Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dog Hair

Jeff and I often joke that if they ever did an autopsy on us they'd find dog hair in our livers and within other internal organs. If you're the type who wants things always clean, do not get a Lab. However, if you want non-stop love then jump right in!

Yesterday the top row of letters on my laptop from "e" through "o" stopped working. Of course, the "Qwerty" row of letters contain some of the most used letters making typing quite difficult. I'm typing this using a combination of the keyboard keys that work and the onscreen keyboard. Otherwise, the last sentence would look like this:

'm png hs sng a cmbnan f h kbad ks ha wk and h nscn kbad.

So, being old time geeks with tech support backgrounds plus my own tenure at Apple, I tried several things without success and then went to Jeff for suggestions. He said, "Use the shop vac on the keyboard." What?!?! "Maybe dog hair is jamming the keys." Not being entirely sure he wasn't pulling my leg, I gave it a shot.

I was stunned at the amount of short yellow hairs that began oozing out of the crevices. And it continued for at least 15-20 minutes! Then I remembered the picture I had snapped sometime ago as I was trying to use my laptop one day. It's a typical occurrence of our normal laptop/dog interaction.

I'd like to say it fixed my problem but tomorrow we head to an Apple store. This is one time the kids are in the clear.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dog Park II: Second Time's the Charm

Good news for the kids. Snotty weather meant that we stayed an extra day at the Titusville Municipal Marina which meant Dylan and Dee Dee had four trips to the dog park! So you may be wondering how Dee Dee did after being put on restriction at the Vero Beach dog Park...

She was bordering on perfect. She loved the other dogs and ran and played nonstop. She behaved wonderfully with each one, knowing right away where she fit into the pack. She seemed to know the one unfriendly dog and simply avoided him. And, the biggest miracle of all, no matter where she was in the park or what she was doing she came running right back to us on command. Honest! Even Dylan occasionally hesitates with that one.

Dee Dee has one of those high tech microchips that can identify her should she ever get lost or stolen. Dylan didn't see the point... It had me wondering if our little devil girl had been stolen and replaced with a good dog who looks just like her. I thought maybe we should find a vet and have the chip read.

Then as we're walking back to the marina, she turns and nips at Dylan. Yup, that's our girl. Sorry Dylan, I guess we're stuck with her.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Castine Ex-Patriots Invade Vero

Since we first crossed paths with Spray and her crew in Sarasota we've been bumping into each other again and again as we both begin our slow trek back to Castine. It's fun to see friends from back home along the way. Sarasota was where we had the largest contingent - likely the biggest concentration of Castiners anywhere but in Castine.

This week we got together in Vero Beach but not content to simply meet up, we rafted up and formed our own little Castine colony. Not only was it fun for the dogs who loved to bark across the bow, but it allowed for the shortest Annual Town Meeting ever. It would have been even better with Dark 'n Stormies being served.

We had a bit of a hard time explaining why Riggs and Katie got dinghy rides ashore several times a day. Dylan and Dee Dee thought they deserved lots of dinghy rides even if they did use the poop deck.

Don't worry, the kids have had plenty of time at the dog park. Or as it seemed one day, the horse park. The owner said he weighs 190 pounds! It was Dee Dee's first dog park.

Dee Dee wants us to feed her what he gets.

Of course, both Dylan and Dee Dee had to say hello. And if you're wondering why Dee Dee has to "enjoy" the dog park on a leash, well, that's a story to be told over something stronger than just a Dark 'n Stormy...

After a few short days, the crew on Spray headed out, much to the sadness of all the crew on aCappella. We're not likely to meet again until we're both back in Maine but we look forward to the meeting.

For now Dylan and Dee Dee have a few more dinghy rides and dog park romps before heading out to Titusville were we are hoping Dee Dee's second dog park adventure goes a bit better.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Okeechobee Waterway

We did it! After months of wondering if the depths would be enough for our 6 foot draft, we crossed the Okeechobee Waterway taking us from the west coast to the east coast of Florida. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without the help of our hardworking crew members.

Almost as soon as we entered the waterway we began seeing alligators lurking along the sides. Dylan thought it might be a good spot for Dee Dee to take a swim...

In the distance we could see the smoke from the burning sugarcane fields. Later we found the fine black soot covering the boat.

There was an abundance of wildlife that the kids took a great interest in.

They even saw their first iguana. But Dylan and Dee Dee thought it was a small dinosaur.

Later they saw an alligator up-close and personal when we took them for a walk.

There was always something to watch off the bow including a pair of great white pelicans.

