Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I don't keep a bucket list, per se, but inside that madhouse that I call my brain I know what things that I've done and enjoyed and not enjoyed, and what things I'd like to do. About five years ago, I ventured into North Dakota for the express purpose of saying that I'd been there. But also so I could boast that I'd been in every state of the Union but Alaska. Oh that pesky Alaska. It's cold and snowy and all of those things that I want to avoid. But wait! There's more, I now have to go because it's the only state left that I've not been to. So we booked passage on Coral Princess a few months back and now, I mean right now, We're here in Alaska. Juneau for those of you who are keeping score. 

We flew up to Seattle on Sunday and boarded ship Monday. Tuesday morning, we landed at Ketchikan and my grand slam was a reality. Notch number fifty carved into my log. We took a Duck excursion in Ketchikan. Not the kind of duck that is used in a l'Orange but a truck like was used in WW II that travels over land or through water but newly built. We learned a lot about Ketchikan some we wanted to know and a lot that we didn't. But it was fun. Lee our guide was a kid with long hair and an even longer beard who was born and raised in Ketchikan and wanted us all to like the place as much as he obviously did.

Today Tuesday, we were to "scenic cruise" the Tracy Arm Fjord. The Sun rises at four in the morning at these latitudes so we were up at sunrise and really enjoyed Tracy Arm Fjord. Glacier at the end and all that goes with fjording, if that's a word. I was plotting our position on my iPad like the dedicated navigator that I am. My iPad however placed us in Holkham Bay not Tracy Arm Fjord. I switched on the channel on the telly that shows us our position along with time, weather etc. A message was scrolling across the top of the screen with words to the effect that when entering Tracy Arm this morning too many icebergs were present to be judged as safe so a safer location was selected. After seeing too many movies about Titanic, I was in complete agreement.

We set sail tonight at O Dark Thirty to head for pardon the expression, Skagway. We're booked to take a one hundred ten year old railway trip over White Pass Summit. It is billed as "The Scenic Railway of the World".

All aboard.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bye Bye

Adios, sayonara,  auf wiedersehen and goodby to gangway 33.
Today is a bittersweet day for me. It is my last day on gangway 33. I have lived aboard good ole GW 33 for thirty four years. I moved here on 1 November 1982 from the infamous "toilet bowel" in downtown Long Beach. Actually I had a lot of fun back then, but back then, I would have a lot of fun regardless of where I was. A lot of the people downtown that moving day morning were motoring east towards Alamitos bay thinking and saying, Oh boy we're getting out of downtown. An equal number of folks that morning were motoring west  thinking, Oh boy, we're moving into a new marina.
I was a happy boy that morning. I was separated from my second wife at the time and I had my beautiful Donna with me. Donna and I spent fifteen wonderful years here in this slip number 1521. We made a lot of friends here and sadly most are gone. They've sold their boats or moved or died. 
Alas, nothing lasts forever and Donna and I went our separate ways. By then, Dave my youngest son had moved in and he and I lived here together until he went of to UC Santa Barbara. For a few years, my oldest son Edward lived on Merrymaid my Downeast schooner with Dave and me for a few years. I went through a gaggle of different girls until 2001, when I met my third wife Nancy. Nancy was a TWA flight attendant and we traveled a lot together. She working and me soaking up fine booze in First Class. 
Alas, nothing lasts forever and after a few years Nancy and I went our separate ways. I went through another gaggle of ladies for a few years until I met Julie. Wife number four. Julie was cute, had a nice body and was very smart. She was working on her master's degree at Cal State Long Beach in Middle English poetry or some such rot. We lived on a sailboat with Sadie my Golden Retriever and her two cats. Oh what fun. We had one deal breaking problem however, she is bipolar.
Alas, nothing lasts forever and we divorced. Starting to read like the movie Groundhog Day?  Sadie and I lived alone in our empty nest. She was great bait for meeting girls. Nobody could resist that sweet Golden face of hers. Yet another gaggle. Yata yata yata and then I met Jamie.
Jamie moved in with Sade and me with her two dogs. Maui, a boxer and Lady a diminutive German Shepard. Maui eventually died of cancer as did Sadie and we are down to one dog, Lady.
The marina has been ongoing a four year renovation. New concrete docks etc. etc. They started across the way by the Long Beach YC and then moved on to basin five by the Alamitos Bay YC. Next came the big yachts and then some of the intermediates. They are finally done with the intermediates and we have all of next week to move. Most of our good friends are moving to the same dock as us and the new docks obviously are not fifty six years old as the current rickety  ones are. 
I'm ready, But not without more than a bit of sadness.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I can tell how busy I've been by the amount of writing that I get done. I haven't  blogged since December so it appears that I've been a busy boy. I'm going to try to go backwards into the past.

