-i-n-s, (can't be too careful he's sitting right here). But he became fascinated with the manatees when we were in Titusville last December. They surrounded the boat daily until a cold snap chased them away. We didn't seen them again until our last day in Cocoa Village.

I was running water through rock salt to recharge our Spot-Free device. When I went out on the bow to turn it off I found Dylan peering over the side and a small crowd of people at the dock taking pictures. Now I know he's one handsome little boy but didn't think he warranted that sort of attention.

Then I discovered that a manatee had arrived and was drinking the fresh water that was coming out of the scupper. Not only was he enjoying the drink but he was as fascinated by Dylan as Dylan was of him.

Dylan never barked but simply kept peering over the side and watching this strange creature that had come for a visit. I hated to shut off the water but knew I couldn't let it run forever. Our friend rolled over to give Dylan a final salute and then was gone.

A few days later in Titusville while Jeff was rinsing off the side of the boat guess who shows up? Could it be the same one? Could there possibly be two faces like that?