Dee Dee wants to point out that she has finally learned to not put her paws on the caprail. Elbows don't count...

There were two spots along the route that could have been too skinny for our draft - one near the beginning and one near the end. The one at the beginning would have been irritating but the one at the end could have meant a long trip back across the waterway. Not something we wished to even think about.

Fortunately we had met up with friends and fellow cruisers from Castine, Bill and Sheila and their canine crew, Riggs and Katie. We were fortunate not only because we enjoy spending time with them, but because their Grand Banks, Spray, draws only 4 feet. So they agreed to take the lead and report back if the depths became too shallow.

It was a fun and interesting trip that the whole crew enjoyed. We are now back on the east coast in familiar territory, well, at least for most of the crew. For Dee Dee there's still lots of new waters to explore.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shipmates, Performance Review

Last August after Dee Dee had been onboard for a couple of months we went over the job requirements of an aCappella First Mate. Dee Dee was brought onboard as a probationary Third Mate with the hope that she would learn the First Mate skills from Dylan allowing her to move up to the on-deck position of Second Mate. While Dylan fulfilled his First Mate role with aplomb, Dee Dee was falling far short of her role as Second Mate. But she's put quite a few miles under her keel now and I thought it was time to do a performance review of our littlest crew member. Will she make the grade? Let's see.

MV aCappella First Mate Job Description

1.  The First Mate must assist the Captain on the flybridge in all close maneuvers such as docking and undocking. This requires ascending and descending the 7 stairs to the flybridge unattended and on command.

Dee Dee has certainly mastered every stairway on the boat and can easily ascend and descend the flybridge stairs. She loves running to the back of the flybridge and looking over the edge much to her mom's dismay. While Dylan runs to the flybridge and takes his place below the helm the moment the engines start up, Dee Dee likes to run up and down, occasionally on command, looking for the place where she can be most in the way. Rating: Fair

2.  The First Mate must assist the Captain at the helm whether piloting from the flybridge or the pilothouse. They must provide companionship without causing a disturbance and must lie down on command.

Well, she will lie down on command when she believes a treat may be forthcoming. However, if Dee Dee's awake, she's often causing a disturbance and to call what she does "assisting" would be just short of a lie. Rating: Poor

3.  The First Mate must accompany the Captain on the bi-hourly Around the Block tour. This requires being able to descend the stairs from the pilothouse to the salon, use the step-stool to look over the side to check the fuel vents, and ascending the very steep outside stairs, all unaided.

This is one area where Dee Dee excels and even rivals Dylan. She loves this part of the job and performs with the utmost enthusiasm. Rating:  Excellent

4.  The First Mate must be able to get on and off the pilothouse settee unaided and on command while underway.

This is another area where Dee Dee has advanced to the First Mate level, even surpassing Dylan. Dylan has only ever jumped on and off the pilothouse settee from the port side. I'm pretty sure that the stairs going to the salon which are located at the take-off and landing point on the starboard side intimidate him. At any rate he just will not do it. Dee Dee, however, will leap from either side and sometimes even goes under the table and up the step like she did as a puppy. This often results in some part of her hitting the table, as she discovers, but never remembers, that she's a much bigger girl now. The "on command" portion needs a little work but is coming along.  Rating: Very Good

5.  The First Mate must be able to be left uncrated and unattended for a minimum of one hour without destruction of the boat and items contained on the boat that are not Dee Dee toys.

She has made progress here but still finds certain items just too enticing to ignore. Hats are the hardest with anything paper close behind. It seems the smaller the paper the better with boat cards apparently being the perfect size. If you've given us one lately, it's not likely that we still have it. Yet another good reason to go digital with eBoatCards. Oh, and that's one of my cloth napkins in her mouth.  Rating: Average

6.  The First Mate must successfully meet other criteria including never standing with paws on the bow caprail especially when underway, completing a minimum of 5 dinghy passages without going overboard, being able to independently spy dolphins, and other tasks as may be defined in the future.

This one is a mixed bag. She has far more than 5 dinghy rides under her belt and has yet to go overboard (knock on wood). Spying dolphins has become almost as much of a passion as it is for Dylan. She is doing well at adapting to a variety of situations both on shore and underway. She has completed several offshore passages including her first overnight. Where she is failing is on a criteria dear to her dad's heart is staying off the teak caprail. It's hard when there are so many interesting sights and sounds happening just beyond the boat, both on land and at sea. Rating: Good

While our girl has certainly made progress, there is still some work to do before she can fall in behind Dylan as Second Mate. Fortunately, she has an excellent guide.