I've been to maybe five places in the world that I consider "magic". The  first one is San Francisco.  There is an undeniable charm about the place. The hills, the bay, the food, the jazz clubs and the people that is magic to me. I first saw San Francisco in 1963 and immediately fell in love with the place and thought that this place has a "magic" charm about it. This is where I came up with the concept of a magical place. I lived across the bay at that time in Vallejo and went across one of the bridges to get there every chance that I could. 

The next was Hong Kong. My ship, Waddell made some stops there in the sixties and as soon as I saw Hong Kong, I thought here is another magical place. Once again it was the hills, the bay, the food, plus the wonderful Chinese people.

In the seventies, I worked for a few weeks in Kobe Japan. On the weekends, I'd take the Shinkansen, or bullet train to Kyoto the old Imperial Capitol of Japan. Once again, it was love at first sight for all of the same reasons. One of the highlights of being there was seeing the Moody Blues at the Kyoto Civic Auditorium. I met a girl in Kobe called Cherry San who gave me a STD, but what the hell. I was having the time of my life.

I made an extensive tour in the seventies on Eurail passes and saw many countries. Europe was very nice, but not magic until we got to Venice. I understood that all cities everywhere including Venice have changed in the last five hundred years so I was going on a hunt to find the old, real Venice with the canals etc. Well we walked out the front door of the Great Train Station and at the bottom of the considerable steps there was the Grand Canal. Gondolas and all. It hit me immediately that here I was surrounded by magic. The canals, the gondolas, Saint Marks Square and the food. Oh the food. I was afraid of the food. First I thought that maybe I wouldn't like modern Italian food but I was even more afraid that I'd love the food in Italy and not be able to get it back in the good old US of A. Much like German beer. I love German beer but you can't get it here in the US. At least not in California. Each little town in Germany has it's own brewery and in each little town in Germany, they have a gasthaus, or bar which servers the local quaff. On the glass there is the logo of the local brew and underneath the logo it will say  seit 1315 or whatever year the brewery starting production. Do you think that the Krauts haven't learned how to make beer in seven hundred years? Of course they have. But I digress.

I first came to Loreto BCS, Baja California Sur, south about five years age. My neighbor and I were driving from Long Beach to La Paz BCS and we were pulling a trailer with a sixteen foot Boston Whaler dingy behind us. Driving down the Baja Peninsula was a bucket list item for me and we really had a good time. The hills, the food, the people, the beer, starting to sound familiar? We got into Loreto around dusk and had dinner with a few beers and conked out  immediately. The next morning, we hit the road early and took a back road out of town. IE, I never really saw the place.
On a previous trip, I really liked La Paz. It was somewhat quaint, had paved streets, electricity and running water and it was not too crowded. I told people that I wanted to retire there.
This trip twenty five years later, poor old La Paz had grown up. It had a Walmart and a Home Depot, all of the things I wanted to get away from.
On 18 March, our common birthday, we flew to Loreto on Alaska Airlines to go to Bahia San Ignacio to see, and pet, the baby Gray Whales. Before going, we stayed a few days at the Oasis Hotel in room number 19, the very same room I stayed in five years ago. The Sun rose over the Gulf of California, a rarity for Californians, the Sun sets over the Pacific Ocean and, once again, I was blown away.

It was beautiful, it was gorgeous, it was dare I say magic. We walked the Malecon, the sea wall, and enjoyed the  hills, the food, the people and the Mexican music. Here we are in another magic place but with one big difference.  We're not leaving. At least not permanently. We've leased a RV pad here for five years and are bringing down Bullwinkle, the twenty eight RV.  
We are planning on spending our winters here in Loreto. No more of those killer sixty degree California winters any more. In the summer it  gets to hot, even for me, so we'll make the best of things and live aboard the trawler. We're just going to have to learn how to adapt.

OK, that's the over view. I'll fill in the blanks soon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Aboard Coral Princess
Sunday, November 29, 2015

On Wednesday 25 November, we got underway about 1730. Our next scheduled stop was San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua.
It is quite a haul from Cabo San Lucas to Nicaragua about 1800 nautical miles and we had three and a half days to get there. Because of this Andrea Poggi, our captain, rang up twenty one knots. Up until now, we had been cruising at about seventeen knots. Over twenty knots, these big cruise ships creak, shimmy and groan a lot.
To digress for a moment, Coral Princess is relatively new, twelve years old, she is 965 feet long and displaces 91,627 tons. As a comparison, Constellation the aircraft carrier I was stationed on in 1963-64 displaced 84,000 tons, was over 1,000 feet long and had a three acre flight deck and she was a big SOB. At 0500 the air group would go to flight quarters  and ring up forty knots and stay there until 2300 and she rode smoother than a cruise ship at half that speed. USS Waddell, the destroyer I was a plank owner on was only 4,500 tons. Because of her relative smallness, she pitched and rolled a lot more but she didn't shake or shudder unless she was taking green water over the signal bridge.
OK, I'm done for now and will climb off of my soapbox.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and we had diner in the Bordeaux dining room. I had the standard turkey with stuffing meal and Jamie had Dover Sole. FYI, after having an absolutely wretched "Captains Feast" in South Dakota I vowed never to have seafood more than 500 miles from the ocean. Also part of the same vow, as God is my witness,   was to never have Mexican food outside of  California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas. The food aboard this Princess ship is very good and we are now in a food rut. Breakfast of coffee, croissants with butter and orange marmalade, yogurt and Special K is brought in every morning by room service. About 1300, we stroll up to the Horizon court buffet for lunch with a most spectacular 270 degree view one deck over the bridge. Dinner is at a different venue every evening.
The weather since we left Cabo San Lucas is sultry. Eighty six degrees F and a bit more humid since California and Mexico.
This morning, Sunday, we anchored at San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua at 0700. One could hear the wind howling outside and when we went out on the balcony you could see whitecaps everywhere. After about an hour, Captain Poggi got on the 1MC and told us that it was just too windy to take people to the beach in the tenders. We got a bunch of photos of Nicaragua and then the anchor was weighed and we set out for Puntarenas Costa Rica. Being we left at 0800 instead of  1800 we are now ten hours ahead of schedule so we are now drifting along at what looks like four knots so we get to Puntarenas at about 0700. Puntarenas has a pier so there is no fear of people getting dumped into the drink when lightering from a tender.
Well that's all the news that's fit to print for now, so I believe I'll take a short nap now. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Aboard Coral Princess
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We landed in Cabo San Lucas this morning. We left San Pedro on Sunday 22 November and have been at sea for the last three days. Life at sea aboard a cruise ship is a tad bit different than a Navy ship. We have a nice stateroom with our own head with shower. We have a queen size bed and a balcony. A steward comes to our door at 0700 with our modest breakfast consisting of coffee, of course, croissants with butter and orange marmalade. Milk for the Special K and Raison Bran and grapefruit. Lunch is mostly informal up at the Horizon Grill on deck fourteen directly above the bridge with a 270 degree view.
In the afternoon, I've been reading Bill Bryson's Walkabout which I borrowed from the ships library. Walkabout is, as the cover declares, "Two classic Bryson bestsellers in one volume. A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. I'm a big Bryson fan having already read his Mother Tongue and Made In America.
After reading for an hour or two, I usually nod off for my obligatory afternoon nap. Dinner has been a bit more rigorous however.  Sunday evening after getting under way, we just dined up at the Horizon Grill. Monday night however was a formal night. I donned dress shirt, nice trousers, tie and jacket and we dined at the Boudreaux dining room. We were back at the Boudreaux again Tuesday only this time sans tie and jacket. Tonight, Wednesday, I want to try The Grill / Smokehouse.
To this old  Cleveland boy who after fifty plus years in California still can't believe how nice the weather is in California, Baja Sur in late November is absolutely mind boggling. It's in the low eighties today. We took the liberty boat into Cabo and strolled around town. It's amazing how much this place has changed in the last thirty years that I've been coming here.
We first went to The Giggling Marlin and had a few Pacifico beers and tacos. At the GM they have a guntackle mounted on the wall with a stylized marlin painted next to it. Usually after a few beers, margaritas and tequilas some unsuspecting tourista will get slung up and photographed looking like they are the marlin's catch of the day. Well folks, this silver tongued devil managed to get someone who, for the time being, shall remain nameless got someone upside down saying quesa in front of my camera.  I have photographic evedance to back up my claim. We bought a few T-shirts as souvenirs of the place and moved on to see what else the town had in store for us.
Onward we wandered to the Squid Roe for more Pacificos, laughs. and T-shirts. I bought a "genuine Cuban cigar". It really was, it said so on the wrapper.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Anchors aweigh

We are about to embark on a bucket list undertaking. We're going to transit the Panama Canal.
On 22 November, Jamie and I will board Coral Princess in San Pedro. 
We will be at sea for three days and arrive in Cabo San Lucas for liberty call.
Three more days at sea and San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua will be our next port of call.
The next day, we'll call at Puntaarenas Costa Rico. Another day at sea and then we get to the canal.
We're scheduled to go through from 0600 to 1630, 4:30 PM.
The next day we call on Cartagena Columbia. I'll buy everyone who responds a pound of cocaine.  Note to NSA, just kidding.
Next day is Aruba and then three more days at sea.
On Pearl Harbor Day, 7 December, we end up in Ft. Lauderdale at 0700.
How we get home to Long Beach, we don't have a clue. We are kicking around Amtrak, renting a car or hitch hiking. I'm not fond of flying in this day and age.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Travels with Lady. We're back.

I have learned that there is a correlation between how busy I am and how much I write and based on my recent production,  I have been a very busy boy.
In April, I had to put my sweet Golden Retriever down. She developed cancer on her scull that was inoperable. She lived about five months between the time I discovered the lump and the end. This thoroughly spoiled dog experienced a new, higher  level of spoiling. 
To ease my pain and help to pull me out of my funk, Jamie booked us an ocean voyage, what else, on a cruise ship. So on 30 April we were off.
It was a short, three day jaunt to  Ensenada and back. Jamie had asked me if I had ever been on a cruise and I replied that after eight years in the Navy that I had been on many. Did I enjoy them, she asked. Yes, I replied, even the ones where they were shooting at us. She suggested that we try a fun cruise to see if I liked it. Fun? Would I like to have some fun? I'm glad you asked.
Of course I enjoyed it and want to cruise some more.
In May we rented a car and drove to Denver to inspect and load a three station rotary vacuumformer.
In August, we, me Muncie Mouse and Lady the dog, were on a  five week roadtrip from 30 August to 12 October. It was a multipurpose trip. We ended up renting the very same Nisson that we drove to Denver. The trip was part vacation, fiftieth high school reunion and work.
We drove from Long Beach to Muncie Indiana and did a small job. Off to Michigan and up to the UP, upper peninsula of Mich. 
From the UP to Ohio and my high school reunion. 
Ohio to Biddiford Maine for another job and then back to Muncie for another job.
I am now just getting over my blank page fright, I'll quit when i'm ahead and give details soon.